In organization/ our home & family

The Great Office Remodel of 2017

When you move a lot (New York to Georgia to Illinois to Georgia to Pennsylvania to Texas, hello!), any home improvement is tainted by the thought “Will it affect resale?” As such, the changes we made to our last 4 homes were largely generic: They increased value, but weren’t necessarily the changes we wanted for our style. But it had to be, since a move was always on the horizon.

Which brings us to Texas, where we decided to do what we want for once. And we did – Vic has made so many changes a new neighbor recently commented “I heard your husband remodeled your whole house.” Not quite, but give him a few more years.

The one thing he wouldn’t budge on? My office. Now, I will preface by saying I am so incredibly lucky to have an amazing, dedicated space to work in. But…it was more suited for a masculine executive who enjoys cigars and a fine wine on the weekends with some dusty Dickens, Shakespeare, and Poe on the shelves and maybe a desktop globe or three. Vic was convinced it had to stay, since dark offices are timeless.

Hm. Maybe so, but I hated it in there.

Dark floors, dark wood, dark coffered ceiling, dark blinds, dark furniture, open shelves <shudder>. Oh the open shelves. As someone who despises clutter, having it ALL OUT THERE collecting dust and looking a mess? Pained me daily.

I tried to liven it up a bit with a myriad of family photographs…but with the dark decor it just made things more cluttered. Blah. And all I ever wanted to do was curl up in that chair and take a nap. Not really good for the creative juices, eh? ZZzzzzzzzz.

Vic built the desk and rolling worktable for me years ago during my scrapbooking career. Complete with mahogany wrap tops. Beautiful then, dark and dated now.

To make things even worse, the windows face Northwest. And when you live in Texas that means NO SUN FOR YOU. Ever. The sun has literally never directly hit those windows. It passes from NE to SW. Which not only makes it dark…it makes it COLD. Very, very cold.

Those damned open shelves. Nothing but clutter. There’s simply no way to make backing boards look pretty.

It took me 3 years, but I finally nagged him to the point where he had no choice but to give in Vic finally decided we were a go. And I had my wishlist ready:

  • WHITE wood, ceiling, cabinets.
  • Grey walls. And a bit of stone for texture.
  • Deeper cabinets that CLOSE – double doors on each, please. Full-open doors. Many moveable shelves.
  • A fireplace and mantel – electric is fine, just something to generate heat.
  • Recessed lighting and a silver pendant. Light light light…If I couldn’t get it from the sun, good old Thomas Edison would have to do.
  • New desktops.

See? Barely anything. 😉 And so it happened…

The longest/hardest job was the painting. ALL the wood – including the coffered ceiling – was dark. To paint it white required sanding (as you see Vic & Aidan doing in that middle right image), tack cloth, hole filling, priming, painting and more painting.

But oh was it worth it. Aaaaah. I asked for semigloss all around to reflect every bit of light possible.

So bright! The cabinets on the left store all of my 12×12 scrapbooks, camera equipment & office extras. The cabinets on the right store all of my packaging supplies & some extra props.

The shelves were a challenge. The cabinets are 52″ wide and my books are heavy, so Vic had to design something that wouldn’t warp under the weight. He came up with the idea of baltic birch plywood boxes. They’re supported all the way around by 3″ edges and have cross-supports underneath. I requested no paint or stain, just clear lacquer:

The fireplace is electric. A little ambience and a LOT of heat in the winter. The light fixture is from Lowe’s, clock is Homegoods. Paint is Sherwin-Williams Repose Gray. For the fireplace inset, I knew I wanted stacked gray stone; Vic suggested the wood-look tile above the mantel to mix things up:

I opted to leave the walls mostly empty, at least for now. It’s just so crisp and clean – I can never get enough of a crisp gray wall.

Oh! Now THIS was a bit of meaningful repurposing: The printer stand in the corner was both Aidan and Ava’s baby changing table. Ava decided she was too “old” to have it in her room, so Vic removed the diaper box, added tall legs and painted it white. It fits perfectly into that little nook. One of my favorite pieces in the room, for many reasons. <3 Ava has since requested it back, but hey, you snooze you lose, sister!

As far as the desk and worktable: I liked the stained black furniture for a bit of contrast, but the mahogany tops had to go. After pricing solid surface, glass, granite, tile, formica, etc. we decided the cheapest route was to simply re-cover them with sheets of laminate. I ordered sheets and pre-formed edges online and he cut and glued them in place. They’re so easy to maintain and clean. A perfect work surface for me. I also had him resize the worktable top to be a bit shallower and longer.

I finished things off with a new rug (home depot), custom white blinds ( and a pewter rod & gray curtains (overstock) to soften things up. My space went from a dark, cold cave to a place I’m thrilled to work in every day.

I am ridiculously lucky to just toss my ideas at Vic and POOF, he makes them a reality.

If you have any questions, just ask!