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August 28, 2014

Our 1970's House Makeover Part 9: The Office Makeover

Hey ya'll! If you've been following along lately, you know I've been spending most of my free time* finishing the office. And I finally feel like it's decent enough to share. Kinda.
*Free time = that one weekend in August when I wasn't traveling to visit family/friends or traveling with Jesse for his work. For those of you who've been curious, Jesse is part of a media startup and the more it's grown, the more frequently he travels. And I go with him because it's just a great opportunity to spend time together, travel, read books (a passion I totally forget I have unless I'm stranded in a car), stay in a comfy hotel room, and eat multiple breakfasts at Cracker Barrel. 
Plus, I just kinda hate being home alone, which I fully blame on Macauley Culkin, circa 1990.

Anyways, so it's finally time to reveal the office in it's updated state. And since the office has been through multiple changes over the past two years, let's start at the beginning.
 This is what the office looked like when we first moved in. 

It had dark wood trim, beige carpet, and peach walls. 
I was running my first business at the time (finding new and used clothing at thrift stores and then selling it on eBay) and there was always just junk everywhere. At the time, I was shipping 100+ packages a week, barely making any money, and barely remembering to put my pants on each day. 
Decorating was at the very bottom of my to-do list.
So, if you're ever feeling a little less than awesome (something I commonly feel when reading blogs or just perusing the internet in general), just know that you are worthy, you are capable, and most off all, if your house looks like a creepy 'before' picture, there is hope. 

During my thousands of trips to the thrift store to find clothing for my eBay store, I began to come across stuff for our house. We didn't have any money at the time, and our house was nearly empty, so I started repurposing stuff.

 One of my first finds was this desk for $50. 
We didn't have a dining room table at the time (and still didn't up until about a week ago...and I can't wait to show you!), but for some reason I decided to use the table as a desk in the office. It was two different colors when I got it, and I wasn't super excited about that, but I knew I could probably fix it.

This was all happening around the time that I had decided to close my eBay business and start my blog (which was terrifying and exciting at the same time). So, one of the very first posts I ever made on this blog was about the office makeover. 
In the below picture, I had just painted the walls (Behr Sandstone Cliff) and painted the trim and doors (Ultra Pure White). And then, I decided to paint the top of the desk black to match the legs.
I had never painted a table before, and was just a total novice. 
So, I ruined the table on my first attempt at painting. And then spent an entire evening scraping paint off. It wasn't awesome. This picture never made it onto the blog before, and probably never should, but I know you'll find some comfort in my mess. 

I finally got all of the paint off the table, did a little more research, and eventually used a combination of black chalk paint and several layers of polyurethane. That ended up working, and it's held up perfectly ever since.
So, this is what the office looked like after the first makeover 2 years ago.

I still totally love the above version, but frankly, it was just time for an update.

So, back in February, we emptied out all of the furniture.

Then, we ripped up the carpet and replaced the subfloor.

Then, we installed the hardwood flooring, which took 4 months and nearly drove me insane.

Then, over the course of the past month, I basically lived in the haunted house room and spent my days sanding, priming, and painting all of the trim and all of the doors.
So, if you've been wondering why it's taken me MONTHS to finish the trim, I chose to take the road less traveled (in order to save money), and I quickly learned that it's the road less traveled for a reason. Basically, we got a bunch of raw wood from a mill and then we had to sand it, wood fill it, sand it, prime it, sand it, paint it, cut it, install it, wood fill it again, caulk it, then paint it again. As it turns out, we did save about $2000, but it's been an absolute nightmare and I'll never do it this way again.
But, hey, you live and you learn, and highfivewefreakindidit.

Once the trim and doors were finally installed in the office (more on that in a minute), I was able to move stuff back into the room and start to decorate.

 Here's how it looks so far. 

So, let's break it down.
For the main furniture, I kept the original thrift store table and paired it with a lucite chair, since the cats basically destroyed my last office chair.

