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Been There, Done That

100 Square Feet Pulled From Thin Air

October 28, 2000

Margaret Allen has owned her interior design firm for 20 years. Her recent client? Herself and her new husband, Fraser MacDonald, a golfer and former executive director of the Montana State Golf Assn. With his encouragement, she had their upstairs hallway extended to make room for an office.

Here's her story:

"I had been living in a home in Portola Hills for seven years, then I got married to Fraser in April and he inspired me to make some changes. We wanted to convert the downstairs office space into an eating area and move the office upstairs.

"We accomplished this by adding about 100 square feet upstairs by removing a half wall in the hallway and extending the floor over the open, two-story entry.

"We added built-in cabinetry, made by Woodcrafters in Costa Mesa, and lots of shelves, since we didn't have space for Fraser's huge collection of books and CDs and stereo equipment.

"For the desk area, we had the computer tower, printer and scanner built in, along with two double file drawers. I wanted to hide the components that are functional but not attractive.

"We have a floating piece that is 24 inches by 36 inches in the middle of the area that has a 30-inch drop leaf so we can have a large working space. The piece has bookshelves on both sides.

"There was a skylight already, which was a big plus. We added some canned lights over the desk area as well as speakers in the ceiling.

"Construction took six weeks as did the cabinets.

"No one can believe what we created.

"A neighbor with my floor plan had her upstairs extended like this, but she didn't make it into an office. Since we did it, there have been three others in the neighborhood who have. Some are using the space over the two-story dining room and kitchen to build even more room upstairs."

Woodcrafters, Costa Mesa, (714) 957-6242.

Margaret Allen, Portola Hills, (949) 589-2265.

"Been There, Done That" is a recurring feature in Saturday's Home Design that highlights how our readers accomplish their home and garden projects. If you want to share your experiences--or even to brag a little--call (714) 966-7883. Or send photographs along with your name and phone number to Home Design, Los Angeles Times Orange County edition, 1375 Sunflower Ave., Costa Mesa, CA 92626 or

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