I was asked to make the prayer room function better at our church. I would call it an anteroom, in the style of old Mennonite meetinghouses: a little room back of the pulpit used for various small purposes.
In this case, it's the site of the pre-service meeting, as well as part of the library and some service supplies like candles and baskets and drums. See? Various small purposes. It was cluttered with chairs and an overhead projector, as well as some things on the shelves that no one noticed because, as is the way of many spaces, everyone assumed someone else was the homemaker or caretaker. Unfortunately, I don't have a "before" photo.
To open up the space and allow for maximum flexible seating, I took out the clutter of chairs and put in three backless benches. I made some cushions for people that objected to hard benches. I straightened the shelves and re-homed some lost items.
All of this cost about $70 in materials when (I think I recall) my budget was $300. The benches were in a fascinating graveyard of church history up on a third floor. A fellow property commission member resized the one bench for me. I spread out a dropcloth in a Sunday school room and painted the benches (with trepidation for the carpet) over a week in Benjamin Moore's turmeric. I had to do it Monday to Saturday - luckily we live close to our church and luckily Phoebe could amuse herself by climbing over and under pews.
At first, the yellow looked dreadfully brassy and brazen and I had to force myself to finish. But when the benches were dry and placed in the prayer room, I was so relieved to see them warm and brighten the space, just like my vision.
For the cushion covers, I used pre-cut patches that were given to me a few years ago and backed them with red corduroy left from Phoebe's dress. The colors play together in such interesting ways - a little Amish here, a little somber there, a little clashing over there. A little brightness wherever a cushion roves in the room.
I also hung a wooden plaque in the prayer room with a quote by Menno Simons: "True evangelical faith cannot lile dormant. It clothes the naked, feeds the hungry, comforts the sorrowful, shelters the destitute, serves those that harm it, binds up that which is wounded; it has become all things to all people."
And we're all very happy with our little prayer room in its freshness.