Before we dive into our recent office progress, we just wanted to send out a heartfelt thanks to everyone who left such sweet comments on yesterday’s announcement. To say that it has been completely surreal and that we’re so grateful are two of the biggest understatements we could make. But back to the office. You might remember on our initial planning post, we left off saying “We’re still letting the concept simmer in our heads, but we’re fairly confident that we’ll start heading in that last layout’s direction since it feels like it makes the most sense for the way we work.”
We still wanted to tape things off on the floor to really get a feel for things, and after 700+ comments rolled in with ideas and suggestions, we had fun mulling over every last alternative. After a whole lot of thinking (and debating, and sketching, and standing in the room with tape lines all over the floor) we decided:
- an optimal layout would be some sort of floating double desk so we could both be in the middle of the room, instead of sitting right against the wall (we both would have window views, and would prefer to orient it so nobody has their back to the door)
- a meeting table in the office would make that the third room on our first level with a table in the middle of it, so although there was some initial embarrassment at the thought of holding meetings in our blue-trimmed dining room, we’re planning to redo that shortly, so it makes sense to let it multitask. It honestly might get more use for meetings than formal dinners anyway – plus we won’t have to worry if our office is a mess before meetings
- a craft/photography zone would still be most useful right in the office – and would most likely work best against the back wall of the room since the sunlight can’t stretch that far (that’s where John has been sitting/working for the last nine months)
So with those three slow realizations (sometimes it takes us a while to get there…) we determined this layout might give us more function (and less wall-staring time) than the one we were initially leaning towards in our last office planning post.
We even dragged the comically small desk into the middle of the room just to picture things a little better. We both LOVED being sort of cradled by the bay window, and sitting in the middle of the room, so it confirmed that we were finally on the right path. Psst- the plants are fiddle leaf figs from Home Depot (on sale for $59 with a 1 year warranty) so here’s hoping I can keep them among the living…
Ever since we’ve been keeping an eye out for something to use as a double desk that could float in the room. We assumed we’d need to adapt it in some way to make it wider or longer to accommodate two people, but we knew a good solid piece would be just the “bones” we’d need to begin, so we’ve been hitting up thrift stores, checking out craigslist and freecycle, and even the occasional yard sale (theeeeeey’re staaaaarting up again guys! hooray spring!). After at least eight failed missions/searches, this nice big, packed with storage, solid wood desk popped up on craigslist as a curb alert.
It was sheer luck that I saw it about twenty minuntes after it was initially posted (free curb alert items don’t usually last long) and it was even better luck that it happened to be a Wednesday, because on a weekend I think it would have been gone in a minute. We dropped Clara off with John’s parents so we could fold down the seats to make room for something big, and raced over to the curb… hoping to see something on it.
Oh happy day, we made it! And it fit into the car by about two inches (if the legs weren’t removable it would have been too tall).
There might have been happy tears from this highly emotional pregnant lady. I also cry during commercials and the occasional youtube video about puppies.
Anyway, once at home we set it up on a dropcloth with four small pieces of wood under it to lift it up a few inches off the ground. The drawers were still out from our travels, and the other side was a cabinet with a faux-drawer front. There was even a pull-out thing on the right.
It was pretty beat up, so we were glad we were both sold on painting it white from the start.
We’ve been craving a clean/light/airy office from day one (we have dark walls in our bedroom, and more planned for the dining room across the hall from the office – but we always envisioned a light and bright work space). So although we LOVE a good old piece of furniture that’s unpainted, like our media cabinet, which we just cleaned up and brought back to its original beauty with a combination of this method and this method; and Clara’s dresser, which we just stained with a painted top; and this hand-me-down dresser from John’s dad that now lives in our closet…
… painting the desk a no-brainer thanks to the combination of more wear and tear along with our desire for a clean and light office.
We also removed all the hardware, drawers, and doors to prep it. That’s when we saw this tag with the maker’s info. Doesn’t “Administrator TM” sound official? I loved squinting at the old drawer lock that said 1968 (it kinda looks like 1999 in in this picture, but up close it’s definitely ’68). In fact in googling around for “Alma Administrator Desk 1968″ I found one (albeit in a lot better shape) on eBay for $1000! Is that crazy or what?
How cool is this world we live in, where people leave things they no longer want on the curb and they just might happen to be exactly what someone else is looking for.
I’m sentimental these days, huh? It’s just a desk.
Anyway, next up was the “remove all the other random stuff” stage. This included using a straight razor to scrape off some paint blobs, weird raised areas of glue, and some old tape that had been stuck to the surface.
Then it was sanding time, so John donned a mask (sanding old wood can be particularly dusty) and used our hand sander to really rough things up.
