Make an Odd Space Work: Transform a Room with Interior Design Tips

Feng shui and interior design expert Jami Lin offers practical tips for turning an odd nook into a useful room.

Rainsberger music-living room after

This rendering of our solution shows how turning a corridor-like space into a music room and library creates a functional spot for entertainment, storage and display.

Illustration By Nate Skow

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Q: We aren’t sure what to do with the odd space between our living area and eat-in kitchen. We need a place where Joe can play music, and we have a lot of books. 
Joe and Sarah Rainsberger, Summerside, Prince Edward Island, Canada 

Joe and Sarah's house reminds me of a French château where, before electricity, large picture windows along exterior corridors afforded maximum natural light. Between the foyer/living room area and the eat-in kitchen, this odd space is difficult for Joe and Sarah to define, but they have temporarily placed Joe’s electric organ here. In keeping with the romantic château ambience, we will transform the space into a music room/library where Joe can play while Sarah listens, reads or works.

Basically a corridor between the foyer and kitchen, the room has two definitive areas: the music station and the listening area. The two can be unified by color palette and design. A combination of ambient and task lighting would offer flexibility.

To create the listening area, Joe and Sarah might nestle a comfortable chaise, positioned on a diagonal, and an upwardfacing torchiere into the corner. Next to the chaise, a Parsonsstyle sofa table covered with a fabric runner can provide a spot for a reading lamp and a plant or accessory. To avoid blocking the room’s working radiator, hindering efficiency, they can place the table directly in front of the radiator.

A colorful hall rug would help direct traffic through the room. If the keyboard faces the seating area, parallel with the chaise on the same diagonal, it will direct music into the room. Beneath the keyboard, an area rug that matches the hall rug will dampen sound and help tie the room together.

Joe and Sarah might also unify the room with coordinated, sustainable fabrics. A multicolored, patterned fabric, used sparingly on a pillow or as a table runner, can define the palette. Painting the walls the palette’s lightest neutral would complement both décor and architecture; too-white walls make vintage architecture look old and dirty.

Though Sarah and Joe want to take advantage of the room’s natural light, they also want to control glare and privacy. An opaque fabric made into a roll-down shade on the picture window offers privacy and can lend color to the room. An insidemounted, translucent shade can control daytime glare and heat while admitting natural light.

The foyer-side wall can unify the room and maximize storage and display space by housing floor-to-ceiling bookcases with recessed lights and an artistic intermingling of books, accessories and empty spaces. A builder could create bookcases across the entire wall and wrap the chimney with Forest Stewardship Council-certified wood veneer. Joe and Sarah might also fake a built-in by painting standard bookshelves, the wall and the chimney with the same wood-toned color.

Favorite paintings of the same style, positioned on opposite sides of the room and highlighted with art lamps, also would help tie together the music and sitting areas.


Forest Stewardship Council
sustainably harvested wood

Lulan Artisans
Interwoven Pillow in russet/gold artisan fabrics

Innovations rug

Oakwood Veneer Company
Forest Stewardship Council-certified wood veneer

Olo Inside
Swing chair and footstool

Astro table lamp, Winston floor lamp