The Office: Reality vs. Goals

Our office is not done yet, but it has come a long way since the last time we showed you our progress! Since the room isn’t even close to being finished, I’ll show you photos of what it looks like right now and discuss our goals for each space.

Current Reality: My Workspace

FYI: The teal on the walls is a lot more teal-ish with more green in it than what is shown in these photos. The light is from IKEA and we recently painted the ceiling a light gray (hard to see here), much better than the ugly builder white that was there before.

Goals for this space:

  • I need to start working on the yellow office chair very soon – we just finally found a good place for our sewing machine, so I’ll set that up and get started re-teaching myself to sew before tackling the office chair.
  • See that blank wall on the right side? I want to use two of our frames and put a cork board in them and cover them with fabric. (Similar to what Amber did for her craft room) I’m not sure whether we’ll go with a fun patterned fabric or use a simple cloth and paint gold stripes on them like in this photo from Lonny:

  • The L glass desk. I’ve had this glass desk (bought from Office Max, I think) since my college days. Blah. Someday, when our garage is cleared out a bit more, we’ll find a wooden desk on Craig’s List (hopefully free! so many free desks are posted on there every day) with lots of storage. It won’t be a L shape, so we’ll have more space for…
  • A little cute sofa/daybed that pulls out into a bed for guests. It’ll be under the bulletin board. I really like this one from CB2, but we’ll see.

Current Reality: The Back Wall

Argh, I’m still struggling to take photos when the sun shines through the window. This room gets really bright during the day, so I’m grateful to these cute birch tree curtains from IKEA that filters out a lot of the light. Perhaps I should try taking photos in the early morning…? Whatever, I’ll try again later.

See our honeymoon map hanging proudly? It’ll be moved down just a tad bit to make room for our cute yellow clock. Not much else to do in this space, except…

Goals for this space:

  • Finding a rug that goes well with the curtains, but that brings in color. I think a gray/white/black rug would be easy, but I want more color. I’m considering this rug, in citron from West Elm.

  • And of course, the shelves on the right need a lot of organizing and binders and etc. We’ll get on that soon… I’m even thinking about spray-painting our mismatched binders WHITE. Dumb or genius? Not sure yet.

Current Reality: The Closet Bookshelves

The shelves are up! But still not done yet. Sigh… We had to stop our progress this summer to load it all up so we could clear up space for our baby shower. Now we need to unload this again and continue work… But we’re focusing on the nursery for now, so this will have to wait. Again.

Goals for this space:

  • Obviously, finish all the shelves. We’re done with the front shelves, now we need to work on the side (on the right) shelves. We will need to add brackets as well.
  • Buy trim and attach it to the front of the shelves to make it pretty.
  • Lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of touch-ups!
  • I want a cute, cool light in there. Right now, all that’s there is a big bulb.
  • I know it will be GREAT once it’s done! Just can’t wait…

Current Reality: The Left Wall

The art is from Hobby Lobby and… that’s it. Oh, and do you like how we left the smoke alarm hanging? Very cool. We put the screws in a ziplock bag when we painted the ceiling recently and put it in a safe place. Too safe of a place, obviously, since we can’t find that darned ziplock bag.

Goals for this space:

  • There’s not much to do, since it’s our “walk-through” space. But I want to do something to jazz up that art. I want to add a little yellow in there. I’m thinking about painting the twigs yellow or adding a yellow mat, or SOMETHING.
  • And maybe something above the door. I love how Kim and Scott of Yellow Brick House puts art right above their doors, like so:

Current Reality: A Few Close-ups Just Because

These are photos of my favorite spots in the office.

The owl was picked up by my brother and his wife in Bolivia and the vintage Art book was grabbed (for free!) from the school library. I love the book because its bright and happy and reminds me of my mom.

See the magnets? We made them a long time ago with the caps of one of our favorite beers, Stella Artois. Ah, beer… Cold beer on a hot day… One month-ish left!

I love this little thing that we got from Z Gallerie and use as a pen/pencil holder. Although I do have to say that we need to get prettier pens/pencils…

And my constant companion while I work:

She’s cute, but not when she’s walking right in front of the laptop and begging for neck scratches. Lady, I’m working here!

Speaking of work, I’d better get my butt back up there and earn my keep.


The Little Side Table That Could

This poor side table has gone through a lot of changes.

We got it through Craig’s List for a measly 7 bucks and we planned to use it as a side table for our orange-gray guest bedroom. I dreamed about silver-leafing it and giving it a glass knob.

Then came the little baby in my belly, so we changed our plans and turned the guest room into a nursery. I planned to leave the side table there to hold a lamp. I dreamed about painting it black and painting gold borders on it.

But then I realized that it had a total of SIX very sharp corners. The little alien in my stomach is very active – I think it’s going to be a soccer player. I can just imagine his/her little body running around as a two-year-old and getting one of the sharp corners right in the eye. Ouch.

