This 1940s House Has the Cutest Former-Closet Turned Adorable Attic Reading Nook

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Our kitchen and dining room are pretty small, so we’ve maximized the space as much as possible. Little editions like painting the cabinets and adding peel-n-stick tiles to cover weird linoleum have helped spruce the it up. Above the stove is a sign I commissioned a friend to make referencing my stationery business. (Stationery, not stationary — a life motto.)

Name: Karen Sawyer, husband, and sister, with two cats, Duchess and Ada
Location: Bremerton, Washington
Type of home: 1940s house
Size: 1600 square feet
Years lived in: 6 years, owned

This couch was handed down by family and I finally saved up enough to have it recovered in a fabulous fabric that looks luxurious but stands up to cats and kids. I'm grateful to save the couch since its frame is built like a rock. Now it'll last another 40 years.

Tell us a little (or a lot) about your home and the people who live there: There are four of us living in this house. Myself, my husband, his sister, and our daughter. My husband’s work has him leaving for long periods of time, the last one (due to COVID) was a whole year. Having his sister live with us has been a life saver while he’s absent. It’s fun creating traditions that include our extended family and finding ways to keep connected even when family is halfway across the globe.

Grandma cactus is from a liquidation sale. The sign on the door said "everything must go" and that included this giant milk tree. I had to cut it down two feet to get it out the door and into my house. The cuttings have made great gifts and thus the name “grandma cactus.” It was one of those moments where I don't know if I had the space, but I knew it was worth taking the risk.

I live in the town I grew up in. I drove by this street numerous times, never thinking I’d live here. I can remember how excited I was to leave this town and originally how bummed I was to have to return. However, as I invested in my community, I love it and my life here. Bremerton has a growing arts community and because it’s a small town, I’ve found it easy to get dug in and take an active part. My house reflects our interests and what we’re passionate about. It’s hard to walk in and not see a bunch of artist/makers live here. The art in the main room reflects travels my husband and I have taken as well as things or places that are important to us. I commissioned a sign by a good friend that gives a hint to my business and framed my sister-in-law’s famous pancake recipe. It’s touches like these that make it home.

Our bedroom is one long narrow space along the top of the house and doesn’t have closets. We bought clothing racks and I’ve found it kind of freeing. It makes me think about what I actual wear because I only have so much space to cram clothing in.

Describe your home’s style in 5 words or less: Estate sale in a greenhouse

Duchess and our DIY built-in. When we couldn’t find what we were looking for we built this book case out of Target shelves and DIY doors. We added molding to make it look custom and painted it the same color as our trim. Most people don't notice it's not original. Meanwhile it hides our daughter’s toys and TV.

What is your favorite room and why? My living room. It’s both comfortable and put together. It’s a real mix of everything I love. Art, family, vintage, books, and plants. It looks good when people walk in the room, but it’s not precious — my daughter can play and create in it without me worrying about the furniture.

As a printmaker with printmaker friends, I have a ton of art. What's on the walls is only a fraction of what's stored around the house. To try to put a limit on what I collect and make the collection cohesive I attempt to stick to a black and white (with red) scheme; doesn’t always happen. Art really makes our house a home. We have pieces from travels (like the one over the stove), pieces from friends, ones we’ve made, thrifted, gifted — the list goes on. If only there were more walls!

What’s the last thing you bought (or found!) for your home? An amazing set of card catalog style drawers from Goodwill (I had no idea where I could fit them, but when I saw them, I knew I had to buy them) and a sweet little propagation set up from Hilton Carter’s line at Target. The one I bought is sold out, but this one from Hilton Carter’s website is similar.

This little nook is at the top of our stairs. The top floor of our house was an attic and has a bunch of odd angles. This space used to be a too-short closet. My husband took out the hanging rail and built lidded storage. During quarentine, I took the opportunity to turn it into a reading nook with wallpaper and a comfy place to nap.

Any advice for creating a home you love? Everyone says go with your gut, and that’s totally true — but it helps to have some background knowledge. Knowing what colors work together, proportions, layering texture, etc. I also do a lot of research when it comes to finding quality vintage. I don’t always go to antique stores just to shop. I also use it as a learning experience. I find out more about quality items and brands so when I see them at Goodwill or a thrift store I know what I’m looking at and if it’s a score or not.

I love this little corner with our record player and a chair we’re “holding for a friend” in Hawaii, or maybe he gave it to us, I don’t really remember… all I know is that I love it. It makes the perfect place to put laundry before shlepping it upstairs. Our record player gets a lot of use in the mornings before school.

This submission’s responses and photos were edited for length/size and clarity.