Craft Corner: A Room of Her Own
Becker Family, Galveston, Texas, Budget: $10K–$15K
Nuts & Bolts: The Beckers’ 1926 Craftsman-style abode is loaded with fascinating history ( legend has it that Frank Sinatra once got drunk on the front porch). But Suzanne, 63, and Rick, 65, who bought the local landmark in 2012, are willing to lose a few ghosts to make room for Suzanne’s thriving second-act sideline as a home-based printmaker and paper artist. The retired elementary school teacher now works with paints and inks to make collages, cards, gift books and journals, which she sells with friends at a booth at a small monthly art market in Galveston.
Room for Improvement: The jam-packed upstairs art studio occupies a former galley kitchen that still has a vintage sink, old-time cupboards and a Vent-A-Hood that’s not actually venting anything. Every available surface is piled with Suzanne’s design books, art supplies and works in progress. But she wants retirement to be about creativity, not clutter.
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In your 60s, a specialty room — whether it’s for yoga, playing a new instrument or spreading out with a coin collection — gives legs to a diversion. Just try not to let it overrun you. Even if you’re an artist, “nobody wants to see your stuff spewing out into the room,” Jonathan says, playfully whacking his brother with a paper roll from a crowded shelf. Adds Drew: “The crafts are cool, but the mess is not.” Their tips for the Beckers apply to anyone creating a hobby or work space.
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Older eyes need better lighting. Replacing scattered traditional lamps and flickering fluorescents with efficient desk and overhead task lighting gives an old room a new glow. Plus, “newer LEDs burn longer and cooler,” says Drew.
For longtime couples, the rules for getting along remain the same as ever. Rick loves the 1940s vintage vent hood, but it’s an eyesore to Suzanne. Jonathan takes Rick aside. “Donate it, sell it — just get it out of here, my friend,” he says. “Always remember: Happy wife, happy life.”
Renovators in their 60s should consider the needs of future buyers. So the Beckers’ dated laundry setup on a creaky porch is getting a makeover. And they decide to go with a modular sit-stand desk in the crafts room, which perfectly suits Suzanne and can be removed if they move.
Since Suzanne’s goal is creative elbow room, “we need to focus on efficient storage,” says Drew. Installing custom floor-to-ceiling built-ins would be ideal, but his solution is more pension friendly: using prefab cabinets and organization systems.