 I've wanted one forever, but could never find one in my price range. But, then I had a bit of luck earlier this month, and I found a cheap one.
I found it here where they were blowing out some factory defects for $40. They only had 300, which seem to be sold out now, but they still have some for $70. Luckily, when mine arrived, I couldn't find a single defect, so I have no idea what it was. I will warn you however, that they don't list a shipping charge, and after you pay, they will send you an email telling you that you have to send them an additional $30 for shipping. 
So, perhaps that was the 'defect'. 
 But nonetheless, still a great deal.

 I had this chair in a box for almost 3 days before I took it out because I feared the 'Jesse Response'. 
And for no other reason than I just KNEW.
Jesse is a very masculine man who lives in a very feminine house. And he never complains. 
In fact, he pretty much gives me free reign to go as crazy as I want, and he totally embraces my crazy.
And you see...I just knew. I knew deep down that my little see-through chair was pushing it.
So I eventually took it out of the box, and he just happened to walk down the hallway at that exact second. 
And it was like he walked by really fast, totally distracted, and then stopped all of a sudden. And then slowly backed up, and just lost it for 30 seconds, laughing hysterically, totally amused and confused, until he could gain his composure and be like 'Oh, babe. Is that your new chair? I mean, that's awesome. But whoa. 
Can I sit in it? Will it break? Will it spray me with estrogen?'

Needless to say, Jesse really is such a gem, and one day I will make him the best of man caves to reward him for enduring this madness.

So, moving on. The rug is very similar to the one in the living room, and is from Rugs USA
If you ever read part 8 about the living room, you may remember me saying that I had bought a similar rug days before they sent me the one that we ended up using in the living room. Well, this is the one I bought, and although it's not as nice as the one in the living room, it's so much cheaper and still looks really great. I got the 8' x 10'' and waited until there was an 80% off discount code, so it only cost me a little more than $100. They almost always have crazy sales going on, so there's a good chance you can get it for really cheap if you're patient.

As for the mirror, it's one of my faves, and apparently ya'll's, too. I've never gotten so many questions about an item. I originally showed it here in the painted dresser post a few weeks ago. It was a clearance score from Home Goods for about $30. There was a chip and a few scratches in the frame that I just fixed with some Rub n Buff in the 'Champagne' color. 
I think it was originally $199, which is CRAZYTALK, so score one for the little guy.

Now, before we talk about the other side of the room, here's just a little reminder of what it looked like after the first makeover two years ago.
I'm feeling kind of embarrassed, but I'm just gonna breathe through it. 
Mostly about the narcissistic chalkboard. 
I don't know. I was telling all my friends and family I was going to be a blogger and it was hard. I was a little over the top and probably annoying. Just a part of the journey, I suppose.

And here's what it looks like today.
I removed the bookshelf and brought in the dresser that I painted with white oil paint, the gold leaf art that I made, and I also changed the light fixture and curtains, and replaced the trim and doors.

The little nook with the dresser and gold leaf art is by far my favorite part of the room.

And I'm sorry to inform you that my baby orchid has lost his blooms. 
I tried so hard, ya'll.
I forgot to give him his recommended shot glass full of water before we left for Statesboro, GA last week, and I came home to find him half dead. I'm trying to resuscitate him in the kitchen (where I'll remember to water him), and in the meantime, I just put a fake orchid in here. Because how do all these people have orchids and I just CANNOT make it work?

 I kept him thriving for a full month before he succumbed to my inevitable plant-neglect.

Will he re-bloom if I give him the proper care? I'm not sure.
I'm feeling inept.

So, now let's move on to the closet doors, because this is the part that slowed me down for a couple weeks.
Here's a little glimpse of how the doors looked in the office a few years ago. I had painted the door into the office white already, but hadn't gotten around to painting the closet doors yet. They are just your typical hollow core 1970's doors.
Also of note: another boob light.

I eventually got around to painting the closet doors white, which was a temporary fix until I could afford to replace the doors. 
It made a really big difference, made me feel less gloomy about my house, and it held up pretty well over time. So, don't be afraid to paint your doors if they bug you. All I did was prime them and roll some semi gloss white paint on with a high density foam roller.

