Pandemic inspired me to finally make a big life fix


Claire Nalley, 57, has used the stay-at-home order to finally tackle a DIY home-improvement project in her Cobble Hill basement.

I teach high school French, and it’s kind of embarrassing to say “Répéter” out loud while my husband and kids are working nearby. I needed to be somewhere private.

I’ve had this vision of cleaning out my brownstone’s 900-square-foot basement for years. In March, I started going crazy on it. Four weeks later, I finished my home office: an all-white space that really is a haven.

I tore out the wall-to-wall shag carpet as well as linoleum tile underneath. I painted the walls white and opened up the coal chute, which fills with light, and installed majesty palms and a fern. I took down the drop ceiling, painted the exposed wood, and put up plans as moldings. And I did it all on a shoestring: about $250.

Now, I plan on installing a Claireview — an invention for which I have a patent pending. It’s an encased screen that gives the illusion of a window and links to cameras in my garden, so I have a view of the world.

Cobble Hill basement office quarantine
Nalley transformed her basement in just a matter of weeks.

The silver lining to the coronavirus is that it gave me a mission — and something I can use forever. — As told to Zachary Kussin

Read more about silver linings from the coronavirus pandemic



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