Once it had all been sanded down, we applied wood putty in a few spots, just to fill in the divots and low points. We sanded those areas again when they were fully dry, and we were good to go.
Next I wiped it down with liquid deglosser, just to remove any leftover sawdust or grease/build-up that might be lurking. Then John broke out the Kilz Premium primer and applied one thin and even coat with a small foam roller. It’s what we used to paint our kitchen cabinets, which didn’t give us any issues with bleed.
One coat only took about an hour, and we did the back and fronts of the cabinet door, and the fronts of the drawers (so we left the interior of the cabinets and the drawers wood, which we did in our last office as well).
Before painting it, we decided it was probably smart to bring it into the house so we didn’t risk dinging up our paint job by moving it afterwards. We used the same dolly that came in handy for getting the fridge on the back porch a few weeks ago but this time John and I got ‘er done. The dolly did all the heavy lifting, so John pulled and I just sort of steered it, opened various doors, and made sure we weren’t hitting anything or falling off the front pathway while we pulled it along.
Once inside, we set up the same drop cloth + four scrap pieces of wood system to slightly lift the desk off the floor and used the same Simply White Advance paint that we used for the upper cabinets in the kitchen (it’s self leveling and specifically made for painting cabinetry or furniture). Once again we applied it with a small foam roller – using a small angled brush to get into some of the areas a roller wouldn’t reach, and then rolling over them as much as we could to blend everything together.
John did the first coat, and tagged me to do the second one the next day. If you can imagine, I looked even less graceful doing this part. Thankfully there is zero photographic evidence.
It just took those two coats to get it covered, and the following day I applied some satin Safecoat Acrylacq to the desktop just to seal everything and give it added protection – once again with a small foam roller (I did two thin coats).
We also decided to have some fun with the legs and the handles by painting the wood parts the same Simply White color as the desk itself, but once that dried we taped off the freshly painted parts (or disassembled the handles) so the old silver metal could get a subtle metallic-champagne color (I used Champagne Mist by Rustoleum).
It definitely has that light/airy office vibe going on now.
You can catch a glimpse of the legs in this photo.
Overall, we’re really happy with how it came out. Especially since it was a free secondhand find, which means we can put more money towards other things we want to do in here – like window treatments, an awesome overhead light, storage systems, nice new office chairs, etc.
So here’s how the room is looking now:
With more of a handle on our layout, we’re excited to move on to other steps, like painting the office (so far we’ve only done the trim) and working out how we’re going to make a wall of organization (we’re planning to use the wall behind this shot, since it’s hidden from the foyer (that way the room won’t look messy even if our command center gets chaotic).
As for adapting the desk to work for two people, we think it’ll be a pretty simple cut-a-hole-in-the-back-and-trim-it-out process, and we might add a wider top down the line (wouldn’t soapstone be cool?). But we didn’t want to rush into that just in case over the next few weeks as this room comes together we change our mind and want a single desk for some reason (with another desk area somewhere else). So we’re resisting the urge to rush into any decisions that we can’t undo, like cutting this baby open.
Update: Apparently using laptops for scale would have been helpful to show how two people can easily fit at this desk (it’s 34″ wide and would be 38″ if we added some sort of counter with a 2″ overhang) so here’s that pic for you guys! Our first house’s double desk was 18″ deep, and we each had ample rooms for legs and computers, so we think this plan should work well – but of course we’ll keep you posted…
What secondhand finds have you guys been hunting down lately? Have you ever actually gotten in on a curb alert before someone beat you to it? This was our very first time. Gotta say, I liked it. I liked it a lot.
Just when you thought we were all painted out on Monday, I’m back with another painting update. With this bun of ours arriving in five short weeks, it’s lighting a “paint all the things!” fire under my rear. I know that being laid up with a c-section will mean staring at all of the not-done things on the ol’ to-do list, so humming through a few of them before the little man is here will hopefully put my nesting slash home-making mind at ease. So we set our sights on the upstairs hallway.
It connects so many rooms (the nursery, our room, the hall bath, Clara’s room, the guest room, the laundry, etc) that we thought it would be a nice “bang for our buck” spot in the sense that we walk through it ten million times a day, so we’d notice a nice fresh paint job.
You know, instead of seeing the same over-sprayed edges from painting the trim back in May of last year (has it really been that long?!).
