Category Archives: office spaces

the office makeover: final reveal

9th January 2012

So here is the not-completely-finished-but-we’re-going-to-take-a-break-from-this-room final reveal of our office/guest bedroom makeover.

Back in November I started off the project with a coat of paint and a stencil. Since then we have built a desk, added shelving, DIYed a chandelier, built some custom storage solutions, DIYed a headboard, and added some fabric artwork.

Remember how crazy bright and totally cluttered the room was?

Oh man, that hurts my eyes.

Well, here is the new and improved room.

With our super narrow new desk, the whole room feels so much bigger and definitely feels like a more multi-purpose room (whereas before the monster desk took over).

Since our main filing system is now housed on those shelves above the desk, we’ve realized that we probably need a few more of those magazine files and boxes (both come from IKEA). We’ve labelled them all so that when we get receipts, invoices, or any other important paperwork it’s quick and easy to stick them in the right spot. We have a “his” and “her” side of the drawer units under the desk, so my side is full of my paint chips, design clippings, and pretty post-it notes, whereas the hubby’s side is full of tech stuff.

It feels fun, fresh, and welcoming. It’s definitely a cozy little spot for guests (my mum is a frequent flyer at our pad and loves it).

There are still a few things I want to do – like get a new office chair, add a small rug, and put up some blinds and curtains – but we’re going to put those things on hold until they are in the budget. But for now, the room is pretty cheerful.

Check out the links below for more info on each of the projects:

This was definitely a low budget, use-what-you-have kind of makeover.  Here is the budget breakdown:

  • Paint & stencil: $100
  • DIY chandelier: $2.50 (add another $15 if you didn’t already own white spray paint, string, hot glue gun, and wax paper)
  • DIY fabric artwork: $0 since everything was already owned (but would have been about $60 for the three frames and $10 in fabric)
  • the DIY desk: $130 (we already owned the stain, varathane and painting supplies)
  • DIY headboard: $20 (this was for the wood; we already had the stain, varathane and painting supplies)
  • Pencil/ribbon holder: $1 (since we already had the scrap wood and paint)
  • Throw cushions: $10 (I owned a few already and then snagged a few of those green puppies from the dollar store and the sale bin from my local fabric shop)
  • Magazine files and storage boxes: $20 (but we’ll probably go back and buy a few more..)

The grand total: $313.50

(but… since we had some IKEA gift cards, it was actually only $193.50 out of our pockets. hollaaaa)


So there you have it. What about you guys? Done any mini room makeovers lately? Any re-organizing of your office? Any stenciling? Do tell. 

the DIY files: smart office storage

20th December 2011

So after DIY’ing our office desk and adding shelving, I wanted to make sure that there were smart storage spots (say that three times fast) for all of our office stuff. We had a bunch of pens, pencils, markers, and ribbon that I really didn’t want to shove into a drawer. See that blank bit of wall to the left of the window? Well we figured that would be a perfect space to add some functionality. Our house is pretty tiny, so every little spot counts.

First up was to cut some pieces of wood to size. We actually had this wood leftover from our desk and headboard projects, saving us a trip to Home Depot.

And wanna guess what stain we used? Yep, good old ‘dark walnut’ by minwax plus a coat of clear varuathane on top, like these projects of yor (here, here, and here). No surprise there.

We had some tin cans leftover from our wedding (check them out as vases here), so we decided to give them a fresh spray of white spray paint.

Next step was to screw the wood pieces up onto the wall, and then to hand screw the tins to the wood itself. When screwing the tins on, you just use screws that are pretty short (you don’t want them to go all the way into the wall).

And here’s how we were looking after getting the two pieces up.  Having separate spots for pencils vs red pens vs blue pens vs markers vs sharpies was music to my ears. This girl loves some organization.

Then since I wanted somewhere for our miscellaneous ribbon that hides in various drawers around the house, we used the third board to fandangle a ribbon-holder. The hubs cut out four small pieces of wood and used a router to cut out grooves that a piece of dowel could sit in. In case you can’t picture it, here’s what I’m talking about…

Then it was just a matter of screwing them to the board…

…and when you turned it around, the dowel sits perfectly in those grooves. It means you can pop it off easily and add/remove spools of ribbon.

Once we screwed it up onto the wall, I rustled up all of our ribbon and added it to the new masterpiece.

