Making Dead Space Come Alive

19 Jan

Every living space has one, a little area that is “dead” as in: “an area seemingly unworkable.” But that’s just plain poppycock!

{Making Dead Space Come Alive} Here is my “dead space” … a catty-corner built in TV shelf adjacent to an adjoining room and butted against a main entrance.

I tried two antique chairs perpendicular to each other against the walls, I vetted out an heirloom pram (aka baby carriage), but nothing was working …

… And, that’s when my “Spidy sense” kicked into overdrive — there was something out there that would fill this void and make this little dead space come alive with all the charm and character it could possibly muster!

Gorgeous brass detail on the drawer.

Then, as I rounded the corner on the way to a mani-pedi, I came across this secretary desk … I eyeballed it from afar. I was wary — but I eyed-it up in a nonchalant-passerby-inconspicious sort-of-way. It was distressed, vintage but not antique and the surface had been slightly made over.

Yet, I kept marching onward — like a general on a mission, I was a mother with a son in-tow, ready for my very distressed nail beds to be made over!

Sitting with my feet soaking, the little desk haunted me, until finally I was determined that I had made a mistake in not being a Good Samaritin and saving the poor orphan desklet!

I love the caning of this chair, plus its gorgeous woodworking!

No sooner did the ladies give me the go ahead, did I delicately power walk back to the next morning’s accumulating trash. It was still there! Relieved, I instantly checked its viability — did the drawer work, was the draw bottom still intact, were the legs secure and even?

It passed the test and instantly, my son became my purse caddy while I grabbed the desk and hobbled like a hunchback to the car, praying my new neighbors on this busy main street hadn’t spotted me scavaging the trash.

After my comical trek (which would’ve earned a spot in Monty Python’s Ministry of Silly Walks sketch), I began the infamous girlie handling of keys and doors that always occurs post-nail salon. But now imagine this while juggling and shimmying a desk into a car … Yes, we — or rather, I was a sight to behold.

Pottery & doilies give a space an "at-ease" feel.

However, the possible embarrassment was worth the effort. My “dead” little space now had a solution!!

Not only did the secretary desk offer the charm the little corner needs, it gave me the opportunity to be industrious — a place to sit and write letters, or blog, while listening and sneaking quick glances at my favorite prime-time dramas.

{So} What’s the Take-Away?

It’s a design wild card — placing furniture on an angle. The tactic either consumes a room or makes it, and in this case, the desk was perfectly sized for spanning the corner without overpowering the space.

  • For a dead space, angled furniture could be the key to making the area work.

Our modern technology and entertainment systems seem to be our lives, which is fine, but they shouldn’t clutter up our home’s aesthetics. I could barely stand the eye-sore which all the power cords draping from the entertainment shelf created … but thank goodness for being old school, because my CD rack saved the day.

  • Avoid exposed electrical and USB cords, especially those running along a wall. Use a plant stand (or CD rack) to neatly obscure the unsightly cords. Make sure the cords aren’t being pinched or in danger of friction

The TV shelf made the space look very utilitarian. With the desk now below, I created cozy little corner by matching the TV’s dominating presence with two striking 14×20 fine art photographs.

  • Wall art doesn’t always have to be hung in the middle of a wall. Little drab spaces can suddenly come alive when art is introduced — it creates a window of vibrant textures and colors.



The personal touches of mementos, novelty pillows, a vintage crocheted doily and a plant, all help soften a space and allow it to truly create a welcoming feeling.

  • To round off an area, infuse it with simple knick-knacks while softening it with the presence of textiles and foliage.

How Much for “Making Dead Space
Come Alive’?

$0 Secretary Desk
$.50 Vintage Crocheted Doilee (Steeple to People Thrift Store, Honey Brook, Pa.)
$1 Ceramic Potter (Church tag sale, Bradford Co., Pa.)
$5 ea. Framed, matted & signed fine art photographs (Goodwill, Md.)
$5 Silver-plated Pedastool Box (Salvation Army, NJ)
$15 1950s Cottage Chair (neighbor’s auction, Pa.)


2 Responses to “Making Dead Space Come Alive”

  1. Dawn January 19, 2011 at 5:42 PM #

    Congrats on your trashy-terrific find! It looks super-classy. I especially like how you were able to do it for under $50. With the desk being free, you were able to be spendy on the accesories, which is always a fun thing to do. Also love your kitty-korner advice. It’s all good—elegant, useful and THRIFTY!


    • Thrifty Vintage Chic January 20, 2011 at 11:41 PM #

      Thanks, Dawn!! kitty-/catty-corners are fun — but always if used sparingly! Absolutely glad this post has been helpful and a fun read for you!


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