Office Business

Ever have that one room that always seems to be… off? We like to call ours the off…ice. Hehe! I’m funny.

No but seriously, our office has always felt a bit weird. Probably because it’s in a room that was never meant to be an office in the first place. Technically, this is more of a “breakfast nook.”

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Of course, the concept of a breakfast nook is sorta lost on me. Why do you need two dining areas within a few feet of each other anyway?

So we decided to turn the space into something we really did need- an office. Yes, we had an extra bedroom that could have been used for the same purpose. But that bedroom is currently serving as the junk room we wanted an office that was out in the open, not tucked away in a room. Until recently, I was working from home full time, and hiding away in a room all day was not ideal. I wanted to be where the action is (ok, and where the food is).

So long story short, we decided to make this space into an office. Of course, we just threw some desks and storage furniture from our apartment into the space and hoped it would work. It was a struggle.

The arrangement below was full of nope. Can’t really believe we even tried it.

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This set up got us a little closer, with the 2 tall Besta units in the corner. Oh yeah and we tried to use dining chairs instead of office chairs because they were prettier.

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We actually kept it that way for a pretty long time and published it on the blog.

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Eventually, practicality set in. First off, those chairs had to go: they were prettier than office chairs, but just not comfortable to sit in all day. Secondly, we needed more storage.

We just happened to have this extra Besta furniture chilling in our junk room (along with the office chairs before we moved them back).

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So we swapped the chairs and put the low Besta cabinets across the room from the tall cabinets (up against the kitchen peninsula). It was like that for maybe a year y’all, and I somehow NEVER got a picture. Probably because the room was just so… meh. So I photoshopped a quick mock up of how it looked.

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Just imagine a big black rectangle backed up against the peninsula, feeling sorta awkward because it was like 8 inches shorter than the peninsula height and 3 inches too wide (yep, it stuck out past the end of the peninsula). Oh, and imagine not-super-pretty office chairs too. And you have our set up for about a year.

I was so done with this layout. We loved having the extra storage, but it just felt so awkwardly thrown together (probably because it was). Finally, I decided to come up with some other layout options.

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I may have gone a bit overboard.

We ended up deciding to try out the option that’s on the far right column, middle row. We pulled the desks away from the wall and made a floating desk island in the middle of the room. Then we added the shorter Besta unit next to the two tall Besta cabinets. Except we unscrewed it into two parts, put one part on top of the other part, and turned the whole deal into a big stair-step. That sounds crazy, so just peek at the photo below to see what I mean.

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It was a little funky, but it had potential as a layout. But the room still looked so bare.

We decided the first thing we needed to do was add some blinds. Our neighbors’ walkway from their driveway to the backyard is right there and it was always awkward not having any way to block the window during our crazy night time office rave dance parties (those happen).

So we picked up some blinds from Home Depot, followed the instructions on the box and boom! We had blinds. Thanks Evan!

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Really can’t believe we waited for over a year to install those.

It still looked pretty empty though, so then we added some art, some decor, and some AMAZING curtains from West Elm. Finally, it is starting to look a little more finished these days.

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Here is a closer look at the stair-step cabinets.

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I LOVE finally having some art in the office. The top two pieces were painted by Evan, and the piece with the heart was a wedding present from Evan’s little sister Lauren. Plus the yarn-wrapped bottle/vase was made by my mom, the flowers were made by me out of coffee filters, and the frame is from our wedding and now houses a picture of us from right after we got engaged. Love!

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I also spruced up the built-in decor. It’s hard to get it in the same photo as the rest of the office, but it’s definitely part of it. And yes, that’s a Jonathan Adler fox *beams with pride*

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Lastly, we added a cool coat rack on the wall as you enter into the office from the garage (which is how we come in every day). It definitely adds a lot of function, and it looks purdy too.

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So there you have it! Our office has come a long way. I’m still not 100% sold on the floating double desks, but I do love the stair step! We’ll definitely live with the desk arrangement a bit longer before changing it. Maybe down the line we will build our own built-in desks, or maybe we will make a wooden desktop to go over both of ours and make them look more like they’re all one piece. Whatever we end up doing, we’ll keep y’all posted!

Fireplace Facelift

Our fireplace is kind of a butterface. As in everything looks really good… but her face. (On a side note, I have never once before this post referred to our fireplace as a she. But now I feel like I have to run with it.) We love that she’s a floating fireplace. We love that her bricks go allll the way up to our ceiling. We love that she’s a sizable hefty focal point for the room. But we never really loved her face.

I guess old school brass with intricate cutouts is just not our biggest turn on.