During the floor renovations, I removed all of the doors in the house and threw them away. It was my attempt to force us to replace them. And it worked. Granted, I removed them in February and we're just now getting new ones on in late August, but nonetheless.
Also, that's the least amount of stuff that closet has ever had in it. It may just look like a pile of junk to you, but to me it's a glorious achievement. 
Also, my mom gave me those two little antique plant stands for my birthday, and I can't wait to use them. But, first, I have to tame the horror that is my yard. You know you saw it.

 So, anyways, the doors on all of the closets in this house were bi-folds. And they were always coming off of the track and causing me to pull my hair out, so I decided to try something different. So, we went to Lowe's and bought a bunch of slabs. (Jesse has informed me that 'slabs' are what the doors are called when they don't have pre-drilled holes for the doorknobs.)

The slabs were super cheap at only about $20 a door. 

And then I spent about a week of my life painting them.

And then Jesse attached the doors to the closet and installed a magnetic closure to each door and to the top of the frame.

And then we drilled two holes in each door and attached these satin nickel steel bar pulls. They were only $3.50 (!!!) each and are the same handles we used on our kitchen cabinets, only bigger. Not only do I just love the way it looks, but it allowed us to save money by buying slab doors and by not having to buy a bunch of doorknobs.

DIY Closet Door Update: How to update your old bi-fold doors to modern french doors! Love the little added touch of the door pulls, too. Such an easy update! So glad I found this!

And it was kind of a pain (simply because doors take forever to paint), but it was so worth the effort. 

DIY Closet Door Update: How to update your old bi-fold doors to modern french doors! Love the little added touch of the door pulls, too. Such an easy update! So glad I found this!

Switching the doors from bi-folds to french doors was such a simple change, but it made one of the biggest differences in the way this room feels. I'll be doing this to every room in the house now.

DIY Closet Door Update: How to update your old bi-fold doors to modern french doors! Love the little added touch of the door pulls, too. Such an easy update! So glad I found this!

You may have also noticed the light fixture in the above picture. This is the little fixture that used to be in the master bedroom that I found at a thrift store for $5. It was originally a nice 1980's brassy gold, but I spray painted it silver. It really goes perfectly in the office, and it saved me some dollars.
It could probably use a little Windex after getting dusted by the floor sander, but what can ya do. Well, I suppose Windex it, but you know...who has time for that.

As for the curtains, I was determined to make my own. So, I taped up two plain white curtain panels, mixed some fabric medium in some gray paint, and I started painting my curtains.
I've seen a lot of people do this, and so I figured it wouldn't be too hard. I was so wrong.
First of all, trying to tape straight lines on a curtain panel is like trying to brush a cat. 
Second, I made my stripes too wide and by the time I was done taping and painting the first panel, I realized I had 3 jumbo in-your-face stripes. 
And third, I spent nearly 3 hours just on that one panel, and then I realized that it totally sucked and that I was going to have to start over if I wanted to salvage the project.
Basically, cut to me laying on the floor, crumpled in a ball...covered in tears and sweat.
And rage.

So, as luck would have it, I was walking around Marshall's on Monday looking for a fake orchid, and I just happened to spot a pair of striped curtain panels in the clearance aisle. I've never seen striped curtains anywhere. Much less for $20.
I'm pretty sure I cackled to myself like a maniac and probably did a round-off or something. It's a blur.

A few of you guys asked about the little gold mug in the last post. It's just a thrift store find that made for a terrible coffee mug (it gets way too hot), so instead I turned it into a pencil holder. By putting pencils in it.

And those pencils are an Etsy find, and I kind of gaze at them longingly each and every day. 
It's the back to school phenomenon where you get excited over school supplies. 
Even if you're old.

And of course, the flowers are just some pink roses from the grocery store.

I don't have flowers in my office every day (although I wouldn't put up a fight if someone tried to bring me some), but I'm an average photographer at best, and a little touch of flowers always makes even the worst photos look better.
And I blog for a living, so sometimes you have to do crazy things like buy flowers and sit in your kitchen for an hour arranging them, knowing fully well that your cat is going to try to eat them the minute you leave the room.