So it got relocated to the blue guest room downstairs. This time, I didn’t have lofty dreams for the side table. Since the walls were so saturated, I thought about just painting it a simple white.

Can you guess what happened next? We realized that our dresser wouldn’t fit in the room, so we needed space for guests to put their clothes. The little side table wouldn’t hold much – we’re currently on the search for nightstands that have at least three dressers.

The homeless little side table sat and waited for us to find a new place for it. We realized that we needed side tables for our game room, so that was where it would go. Finally!

After we painted our game room a dark gray, we decided a light gray color would work for the little side table, since an ultra-white table wouldn’t look good next to our cream-colored sectional sofa.

First, we had to clean the little side table – it had been sitting in the garage for far too long. The little side table felt happy – it had a home! It was finally getting some attention and TLC!

We filled in the weird slats with wood putty to modernize it a bit.

Then we attacked it with two coats of primer and two coats of light gray. A turquoise knob was purchased and drilled in.

We put it next to the sectional sofa and stood back. The little side table knew that it was homeless once again. It just didn’t belong. The colors weren’t right and the size was off.

But we were determined to find it a home. We tried it out in the office, since our other table wobbled hard when we used our printer. We put the printer on top and it was a perfect fit!

We should have been done, but we weren’t. I stared at it everyday and felt that it wasn’t living to its potential. Something was missing. It was too plain. If you glanced around the room, you wouldn’t even notice the little side table that held the printer with strength and determination. It needed… something.

When I was using all of my different shades of tester gray paint to decide the ceiling color for our green bathroom, I looked at one of the little bottles and realized that I could use it to jazz up the little side table.

With a little green tape and some freehand outlining with a silver colored pencil, the little side table finally looked beautiful. I love it, and I hope that it knows just how pretty and useful it is now.

I think it does.

October: Productive and Unproductive

There’s still one more week left in October and it’s already feeling like the longest month of 2010.

We packed up and flew to Philadelphia…

…where we found the orange table. Then I got advice from dad-in-law Tony about the closet bookshelves and learned that the saying “Measure twice, cut once” is wrong. It should be “Measure twice, ask dad-in-law for advice, THEN cut once.”

He invited me to look under his DIY shelves in his linen closet…

…and I decided to slash and burn change our closet bookshelves plan.

We arrived back home to this…

…and I developed a new plan for the bookshelves and marked my measurements in chalk…

…and stared and stared and stared some more at the existing closet shelf…

…thinking, “Should we rip that out? Would that cause damage? But if we leave it there, would it stick out like a sore thumb due to its weird supports that were designed to hold clothing rods? But what if we sell the house? Would it be better to leave it in so the next owner can use it as a closet? But should we suffer with this weird thing for as long as we live in this house, which might be ten years or more? But but but…”

Then our trash can popped its lid and we finally replaced it with a fancy trash can.

And then we were off on another plane, this time to Florida for my step-sister-slash-cousin (yep) Allison’s wedding! While on the plane, I read my favorite stupid magazine, SkyMall, and planned to snap photos of funny and dumb products for sale…

…but then Nick stopped me and told me that I was the dumb one. So I stopped. And we arrived just in time to grab a Five Guys burger and hightail it to the wedding to see Allison being beautiful…

…then arrived back home two days ago and got back to our closet project.

Yep, I tore it all down. It felt great. With some sanding and paint, we’ll be back on track with this project!

With no more out-of-state trips coming up anytime soon (we’ll be hosting Thanksgiving this year!), I hope to seriously check off some things off our list before 2011 comes and attacks us all.

P.S. Santa, I want a new camera for Christmas.

How to cut wood when you have almost no equipment in your garage…

We went to Lowe’s and picked out the wood we needed – the birch plywood and white wood for the shelf supports. For our closet bookshelves project. I thought Lowe’s would cut the white wood to size for us, but they said they didn’t do “project cuts.” At least our two plywood boards were ripped into into 10 shelves… for free!

Now, what to do about the white wood? We decided to get a hand saw. We went home with the wood in our car, grateful we have a bigger car than the mustang I used to own.

When it was time to cut the white wood with the handsaw, I was stumped. Do I just hold the wood and saw away? I needed something to hold it down. I needed saw legs, some clamps, and better planning skills! I had some teeny-tiny clamps that we used for my jewelry dresser, but they wouldn’t fit on the edges of the table.

I asked Sean, our temp roomie, if he had any ideas. He suggested us to use the pallets we had in the garage and clamp the wood to that. Genius, Sean! If you keep this up, your rent just might go away.

Tools needed: clamps, measuring tape, L-ruler, a pencil, a handsaw, a pallet, and of course, a bottle of beer.

