The Office: Before and (Almost) After

Ahhh…remember back in early May when I declared war on our office? I just couldn’t stand it anymore. Somewhere in the re-doing process I decided I was going to make a new desk for the room. As a reminder, here I am making the doors:

Well, that took longer than I thought, but after it was completed we were in business. A little bit of this, a little bit of that, and today we have a pretty darn updated room. Obviously, there are things to be done, but, aren’t there always ‘things’? There are always things. So in the spirit of taking stock in how far we’ve come in just about two months, let’s do some good ol’ fashion before and afters. (Note: The angles aren’t identical in the before and after pics mostly because I didn’t even think to mimic what I did the first time until I uploaded everything. Whoops.)

Here is a good before and after desk shot:

Man, I do love that desk. It has been really functional so far, and I just love to sit at it. It feels so fresh and calming (even though those wires underneath drive me batty). In this after pic you can also see the new drop cloth curtains, the color-blocked magazine file and the new planter I made. Yep, that lamp still needs work.

While sitting at the desk, this is behind your back:

The whole look is less messy mostly because we got rid of a ton of stuff. Mike and I really looked hard at what we needed in our lives and what was just clutter. I threw out most of my college notebooks. Ugh, it was hard, but I haven’t looked at them since college. I did keep my mineralogy notes and reference book I made. Couldn’t give that up now could I? I also really tried to take some time to accessorize those shelves. I know I’ve said it before, but accessorizing shelves just does not come easily to me, which is ironic because among my friends I am known as the clothes accessory queen. I love to get my Claire’s on. Don’t pretend like you don’t shop there anymore.

Moving on, here’s another desk view before/after:

I really love this view. Except those wires. They drive me coo coo.  The next Steve Jobs will be the one who brings wireless power/charging to the masses. Mark my words.  And finally, a few post-do-over glamour shots:

Good stuff. And just because I can never be sated, a list of things I’d still like to tackle in here before summer’s end:

1) That lamp.

2) Finials.

3) Wire management.

That’s IT. Not overly ambitious, right?

From Grey to White

Ladies and gentlemen, she’s painted! The misguided slate grey in the office is no longer. It’s now a refreshing, simple, blank canvas of delicious white.

It took one coat of primer and two coats of paint, but we made it. And, thankfully, I had the assistance of two of my favorite helpers, my niece and nephew. They did a bang-up job painting the trim. Thanks, guys! (I know the back of the closet looks splotchy, but we ran out of paint and it will be covered with clothes, anyway. Whataya gonna do?)

The office is officially on its way to non-hive inducing. What a difference a day makes!

A Direction for the Office/Closet/Greenhouse

As I’m sure you’ve gleaned from the title, this posty post is a little mood board preview of what I’m thinking of for the office. If you remember, our multipurpose office room is cluttered and DARK, so the main goals are to make it sleeker and lighter. A comfortable, easy place for office work and picking out something to wear. Here’s what I have so far:

Man, my mood board skills leave a lot to be desired. Practice makes perfect!

So, for the feel, we’re sticking with our design favorite and go-to of casual, relaxed, and ahem, folksy. Funny how that happens ;). The main elements are:

1) The desk. In my last post I left you with a picture of a pile of wood. Surprise! That trunk full of pieces is currently making its glorious transformation into a butterfly (can’t help myself with the strikethrough humor) hopefully awesome corner desk for Mike! (btw, I have that desk picture pinned, but the link takes me to google reader so I don’t know the source. Sorry!)

2) Accent colors. The easy, country feeling of these three are striking a chord with me right now, so that’s where we’re headed.

3) Light. Um, the old office is dark, so what’s a better way to lighten it up than to add a light. I’m a genius I tell you. (light from

4) Closed storage/clutter wrangler. We have some doors like this salvaged from Mike’s grandparent’s house, so I was thinking of using them in a similar piece custom built for the office. It could hold all the office accoutrement and possibly a grow light in the spring. However, this guy is going to have to wait. It’d take a while to design/build, and I don’t have the patience to build it before we start moving stuff around in the office. Eventually! (pic clipped from

5) Oh yeah! Almost forgot, the background is a tip of the cap to the drop cloth curtains that will be a cover for prying eyes. No creepers looking into my closet, thankyouverymuch.

