The Office Madness Begins…

Two things first:

  1. We updated yesterday’s door-painting post with further-away exterior shots for everyone who requested those (and also updated our header- woot).
  2. Sherry knows she owes you a door hardware post (she’s editing pics and writing it up for tomorrow) but just to keep you dizzy, now we’ll dive into some office stuff. Told you we were all over the place these days!

Hot on the heels of our recent nursery furniture shuffle, we decided it was high time that we got shifty with our nothing-has-changed-in-eight-months office sitch (functional or comfortable aren’t words we’d use to describe that space thus far). Actually, adding a file cabinet was the first step (other than that it’s just been our old stuffed plopped down in a new, larger space). We went from a 10′ x 10.5′ office/guest room/playroom in the old house to a 13′ x 10.5′ in this one, but with windows and doorways in new places it’s not making everything come together naturally – or even remotely efficiently. So allow me to bust out some graph paper to illustrate the situation…

As you can see, we’ve got two doorways (a small one to the kitchen, a larger one to the dining room) and two windows (one looking into the carport, the other out to the front yard). It basically leaves us with only two functional walls and a couple of corners, which is why we’ve so far been living with this layout:

I’ll wait while you marvel at my paper cutting / marker drawing skills. While you do, here’s what the room looks like in real life. First, the view from the dining room:

It’s funny to think that this desk that once spanned almost an entire wall in our old office looks so dwarfed in this new room. But since it was the longest piece of office furniture we had, it made sense to plop it on the longest wall to begin with. Plus, it was nice to have a window to look out while we work (even if it only looked into the car port). We actually tried a few other rushed arrangements on move-in day and liked this best (which isn’t saying much). So it stuck for the last eight months.

Now here’s the view from the kitchen with the green sleeper sofa (technically loveseat) as centered on the window as possible without crowding Sherry’s chair.

And as for the one corner you can’t see (with the Effektiv file cabinet), here’s the best shot I could get before Clara and Burger came storming back in to re-mess the space (that ottoman’s full of toys and for some reason Clara doesn’t enjoy having them put away as much as we do).

But Clara wasn’t the only one about the mess things up, because we had some furniture-rearranging plans up our sleeves.

Sherry and I have had this itch to see if thing would work better with the sofa and desk swapped (we initially tried it when we moved in but it was before we got our secondhand desk chairs or turned the formal living room into a dining room) so we rolled up the rug and slid the pieces into their new homes. Our logic behind the switch was: 1) it’d be nice to upgrade our window view from the carport (which will eventually be an enclosed garage- albeit one with lots of windows to let in maximum light) to front yard greenery…

…and 2) since the sofa matches in the blue/green color scheme of the dining room, we thought maybe it would tie the rooms together better than our desk (while looking more living room-y and less office-y through the big dining room doorway).

But sadly, we knew almost immediately that this layout wasn’t gonna work. I noticed very quickly that getting into my chair (I’m the seat on the left) was very difficult. Not only because it’s a bit cramped (hello sofa arm!) but also because the chair doesn’t easily slide slide at all over the rug. So scooting my chair out was more frustrating than cutting Burger’s nails (which is definitely up there on the frustration scale).

One option would be to shift the couch and rug, but then things would start to get weirdly off center. Plus, none of that would solve having an AC vent right at our feet with the new placement of the desk (you can see a sliver of it above), which made us want to wear wool socks in the summertime. My toes are cold just thinking about it.

But it’s not the end of world, since we’re not married to this furniture 100%. In fact, we’ve been dreaming about upgrading our desk for a while now. Allow me to return to my graph paper to explain. Let’s start by looking at our current not-working furniture arrangement one last time:

We’ve always thought it’d be cool to create a “built-in” desk using materials like base kitchen cabinets and a wall to wall countertop. It’d give us a lot more surface area, plus it would add a ton of drawer and cabinet storage underneath. Sure it might seem like a major undertaking to some, but since we both work from home 24/7 we’d really love to make this room, well, work hard. And when aren’t built-ins a good idea? So we knew this desk-under-the-front-window shuffle would just be a test before we invested in (or built) something customized for the space, like this:

But of course we now know that would just exacerbate the sofa-cramping situation, cause issues with the whole rug/chair conflict, and most of all freeze the heck out of us every time the vent kicked on (and possibly roast us in the winter when it was heat). We know we could shift the sofa and rug a little to remedy the first two issues, but we think the room will just start to feel off balance with them shoved in a corner, like so…

… and it still doesn’t solve the whole vent issue (which we wouldn’t want to close or partially block since it’s one of the only ones in the room besides the one near the file cabinet).