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We weren’t sure we wanted to deal with (or spend money on) replacing the brass cover, and to be honest I wasn’t even sure if we could find the right size out there. But I had seen a few tutorials online that suggested painting the face for a quick and easy update. I was intrigued!

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I came across several different methods reading through the tutorials. Some people took the whole brass face off first and painted it outside. Some people built a big bubble/tent out of plastic sheeting to keep the spray paint in. Some people just brushed the paint on by hand. We didn’t really feel like doing any of the hard parts (building a bubble, taking the face off, or painting by hand) so we decided to leave it in place, mask off the edges, go to town on it with some spray paint, and hope we didn’t inhale too many fumes.

First we masked off the glass with frog tape and printer paper.

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Then I remembered oh yeah, maybe I should sand this a bit. For the record, I’m not sure if sanding made too much difference. I sanded the outside lightly with 220 grit, but I forgot to sand the inside of the doors and I can’t really tell a difference.

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Then we protected the brick with more tape, more paper, and some plastic. (Our fireplace stayed this way for a few weeks because we were traveling and got super busy and took a while to finally paint it. It was super not attactive).

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We picked up some Rustoleum high-heat matte black spray paint meant for painting the inside of your grill. Gotta play it safe if you plan on actually using your fireplace. If you never light it up, I guess you could paint with whatever you wanted though.

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We went with matte black instead of gloss back in the hopes that it would make the intricate cut outs less noticeable by reflecting less light. You can see in the photo below that the cut outs almost disappear when painted.

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When we were done with the outside, it was already looking way better. Mochi approved because it was black and had fuzzy edges just like her.

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At this point we got super excited because it was looking way better, and we thought we were done. Then we realize dang… it looks great with the doors closed, but as soon as we open them, more brass reveals itself!

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We still needed to spray the hinges and top and bottom sliding track as you can see in the photo above- but we also still had to paint the inside of the door frames. Which meant trying to tape off the glass from the inside. It was kind of a pain and required getting our arms tangled at some weird angles but we got her done!

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Again, after this point a couple weeks went by. Looking back, this project took way longer than expected because it just kept getting put on the back burner. Eventually the plastic around the fireplace came untaped, but we didn’t bother putting it back up since we were done painting the outside.

Painting the inside required some even more awkward angles than taping did. It helps to have a husband who is willing to stick his head into a fireplace to reach those tricky spots. As Evan spray painted, I held a couple sheets of paper on the outside of the door to block over-spray.

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Almost time for the big reveal…

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Taking off those last pieces of tape and paper was so satisfying!

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Ta-da! No more brassy scrolls! No more scrolly brass! No more brassy brassy scrolly scroll brass! We love it!

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We like that it no longer automatically dates the room like it used to. It kinda balances out some of the other black objects in the room. Can’t wait to see how it looks with a fire going this winter!

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Patch Em Up

What you’re about to read is not the most glamorous of home updates. There aren’t any beautiful “Afters,” or photos with great lighting that make you want to drop your hot pocket, put on your DIY pants, and get at it. But if you’ve been getting rain like we have down in Houston, this post could be very helpful!

Our 1978 house has T1-11 siding, which is basically cardboard. I knew pretty much nothing about siding until I started doing the research, but basically this stuff is not the best over time and if it’s not sealed by a nice paint job, water damage is gonna happen eventually. Hence the two big holes you see before you.

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Most of the time these holes don’t even show from the front of the house since they’re hidden behind a couple unruly bushes. (Dang, that is one hot mess of a photo. Crooked light and all. Eeek!)

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But hidden or not, these guys were getting splashed with water and I’m sure all the humidity wasn’t helping either. We got quotes from a couple siding replacement companies that were crazy high (thousands!), then found a handyman who said he could do it for less, but he ended up being booked for the next couple months. So we did a little research and found a way we could put a little patch on our problem.

This badass stuff.

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Basically, it’s safe for outdoor use, it’s waterproof, it goes on like spackle, and it dries rock hard. Exactly what we needed.

I waited til we had a sunny day, and before I started I wiped the whole surface down with a mixture of dawn soap and vinegar to get off all the dirt and stuff that had splashed up there. Then I scooped out a bit of the patching compound on the corner of my putty knife and went to town.

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Unlike normal spackle, this stuff is more sticky and less crumbly, kinda like marshmallow fluff. So you can more easily pack it into large holes like this one.

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There you go, all patched! Just to be safe, I did wait the appropriate drying time and give it one more passover just in case.

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I filled the other hole too, which was even easier because it was a lot smaller.

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We let it dry and after a quick coat of paint it was looking good as new!

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Now we know this is definitely not a permanent fix, but it will help keep all the rain these days out of our house. And it cost a total of $5!