As for wall color, I still can’t bring myself to be cool with white walls. I can’t get over the stark/institutional feeling of them, but maybe I’m just not envisioning it well. I figured I’m going to try to take this re-do slowly (new for me) so I can make informed decisions instead of ending up with an, ahem, DARK office again, so it isn’t imperative that the wall color be chosen now. I’ll wait to see how the desk turns out and go from there.

So, thoughts? opinions? Have a mood board tutorial for me…I could sure use it!

That’s it, the Office is Getting a Makeover

It’s that time. School is over this week, and the urge to delve into a project has hit me. Hard. Our office/closet/dressing room/greenhouse is dark and starting to look a little too hoarder-ish for my liking, so it’s the natural outlet for my makeover mania. There’s just so much stuff in there. And did I mention it’s dark? We painted it a dark, dark grey when we first moved in because we just couldn’t take the crazy yellow walls and ceiling. Yep, both the walls and the ceiling were this color when we moved in:

I wonder who originally painted the room, stepped back, said to themselves, “Nailed it” and walked away with a self-satisfied smile on their face.

Needless to say, we painted the room ASAP and it was definitely a step up. But now I’m kind of over it. The room doesn’t get much natural light and because it has to serve so many functions, it’s filled to the brim and feels suffocating. Only one way to fix that: makeover! But first, want to see the offending room? (All images Instagrammed to make them less upsetting.) First up, the view from the door:

Hmm..from here you can see the ‘office’ portion of the room. Mike works from home a few days a week, so he needs a functional office set-up: desk, good chair, printer, filing cabinets etc. What we do not need, however, is the piles of grad school notebooks and a box of who-knows-what sitting under the desk. Also of note, the desk and the chair are on long-term loan from Mike’s company and thus cannot be painted/spruced/etc. Bummer.

Stepping to the right of the desk, we have more files and the laundry/backpack/garbage can area. I can’t stand how beautiful it is. Not. That white glow on the cabinets? Well, of course, that comes from our greenhouse area on the shelves opposite the desk:

Also on the book cases: textbooks, receipts, DVDs/CDs and a weak attempt at accessorizing. Needs big time help. To the left of the shelves is the scarf holder I made, which hints at the next section of the room:

The closet! And here it is with the curtains open:

Now, I absolutely love my closet. It’s essentially a quarter of the room blocked off by curtains, and is totally functional for my stuff. It could use some editing and re-folding, but overall that is the one thing about this room I love.

So there are the raw ingredients we’re working with for this makeover. I think the main goal with this project will be to lighten up the room, and get some better hidden storage so that it’s not so visually overwhelming. The layout will be tricky because we have a lot of large elements that can only fit in so many places. I think a little mood board and layout planning is in order. Any suggestions for our office/dressing room/closet/greenhouse room?

Then & Now: Dresser Side

Ah, here we are, back to sipping from the bedroom well. I think it’ll be worth it! But yeah, last time, promise.

For a frame of reference, here is the out-of-scale floor plan again:

We’re talking right siiieeed today. That’s where the dresser, rope shelves, TV, and most importantly, Fishy live. Here it is, pre-intervention:

Boooriiiing. The clothesline with mementos hanging from it was an attempt to bring down the height of the ceiling a bit because with all our furniture sitting so low, the room seemed empty and cold with such a high ceiling.

I have to say, I quite liked that idea, mostly because it allowed us to see all the ticket stubs, lift passes and love notes we’ve collected over the course of our relationship. Sappy? Nostalgic? Romantic? COUNT.ME. IN.  It was cool to just glance at that stuff and have all the good memories flood back. Ahhh, I remember our first brewery tour together like it was yesterday…

The only problem, however, is that it looked…unkempt? teeny bopper? Not sure, but I wasn’t feelin it anymore. Not that I lost my sappy side. You can’t get rid of it that easily.

Anyways, ta-da! Here is the after:

Booya. Ain’t it fancy?! Along the way we got a new TV (thanks to my grandma’s donated AMEX points!!), but the dresser, lamp, curtains and fishy are the same :).

Detailing in on a few small changes I made, here are some custom finials. (Please excuse the dust, didn’t even notice it until it was uploaded. Observant, much?)

They are the same stock Ikea ones from before, but I hack sawed off the decorative part and used E-6000 glue to attach some beach-rounded quartz pebbles I found on Cape Cod way back. Up close you can see a little glue spillage, but from standing height, it’s all good in the hood.

