It seems our excitement for the plans that we’ve been cooking up for the showhouse office has spilled over to our own office. Well, that and the fact that ours is looking pretty sad lately, having recently pilfered both its armchair and Expedit for the nursery. It doesn’t help that our chalkboard still says “Merry Christmas” on it. So basically, yeah, this office screams “I’ve got my ish together.”
We’re excited to be thinking about the office because it’s one of our favorite full-of-raw-potential spaces in the house (so much space! so much light!). And with the baby’s impending arrival (six weeks!) we’re feeling the urge to consolidate our business life so it’s less likely to infiltrate family time. You know, like making “no more laptops on the diner table” rules. Another example of our completely not-contained work spread is that all of my accounting stuff currently lives in a kitchen cabinet because my desk wall lacks storage (but apparently not holiday cheer).
This is a room where we’ll skip the Phase 1 stuff and jump right to Phase 2 (like we’ve done in the sunroom, for instance) because it doesn’t require the amount of planning/saving/splurging that a kitchen or bathroom makeover does (no pricey appliances, new counters & tile, etc) and we’re fairly confident that we can end up with a space that works for us for the long-haul (the kitchen & bathrooms tend to take more percolation time – we’re still changing our minds everyday). Note: There’s more on how/why/when we tend to do Phase 1 updates here.
We actually think this space has a ton of potential to not only be functional, but to be beautiful, thanks to the fact that it’s one of the most light-filled rooms in our house, and it has that pretty bay window in the back.
We want the bay window to remain a focal point, since it’s so nicely centered in the room – but we’ve thought it through, and officially nixed the idea of adding a built-in bench seat because:
- we don’t see a bench seat as being super functional for an office
- the window is actually really shallow so it would be a very narrow seat
- it might get in the way of our current Christmas tree spot (is that really my third X-mas mention? Geez) – although I’m sure we could find another tree spot if necessary, so the tree isn’t a deal breaker on its own
But what the room giveth with the bay window, it taketh away elsewhere. As in, we’ve got some other challenges to work around, like the less-than-centered doorway on the other side of the room. I guess we can only have so much symmetry in our lives…
The front window wall is also great for light, but not so great for furniture placement. Since the windows are so close to the floor, they really make it hard to put anything on that side of the room without blocking a lot of light (and making for a strange view from the street).
With those challenges in mind, Sherry and I brainstormed a list of priorities for our office. Some are just carried over from our last office, but some are new given the larger, more light-filled space.
- Two Desks: Duh, right? Sherry usually works at the kitchen table (more on that here), but we’d love to create a dedicated space in here for her to really spread out. And my small parson’s table could definitely be improved by more space and more drawers. So there’s a lot we can do to improve on this.
- Storage: We don’t have a ton of paperwork, but we’d love to expand our file storage. Mostly to bring in some of the stuff that we have shoved into other rooms – like tax documents and side gig paperwork – rather than having that stuff spread randomly around the house.
- A Big Meeting / Craft Table: We don’t have a ton of meetings here, but we’ve had enough recently (mostly showhouse related) that we’d like to stop having them in our kitchen or dining room. Plus, it would serve the double function of an area for completing/shooting smaller projects (with all the natural light in this room, it’d be a great spot for photography).
- Whiteboard / Pinboard / Magnetboard: We want a nice big wall where we can organize our to-do list, calendar, future project ideas, etc, etc. where we can both see everything. Right now we both keep ourselves organized on our own phones and notebooks, so some communal organization is needed to get us both in the same loop again. We’re not sure exactly what this looks like yet, but we’re already brainstorming a few options that we could implement.
- Doors: Partly because this room seems made for some nice french doors, but also because it would be great to get some added soundproofing in here – especially during conference calls or other times that one of us really needs to concentrate.
- Kid-Friendly Space: It’s been nice to have Clara’s drawing desk in here (so we have the option to “work” together during less intense moments of the day) – so we’d like to create a flexible little area that works for smaller kids but also can transition to work for bigger kids (so it’s not something that we outgrow in a few years).
With priorities set, we started floor planning (I took a few new apps for a spin to plan the room, so I’ll share more on those in another post). Here’s a rough representation of the current furniture plan. Yes, it’s pretty sad.
We started by just expanding on our current layout to include the things we wanted and bring things up to scale for the room. We’ve liked having the table centered in the bay window, so maybe just upgrading to a bigger table and some curtains could work? And then we could wrap an L-shaped desk around that corner to give us some built-in desk storage (kinda like our last office) and make room for both of us to sit.