Please take note of the orchid, fighting for his life in the corner.
I'm guessing that hacking up roses with my scissors probably didn't encourage him.

Furthermore, my roses started dying off by this morning. They lasted a day.
I guess that's what you get when you buy the $2 bundle from the clearance bin. 
Half of them were slightly moldy.
And that's how you ruin the mirage of a perfect home with fresh flowers everywhere.

So, anyways, ya'll. That's the office.

I really do love it. I'm sure it will change time and time again, but it has a fighting chance of staying the same at least for a little bit while I move on to other rooms in the house.

Plus, now I actually have a place to blog again, which is awesome since I literally blogged from my bed for about 4 months while the house was under construction.
 Cheese likes this new life upgrade, too.
That pic was taken when I had the desk facing the door. I actually like it that way better, but need a slightly smaller desk if I'm going to keep it that way.
 I suppose that leaves us room to improve, right? :)

Speaking of Cheese, before I go...
So, I'm sure you've seen the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge all over social media these past few weeks. Jesse and I were nominated by a handful of people, and since we were traveling and late to respond, we donated some of our dollars and Cheese and Tootie offered to help us out, too.
They're obsessed with ice/water/anything they can splash in, so I figured we could indulge them just this once.

So, here's my little video with Cheese. 
Jesse did his video with Tootie, and it's the most precious thing I've ever seen, but I'll spare him just this once.

 Cheese's sweet little personality is on major display and it's time you get to see her in action. She played in the bathtub for a full twenty minutes batting shaved ice around after we were done. She's absolutely ridiculous.
And also, if you have a few spare dollars, I encourage you to send a few to Feel free to follow my lead, also, just for fun, and sprinkle a shot glass worth of ice on yourself, too. :)

That's all for today, ya'll!
'Til next time!

P.S. The other posts in the House Makeover series can be found here:

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  1. I love what you did with the closet doors! What a great, bright space to work in. A lot of people say that for good feng shui one should face the door in the room rather than having your back to the door; have you ever tried placing your desk chair against the mirror wall? :)

    1. Thanks so much, Kat! I have may have noticed that in the two 'before' pictures, that's the way the desk faced. Ultimately, I changed it because it just made me feel really boxed in. I eventually want to get a slightly smaller desk so that I have more options with furniture arrangements. Time will tell! :)

  2. Your office is AMAZING!! I love all the little details you put in it! And that ghost chair is fabulous!

    1. Thank you, Selene! I appreciate that so much!

  3. Gorgeous! I really love all that you have done. :) Those handles on the closet doors are genius! No sense paying lots of money for dummy handles and you can not beat $3.50! Wow! I put a smaller version of those handles on my son's closet, only horizontal. I like the way it looks, but now I want to copy what you did. ;)

    Everything is looking good, Virginia! Kudos!

    1. Aw, thanks girl!!! And I love that you thought of the handles, too!

  4. Love the new office! Your posts always crack me up. Lub those kitties of yours as well. :)

  5. Las cortinas me encantan!!!!! Tan sencillas y elegantes.
    Has trabajado mucho en esta habitaciĆ³n y el resultado es genial ;)


    1. Gracias, mi amiga! (I took a few years of spanish in College, so I'm trying to remember!) :)

  6. Great blog! Very inspiring and you have great, useful ideas! With your orchid, no worries, you did not kill it. The blooms fall off after flowering for a long time. Just keep watering it once a week, shot glass amount. In about 6-9 months (!!), it should send up a new flower stalk and rebloom. If you don't want a plant that is just leaves, pass it on to a friend who is good with having it hang out till it flowers again.

    Thanks for all your inspiring ideas! (just finished re painting some furniture and then spray painted some glass vases - ta-da!)

  7. I am very good at killing plants... speaking of which, I'll take this as a reminder to water my unflowered orchid lol. I love the planter that yours is in, it's beautiful. I also love your description of Jesse's reaction to the ghost chair lol!

