HOME OFFICE REFRESH

Earlier this year, I began working at a new firm which prompted me to do some work on my home office. Since the new job would allow me to work from home more often, I needed to address an important problem with my existing office—it needed a way to block out the noise from the rest of the house. In other words, it needed some good soundproof doors.

After my 2015 renovation

I had given my office a major renovation back in 2015, and even then I knew that adding doors to the office was something I wanted to do. Unfortunately, the current cased opening into my office is about 7’ wide by 8’ tall which is not the right size for standard doors. So we couldn’t go buy doors off the shelf and install them ourselves. 

I also didn’t want to have the wall framed in to accommodate standard size doors because it would make the opening smaller. The current opening allows a lot of light to pass between my office and the foyer which I really like. So I realized my best solution was to order some custom doors to fit the existing cased opening. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the money for custom doors back in 2015 so I wasn’t able to include them in that renovation. Fast forward to 2021, and with my new job requiring me to have online meetings from my home office, I knew it was time to finally pull the trigger on custom doors.

I contacted a local rep from Clark Hall Doors. They provide high quality doors throughout the southeast and had the style I was looking for. I was specifically interested in their Slimline doors:

I worked with the rep to create completely custom doors with sidelights. We considered a couple design options that had varying door sizes and mullion locations which changed the proportions of the glass lites. I ultimately chose this design:

I was able to pick custom hardware and went with the Aurora handle which had a nice artisan feel to it.

Since I was going to be investing some time and money to add doors to my office, I figured it was a good time to go ahead and give the room a refresh by changing out some other pieces that I no longer loved. In the end, I ended up changing out pretty much everything. 

Take a look at the final result…

GUEST BEDROOM REVEAL

I am excited to share a new reveal with you today! I’ve been waiting a long time to change our guest bedroom. Our previous guest room was in an upstairs bedroom that is right next to our kids’ bedrooms. Our guests would always have to share the nearby hall bathroom with my kids which was never ideal. Many years ago, I decided it would be better to move the guest room to a spare room downstairs. This room is right next to a full bath providing our guests with their own private suite away from our family who all have bedrooms upstairs. As our parents aged, they have also reached a point where it’s harder for them to go up the stairs, so having a guest room on the first floor was an important change to make. After many years of wanting to make this change, I finally found the time!

Unfortunately, this transformation wasn’t as simple as moving everything in our old guest room down to the new room. For one thing, the new room is smaller than the old one so all of the furniture wouldn’t fit in the new room. Also, the furniture we had in the old room was not my favorite. It was one of the first online furniture orders I ever made many years ago, and the color of the furniture was completely different than the online photo. I kept it anyway because it was too expensive to return it, but the color has always bugged me. And the furniture wasn’t the only thing that bugged me. The color scheme and decor of the old guest room was definitely blah and not up to par. So I decided to not keep anything from the old room to reuse in the new room which meant this room became a new design project for me, and I would be starting with a clean slate.

Here are the before photos of the room downstairs that would become our new guest bedroom. My husband had been using this room as his home office since Covid hit and he started working from home…

As you can see, it was not in good condition. This was the one room that we hadn’t updated at all (not even paint) since we moved into our house 15 years ago! So it definitely needed some love!

Another issue with this room is that there is no closet. I considered building a closet, but it is such a small space to begin with (about 11’x11’) that we wouldn’t be able to fit a queen size bed in the room if we added a closet. I decided the best option was to just add some wall hooks as a designated place for guests to hang nice clothes. Honestly, if I put a closet in the room only a small portion of it would ever be used anyway so it seemed like a waste of time, money and most importantly space.

So with all the background info out of the way, let’s get to the design…

Here are some images of the 3D model I made of my design plan:

SketchUp model views of my proposed design

For this reveal, I’m going to share the changes with photos instead of words. I took photos of the new room throughout the process so you can see the changes instead of read about them. 

