Saturday, April 24, 2010

Big Changes To A Small Space

A while back, I mentioned a mystery project going on behind plastic sheeting. I was going to leave all of the work up to the Handy Hunk, but we quickly realized that this series of projects was going to be more involved than we thought – far too much work for even the manliest of men to handle by himself within the time frame available. He was going to need a woman’s help. And let’s be honest, was I really going to be able to just sit back and watch?! So with my pregnancy energy returning, even surging beyond normal levels, I dove right into the nesting – with a professional grade respirator mask, of course!

This is actually just the first of a series of projects. The office, which formerly took up an entire bedroom, has been moved into the walk-in closet off of the bedroom so that the bedroom can become the nursery. In addition to a small renovation and some decorating, it required some serious organizing – just a few of my favorite things!

We started with a walk-in closet of one of our bedrooms. It was a dumping ground for anything and everything we didn’t want to look at on a daily basis. This was formerly a second floor sleeping porch, made into great usable space by the previous owner. But the drywall job was awful and the carpet was covering up who-knows-what. And we were definitely not using the space to its potential.

So the demo work began. This is where I was left on one side of the plastic sheeting, listening to the Handy Hunk’s grunts and groans and wondering what it looked like behind that awful drywall mess.

He found awkward stud spacing and depth, improperly installed and moist insulation, and a little bit of rotten wood from a previous roof leak. On one wall, removing the drywall revealed the siding of our house.

In order to use this space as our new office, it was going to need an electrical outlet and cable access for the modem. This is when we called the professionals. For an extremely reasonable cost and less than an hour of labor, The Electric Connection installed an electrical outlet and cable jack exactly where we wanted them.

Then it was time for drywall. We’ve done it before, but we despise it, and the space had a number of challenges – small, a sloping ceiling, and varying stud depths. Again, it was time to call a professional. With a recommendation from a friend, we found a guy willing to squeeze us in one weekend, and he got the job done a lot quicker than we would have.

Pulling up the carpet revealed old linoleum tiles. Removing them is a no no – they often have asbestos in them. Covering them up is a better plan, so we put down some ply.

Then baseboards and window and door trim.

Time for paint! We started with a magnetic chalkboard wall! If you’ve never heard of this before, you must consider it for your next large or small project. The magnetic paint is actually a primer and can go under any color – imagine the possibilities! The chalkboard paint goes on dark and flat. Both are available in quart size cans at almost any hardware store. We found ours near the spray paint at Lowe’s.

Ceiling, walls and trim painted.

We put the same shelving back up.

We added more light to the whole space. The low voltage wire allowed us use the wall sconce light connection to stretch five halogen bulbs the length of the room. The Handy Hunk actually had to install an electrical box to make room for the wired connection at the wall, because the old wiring simply came through a small hole in the wall. To do this, of course, he had to purchase a new tool! I have to admit, the keyhole saw attachment for his new Dremel is pretty nifty.

New carpet tiles went down over the plywood subfloor. Check out FLOR for some fun ideas! It was a happy coincidence when I found these on clearance for half off – they were exactly what I had in mind but couldn’t find in the regularly priced options!

Then the decorating and organizing began. Our old desk fit perfectly along the back wall and left enough space for a new filing cabinet. We previously had four stacking file bins of file and consolidated down to two drawers. I’m a packrat, a very organized packrat, but I had to draw the line somewhere. This required some serious purging, but I also hesitate to completely get rid of some things. Anything that I wanted to keep, I tried to digitize whenever possible. (Really this topic deserves another post another day, so I won’t go into the details). Out of six bookcases, two tall ones stayed in the bedroom for the nursery, and two short ones were placed under the shelves in our new office space. This meant that all of the college textbooks and binders of notes (see – packrat – we didn’t get rid of anything!) had to go somewhere else. They’re currently in the basement while we try to decide what to do with them next. The printer cart from the old office space had to go, but the printer fits perfectly on top of the new file cabinet. The boxes on the upper shelves contain all of the office supplies, art and craft materials, greeting cards, computer cords, and camera accessories, each organized by use and function. The desktop computer remains on the desk for now. The magnetic chalkboard displays pending projects, cards, and invitations for upcoming events. And announces the name of our most important upcoming event – the arrival of our little boy in July!

We hope for this space to continue to evolve. What is now an office, closet, and toy storage will someday become a special playroom hideout with plenty of space to play, do art and crafts, and store toys. (Imagine this little nook behind the closed curtains, with a little stepdown from a child’s bedroom, full of creative toys and projects). In the more immediate future, we plan to remove one of the short bookcases to make more closet space for little August’s clothes. (More organizing and digitizing files is in the works). In the more distant future, we’d like to add a small office workspace to our kitchen and upgrade to a laptop, eliminating the need to use this space as an office at all, and making more space for toys and games. The art and craft materials and maybe even the desk will remain, and surely the magnetic chalkboard will be put to creative use! Let’s just hope that the chalk stays on the one wall!

A few resources:

Paint: Valspar eggshell in La Fonda Villa Fountain, Valspar Magnetic Primer, Valspar Chalkboard Paint, all from Lowe's
Computer Desk & Bookshelves: Crate & Barrel
Lighting: Termosfar from IKEA
Storage Boxes: Bigso from The Container Store, Kassett from IKEA
File Cabinet: Target
Desk Chair: garage sale
Carpet Tiles: “Aqua” from FLOR


Jamie said...

Fun to see the changes after hearing about them. Looks great!

Lisa S. said...

you can come nest at my house anytime. :)

amber said...

This is awesome, very creative!