Put a pallet on its back on the table. Clamp the wood to the… “legs” of the pallet. Saw away.

Yes, I did all the sawing myself while Nick mowed the grass. It was fun – I haven’t worked with wood since shop class in middle school.

It’s better if you can clamp the wood on two sides and saw in the middle, as seen below (that’s Nick’s hand, FYI. I do not have man hands).

We needed a total of 40 pieces and I sawed them all! I also sanded the edges smooth while watching Friends on my laptop in our garage. Whatever works!

And yes, we will suck it up and purchase some real tools and equipment soon. But we made do, for now!

Next step: Priming them!

A serious discussion about our closet bookshelves.

We are finally starting work on the closet bookshelves in our office!

Surprisingly, the measuring part was not the hardest part of starting this project. I love being married to a guy with a college degree in mathematics.

But we had a hard time deciding what wood to use for the bookshelves. After some scientific research with our research partner Google, it seems like birch plywood would be our best choice. Plywood is strong and economical and birch is a wood that is suited for staining and painting – and we plan to paint. Pine would be soft and our books are heavy (and I am majorly clumsy), so it might scratch and dent. Oak wood, though strong, would be astronomically expensive.

We plan to buy wood today. But please, if you’re reading this and shaking your head with a smart brain inside, let us know what we should do and give us any tips before we spend our pennies at a home improvement store this afternoon! Thanks in advance.

Now… on to the more important stuff. Paint colors!!

The inside of our closet is already teal…

We planned on painting our shelves white, to contrast with the teal and to go with our white trim. But I saw this beautiful closet-turned-bookshelves:

Apartment Therapy

Gorgeous. And see, the back and the shelves are all painted the same color. Hmm.. should we paint the shelves teal too? Would that be too much TEAL or be more seamlessss?

More photos of the seamless look:



Apartment Therapy

Apartment Therapy

Or should we stick with teal backs and white shelves? Photo time, again:


Apartment Therapy

I think the white looks good but it has to be done right. Ah I am already stressing over this decision and we haven’t even gotten the wood yet. Looks like I have to do my mantra chant again.

One… Thing… At… A… Time.   One… Thing… At… A… Time.   One… Thing… At… A… Time.   One… Thing… At… A… Time.   One… Thing… At… A… Time!!!

We’re definitely back in the US of A.

After five weeks of backpacking through Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, and Honduras, we missed a lot of things about home. Our cats topped the list, along with than the luxury of having more than six pieces of clothes to choose from, limitless internet browsing time, Dove soap, and not having to use public transportation. But you know what I really, really, really missed?

Craig’s List, of course.

And I got my fix!

Yes, that is a CAMPAIGN! I am so excited to finally have a piece of campaign furniture in our house! Yes, it’s not the nightstands I originally wanted, but I searched and searched so hard for them with no luck and this came up and it was perfect because we had just been talking about adding more storage for stationery and stuff in our office.

Got it for $80. You can’t really see it in the picture but it’s painted black with chips peeling off to show yellow paint underneath. Not too bad right now and it’ll go great with all the yellow in our office – but later on (much later on) we’ll paint it, maybe white.

As soon as we get it cleaned, we’ll introduce it to the furniture in our office and hope everyone gets along!

It’s good to be back home.

Finally, a decision on the office chair…

It’s been forever, but we finally ordered our fabric for the office chair. It’s a very exciting fabric… Very dynamic.

Well, at least the color is bright and it’s originally what we wanted when we started planning the office design.

There was a huge memorial weekend sale at Joann’s and this fabric was 50% off. We couldn’t pass it up – from 20 a yard to 10 a yard. We also decided (thanks to the always practical Nick) that this fabric would be a good choice because:

1. Price is good, so if I screw up, there’ll be less screaming WHYYYY

2. No pattern for me to screw up

Yes, it seems that SOMEONE has no faith in me. But it’s okay, because I’m not sure if I have too much faith in myself, either. I haven’t touched my sewing machine ever since I got it. And it’s definitely been more than a year since I first got it. Maybe three years, even.

We actually LOVE these two fabrics on the left:

(Isn’t it wonderful how the mouth can be used as a third hand?)

But they’re more expensive and have patterns… We decided that since this is going to be my first upholstery project, it would be smarter to go with a more economical fabric for now. Then, in a few years, we can decide whether I’m good enough to try a more pricey fabric or take it to an upholster to do the job when we have more moolah.

But I really hope I don’t screw this up. Gulp.

The fabric will arrive in around two weeks, and then we zoom off on our trip, so I’ll have to wait until late July/August to work on this. I’m also thinking about spray painting the metal parts a dark color – so our office chair might end up something like this:

[via Unhappy Hipsters]

Without the zombie-looking kid, kthxbai. (I just learned that term last week. Am I that old already? I’m behind on internet slang!)