And here is the final product. It’s a fun take on regular office storage, and costs next to nothing to make — the wood and stain was already owned, the tins were leftovers from meals of soup (or anything else you eat from a can), and the dowel was a big 1 dolla dolla bill. Happy days.

Next up is to organize the shelves and hopefully get some curtains up (though I think those may take a bit of time since I have grand plans to sew them myself… need to actually figure out how to use the sewing machine first!). Wish me luck with that.

What about you guys? Have any good office storage solutions? This one was definitely inspired by similar projects I had seen floating around on pinterest. Please tell me I’m not the only one who is crazy for uber-organization. I just can’t help myself.

office makeover step 4: headboarding

25th November 2011

Earlier this week you saw how we added some DIY artwork to our office/guest bedroom as part of its recent makeover. If you looked closely, you may have wondered why we hung the frames so high in relation to the bed… well it was because we were also in the midst of making and installing a headboard. Since I wanted the bed to look more like a daybed (remember it’s a dual purpose room), I figured a length wise headboard would do the trick.

So out came the same wood, stain, and varathane as our other recent projects (like the DIY desk and these wedding signs). The wood (9.5 inch wide boards) came from Home Depot, where you can have the wood pre-cut to size. Then it was just a matter of applying my fave Minwax Dark Walnut stain, followed by a couple coats of varathane.

Once it was all dried and cured we brought the 3 boards inside (remember – you don’t want that stuff to off-gas in your house, so make sure you do the painting in a well ventilated area).

Then we figured out where on the wall the boards should be placed, made sure they were level, and then just drilled away.

We thought about trying to find some brown deck screws so that the screws wouldn’t show up so much against the dark wood, but then realized that we really didn’t mind the look of the silver screws — it looked a bit more rustic and they really aren’t super noticeable.

One, Two, Three boards… and done!

It definitely makes the bed seem more ‘meant-to-be-there’ and less ‘just-shoved-in-with-the-office’. Using the dark wood also ties it into the desk (same wood tones) on the other side of the room.

We’re hoping to get a few more of the little details on this room done in the next few days, so we’ll be back next week with the updates. Oh and happy thanksgiving to all of our American friends out there! Have a great weekend everyone!

office makeover step 3: fun fabric artwork

23rd November 2011

So once we got a bunch of the big stuff in our office/guest bedroom makeover out of the way (check out our stencil project and DIY desk here and here), it was time to get to the more fun little projects. First up was to get some artwork up on the walls. I wanted to keep it light and colourful and since I had a bunch of cute scrap fabrics, I thought framing some would be just the ticket.

I went out and grabbed 3 of my fave IKEA Ribba frames (the square shadow box ones).

Then I laid out all of my scraps and picked out some winners. I wanted a mixture of colours, but with a connection throughout the three choices.

Then it was just a matter of ironing the fabrics and placing them in the back of the frames (it’s good to use some tape to secure things since you don’t want the fabric to slip down). I also didn’t cut my scraps exactly to fit the frames since I figured I might use the fabric for something else later.

A few nails later and they were up!

They are definitely fun and fresh… and the best part? The $0 price tag since we already owned the fabric and had a gift card for IKEA (but the frames would have cost about $20 each).

Next up? A headboard for the daybed. Stay tuned!

What about you guys? Done any art projects lately? Any crafty tips to share? 

office makeover step 2: a DIY desk

10th November 2011

After painting and stenciling the office walls (check that out here), next up was to start to move some furniture back into the room. The original desk was not only less than beautiful to look at, but was way too deep for our double-duty office/guest bedroom. We needed something that would be nice and narrow, offering plenty of desk space for our computers but not overtaking the room. So we checked out a few options (the besta burs desk at IKEA was almost a winner), but in the end decided to DIY something. We wanted pretty specific dimensions and also figured we could save a bit of dough.

First thing was to figure out our design. We liked the look of desks with a wood top and white drawers (like this one by Aubrey + Lindsay), but knew we couldn’t use regular filing cabinets or other deep drawers for the bottom since they wouldn’t be as narrow as we needed. So when we stumbled upon the Helmer drawer units from IKEA ($50 a pop), which came in at around 17 inches deep, we were sold.

