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!
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