Thursday, May 12, 2011

Office and Library in 8 Square Feet

My inspiration for our office.

Part of the charm of our apartment is the long hallway that has lots of nooks and irregular corners. We recently turned one of these nooks into an office/library.

This photo from Metropolitan Home was my inspiration. This Manhattan apartment, home of architect Jeffery Povero, has walls in Benjamin Moore’s “Iron Mountain.” I love how the dark walls contrast with the white shelves. I also love the way that the orange storage boxes provide visual organization.

Dean might say that I “copied” this photo and that I “lack imagination” (in fact, he has said those exact things). Copying is antithetical to his architectural moral code.  I say this office was my “inspiration.” In the end I got the shelves I wanted, and our hallway was already painted dark gray (Farrow & Ball’s Down Pipe). The desk is different from the picture. We are both happy with the outcome.

The office nook became possible when we moved this gigantic door to the adjacent wall in the hallway.
Dean screws together the shelves. The wall on the right on the office nook is new--built to expend the
bathroom by 8 inches.

Looking up at the shelves.
After getting a quote from a cabinet-maker-friend for $1,600 to build the shelves, Dean decided to build them himself. (No offense to our friend, I am sure he would have done a spectacular job, but we are on a budget).

Dean bought $200 in wood at Home Depot and bolted 1x2”’s into the walls on three sides of the nook to create a structural frame. Then he cut plywood to fit, and screwed it on top and bottom of the 3-sided frames he already installed. He cut 2.5 inch strips of smooth architectural plywood and affixed those strips to the front of the shelves with Liquid Nails as the faceplates. I was the master sander and painter (the shelves are the same color as all woodwork in our apartment—Halo by C2 Paint). We puttied screw holes and little gaps between the faceplates and plywood with acrylic putty, then sanded it down and re-painted. It took two full days to cut, build, sand, paint, putty, re-sand and re-paint these 4 shelves.

The completed office. The top shelf turns a corner and rests on top of the new bathroom bump-out. Dean
"styled" it in red.
Some elements of the office are responses to the bathroom right next door. For example, the top shelf wraps around the corner. It rests on a new bumped-out wall we built to make the bathroom large enough for a sink and toilet.  The wrapped shelf hopefully makes that wall, which is the height of the door that used to be there, seem more incorporated with the overall design.  In addition, when we built the bathroom we needed to add an exposed, industrial-looking vent pipe that runs across the office nook. Our second hope was that our modern office design would make that pipe look less jarring. 

The lighthouse light.
We hired an electrician to work on the bathroom, and while he was here we had him add the white lighthouse wall sconce in the office area (cost: $112 with dimmer switch). We also had the electrician add electrical outlets near the floor for our laptops and printer. The cost of the electrician for this job was $842.

Our carrera marble desk. It is a really cozy and luxurious place to check email.
In every project I have to break the budget in some way. Our custom Carerra marble desk is definitely the splurge in this project. A few weekends ago we went down to Imperial Marble Kitchen & Bath in South San Francisco and picked out a stone remnant for our 42” x 25” desk (cost for marble: $270).  We asked for a special mitered edge that mimics the 2.5” square edges of our bookshelves  and a hole drilled for laptop cords. We asked them to come to our house, create a custom template to our irregular plaster walls, and come back to install and caulk the marble slab (cost: $470 for all cuts and custom installation).  We are DIYers, but we do not care to mess with stone and curvy walls. Total cost: $765 with tax. Dean built the structural frame for the marble slab himself, using a similar technique as the shelves.

Semikolon storage boxes come in amazing colors.
I bought six red storage boxes at Container Store ($130) and Dean bought the black filing cube under the desk at Office Max for $67.88. The chair is from Ikea and I already had it from the kitchen in our last apartment. 

It is so nice to have all of our papers organized and our books accessible, and have a landing spot for our laptops so they are not strewn around the house. We are very happy with the result.

Total project cost: $2,117.

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