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I blame all of this on Jenna Murillo. One day I was siting happily at my desk working away and the next I was scouring the city for old kitchen cabinets and covering my home (and myself) in sanding dust. I’ll come back to Jenna in a second.
When we began the search for our perfect Kansas City home almost 4 years ago a home office was a high item on the list of demands. It didn’t make sense for me to rent a commercial space when my children were so young and so much of my work could be done from home. Most of our searches in Brookside would have required converting a bedroom into the office or would have left me hiding in the basement. And then we found our home. At some point in the house’s history someone had enclosed the patio off of the living room creating what would become the perfect little nook for me.
I was so excited to start on this project that I totally forgot to take before photos.
Upon first glance the room was dingy and desperately needed new carpet. After further inspection (and the discovery of a thankfully empty beehive) we added new subfloor to that list. I picked out the tan trellis pattern carpet, filled the newly rehabbed space with some thrifted furniture, and got right to work running my business.
But the space never really worked. The armoire I added to the room was bulky with awkward and insufficient storage. And no matter how hard I tried to avoid it the room became the dumping ground for all of the stuff we didn’t want to take care of in the house.
Fast forward four years and some feeble attempts to tame the madness and Jenna gets into my head. I’ve had the lovely opportunity to personally know Jenna for a few years and have been an avid stalker of her brand, Workspacery. When I saw that she was giving a webinar as part of the Boss Project Summit I made sure to add it to my list to listen too. One afternoon I was editing away and decided it would be the perfect time to listen. Jenna emphasized the importance of functional spaces that allow us to focus on the tasks of our business while also being inspiring to us. I looked around my office and immediately knew something drastic had to be done.
Down the rabbit hole I went. As I looked for inspiration for how to move forward I knew two things. The space had to be a place where I could work but also that my family felt welcome in. It also had to have enough storage that everything in the office had a proper place to live. I had never taken into account how the original design made the space uninviting to our family. The large black desk faced a wall away from the door so if anyone came into the room and needed me I would have to physically turn around to address them (although yelling at them over my shoulder was the usual response). So proper feng shui was also needed.
The best part was the bookshelf toppers were included! The left picture is the bookshelves at the Restore and the right is an in process shot after we cut them down to the right size and they had their first coat of paint.
After visiting all 4 Restores, plus a ton of other thrift stores, and hours of searching craigslist and facebook marketplace, I finally found these at the Northland Restore. Solid wood and in the right dimensions.
Left: So much IKEA assembling. Right: Probably my one regret of this whole process was not hiring a drywall expert. One large wall in the office had some pretty apparent cracking in the drywall due to settling. I thought it would be simple to scrape, re-mud, and sand smooth but it was the worst part of this project. Mudding is far more difficult that I anticipated and the sanding required made a huge mess. While I was able to accomplish a good enough finish, hiring this part out would have saved a ton of stress and time on my end.
I started where any proper DIY home project begins, IKEA. We knew we wanted to fill the space where the desk was with some built-in storage. While IKEA had a ton of options that would have worked perfectly it would have been crazy expensive to do what I wanted. So I set off the repurpose something and started hitting the KC area Restore locations. For those of you that don’t know Restore it is basically a thrift store for building materials. After 2 days I entered the last of the 4 area stores and there they were. A perfect set of solid wood cupboards and matching bookcase toppers. It took a lot of restraint not to start dancing in the aisles. With a solid foundation and many more trips to IKEA the office is officially revealed!
The final “built-in” result. The counter top between the bookshelf and the cabinets is the Karlby from IKEA. We considered having a custom piece made but it was double the price and would have required more work staining and sanding on our end. The counter has a good depth to give me additional storage and an extra workspace for packaging client orders.
Having a bookcase that actually displays books in a beautiful way has been a special treat.
All of the little boxes and baskets on the bookshelf offer pretty storage for things needed on a regular basis. The wooden box stores memory cards, the cute birdie tin hides extra lens caps, and the wooden drawer keeps cards and thank you notes at ready to be written and mailed.