Here is another small update I made: that lamp seen on the left of the ‘before’ pic. It’s a Christmas Tree Shop special, (‘Oh my gawd, lighthouse plates for only a dollah!’ Please tell me you’ve seen that commercial.) and was originally filled with periwinkle shells.

I emptied the glass of its contents leaving just the clear jar and updated the shade by trimming the edges with the same twine used to finish off the rope from the shelves. Looks like a whole new lamp!

The accessories on the shelves are kind of a mish-mash. (Again, I’m no whiz at accessorizing. Maybe another New Year’s Resolution?) On the top shelf we have a jade plant and a series of photos that spell out our last name (an awesome wedding gift from our upstairs neighbors!). The photos are sitting in Tolsby frames from Ikea (can’t beat 99 cents) and I think look pretty snazzy.

In the middle we have some frames filled with pics of us as kiddos. We love looking at our cute selves. (Really they were from the welcome table at the wedding and we still haven’t changed the photos because, well, they are pretty cute. And I haven’t thought about it that much.) There’s also a brick I found on a Boston harbor island, some candlesticks salvaged from Mike’s grandparent’s old house, and a rock from a beach in Lima.

The bottom shelf is a bit more functional. Mostly because I can reach it.

We have three blue glass mason jars I found at our local flea market. One is filled to the brim with wine corks (what does that say about our wine drinking habits?), one is empty, and one is filled with mineral samples (what does that say about our rock collecting habits?). I think they make a nice trio, only it’s a little too dark in that corner to see what’s going on in the glass.

There are also some other rocks we’ve collected (the Folksy hubs is a geologist by day) sitting in front of a surprisingly very a-la-mode ceramic horn vase we found in the grandparent’s old house.

When I saw that baby sitting in that old house, I finally felt like one of those holy grail thrifters who somehow find antique-road-show-worthy pieces at yard sales. ‘Something fashionable! With personal meaning! For free! What did I do right?!?!’

On the right there’s an oil can from M’s grandparent’s old farm, and a mason jar that holds all our loose change (how fun is going to the Coinstar and getting a fat Amazon gift card with just extra change?). In front is a ring tray we got as a gift from cousins that holds my earrings every night.

Finally, over the light switch is an ode to New England in the form of starfish. This little craft used to hang on our old front door when the entrance to our apartment was indoors and now it pops nicely against the new wall color in our bedroom.

Phew. How’s that for a laundry list of what’s going on in the bedroom? I’m pretty happy with the new digs and realize there’s still work to be done, not the least of which is finding something grand for over the bed. Got any accessorizing suggestions?

**In other news, my dad is coming up from Florida this weekend. I’m SUPER excited! Woohoo for dads!

Somewhere to Hang my Scarves

So, I’m a scarf fan. They’re pretty and they add a bit of panache to any outfit, if I do say so myself. Given my fandom of scarfs, it stands to reason that I have a few of them. Or quite a few of them. Seventeen of them, as I found out while doing this little project.

I was cleaning out/reorganizing my closet recently as I’m known to do when I feel in a style rut and after the redo, I was without a place for my scarf pile. After the proper fantasizing of one day having a huge closet in which I’ll never be want for storage, and will always sip champagne while getting dressed, I thought of a piece of ladder I had outside that could help solve my scarf problem.

The ladder is actually a leftover piece from a trash find that we used to display escort cards at our wedding. (Thank you neighbor 2 doors down for chucking it! She obviously wasn’t plugged into the blogosphere’s obsession with rustic chic.) Here’s the other half in a mock up we did pre-wedding:

It looked like maybe an apple picking ladder, but regardless, it was old and rustic and had that great patina that only genuinely weathered wood gets.

I brought that bad boy down to the newly organized basement (thanks to the husband working on it all day Saturday) so I could work where it was warm. Call me crazy, but I was not interested in working outside in 19 degree weather, even if it was sunny.

The ladder was missing a rung at the bottom and was too tall for the spot, so I measured it out and cut the bottom off using the trusty jig saw. (I didn’t wear eye protection, but you SHOULD. I totally forgot until after I was finished.)

Murphy’s oil soap and hot water came to the rescue in cleaning off the dirt and grime that had accumulated in the grain. I scrubbed and wiped until I thought it was good enough, brought it upstairs where it was brighter, and deemed it good and clean. After letting it dry, I went over it one more time with a dry cloth and brought her in the house.

My original plan was to hang it, but after realizing it would involve either a) finding studs or b) toggle bolts, I decided leaning against the wall was a-ok with me.

