Make It Work

Diane Karmen

When not helping clients transform their homes into beautifully designed dream homes, Diane Karmen ( is recharging her creativity by working out. But it was the shock of the pandemic that brought those workout sessions home. Her daydream plans for a small space evolved into a fitness studio.

“In January 2020 I finally decided to upgrade my little laundry room area, which was in a small, dysfunctional closet at the top of the stairs. We moved and expanded it into an adjacent storage closet under the eaves of our small, 1940s Cape house,” she says. “The stuff I did not throw out ended up in my son’s former bedroom along with a lot of materials, like fabric and rug samples, I use in my decorating business. The room was a disaster, but I put blinders on until I could figure out what to do with the accumulated junk.”

Then the March 2020 lockdown happened. She and her husband both started working from home and “tried to carve out spaces for ourselves where we could each work and work out.” She cleared space in that cluttered bedroom, the only place in the house where she could meditate and work out. Then, inspiration struck. “One day I was lying on a yoga mat staring at the ceiling and, as the pandemic dragged on, got motivated to make this into a dedicated workout and meditation space. We removed a makeshift closet that stuck out into the room, raised the ceiling to the roof joists to give more height—helpful for when I use my jump rope—and exposed a brick chimney hidden behind a wall that took up space unnecessarily.

I painted everything, including the chimney, Benjamin Moore Super White and added track lighting. I stripped and bleached the old yellow pine floors and created the ‘art gallery’ space I pictured in my head. We eventually added a full complement of exercise equipment and left an open space area to workout, stretch or meditate.”

Today, she says that bedroom-turned-home-studio was a lifesaver, and she credits her friendship with her coach, Julie Migliaccio (in opening photo), owner of Evolution Sports and Fitness in Westport, for creating a personalized fitness program to be done at the gym or at home. “Once the pandemic hit and all the gyms shut down, I was able to continue my workouts,” says Diane, who is surprised by her own motivation. “I can work out whenever I want—I get first dibs over my husband—in a beautiful, inspiring space. We still love it and use it every day,” she says. “There has been a lot of tragedy and not many good things to come out of this pandemic. Having this space helps me get through these tough times.”

CLOSER LOOK: To learn more about the laundry room project, check out Most Lovely Things blog by Annie Diamond: -renovation-small-space/

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