But we weren’t crazy about the corner-desk in that option since it seemed kinda cramped. And since that’s where we’d likely be spending most of our time, it felt weird to not give it more priority in the room – and to take advantage of all the windows by actually getting to see out of at least one of them.
Then we went crazy and tried making the desks “the stars” of the room by keeping them symmetrical with the bay window. The most logical version of this was two separate desks sort of flanking the window. But even that attempt wasn’t very logical because it put one desk right in front of a too-low window (so you’d see the side of the desk from the street) – and it also would require us weaving around the big table every time we wanted to get to our seats.
So next we tried mocking up an idea that was actually our original concept for this space. It includes office storage along the entire back wall, with desk areas that are integrated into them. Here’s our inspiration picture, complete with a friendly looking feline.
We originally discarded this idea because we thought it’d screw up the symmetry of the window – which was something we really liked about the room. But as we played around with the floor plan, we realized we could maintain the symmetry by putting something in the bottom right corner too, so the bay window still feels centered. Plus this plan would leave the middle of the room pretty open for a big table, which we could move around – or even move completely out if the need arose. We also could move our laptops to the meeting/craft table to get a nice view out the window if we ever feel too wall-locked at our desks (Sherry currently unplugs and works at the kitchen table everyday, so that shouldn’t be too much of an adjustment).
Update: We’re getting some questions about where the Barnacle will go, but Clara’s desk actually has two chairs and is long enough for two kids (we’ve even had four kids at it if we pull it away from the wall) so it’ll accommodate the bun as well as the bean.
Update #2: We’re also getting questions about window glare from working along that back wall, but John has worked there for the past 9 months without an issue (the sun streams in but the room is wide enough for it to hit the floor about 5′ from his chair – so it’s not up at screen level).
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. Although “start heading” involves painting a whole lot of blue trim first (sixty six window mullions to be exact). And it takes four coats… so that’s a whole lot of painting.
What’s on your priority list when it comes to a home office? Do you have a desk tucked into the corner of your den (we totally did that in our first house)? Is there a little work area in your kitchen with a laptop hookup? Or do you have a dedicated home office? Does anyone have work stuff in the bedroom? Growing up Sherry’s dad had a computer and all of his paperwork in there, but that doesn’t seem to be something most people do anymore.
So yeah… our fridge is white now.
It’s not a new fridge, it’s just our old almond-colored one “freshened up” a bit with some appliance paint so that it would play along more nicely with our white cabinets. After tons of you (literally dozens) mentioned that you had great luck with appliance paint in this post, we were encouraged to give it a try.
I’ll admit that I initially had my doubts, but after hearing such rave reviews from you guys, we figured at its best, this update would help an old fridge blend in more until we save up enough money to replace it during Phase 2 of this kitchen makeover. And if it completely tanked, we could tell you guys the truth, share the awful photos, and just generally save you the trouble of doing whatever it was that we did.
After doing a little bit of what-had-good-long-lasting-reviews research, we settled on this Specialty Appliance Epoxy that was $15 from Home Depot, which was only available in exactly the color we needed: gloss white. I know it’s not as cool or trendy as something like chalkboard paint (which Sherry had mentioned a few times) but I’m weird about chalk and all that dust near my food source gave me the heebies jeebies. Plus I knew if we craigslisted this fridge down the line we could probably ask more for a white one than a chalkboard painted one.
The refrigerator “refinishing” process itself was pretty darn easy. It was the prep that took some muscle – namely moving the fridge outside so that I could paint without stinking up the house (the epoxy smelled like rubber cement, so we definitely wanted to follow their “do this in well ventilated area with a mask on” instructions). After I turned off and disconnected the water line, my dad came over and with a dolly we got it ready to head out to the sunroom… until we realized the handles made it too big to fit out the doorway.
So off came the handles (well, and one of the doors too – it’s a long story) so we could bareeeely squeeze it out the door. We actually left most of the food inside (except for some especially heavy, breakable, and spillable stuff that temporarily came out during transport) to avoid the extra hassle of unloading and reloading everything. Oddly enough, it worked.
The move took place on Friday night so that we’d be ready to go on Saturday morning, since the weather forecast was nice for the weekend and the epoxy is supposed to be used in 50°+ temperatures. We weren’t the classiest neighbors for a couple of days, but at least it’s better than having it on the front porch. We even plugged it in out here so the food would keep. Nothing like going outside to get milk for your cereal in the morning.