So thanks to our little furniture shuffling experiment, we’re 100% sold on adding our built-in desk to the original long wall (which would look pretty sweet through the large doorway in the dining room). That way we’d also get an even longer workspace (we already dream of having space to spread out and as much storage along the bottom as we can). The slight bummer news is that we’re back to the carport view with the desk there. But you win some, you lose some. More storage/work space + no extreme temperature issues due to practically sitting on the vent trumps the view we hardly take time to enjoy since we’re nerdy bloggers with eyes that are glued to our laptops (or our baby) anyway.

As you can see it doesn’t totally solve the sofa situation, though. Which got us thinking that the sofa may need to find a new home, since he honestly doesn’t seem to fit perfectly, and maybe a smaller armchair + ottoman is a better fit. Like so:

After all, the priorities for this office are just (1) workspace for us and (2) play space for Clara. Noticeably missing from that list is (3) sleep space for guests, which was the whole motivation for fitting a sleeper sofa into our last office (which also had to function as guestroom – which definitely cramped our style when we were both working from home full time). But now that we have a dedicated guest room, we can relax a little on the must-sleep-guests aspect of the old office. Whew.

So next on our agenda is to start scoping out built-in solutions. We’d love to find something to retrofit at, say, the Habitat ReStore or on craigslist so we can avoid the cost of true custom built-ins and give some old kitchen or office cabinets a second life. So that’s all TBD for now. But hopefully not for long, since we’ve left the current office furniture where it was so we’ve got chilly toes and a janked up rug to keep us motivated to get ‘er going (for fear that if we put things back the other way they’d stay there another eight months).

Why are the rooms we spend the most time in always the last ones we figure out?

What’s your home office situation like? Do you work from home 24/7 or just do a little internet trolling during evenings/weekends? Are there any desk or built-in solutions that you love and would recommend? Or are you also dealing with something sub-par that you can’t wait to remedy? Any other freezing toe issues out there? Not fun.

Psst– We were having slow loading/site crashing issues from 10-11am for the third morning in a row. And it’s kind of a Groundhog Day-esque nightmare that we keep thinking we’ve solved (and then it happens again). We’re still working on it (pretty much constantly for the past 72 hours). So sorry for the trouble!


  1. says

    I have no need for a home office, but they are probably my favorite rooms to lust after. Maybe it’s my weird obsession with office supplies (back to school season is like crack for me). I’m excited to see how this room turns out. And I can totally picture a teenage Clara curled up in that chair while she attempts to annoy the pants of you two while you’re working. My mom’s office had a daybed for guests, and when I was feeling particularly bored, I would plop in there and turn on the TV while she worked. Conversations normally turned out like this:

    Mom: What are you doing?
    Me: Watching TV. *flips through channels*
    Mom: There are five other TVs in this house, and you had to choose this one?
    Me: I miss you. Can’t I sit here and enjoy your company?
    Mom: Fine. Enjoy my company. Is there something you want to talk about because I really need to finish these taxes.
    Me: Shhh. How am I supposed to watch TV with you babbling away over there?

  2. says

    I work from home half the time, but since we live in a two-bedroom condo, my office doubles as the guest room. I have a sweet sawhorse desk in there right now, but I’d REALLY like to get rid of the guest bed (or at lest settle for a futon or something) and get a larger workstation that I could use standing up. Sitting all the time while I bead makes my shoulders sore. :-(

  3. says

    My husband is an elementary school teacher and he JUST told me it was officially time to get some type of craft storage in the office(a funny marriage moment by the way, hahaha).

    I want to do a big overhaul and make the master bedroom (which has a half bath but is the smallest room in the house, go figure) the office and make the current office (the largest room in the house!) the master bedroom. I already have all set up!

    He said, “can’t I just put up shelves?” OK, fine. Can’t argue with a simple man solution…for now =) Can’t wait to see what you guys do!

    p.s.- Sherry, I drank from the Pinterst fountain, and it was glorious. I don’t know why I ever doubted. ;) I’m officially a member and am glad the site is blocked at work for my own sake.

    • Sayward says

      I’m with you! I’m a teacher, and I just stopped by school the other day to work on my classroom. The first thing I did when I got there was open Pandora and check to see if Pinterest was blocked. It is. At first I was miserable, but then I figured it’s probably for the best :)

    • says

      I am also a teacher and I get sooo jealous that not everyone else is in school! We started TWO WEEKS ago! Bah. Also, Pinterest isn’t blocked, but Pandora is. So sad.

  4. Janice says

    Have you thought about closing off the door to the kitchen? Especially since you plan to open up the wall between the kitchen and the dining room. It would give you a long full wall for built ins and shelves. I’m not a fan of that particular sleeper, it just doesn’t look like you guys, so I’d be thrilled to see it go to a new home. I have really great built ins in my home office, that were added by the previous owners. Yeah! Peter Falico, a host on Canadian HGTV, has used kitchen cabinets for office space in a great way – I’ll try to find a sample.

