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!


    • says

      Oh yeah- just pinned that. Haha. Love it! But we’d love to use secondhand cabinetry (that’s more concealed storage so Clara can’t get into everything). But the countertop is so pretty!


  1. Erica says

    Love the Pinterest inspiration photos- I can’t wait to see what you guys come up with!
    Do you guys by chance subscribe to Joss & Main (I do not work for them so this is not a plug)? I only ask because they have the cutest white animal ceramic bookends today that made me think they’d look great in an office of yours. Their owl ones are especially cute.

    Anyways, keep up the great work!

  2. says

    My husband and I went through an office redo last year. We looked at every desk we could find and discussed built-in desks also. Nothing really seemed to work. Then, on a lark, we went to a new furniture store. Sitting by the front entry was this huge country style plank dining set for 16. My husband loved the table but the cost was too high.

    We looked at everything else with no success. Hubby was ready to leave in total desk-less disappointment. I suggested we at least walk through their reject room (that’s what we call the “scratch & dent” section). At the very back of the reject room was that same table for about 1/5 of the cost. It was in great shape and included 2 leaves. We bought it. It has been our desk ever since. We can sit side by side or across from each other–depending on how we configure the room.

  3. says

    Right now my office space is my dining room table. I would love to have a designated spot to avoid clutter, but haven’t found a great solution yet. Thanks for the inspiration!

  4. Patti says

    I love when you guys post about home office stuff. My hubs works from home and does not give a lick about storage, filing, etc. so I’m left trying to convince him he needs a better workspace. He doesn’t realize that in the long run, it’ll help him work better! I’ll be watching your office posts to show him along the way, thanks!

  5. says

    I too work from home, in a former dining room converted to an office! Except, it’s more of a dining nook than room. I live in an apartment, so my space is super limited. In the meantime I’ve been trolling Pinterest for office decor ideas, dreaming of the day when I can have a home all my own, with a whole room dedicated to an office… sigh!

  6. Melo says

    Great ideas, but glad that you will continue “brewing” them. I’m right there with your vision, and honestly love that you are returning to the “white/ beige” inspiration rooms.

    Here’s an idea: How about getting two seating pieces instead of just one, and repurpose the Effectif (sp?) as part of the built-ins unit?

    Now, about the window towards the carport… I’ll continue to think about that. :-)

    • says

      Haha, thanks Melo. The file cabinet is far too high to work under a chair-height countertop, but we’ll definitely keep brewing and see where we end up!


  7. Erin says

    We just moved from a 1 bed apt to a 3 bed house and I was SO excited about finally having an office to work from home in! However, of course it’s the last place to be fixed up b/c I’m not sure what to do with it yet. I’ve now turned my kitchen into my stinkin office and am using the island as a desk until I figure out a solution for that dang office!

  8. says

    right now, we’re in a rental with 2 bedrooms. one is our actual room, the other is my husband’s music studio (he’s a composer). i’d love to re-do BOTH rooms for better use of space, but i just don’t think that’s going to happen. so, onward to expediting the purchase of a house!

  9. says

    I’m sure you guys are aware of these since you frequent Ikea so much, but have you looked at the Expedit workstation? My husband and I work from home a lot and we wanted a similar desk set-up and found these to be really affordable. We bough one expedit shelf (the 8-square one) and then attached a desk to each side to create a wall-length unit. However, we’ve discovered that we don’t necessarily like the Expedit shelf essentially cutting our workspace in two, so we’ve been thinking about switching the tall, 8-sq shelf to the smaller 4-sq Expedit shelf which would create an even longer/seamless workspace…I’m sure you probably don’t want to make your office an Ikea showroom, but just thought I’d mention it!! :)

    can’t wait to see what you come up with!

    • says

      p.p.s. is the large tree in your front yard (the one that’s interrupting your awesome header pic) something you guys are considering removing?

    • says

      Ugh, we go back and forth. It’s a magnolia, so we hate to do it, but it litters our lawn with big leaves and is completely too large to be so centrally placed in front of our house. We tried limbing it up but might eventually get it taken down. Still kind of on the fence. I wish I just had the power to move it over twenty feet to the side!


  10. Sandy says

    Wow, that sleeper looked so small in your old office…weird…

    I like the wall to wall idea. You could dip it in the middle where the window is and make it Clara’s workstation AND chalkboard/magnet paint that wall for all your fabuloso ideas!

  11. dana828 says

    I love the idea of the built-in office solution! We had thought about that for our office, but in the end decided to go with Ikea pieces that fit well in the space at a far cheaper price. Funny thing is, I tried to show my husband my Ikea desk idea for over a year and he kept shooting it down, only to finally see it in-store a few months ago and remarking how it would fit perfectly…guess I had to let him think it was all “his idea” before he would agree to it. :)

    My biggest problem now is that I have started working from home a bit, but always find myself with the laptop at the dining room table. Our office is in the basement, and we can’t let our dog down there because she would eat all my son’s Legos that never seem to get put away…

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