Unfortunately, after the first go, the ladder stood a little crooked, kind of like we all did as teenagers with one knee bent and a foot turned 90 degrees from forward. (“Ugh, Mom, you’re, like, duh, so uh-NOYINGGG.”) Anyways, Mike came to the rescue and measured and marked evenly from the bottom-most rung using a square rule.

We hauled that thing back down to the basement and employed the miter saw to cut this time. (Didn’t realize this pic was blurry until it was too late. Bummer.)

Back upstairs, I leaned it against the wall:

Hung the scarves:

And turned it around!

Et voila! Ladder turned scarf rack. Getting them on and off is easy-peasy, and I love that I can see all of them. Look out, world, my accessorizing is about to be kicked up at least 10 notches.

Then & Now: Bed Side

After that brief interruption of discussing shelter media, and an attack of the organization monster, we’re back to a little bedroom lovin’. No, not that kind.

So I’ve shown you two projects from the boudoir already: the farmhouse bed, and the rope shelves. Because we completed this redo back in September, I’m going to limit the in-depth info to those two projects, but I just wanted to do a quick before and after of each half of the room to wrap up the redo with a nice fancy ribbon. With scissor-edge curled ends, of course.

Big picture stuff first. Just an FYI, here is a severely not-to-scale mock up of the fh bedroom floor plan:

Before of the bed side of the room:

Cool grey walls, loooooow bed, and stock ikea night stands. Passable, but a little too…dorm room.

After of the bed side of the room:

Deep, dark newburg green walls. Recently built bed newly stained, and farmhouse bedside tables. Mmm mmm good.

A few details about that half of the room. (Yes those are my stuffed animals. Yes, I can’t sleep without them. Yes, when Mike first started sleeping over I pretended like I just happened to still have them and they were totally like no bid deal. I told him he could toss them on the floor to get them out of the way and pretended like I was too cool for school. I SO wasn’t.)

ANYWAYS, those bedside tables. I mentioned them in the first bedroom post, and after I built them I painted them all white back in February 2011. Here they are pre-detroying painting:

They were never great. I wasn’t so hip to the furniture painting scene then (I am indebted to sites like Perfectly Imperfect and Centsational Girl for bringing me up to speed) and I never sealed them after the latex paint. Stuff was always sticking to the top. As in, I’d lay a magazine (I’m a magazine FIEND) down when I went to bed and the next morning when I picked it up, the back cover left a thin coat on the nightstand. Four months after painting. Not bueno. I also made the mistake of painting all surfaces of the nightstand and drawer which equaled STICKY CITY USA. I practically had to prop my foot against the nightstand for leverage when pulling out the drawer. Here is the best before pic I have of them painted (I curse my non-pic taking pre-blogging self!):

Needless to say, I was ready to banish those suckers for scrap. However, in a stroke of goodwill, I decided to give re-finishing a go. I sanded the bejesus out of every surface and probably went through a job pack of 40 grit sanding pads. And if you remember my mantra, SANDING IS BORING. YOU CANNOT EVEN LISTEN TO PODCASTS WHILE SANDING BECAUSE IT IS TOO LOUD, you’d understand how much I disliked doing it.

It was not a fun process, but once I got going I gained steam and would not let those hunks of wood defeat me. After sanding as much as possible, I decided to stain the tops with the Minwax English Chestnut and spray painted the remainder with Krylon Dover White spray paint. Thankfully, I knew better than to paint the bottoms of the drawers. They did not come out perfectly. They are not flawless. But hey, the room is dark and they are covered on two sides by walls and one side by mattress. For all my intents and purposes they look amazing. Cognitive dissonance is a beautiful thing.

 The light above my nightstand is a spray painted find from Mike’s grandfather’s office in their old house that was torn down recently. (Side note, those Christmas lights are there only for Christmas. When it’s the season, I like it to be the season EVERYWHERE I look.)

The mirror on the right is also a find from that old house. I spray painted it Krylon Sun Yellow and, inspired by this Martha Stewart Living article, I E-6000 glued some jute rope to the inside border (Same rope from the rope shelves!). I was a little worried (and so was Mike) about the yellow being too cray-cray in there, but it’s grown on me.

So, we still need something va-va-voom above the bed (future project perhaps??), but so far we are smitten with this half of the bedroom.

Have you ever dismissed a refinish only to end up tackling the project and ending up victorious??