On to the next phase of the playroom to office transformation. Cabinets were complete, but I had alot of trouble finding a countertop that I liked and could afford. So, I took a leap and made my own. Here's the step-by-step of that process.
Here's where we left off. Check out this post to see how I turned stock kitchen cabinets into a custom office wall unit.
As with all my projects, I have an aesthetic in mind and then have to find a way to make it affordable and try not compromise my dream too much. The desktop for this unit was a big hiccup in that department. I looked at pre-fab countertops. Decent price, but felt that they looked too kitchen-y. Really wanted butcherblock, but was not able to find an affordable option. IKEA recently discontinued a perfect option, so that was out. So, back to the drawing board...make my own. Our neighborhood has a property manager/maintenance person on staff whom I have befriended. He has been a great mentor to me, popping by to check out my projects and offer tips here and there. So, Larry was my first stop when I started brainstorming this idea. I explained my plan and he gave me a sanity check and helped tweak where I needed tweaking. Thanks SO much to Larry!!
Back to Lowe's and the lumber department. I needed 10' lengths in a variety of widths, which I would attach together to form a 26" deep desktop. I went with 10", 8", 6" and 4" wide planks. I was not in the habit of buying lumber, so Larry helped me realize that even though these boards say 10" wide, for instance, they are actually a 1/2" less than that. So, all of mine did equal 26" wide, not 28". A convoluted system, if you ask me.
Once home, (I am lucky they did not snap in two when I shoved them in the back of my CRV), I laid them out in the order that I wanted them and marked the back and left/right sides of each board.
Fast forward a few days later...then came the tricky part. I had to move very quickly, using strong wood glue to attach the boards to each other (without letting the glue seep out) and then clamp them securely together...but not too tightly as I did not want them to buckle. Once glued, I had to attach cross-braces to the underside (as shown in the next to last photo below). I did one in the center, and one about 15" in from each end. Again, thanks to Larry for those tips.
The wood was not perfectly cut at the mill, so there were some differences in thickness in some areas as well as a few small gaps in between boards. I had to use wood filler on some areas to minimize those. Here's the raw surface.
I hated the next part. I had to use an orbital sander to try to get a more even and smooth surface. This process creates SO much dust..and I did not have a mask on. So I coughed for the remainder of the day and am convinced that this exacerbated a cold that eventually turned into bronchitis. Lesson learned.
I finally got it as smooth as I was going to get it and then started the staining process. I wanted a rustic look..kind of a golden oak color that would not match, but would complement the maple floors. I used a wood conditioner first, then applied the stain in sections, and finally 3 coats of matte polyurethane.
I like the color of the finish. I don't like the way that it highlights the sections where I used wood filler, but I had no choice with that.
Update: These were originally made in 2012. Had I made them today, I might have chosen a stain with a little more of a neutral brown tone. But it's all fine, so no regrets.
The open desk section in between the two lower cabinets in fairly wide, so I had to figure out a way to support the weight so it didn't sag. Again, Larry suggested the ledger board, which is screwed to the studs in the wall. The back of the desktop rests upon that. I had planned to do a post to support the front, but didn't like the look of it once I got it all put together. I elected to do a bracket from the back wall instead. It's not a perfect amount of support, but I think it will work. The boys know not to sit or stand on the desk.
Here's the finished unit, with hardware, baskets and stools. Since completion, this room has evolved from kid craft space to my office work and storage unit. It houses my design supplies as well as photo albums, party supplies and stationery.
Stay tuned for the next post for details on the paint treatment, some accessory favorites and how this room evolved into my happy place!
Thanks for visiting! I hope you found some inspiration to tackle your own DIY dreams!
Hi friends. This week, I am digging out an old project whose story I thought might be worth re-telling. This room was a soup-to-nuts DIY that I completely transformed for a fraction of what it would cost to pay a pro or buy retail. There are lots of parts, so I am going to break it up into several posts. Hopefully, there are some gems here that will inspire you and solve some of your own design dilemmas.
A little history... this part of the story was originally told in a blog post from several years ago. To give a frame of reference, this room used to be my kids' shabby little playroom. Nothing spectacular...just their own space for them to hang out (although I'm now wondering why on earth I chose that yellow paint!). Once they got a little older and started spending less time in there, my goal was to turn in into a "study" where they could do homework and play games and I could craft. Here's the "before". That tyke starts high school this year (insert Mom tears here).
Phase 1 was new wood flooring throughout most of the downstairs (which we did contract out and is under the area rug above) and paint. I'll give the lowdown on the paint in a later post. Next up was building a wall unit that could provide a desk area and lots of storage. That's where this post begins. (Fast forward to 2019 and it has evolved into what might be my favorite room in the house. My office. More on that later.) There's lots to see here, so hang on to your hats. Jump into my time machine while I take you back to 2012.