    • says

      We actually use the doorway to the kitchen all day long, so it’s really functional for us (the fridge and cabinets are all on this side, so it’s about three steps instead of twenty to go around through the other future doorway that will be on the far side of the kitch).


  5. says

    I think that’s going to look awesome. Maybe one day one end of the massive desk could be an art/crafts/lego/whatever-she’s-into area for Clara to feel grown up whilst you’re working.
    We had a desk for a while that was a narrow top put on top of two helmar filing cabinets. It looked great (partially because it looked built in to the nook it was in). Can’t wait to see how yours turns out!
    Could the loveseat-bed end up in the playroom or are you set on the daybed in there?

    • says

      I love the idea of adding a little workstation for Clara when she gets a little older! As with the loveseat living with the daybed in the playroom- that room is too full of junk for us to tell. Haha. Might have to map it out with graph paper.


  6. says

    Cracks me up to think of you two sitting at your little desks working away all day. My husband and I would absolutely kill each other working together like you do!

    • says

      Haha, the real deal is that we have a one year old! So one of us is always a stay at home parent while the other person works away. We’re rarely both sitting at our desks (especially since we’re usually up doing projects during nap time).


  7. LP says

    This isn’t design related, but I work from home full-time, and I’d say that you guys need a better computer screen situation – ie, monitors.
    At my husband’s encouragement, I set up my L-shaped desk with a docking station for my laptop and a huge monitor (and sometimes I even have 2 monitors). We found really nice, affordable monitors on Woot!

    I can always undock my laptop and work from it (at my desk or sitting somewhere else if I need to get out of my office), but I usually choose to keep it docked and work off my big, gorgeous monitor.
    My eyes used to hurt after leaning over and squinting at a laptop every day. Go for monitors! They’re easier to use when collaborating together, too.

    • says

      We’re Mac-loving laptop junkies for now, but we’ll definitely upgrade to monitors if we ever get a hankering for more of a high tech station (right now we like the ease and the small unassuming size since we’re on them all day and in all rooms of the house).


    • says

      That’s definitely all personal preference! I bought a 27″ monitor to compliment my Macbook…I used it about 3 times. I just love the portability of my Macbook and I’ve never had any issues with viewing the screen.

      So we added a Mac Mini and made the monitor a mini DVR station in the guest room.

  8. says

    What size is the bed in the playroom? It’s that West Elm daybed right? I bet you guys could come up with something good in there using the bed AND couch. It would be so great to have all that sleeping space when Clara gets older and hosts slumber parties!

  9. says

    Aw how cool :D My boyfriend and I will (hopefully) be moving in together in November and I want a build-in desk for my office. Just yesterday I read about using countertops as tables (over @ I must admit I hadn’t thought about it but I think I’m gonna go for a cheap IKEA countertop with some kitchen cabinets, as well. :)

    I’m very excited to see what you guys’ll come up with!!!

  10. Alison says

    I really like this idea. I had a thought for something similar myself, although I would need something that could be taken apart since I live in an apartment. My thought is that if I could make a top that acts like a “lid” over the cabinets or shelves, that it would be sturdy enough for while I’m working but removable when I move on. I’m excited to see how you guys work this out :)

  11. Pip says

    We have an embarrassing amount of Effektiv in our home office. We both study and hubs works from home as well, so we’ve managed to shoehorn in two desks, with wall cabinets overhead, a freestanding cupboard with hanging files and an armchair for the cat. My only disappointments are the ganky grey plastique feet that came with cupboard and that ikea doesn’t believe in A4 hanging files. Would have loved to re-purpose something for our needs and can’t wait to see what you guys will sizzle up.

  12. says

    I am in the midst of building a window seat that runs the length of a wall, much like you’re thinking of doing for the desk. I had a vent that I had to deal with, too. It was actually a very easy fix. We simply used a some sort of duct work and sheet metal from Home Depot and re-routed it so it came out the front of the window seat in the toe kick area. There is a picture on my blog if you’d like to check it out. Good luck!

    (You have to scroll past the pool pictures but you can kind of see where the vent comes out…)

  13. Veronika says

    For some reason your website looks all messed up today…I tried to reload it a few times and it takes for-ever! and the colors and the structure of the page is all coco…

    • says

      Sorry for the trouble! Check out our Facebook page for more details (we’re dealing with slow loading and site crashing for the third day in a row- it’s a nightmare to put it mildly).


  14. Tashia says

    I found a super long piece of white countertop in the IKEA As Is department for $40 that helped create the sewing/office space I had dreamed of for a long time. They had many many pieces in different colors and types- might be the place to start for a bargain counter top/desktop.

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