    1. Ha! Thanks Amber! And that little planter was a thrift store find...I love it, too!

  8. This is a great update - it's always nice to see the way-before version of things as a reassurance that there's always hope! And I wanted to second Karen's point - people who constantly have flowering orchids around either have good fake ones, or treat them like long-lasting cut flowers and get new ones when the blooms fall off. (Or they've got a greenhouse and store the non-blooming plants there for ages, but I don't know anyone IRL who's got the patience for that.)

    They're pretty hardy plants if all you're talking about is keeping them alive, but they'll be leaves-only for a *long* while if you go that route.

  9. Love it! So fresh and creative! Thanks for sharing your home with us! FYI, when it comes to cut flowers like your roses, I've found a few tricks that work really well to keep them living longer. Try dropping a penny into the bottom of the vase. Something about the copper keeps them fresh. Also, if you ever put cut hydrangeas in your home, try dipping the ends of the stems into alum. I did this for a wedding shower I hosted, and they lived and looked beautiful for almost 3 weeks, it was amazing. :)

    1. Thanks for the tip! I'll definitely try that next time!

  10. Beauitful office, I love the updated look! The little back corner with the art and dresser is so pretty!

    As for orchids, don't worry, they will bloom again! As long as the stem isn't all dried out, your plant is still alive. A trick I use with mine is placing an icecube once a week instead of actually watering it. Our last blooms started in May and just recently fell off. It will take a few months for the buds to sprout again but they will come back! Good luck!

  11. I am absolutely in love with the transformation of your office. By the sounds of it you did a lot of hard work but it certainly paid off because your office is amazing. I love how it looks so classy and romantic at the same time. Those pencils are also one of the coolest things ever!
    XO Janina

  12. Love your blog, very inspirational!! Just curious what kind of wood you used for the floors?? Oak, hickory, ect??

    1. It's just natural oak. We had it cut at a mill and saved tons of money that way. It truly cut our wood cost almost in half!

  13. Love ur faucet! Can you please share where u purchased it. I have been looking for something similar for my old farmhouse! :)

    1. It's from Moen. Here is the original post:

  14. I have all of these great things to compliment you on in your room, but I can't get over how stinkin' hilarious you are to read! I'm so glad you made the leap into the blogging world from eBay! ;)

    1. Aw, thank you Sarah! And trust me, I am too!!! Ha! :)

  15. This comment has been removed by the author.

  16. Hey Virginia. Great blog as always... Love the new look, but then I've loved everything you've done with the office so far. Yeah. Nah. Maybe not when you first , moved in...:-) You have such a great style. Also my stomach aches from laughing at your wonderful writing. You're brilliant!!! Happy Kiwi Hammer Dancing from the bottom of the world...

  17. You have a crazy amazing knack for decor and design, what vision!! I'm so envious! ;) Love your blog! -Bev

  18. Oh, I loved this post!! All the stories you told and of course the final make over of the office! But all the stories? They made me laugh so hard! <3

    Love, Midsommarflicka

  19. Love it! Enjoy your blog so much! Can't wait until the next one! What's the link to the rug in your living room?

    1. Hi Crystal! It's listed in this post:

  20. My pup would FLIP if I poured ice water on him. This is too funny!

  21. Every post is more inspiring than the next. :) I'm an (apparently) late blooming 27 year old kindred spirit who just put down an offer on my first house. I certainly would not have settled on this outdated 1959 if it hadn't been for you and your blog!! I'm excited to get down and dirty with all the DIY opportunities before me. Thank you for touching this lonely Texan stuck in Utah!

    1. Aw, Vanessa....that has to be one of my favorite comments ever. Thank you for being such a great reminder of why I blog. (And having been a girl who moved around a lot up until my twenties, I'm sending my love to you!! It gets better. xo)

  22. You crack me up! You're so inspiring and have changed my entire thrift store game since I began reading your blog! Your office looks amazing! I absolutely love the gold leaf art, closet door updates, and all of the little details!

  23. And is that a Breakfast at Tiffany's notebook? Where did you get that?!

    1. Hey Christine! I think it was from Target from way back in the day (or at least 3 years ago). :)

  24. Love your office! I found your blog a couple of weeks ago and I have read every post :) I can't wait to utilize your tips on painting in the future.