The project didn’t get going until later in the day on Saturday (once temps crept up enough to meet the can’s requirements). Obviously I had reattached the one door that we took off to keep the food cold, but Sherry decided it’d be best to have both handles off when painting for the most seamless and hopefully drip-free result. All it took was popping off a cover on either end and then unscrewing them.
Per the directions on the can, Sherry and I started by lightly sanding the whole fridge – just enough to get the gloss off. A power sander felt like overkill, so we each used sanding blocks of 150 grit.
I did the front two doors while Sherry did the sides. You can see the difference between the door I roughed it up and the door I hadn’t done yet in this picture.
Then we went over it with a damp cloth to get all of the sanding dust off followed by a dry cloth to, um, dry it.
I used a foam roller to apply to epoxy while wearing a mask, just as the instructions suggested (and Sherry, Burger, and Clara went inside and steered clear, so they weren’t exposed to the stink). This stuff basically has the exact consistency of paint so the process wasn’t unfamiliar at all. It goes on a little bubbly but it quickly smooths itself out.
I did break out a brush to help me get into some tight spots, like some of the nooks around the doors and the ice dispenser. We chose to just paint right over that whole area too (covering up the much coveted “Hot Point” brand logo – gasp!). The paint doesn’t actually touch the water/ice dispensing apparatus (that’s tucked up under a cover) so it was nice to know that this definitely-not-food-safe product wouldn’t interfere with anything that goes into people’s mouths – but we could achieve an all-white look from the front instead of having to leave some trim parts cream or something.
I painted three sides and the top, leaving the backside unpainted. There were enough cords, tubing, and venting back there that it didn’t seem worth the hassle (in what installation scenario is that visible?). I probably didn’t need to do the top either but someone even an inch or two taller than me would get an okay view of it, so I just did it to be thorough.
Sherry had spread out all of the little parts – the handles, door hinge covers, bottom grille, etc – on a piece of cardboard so that I could paint them separately. It was easier this way and also minimized the opportunity for drips on the main fridge.
The can said you can recoat in one hour assuming that 70° temperatures were met, so I decided to give it at least overnight before continuing since it was only around 55 degrees on Saturday. But at least the fridge was looking somewhat less offensive out there in white. I’m sure that’s exactly what the neighbors were thinking: “Oh nevermind, honey! It’s white now so no need to call the HOA anymore. I wonder if there’s any beer in that thing…”
You can’t really tell in pictures, but it did need a second coat. So on Sunday morning I rolled on another one pretty quickly and let it dry in the awesome 70° day that we were suddenly having.
We didn’t get it rolled back inside until it was too dark to take pictures on Sunday night (which is why this post is coming to you today, and not yesterday as we originally planned) but here it is, back at home looking much more blendy with the cabinetry.
It’s not a perfect color match (the fridge is slightly whiter in color) but it’s only about a shade off instead of being a lot more noticeably clashy like it was when it was cream. Our white range hood is the same slightly whiter tone as the fridge, so we think appliances just tend to be that color when they’re “gloss white.” It’s actually a surprisingly big help in making the room feel a bit more current (I’ll admit that I didn’t think it would make as much of a difference as it does).
And it’s definitely a vast improvement from what this corner looked like back in the day:
As for how the epoxy feels, it’s very smooth, very hard, and looks/feels pretty much just like the fridge was always this color. If you stare at the glint of light reflecting off the fridge in the picture below you can see how the sort of lightly marbled texture of the fridge was maintained, and it’s glossy and convincing, just like a factory finished white fridge would be. I actually don’t think you could tell that it was painted unless someone told you. And I’m not just saying that. Picture me as the negative naysayer who had to see this to believe it.
We’ll keep you posted on how it holds up over time, but from what we’ve heard from you guys and read in reviews, it seems to be good for 5+ years and we’re hoping to get to Phase 2 a good deal faster than that. So it won’t be a big loss if it nicks or chips as we go, but it’ll still be interesting to see if this stuff is as good of a cheap and easy upgrade ($15!) as it seems so far.
Has anyone else had luck with appliance paint? We hear for a stove you need to use high heat paint, which seems to only come in spray form. Or has anyone done anything different or bold with theirs? We were contemplating painting the handles an accent color (like navy or ORB) but it just didn’t feel right for our goal, which was just to let this guy blend into his surroundings and draw attention to the better stuff like our succulent art, rope chandelier, and the rough wood dining table nearby.