I’m still a total paper and pen girl so old journals and planners keep notes and ideas ready to peruse again. The Pentax camera was a Christmas gift from my parents in high school and was the tool that started this journey long before I ever considered making it a career.
The not as pretty view of the inside of the cabinets. Everything has a specific place to live in order to keep the space from turning into the catch all again. The other side has space for all of my camera bags so even they can be hidden and protected when I’m not out shooting.
Kendall’s pick for bright quirky artwork.
I love working facing the room and the cozy corner of the space. The white office chair was actually rescued from a dumpster at a local thrift store. The wood was spilt in two places so they couldn’t sell it, but a bit of wood glue it has been perfect in the space.
I knew I wanted an extra desk in the office that could double as an invitation assembling space for me and as a homework/art desk for my boys. The idea of floating my desk out from the wall took a lot of planning a more than one Ikea scouting mission. As gorgeous as floating desks looked in inspiration photos most only needed to house a laptop so cables weren’t an issue. My computer is always hooked up to a large (and very ugly) battery backup and multiple hard drives so figuring out how to hide cables and keep those accessible was tricky. By putting the desks in a L shape I was able to use the inexpensive Eket shelf underneath (which would have been too wide for a single Linmon top). I used a circular drill bit to cut a hole in the back so all power cords and USB cables can hide behind the back of the shelf.
My desk now faces the doorway to the office which means my family can pop in anytime. The extra desk is the perfect spot for them to sit and do homework or color or for me to assemble wedding invitations. We decided to do the gold and white accordion wall sconces to help save table space. I don’t love the hanging cords showing but it didn’t make sense to spend money to have them hard wired in.
I struggled for a while to figure out how to make the desk work. I needed a separate place for hard drives and battery packs that was tidy but accessible. By doing reverse L shaped desk the IKEA Eket was the perfect height and storage solution.
I decided on a smaller desk space for my work station as a way to force myself not to let papers and things pile up.
Hanging kitchen organizers from Ikea keep pencils, crayons, and scissors handy over the extra desk.
The view from our living room into the office is a new treat. The vintage Mossant print is one I have been searching for for a while. To me it is the perfect piece for a home with three little gentlemen. I came across this perfect condition framed print for a great price at Good JuJu in the West Bottoms.
The sputnik chandelier in gold finish fills out the vaulted ceiling and adds so much gorgeous light.
I probably walked around World Market for an hour debating this chair purchase. It was definitely the splurge of the room but the forest green adds so much color to the space. It is also one of the most comfortable chairs I’ve ever sat in. My son has already claimed it as his spot in the house. The pictures on the right were second hand finds that make the space feel so inviting.
The original frame I had this print in did not match the room at all. I found this gorgeous frame with the most incredible details at Bella Patina and it fit perfectly!
I originally planned to add a removable wall paper to this wall to add a real pop to the room. I feel in love with a gorgeous pattern and decided to order a sample. Unfortunately that print in person was pretty disappointing so I decided to steal an idea from Vintage Revival and follow her tutorial for this hand drawn sharpie wall. The imperfections give it the perfect texture and the design adds so much to the room.
Left: This gorgeous sketch with watercolor was a find from River Market antiques. It has the sweetest note on the back to the original owner. Right: I knew I needed a place for Kendall to keep his laptop bag and a hook on the wall wasn’t an option. I stumbled upon this magazine rack in the West Bottoms and fell in love. The original sides were an ugly wood patterned plastic so I used a pretty paper to tie the rack into the room.
One of the most challenging things was trying to find a bookcase that would hide my tall light stands when not in use. I stared at the Hemnes for a long time hoping I could make it work because the proper assembly would have made the fixed shelf too short. Luckily the drill holes are the same the entire way up so just installed the fixed shelf at a higher spots and the problem was solved. I love the clipboards for displaying artwork that the boys bring home from school.
Built-in Bookcases: Refinished kitchen cabinets from Restore