The top of the desk was surprisingly uncomplicated. We bought super basic wood from Home Depot – two pieces of the 9.5 inch deep pine – about $20 worth. Dan-the-man cut the pieces to size and then literally just glued them together with wood glue (and left them clamped over night to make sure they were bonded really well). And if you’re wondering about sanding, since the wood was really pretty smooth already and we knew we were going to be just using the surface for computers, we didn’t bother.

Next step was to crack open my favourite stain. Yep you guessed it, minwax in dark walnut. Come to mama. See our coffee table makeover and our wedding signs for other dark walnut adventures.

One coat of stain and three coats of varathane later, she was lookin’ pretty fine. We put 3 coats of varathane on just to make sure the top was going to be extra durable. Plus, it adds a really pretty glossy finish. The varathane is still wet in the picture below — hence the blueish tone.

Once the table top had cured out in the garage for a few days, we brought it in and just plunked it on top of our two new drawer units. We thought we might want to secure it all together somehow, but realized that it was actually really sturdy just the way it was. No wobble = fine with us (and makes dan a happy man).

To make the best use of space and since we had some leftover wood, the hubs customized things up a little. He built a little platform for our desktop monitor (which not only elevates the monitor but also means you can tuck the keyboard in) and little compartments for all of the u-u-ugly computer components. It really makes the whole thing look so much cleaner and organized. And y’all know my heart pitter patters for good storage solutions.

And here’s how she’s looking all put together…

Not only was this a fun project to do, it definitely didn’t hurt that we came in way under budget too. The total cost would have been about $160 (for the drawer units, wood, stain, and painting supplies), but luckily we had an IKEA gift card for the drawers and we already owned the stain and supplies. So totally cost for us? About twenty dolla dolla bills.

Desk? Check. Next up? Dress the shelves nicely, figure out our filing and storage system, artwork, and all sort of other things. This room is definitely becoming less and less like the ugly stepsister of our house and more like the belle of the ball.

What do you think? Have you DIYed a desk before? We were surprised at actually how easy it was and definitely so nice to be able to customize to fit the room perfectly.

office makeover step 1: stencil

7th November 2011

One room that we have neglected up until now has been our office-slash-guest-bedroom. Our house is 3-bed/2-bath, but since we rent out the basement as a 1-bedroom apartment, that second bedroom upstairs has to do double duty.

Here’s the room (sorry- ultra messy) pre-makeover. It had been the place for all of our old furniture (think leftovers from University days) and a too-bright turquoise paint colour.

I wanted to do some wallpaper in this room and started looking through tons online. I did find some that I liked, but they were super expensive. Once I realized that it was going to be $150+ just to do one wall in the wallpaper I liked, I started thinking about other options. So when I stumbled upon Cutting Edge Stencils, I was sold. And was double-sold when I found their trellis stencil, which totally channeled Moroccan design elements that we loved when we were there earlier this year (see the deets on that trip here and here).

We decided that we wanted this room to be fun and playful. Lime green is one of my favourite colours and works well with our general house palette– full of blues, turquoises, and grays — so it was the winner. The first step was to paint the room a basic white.

Once the white was done, I got out the green paint. I was in love as soon as I pried open the lid. The colour is Grape Green by Behr (available at Home Depot).

Then came the stencil. Yikes! I was pretty nervous since I had never done any stenciling before, so I started in a corner that I knew would be covered up by our desk. They recommend that you use an adhesive spray on the back of the stencil to keep it in place. That probably would’ve been a good idea. I just winged it and used tape since I didn’t have any of the spray with me and was over-excited to get started (but of course you can’t use all that tape as you move the stencil along cause you don’t want to put tape on top of your fresh paint).

Basically you just get the stencil in place, paint with a small foam roller (and don’t put too much paint on your roller – you don’t want any seeping through), and then take off the stencil and move over to the next side (with your stencil overlapping what you have just painted, so it all stays connected). 

I wouldn’t really call it a fun job — it was tiring, made my hands cramp up, and I felt pretty drained by the end of it all. However, when it was done (more than a few hours later), I was so pleased. It looks pretty seamless, especially for a novice stenciler.

Kinda looks like wallpaper, huh?! We’re pretty thrilled. Stay tuned for more pics of our whole room makeover. We’ve got a DIY desk and lots of other little projects up our sleeve to transform this room!

What about you guys?! Done any stenciling recently? It seems to be super popular these days!