The wall unit
Here we go...moving on to the next and biggest part of the project. The cabinets. I have been stewing over this addition for several years...mentally exploring all the different options for getting it done. Of course, the first requirement was that it had to be affordable, but I also wanted to make sure that it was quality. I was willing to do some install, but was hoping to not have to do too much manual labor.
I checked out all the wall unit options...IKEA, Pottery Barn, Ballard...all beautiful but way too pricey for my budget (even IKEA). Next it was on to Lowe's and Home Depot, but all the white stock cabinets were laminate/melamine. I really didn't want to go there if I could help it as the quality can be questionable. Custom products were made to last, but definitely cost-prohibitive. So, the bottom line is that there were some affordable options and some quality options out there, but no luck reconciling the two without going DIY.
I ended up going with stock cabinets from Lowe's. They are solid oak, but unfinished. More work than I really wanted to take on, but the price was right. I took an inventory of the cabinet sizes that they carried and then went home, measured the space and sketched out the configuration that would work.
Trying to save a buck, I took these home from the store myself, fitting them in the back of my CRV. It took 3 separate trips to get them all in. My back has been killing me since. But, too late to turn back..on to the painting. I cleared space in the garage and set up shop for what would be a two week process of sanding, priming and painting.
It is recommended that you remove cabinet doors prior to painting, but alas, screws do not always cooperate, so I was forced to leave the doors on for the cabinet below. Not ideal, but flexibility and trouble-shooting skills are key when DIYing. And a few curse words help ease the frustration as well ;)
Let me interject here and say that I was by no means winging it with all of these tasks. I had my iPad by my side the entire time, consulting Google, YouTube and various message boards for process, instruction and tips. This is the room that the internet built. I especially needed assistance when it came time to install the cabinets. They are darned heavy and I had to make sure that they were securely attached to the wall. This involved lots of measuring, stud-seeking (uses different skills than when I was single - haha) and calculating. The shot below shows the ledger boards that I installed to help keep the upper cabinets level and supported while the hubster and I screwed the cabinets in.
After the upper units were in, we brought in the lower and set them in place. It was so gratifying to see everything start to take shape. A couple of additional comments: I decided to leave the doors off the upper square openings and put baskets in to add some texture (baskets still to come). I also had to compromise on the height of the lower cabinets. Ideally, I would have liked to have them at a standard desk-height. However, desk-height cabinets seem to only be available by special order, so I was limited to the counter-height cabinets. They will require bar stools for seating, but I don't think the difference will bother me once everything is completed.
And now back to 2019. As you can see from the top photo, this space has grown with me over the past few years and I am thrilled with the functionality that this room offers. Especially the wall unit. So much storage for all kinds of items...photos, craft items, catalogs and design tools. And an expansive desktop to lay out materials for staging and design plan development. As I have lived with it, I think the only thing I would change is probably finding a way to extend the cabinet facade all the way to the ceiling. I'm not a fan of the gap, nor do I like filling that space with stuff. Other than that, it's a great addition to our home.
Stay tuned for more info on the countertop (also DIYed), paint, lighting, furniture and art.
Thanks for visiting!
This is my second collaboration with Outdoor Dreams, the hardscape and landscape architects with which I have recently started working.
In this project, they designed and built this no-maintenance deck that is truly a comfortable and spacious extension of the interior space.
Outdoor Dreams is truly full-service in that they help homeowners fully realize their vision by not only designing and building, but also furnishing the spaces. In this case, the homeowners chose the beautiful Trento collection from Castelle to outfit this exterior room.
I brought in accessories to complement the navy and white palette. A cozy throw, pillows and a pouf to rest your feet and some hot tea and pastries might be all you need on a lazy morning. I love this classic color combination. It's timeless and so pleasing to the eye.
To highlight the fantastic gas grill, we got a little creative. As this shoot was staged to give a casual breakfast vibe, we decided to include a grilled breakfast dish. Shown below are scrumptious grilled French Toast skewers and bacon..both prepared on the grill. Here's the recipe from The Food Network if you would like to try this at home. For optimal richness, Greg recommends soaking the bread in heavy cream instead of buttermilk. Indulgent, but so worth it!
The homeowners also asked Outdoor Dreams to update their existing screened porch and it's gorgeous! This room is such a relaxing retreat and serves many purposes for this family. The furniture was theirs, so I went with their existing color palette and prepared the room for a quiet morning breakfast with friends.
Again, these stunning photos are the work of Becky Rees Creative. She's a master at bringing these spaces to life.
Thanks for visiting!
This area is designed to house a treasure trove of helpful information. I'll include timely staging and decor tips, and industry data that will help sell houses!