  25. I truly enjoyed reading about your office redo and plan to come back and visit often. I have a bunch of bifolds in my house and can't wait to get rid of them. Your office turned out beautifully - nice job. I totally understand what it's like to wait so very long for a job to be finished - patience is a virtue! Your office was definitely worth the wait.

  26. Awesome work! It really makes me want to redo my office, get a new desk, etc., etc. Have you tried buying snake plants? You can forget to water them for like two months and they don't die. (It is the only way I can keep plants in my house instead of ending up with a plant graveyard... which has happened before).

  27. Wonderful! Your office is beautiful. I'm going to have to check out the post on the gold leaf art - that is just stunning. I also really dig your curtains. They fit perfectly. I just redid my office but I knew something wasn't fitting - it's the trim. I have this wonderful slate gray wall and blue desk I repurposed, and this godawful brown trim. I'm going to buy some ultra white trim paint and get to work this weekend! (I may also need to touch up the ceiling - I'm not the best painter but I'm learning) Also, I know you frequent Lowe's - they have some hardy plants that are beautiful that require little to no light and watered once ever week or two - I have several at home and I love them! I tried an orchid and failed miserably as well - but these guys brighten the house up big time and almost take work to kill. I love my Zamioculcas zamiifolia (ZZ plant) the leaves are super glossy and he's just happy. He was also fairly inexpensive at Lowe's. Either way, good luck! And I can't wait to see what's next!

    1. Oh, awesome!! Thanks for the tip...I'll definitely check those out!

  28. LOVE IT! I really wish you lived closer. I'd pay you to come and help me paint all the trim in my house a nice crisp white. Currently it's more of an "off" or yellowish colored white. Not loving it. And I'm way too chicken to try to paint it myself since I've never done it before.

  29. Live the pops of colour, makes the office so much fun! I've been looking for an acrylic chair like that since we moved with no luck (and unfortunately, no lottery win). They look so minimal and sleek! ♡

  30. Dear Virginia,
    I first noticed your work through pinterest (how to paint a furniture) and been obsessed with it ever since. Been following your blog for a little less than a year and it's been a life changing event (in the diy department). This post especially, I just ADORE. I adore your sense of humor - I was laughing along, which is crazy because it feels like I'm talking to a girlfriend; I love your sense of style, love love LOVE how you're very price conscious and lastly I just love how you're taking the time to write back almost every comment- you have that very approachable character about you. Anyways.. You see.. I'm a stay home (ben 3, calley 1) and we live of one person income (and my husband is not a plastic surgeon) so decorating and renovating is certainly not on the top of our list. Your blog is just awesome. I can appreciate the reuse, repurpose, non-sew projects like non other. Life is hectic to sew :) And who doesn't like gem hunting at the thrift store? so Thank you for embracing thrift stores. You have made it a household name. All blog is everything that I was of thinking of doing if I would have more time, skills and patient. All and all.. thank you for sharing your secrets! You rock girl! ;)

    1. Oh my gosh, Devita!! Your comment stopped me in my tracks! That is just the sweetest thing ever. Thank you so much for taking the time to brighten my day! It means so much! xo

  31. I love the color of the walls! Did you re-paint them a second time or are they still the Behr Sandstone Cliff?

    1. Hi Kylene! I actually repainted them, but forgot to mention it. It's Valspar Homestead Resort Jefferson White. It's a much lighter, cooler gray than the Behr Sandstone Cliff (more of a warm beige). xo

  32. While perusing your blog trying to figure out how to completely renovate/update/prettify my ~3000 sq.ft. house in one weekend, I came across this post. And then this statement:

    "Please take note of the orchid, fighting for his life in the corner.
    I'm guessing that hacking up roses with my scissors probably didn't encourage him."

    I cackled. Out loud. Thanks for the laugh!

    (And thanks for all the inspiration... love your home!)

  33. Thanks for the hilarious post! Just one question - did you have to cut the doors and molding to recess the hinges, or just screw them in?


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