Apartment Life: Office Renovation 2013

I have lived in an apartment for a few years now and the most valuable lesson I have learned: Use space wisely.  Having moved from a three bedroom house with a finished basement to a two bedroom apartment about the size of the main floor, space is a very valuable thing in this place.  Shelves added to closets, storage drawers and even the space under EVILBOY's captain's bed are all put to use.

One thing that has always bothered me about this place is my living room. I (stupidly) went out and bought a big giant glass corner desk.  I spent hours upon hours putting the thing together, only to find out it took up almost half the room. Plus because it was glass, everything was always just there.  Transparent for all to see.  Cords, weird little USB devices, memory cards, pens, and papers galore were constantly strewn about my workspace, which always made the living room look cluttered and not very comforting.

I am the worst at getting before pictures, so I don't have any before pictures of the desk area (actually..consider yourself lucky!) but I do have a before picture of the dining room:

Believe it or not, that was actually on a pretty good day.  As  you can see it was a very busy room, but the strange thing is it was never really used for eating.  The table I have is a very old drop leaf style table.  The chairs are from a completely different set.  I just fell in love with the chairs, but unfortunately they did not fit under the table at the sides, thus wasting a lot of precious space.  Not to mention it made eating at this table very uncomfortable. I always had to cover this table because it was pink (which is not bad - but think Pepto pink) and had a lot of little holes and "slices" in it. I think the previous owners used it as a work table, which is a shame because it really has a lot of character.

Of course I couldn't get a before picture...because I just don't think of these things!  So I lightly sanded the table and removed the leaves on the two sides.  For some reason I had yellow stuck in my mind that day. It really didn't belong with the colour scheme I was thinking of, but in the end I think it worked out pretty okay.  My plan now is to have this yellow table set up with only two chairs, turn it the other way and use it as an all-purpose table. We can eat here, draw here, drink coffee here, unfold sewing patterns...anything really! So many activities!

The biggest problem I encountered with the office design was the actual desk and shelves.  I drew this idea down on paper just by looking at the space where I wanted the desk to be. I knew I wanted to have the filing cabinet as a middle section, but I had a feeling my idea for supports were going to be all off.

I walked into Home Depot with my plan, fully expecting the nice man working there to tell me I was crazy and that I should probably buy 100 other things than what I had planned.  However, the man just agreed with me and said it shouldn't be a problem.  That was my first little boost of confidence and all the motivation I needed.

I bought a 4x8 sheet of melamine and had my new best friend cut it into the following:
2 ft x 7.5 ft - Desktop
1 ft x 7.5 ft (x2) - Shelves

There was a sign that said the first two cuts are free and afterwards you will be charged $1 /cut but my guy didn't charge me any extra.

One of the things I didn't really expect was the cost of the brackets.  I decided that the melamine was cheap enough, but it was a little heavy but almost "flimsy" at the same time, so I better not cheap out on brackets.  I think that really saved the whole project because I could definitely see this going all wrong pretty quickly with some smaller brackets or "decorative" brackets.   I ended up buying heavy duty brackets made for closet shelves.  They have a hook on the end which I figure would be good to hang things from if needed or if I do ever decide to hang a pole for ribbons etc. I bought 6 brackets for the shelves.

For the desk itself I bought two heavier brackets as I figured that was where most of the weight would be distributed.  However, once I put the desk together, I realized that two wouldn't be enough to support the weight at the front of the desk, so I added two more cheaper brackets to the front just to keep it stable.

Unfortunately, when I got the melamine home, I realized I had made a fatal error.  When I measured the length of the area, I didn't take into account the window ledge (very important).  I figured I could slide it in from above the ledge - big mistake!!

The melamine ended up getting wedged into the wall.  It was so bad that I ended up having to run out to Wal-Mart at 10pm to buy a handsaw to try and cut the melamine free from my wall.  Do you know the looks you get when you run into a Wal-mart just as they are closing, sweaty and scratched up, to buy just a handsaw?  You should try it sometime.

The good news is, I was able to free the melamine from the wall. The bad news is the handsaw I bought SUCKED. I'm not even kidding, it took me an hour and a half to cut a bit off the end of the melamine.  When I brought it back to the area to put it in, all proud of my cutting skills, IT WAS STILL TOO BIG!! I ended up borrowing a power tool saw thingy from someone and that worked wonders. However, my cutting skills are probably not so fantastic and the edges are not very straight. When it was all in place, I had to go through with some white acrylic paint.  Melamine has rough "wood" edges. You can buy strips to cover this, but I figured with the use they would probably just fall off anyway, and I was trying to keep costs down.

I'm still surprised someone thought it was a good idea to lend me a power tool.

Everything pretty much fell together once that was done.  I bought a little chair at a thrift store and recovered it.  Unfortunately it's not the most comfortable chair, and I work from home sometimes, so I had to bring in my old ugly office chair.  Still trying to figure out a way to make this office chair not so ugly. I may be brave one day and try to recover it with some funky fabric like I did to the little chair.  I think that may be taking on a lot though.  I also went back to Home Depot and bought a couple little pieces of wood to make little display shelves for some of my action figures.

And now for the big reveal:

It took about a week. There were many scrapes, bruises, bumps on the head and feet spray painted, but it all came out nicely. I added a little curtain rod from the dollar store to hold some ribbon.  The red chair is now on the other side in the "sewing area".  I have also added my sewing machine to that side as well.  I found that little white shelf that holds up the monitor at the thrift store. I'm not even sure what the purpose of it was in the first place but it sure worked out pretty well (after I used the power saw to hack off the legs!). 
This is where the sewing machine will be.  It will also be the area we use for crafts, painting, drawing etc.  I figure the sewing machine can be pushed to the side when this area is being used for other purposes, or we could use the new yellow table.  The little red box you see in the corner is where I am keeping my acrylic paints.  It was a spice rack I found at the thrift store. I am in love with it! 


Here is the yellow activity table.  The chairs are going to be changed in this area because they are just way too big -- even though I still love them a lot.

This is the computer area. I mentioned earlier about the chair having to be switched out.  I will keep you updated in case I get brave and decide to recover my current office chair.  For now, it is just big and ugly and it makes me sad.

I fell in love with this ugly little spice rack.  I don't even think it's made out of real wood. It's old and flimsy, but a can of red spray paint added some new life to it.  It's a great place to store my paint collection (for now because I only have four bottles!!).

I'm going to tell you the story about the lamp.  It's not a good story.  You see, I spray painted the heck out of that metal base.  Then I touched it and had to spray paint more.  Then I dropped the base, but didn't think anything of it.  Then I re-covered the shade with some leftover fabric from the chair and some pretty red trim.  I used a glue gun and burnt myself five million times.

When it was all done, I looked at this beautiful lamp in awe.
This was totally me
and then came the moment of plugging it in...

...and nothing! It was broken!! I assume dropping it was the fatal error.  Alas, I have a beautiful lamp-like decoration now.

The worst part of the whole story?  I had painted the lamp before I painted the table.  I ran out of paint for the table on the last leg.  I'm sure that if I wouldn't have painted that lamp, I would have had just enough paint for the table. Ugh.

The total cost for this entire project was around $150. Keeping in mind I had the filing cabinet and craft table already. I now have an entire corner of my living room that I don't know what to do with, but I kind of like it that way!

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Hello..this is my blog. I bought this fancy theme and I don't know what to write here just yet. Maybe one day remind me I have to write something inspiring here?


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