The Office…reveal

It was some time ago when I wrote about our effort to overhaul our office. It became a dumping group for all things not baby-toddler friendly. Because of that, it looked like a dumping ground, ever tempting those three foot and below persons who live in this home. I do not have many pictures of it before. We started with me using a dining table as a desk, Ikea Expedit shelves for bookcases. Kyle had an old computer desk from my parents, flanked with two more Ikea Expedit bookcases to house all my book plus file storage boxes.



This is not a large room. The round table was too much. Out it went and in came an antique wood desk. This was better, but we still had little floor space and many problems with the kids. Because I often use my computer standing up, not sitting down (because I’m holding a baby of course), and because my other projects usually involve a sewing machine, I realized I needed a standing desk. My husband just needed anything with more surface space, plus cubbies to stick instruments. I hated the idea having such high ceilings and not utilizing these walls for upward storage.

Now, with the exceptions of a few small things, our office is finished. Already I am experiencing the fruits of a workstation built to serve the activities I have, from sewing craft projects to uploading photos to writing for this blog. The children are able to be in here without causing any distress. Our eldest has a school desk where she can work.

Without further adieu, the guided tour. This is the view when you walk in the door.

IMG_6658Using black track and brackets, my husband mounted four tracks along the wall you see when you first walk in. We used magnets, lightly dragging them along the wall, to locate the nails which connect the drywall to the studs. The man put it well when he said the house would have to fall down before those tracks fall down.

We used 1 x 12 boards found at my father’s farm. My husband sanded them down with his new random orbit sander. We chose to keep them different lengths with a few rough edges.


IMG_6661 He intentionally sanding the edges very lightly to keep the texture.

To prevent the books from overwhelming the space, some designers recommend grouping them by category, or making book covers. If you are being paid by the hour to do this, make book covers. I’m morally opposed to grouping them by color unless they are purely for decoration, and I don’t believe in owning books for pure decoration. I recognize the beauty of leather binding, but I firmly believe it’s the stuff inside that makes them valuable. If the stuff inside makes them valuable, that’s how they shoudl be organized. The other trick to breaking it up visually is have other objects on the shelves. Since we do not own enough bookends, other objects were a necessity.

IMG_6684IMG_6676We turned the Expedit shelves on their sides, installed drawers and a couple cabinet fronts (on mine) for closed storage.

IMG_6668Currently we’re borrowing barstools from my father’s bar, which is in his remodeled barn, which were sort of buried in things not related to bars or barstools. I actually really like how they look and may hold onto them for a while. They swivel.

IMG_6670We removed one shelf in the Expedit to accommodate my sewing machine. My husband screwed in six 6-inch Ikea Capita legs to raise my desk. We acquired a workbench top from my father for my desk top. He really does just have this stuff lying around.

IMG_6673IMG_6675I kept the shelf above my desk for my current reading (or reading list books) and to keep other things accessible to me, but out of reach of children.



Another thanks to my family of origin for our vintage pencil sharpener. Why do it electric when you can burn calories? It’ll last longer anyway, and if the power goes out, we can still sharpen our pencils.

I finally have my diplomas on the wall, plus a bulletin board. Pinterest is a dream, but some times you need to pin things that aren’t digital (paint chips, fabric swatches). You can’t beat the real thing.

IMG_6688For storage we purchased a tall cabinet from the Habitat for Humanity Restore. We discussed finishing the side with reclaimed redwood siding but with the desk there, I’m thinking sheet metal and chalkboard paint (= chalk board and magnetic board) might be just right since this will be a school space.

IMG_6669 A filing cabinet from when my grandmother moved replaces the old cardboard file storage boxes.

IMG_6672There is a gem that came with the house, a house which had nothing but standard lighting.

IMG_6690It fits perfectly with our decor and I’m so glad the light bulbs aren’t exposed!

Let’s put the room to work.

IMG_6674    IMG_6679     This has been a wonderfully satisfying project, done on a budget but done in such a way that fits us, without taking short cuts on what we wanted out of the space. There are still little things to be done, like a desk top for my husband. But for the most part, we can sit back and consider this a job well done. What do you think?

Oft-neglected Office Overhaul

Dear Reader, if you have ever seen photos of the my home interior you will not recall photos of our office. Our office is that place, that place inside the home of any family with young children where the children are not allowed. It is the, how you say, dumping ground of all things we do not want them to eat, tear apart or stab each other with (I do acknowledge there isn’t anything I would like to stab each other with).

You may also know, perhaps, that I am not very good at taking before pictures. I can take a thousand after pictures, but I somehow get so very excited about the process of overhauling that before pictures never cross my mind. I prefer to avoid looking at the before situation, why photograph it? Here is the best I could find of our office.

IMG_4850This was when we first moved in. As of two weeks ago, a wood antique desk was there at the open wall above; the circular table has its second home since moving out of the office; and I use, rather, store the chair that had no home (not the one pictured, that one is now blocking the fireplace).

IMG_4849My husband’s side was largely the same as what you see here.

I avoided the office. I could not sit and type while holding the baby so I used the kitchen counter to read, distract, write emails. My desk became so cluttered I rarely went in there. In anticipation of our tax return, I began planning.

There were a series of options. I realized I needed a counter-height desk and my husband needed more surface area. We would use 100-year old wood my father possessed to create book shelves to go all the way up to the ceiling and to form desk tops for us. I decided I could buy kitchen cabinets from the Habitat for Humanity ReStore to use as the base of my desk. We would buy Ikea parts for my husband’s desk base.

Then came a night of insomnia. I gave up on sleeping, went online and found this guide on turning an Expedit 2×4 shelf (of which we have three) into a standing desk.

The next day, thanks to pre-planned grandparent-babysitters, we made the 90-minute drive to Ikea, took the short cut to the marketplace and made it out in a little over an hour. Once home, I emptied our desk and antique dresser (used it for storage) contents into drawers and emptied the antique dresser. After a rant about not being sentimental about out furniture, selling these chairs which I reupholstered in preparation for marriage…

IMG_5136I decided to hold onto the dresser (used for storage) and keep it at my parents house, where they have unlimited storage space.

IMG_4244I bought it at a estate sale just before marrying. The woman I bought it from recalled being at her grandmother’s house as a child, opening the drawers, and handling the delicate linens she stored there. How a child could open those bottom drawers I’ll never know because they are heavy. It isn’t a very functional piece, but I realize I am sentimental about these pieces and will be careful what I choose to sell/give away.

Now, we’ve only got the books stacked on the floor, Expedit shelves on there sides with drawer inserts (mine on legs, my husbands without feet thus far). The room, for all it’s floor clutter, feels more open and clean to me. My storage system is taking shape with room for my sewing machine, cubby for my sewing box, a craft cubby. I am thinking I want a small filing cabinet next to my desk, but I want to move slowly.IMG_6337

After all, this weekend, we’re building a triple bunk bed!