Melissa Robbins wanted privacy. When her family moved into a typical small apartment in New York's West Side, the only nook she could find for herself at 16 was a cluttered storage room which had been a maid's room in days past.
It was small and awkwardly shaped -- only 7 by 15 feet -- but it had a view of the Hudson River which Melissa loved. And it had privacy.
It was off to the side of the house away from the busy center of family activity, but she could easily be part of the action whenever she wanted.
She looked for old things around the house that she could fix up for the room and salvaged a nice piece of an old shag carpet her parents were about to throw out. Then she found some oversized pillows made from carpets.
Since she wanted the room to look shorter, she designed a triangle-shaped platform bed to fit under the window where she could look out. A friend helped her build it and she had a foam rubber mattress cut to fit the unusual shape.
Her parents agreed to pay for such basics as the wood and the foam rubber, which weren't expensive. Melissa bought all the decorations for the room with earnings from after-school jobs.
She purchased grass paper and cork for the walls, decorative blankets, and posters. Then she bought and installed a window shade of reed slats.
Next, she tacked up art work from friends on the cork wall and hung a painting done by her brother. She used existing storage spaces in the walls for her clothes.
Two years after her project, Melissa says her room still is perfect for her needs. "I still read there, write, and bring my friends in. I go there when I really want my privacy."
Michael Michnay wanted a basement room to fulfill his teen-age dream of privacy and independence. He also hoped it would keep his stereo music from being heard in the rest of the house.
When his family went house hunting for a home on Cape Cod, Mass., Michael examined basements while they studied the upstairs. His parents agreed to match funds with his job earnings so he could remodel his own room. In just a few weeks after moving into a new home, Michael, then 17, had made the small 9-by-11-foot basement room livable. It was a natural project for a teen-ager who has spent most of his growing-up years making forts, go-carts and radios.
He insulated and disguised the plain dryboard walls and ceiling by covering one wall with thick cork tiles and plastering another with stucco, which also went on the ceiling.
Dampness in the basement wasn't a problem. He used a pegboard for the walls of his closet instead of solid wood to assure good ventilation. A dehumidifier also helped.
To carry out his hobby of jewelry making, he designed a workbench and built it himself. He used pegboard above it to hang tools and a long, fluorescent light over the work area.
He covered the concrete floor with blue and gold "stick-down" tiles he purchased for only $12 by rummaging through sale items at a local hardware store. A treasured sheepskin rug on the floor added texture.
For final touches, he suspended his stereo speakers from beams in his ceiling and hung a ball-bearing mobile. He draped fishnet to decorate the window.
To help his parents reach him with the stereo on, Michael installed a buzzer at the top of the stairs so they could buzz him in his room.
His parents are pleased to have the unsightly room which adjoins the family room transformed, and they think it's a perfect sound barrier between the generations.