It also connects to the stairwell that we painted back in November, and the foyer that we painted last July. So when we picked that color for the foyer (Edgecomb Gray, which reads more like a soft tan color in our house then an actual gray), we selected it knowing that it would travel up the stairs and eventually grace the hallway up there as well. We like that it’s a simple and light neutral, so it won’t make the stairs or that interior hallway feel dark, and it allows us to use a bunch of other colors in adjoining rooms without worrying that they’ll clash. For example, we have coral, blue, red, and soft pink on the walls (and ceiling) of Clara’s room…
… as well as a deep moody blue in our master bedroom.
Meanwhile, the walls of the guest room, laundry nook, and hall bathroom up there have yet to be painted… so we also like that the hall color leaves those wide open.
You can actually see where our stairway paint job ended in this pic. Elegant, eh? Look at that line we just randomly painted on the ceiling. That thing cracked me up and irked me all at the same time.
The hallway is sort of like two or three rooms of its own. It’s 33 feet from the laundry nook to our master bedroom, and there are a whole lotta doorways (eight) and lights (three) to cut in around. I don’t usually mind cutting in too much though. It’s tedious, but it makes me feel accomplished if that makes sense. As I go I’m all “three doorways down, five to go – turtle power!” I also ponder things like why mashed potatoes and milkshakes have so many calories while things like celery and water have virtually none. Or why there’s not one cheat day each year when everyone can magically consume anything they want and not gain any weight. My pregnant mind clearly puts a lot of thought into food.
Clara also got in the action. Not by painting, but by lending positive vibes, singing various Frozen songs, and dancing around with a giant piece of ribbon like a tiny color guard.
All told, it was around five hours of cutting in across two days (it took two coats) and John swooped in to do the rolling, which also took two coats but went quite a bit faster (maybe three hours total across two days?). I thought of a few painting tips to share with you guys as I went, so here they are:
- Even if you can reach up and roll the high parts without an extension pole, it’s a lot easier on the ol’ back if you break one out.
- We painted the ceiling the same color as the walls since it’s a light color and we wanted that seamless look instead of accenting the ceiling as a separate plane in this case (we also tend to do that in bathrooms).
- Try painting with some tunes on to make it go faster (or news radio, or a book on tape, or a tiny dancing preschooler, or some other auditory form of entertainment).
- A short handled 2″ angled brush is my favorite cutting in weapon. Seriously, read the comments on this old post of yesteryear to see how many people commented that it changed their life. I promise I’m not exaggerating – it’s a huge time saver.
- We don’t use a dropcloth over hardwoods because seven years of painting have made us pretty neat, and we’ve found that the occasional floor drip is easy enough to wipe up if it’s wet or even pop off with your fingernail if it’s dry.
- Stop thinking about food. It’s weird.
And here’s our wahoo-it’s-done result:
It’s a pretty dramatic update from what it looked like back when we bought the house.
Here’s the freshly painted result from the other side (with my back to the bedroom). Ugh, I can’t wait to rehang some doors to block our dark little laundry area in the back.
But the view of pretty much everything else is looking a whole lot fresher…
… so we’re really glad we knocked it out pre-Barnacle.
For anyone looking for a tutorial on changing out your outlets, John did a giant infographic about it here. And for here’s a how-I-cut-in-without-taping-most-things-off video, from back when we were painting our guest room:
Before I go I thought I’d share all the paint colors we’ve used in our house to date (along with four that we’re thinking about adding). It’s fun to compare it to our first whole-house-palette post for this house to see how many are the same, how many are close but not exact, and how many have changed since that was just a bunch of guesses about where we thought we were headed last July.
Here’s the key to what’s what:
- Our Bedroom (Black Pepper)
- Our Kitchen (Nelson Blue)
- Foyer/Hall (Edgecomb Gray)
- Possible Nursery Accent Color? (Grassy Fields)
- Nursery Built-Ins (Senora Gray)
- Nursery Walls (Going To The Chapel)
- Clara’s Door (Cinco De Mayo)
- Clara’s Ceiling (Pink Cadillac)
- Clara’s Walls & Half Bathroom (Simply White)
- Clara’s Raindrop Color #1 (Tranquil Blue)
- Clara’s Raindrop Color #2 (Milano Red)
- Clara’s Raindrop Color #3 (Pink Cadillac)
- Front Door (Blue Lake)
- Master Closet & Sink Nook (Revere Pewter)
- Sunroom Ceiling (In Your Eyes)
- Possible Dining Room Color? (Knoxville Gray)
- Possible Guest Room Color? (Sparrow)
- Possible Office Color? (Polar Lights)
* not pictured: possible colors for the hall bathroom, the laundry nook, and the unfinished storage space since we don’t have a clue about those yet
Are any of you guys also on a painting bender? Or just rushing to check other things off before an impending deadline? I gotta say, I slept like a baby after all that edging, and I’m usually an insomniac these days, so it was pretty sweet.