MY QUARANTINE PROJECT: MY KITCHEN

I’ve been really wanting to renovate our kitchen for many years. As an architect and designer, I know exactly what I would do and I also know how expensive it would all be. As a result, over the past few years I decided to put the kitchen on the back burner and instead focus my time and resources on renovating more affordable areas of our home. It was a good plan. But now that I’ve transformed a lot of spaces in our home into what I want, the kitchen is really starting to bother me even more! It’s a totally different style, color palette and feel than the rest of the house now. It honestly feels like you’re in a totally different home when you’re standing in the kitchen. 

So back in February, I decided I’d had enough… it was time to turn my focus to the kitchen. I decided that I would either go ahead and renovate it and turn it into my dream kitchen, or I would update it enough that I could at least feel okay with the room until I could afford my dream kitchen. After running some specific numbers, I realized that it was going to be very expensive to turn my kitchen into my dream kitchen, and we currently have college tuition for our children to think about so it could end up being maybe 5 years before we can afford to renovate the kitchen. There was no way I could live with the kitchen we have now for the next 5 years so I needed to do something to make it acceptable until then.

I’m guessing I’m not alone. There may be someone else out there looking for a low-cost update to a space until you can finally afford your dream renovation. Well, if you are, here is my tip: Identify your focus and limits before you start. This is something I do on every project anyway, but it was particularly important on this one! 

The first thing I did was take a little time before I started to set my max budget. It’s never wise to put a lot of money into a room only to tear it all out a few years later. So the budget had to be low enough that I was okay tearing it all out at some point. I decided $1500 was my max. This budget became a limit that helped me make decisions along the way in terms of what I should replace now and what I should wait to address when we do our full dream kitchen renovation. 

The second thing I did was identify what I really hated about the room. Basically, what was driving this particular renovation to begin with? What would I need in order to be able to endure this room for awhile? (This is a different list than I would have made if I were designing my dream kitchen.)

Here’s my focus:

  1. The room needed to have a look and feel that fit with the rest of the areas in my home that I’ve already updated
  2. I wanted to improve some areas that weren’t very functional
  3. I needed to fix/remove a few things that were eyesores/damaged (including water stains on the ceiling and a nonfunctional old intercom system)

Every time I wondered whether it was worth updating something in my kitchen, I referred to this list and my budget. It helped me to focus on what was important and what wasn’t.

So my plan was to start my “limited makeover” of my kitchen in March having no idea that COVID-19 would hit then. Right before COVID, my schedule was crazy busy. The firm I work for was swamped and I was upping my hours, plus my kids had many activities and events planned for the spring, and I was also interviewing contractors to start a big project in our back yard which I would be managing during the spring. Add to that my kitchen reno that I was working on by myself, and looking back, I’m not sure how I was planning to fit it all in. Once COVID-19 came to the US my schedule was completely turned upside down. My kids activities were cancelled, events were cancelled, and the work at my firm came to a grinding halt. We put the back yard project on hold and then quarantine started in our state. With plenty of time stuck at home, I knew I wanted to focus on getting my kitchen done. And so this is what I did…

Here is what my kitchen used to look like:

After:

No, this is not my dream kitchen… at all! I was hesitant to even share this project on the blog because there’s still a lot I don’t like about the final result. But it works for now until I can afford my dream kitchen. It’s certainly better than what I had before. And I kept the total cost to $1500! I did all the work myself, but I think it was worth all of the time and hard work.

REVEAL: MY GREAT ROOM BECOMES GREAT

I am so excited to share my new Great Room reveal!!! This makeover has taken longer than usual because my schedule has been very limited this year with my kids’ activities and my job working in a firm demanding a lot of my time, but I tried to squeeze out every minute of free time I could to slowly work on this room… and every minute I spent was well worth it!

Let’s begin with the before photos…

Our great room is very important in our home because it’s physically and figuratively the center of the whole house. We spend a lot of time in this room hanging out or watching tv, and whenever we have guests over we usually congregate in here and the adjacent kitchen. Because of the amount of use this room gets it was important for me to make it a space people really want to be in. And after years of waiting to get to transform this room, I’m grateful that it has turned into what I originally envisioned—a bright and comfortable room I don’t want to leave!

Take a look at the photos…