If you listen to our podcast, you’ve probably heard us talking about how the office just hasn’t been working for us. Chris left his office job in June of 2016, and it was right after that when we really started working on it and planning everything out. I had this grand idea of the two of us spending all of our time in that room, working and growing our little business. And while the working and business growing has definitely happened, it hasn’t been in this office. Mainly because of the standing desk we built out of Ikea cabinets and a large slab of Formica.
Because we are both taller than average (6’4″ and 6′), the desk had to be especially tall, too, and stools that were tall enough, so we could sit occasionally, were very difficult to come by (and not very comfortable which made me not want to work in here for long periods of time). A standing desk is great in theory, and we totally understand the benefit of it. Before Chris left his job, he had a Veridesk at work and it was a huge help to his back. Standing nonstop can actually cause pain in your ankle and knee joints, so the beauty of the Veridesk is being able to go from sitting to standing position in only a few seconds. But I gotta be honest, the thing is a bit of an eye sore and didn’t really fit the feeling we wanted in the office when we were initially designing it.
And as it turns out, with what we do, we don’t sit for long–especially Chris. There’s always something to measure, move, hang or unbox. So for us, we decided we needed to nix the standing desk and just make our sitting time as comfortable and efficient as possible. Besides buying new chairs, we wanted to simply work with what we had. So this past weekend, Chris cut the whole standing desk thing down.
We built the desk with IKEA kitchen cabinets (check out the tutorial here). Chris actually took an above-the-fridge cabinet, cut it to a custom size, and attached it to the top of a standard base cabinet. This gave us a perfect standing height. But for sitting, just removing the top section wasn’t going to be enough. A standard desk is between 22 and 25 inches, whereas kitchen cabinet are 30. So with a quick measure, mark and run of the reciprocating saw, we took the cabinet down to the perfect 25in height.
Pardon the blurriness. This was a screenshot I grabbed from my Instagram Stories. After cutting the top 5 inches off, we reattached the top support brackets and installed the drawers back in place. And since IKEA cabinet drawers are all measured in 5’s (drawers are 5, 10 and 15 inches), 25 inches was perfect for a 10in drawer and three 5in drawers. Here’s what the office (and desk) looks like now:
It’s amazing what lowering the desk did for the room overall. It just feels so much more open! And when we saw how open it became, we just wanted to keep that going.
When you walk in the room, the above is what you see first now. We used to have a small shelf on the wall where the art is, with our printer and some other supplies (below).
Though functional, I didn’t fully realize just how cramped that was making the space feel. But once we moved it out and hung some art, it was like I could finally breathe! Plus, art has always been such a creative boost for me.
We decided to go with a small asymmetrical gallery wall, hanging pieces that fell in between the wainscot with anchors and extra long screws. The clock was already in the room, but the others you may recognize as pieces that used to hang in our bedroom. (All sources at the bottom of the post)
As for our printers, we cleared out some old items on the shelves in the closet and put them there. Perfectly accessible, but tucked away. We weren’t sure if the open closet storage was something we could live with long term in here, but I’m happy to report, for us, it’s been perfect. I’m constantly swapping pillows, grabbing paints swatches and supplies and now with our printers in here–it feels more functional than ever.
For more office realness, there’s a filing cabinet and little trash bin tucked under our desk. A lot of times I see beautiful office spaces where I start to wonder where those kinds of things are–printers, filing cabinets-heck, cords!–this is definitely a working office.
Of course, my favorite addition is our new chairs from West Elm. They are extremely comfortable, the leather is a soft top grain and I’ve worked happily in them all day for a few days now. (There’s a pretty good bi-cast leather dupe here)
One question we often get is, why don’t we just turn the reading room upstairs into a full blown office? Behind the scenes, there are a lot of conference calls, interviews and Skype sessions with major brands and corporations where it feels necessary to have a place tucked away from everything, where we can shut the door. This room is really perfect for that right now.
Our monitor was previously mounted on the wall with a swivel arm. Though convenient, we found it to be a bit unneeded, and by adding the stand back to the monitor we’re able to move it wherever we need – even out of the way if we need to spread a flat lay out.
Another addition to the room are the gray drapes. They hung in our guest room previously, but on a whim I asked Chris to hold one of the panels up to the office window and I just had to have them in here. They add such a nice softness and I once read that if you don’t have the best view outside your window, non-white curtains will help detract from that. Outside this window is a window well and I can already tell you, I don’t even notice it as much with these curtains hanging.
When we were sharing on Instagram, over the weekend, that we were changing a few things in here, there were some people that had a hard time understanding how, within a year, we already were changing a room that we had checked off. While all of our spaces are constantly being tweaked over time, my philosophy is, even if you spent time, money and energy on something, if it’s not working for you then what’s the point?! Your home should absolutely function for your needs. And fortunately, for us that just meant a day of cutting down and re-working something we already had in place and buying new chairs (which, twist my arm).
Home Office 2.o feels right. I find myself able to focus so much better on the growing list of tasks that come with running a business from your home. And while we’ve said it before, I think that this time we’ve finally figured this office out, and I can’t wait to see the ideas, designs and projects that come out of our time spent in here.
Paint Color: Farrow & Ball Pigeon
Wall Treatment Tutorial
Carpet: Stainmaster Medford line in Fizz
Desk: Ikea kitchen cabinets (see DIY here) with Semihandmade cover panels and drawer fronts in Supermatte White
Desktop: Formica Calacatta Marble Laminate (provided by Formica)
Drawer Hardware: Pottery Barn
White Pendant Light: Ikea
Leather Desk Chairs: West Elm
32″ White Computer Monitor: Amazon
Mac Mini Computer: Apple
Mirrored Desk Accessories: West Elm
Desk Calendar: Target
Spotted planter (similar): West Elm
Roman Shade: Blindster
Curtains: PB Teen
Curtain Rod: Wayfair
Closet Bookcases: Target
Wall Clock: Rejuvenation
Knuba 2010: Artfully Walls
Tree Print: Lulu & Georgia
Abstract Line Drawing Face: The Poster Club
Our wood grain Shaker cabinet fronts were designed for busy, high-traffic homes like ours. Clad with durable textured thermofoils, this line is compatible with Sektion, Akurum, Godmorgon, and Besta cabinets from IKEA. It's the perfect, practical way to add the warmth of wood to all the rooms of your home.
We have teamed up with Loloi to create a line of rugs that are as affordable as they are beautiful. This collection houses a great mix of traditional and modern rugs, in cottage-y colorways, as well as vintage-inspired beauties that you’ll want to roll out in every room.
We partnered with Stuga on a line of hardwood floors — The Ingrid is really livable, and the color is very neutral. It doesn’t lean warm or cool, it’s that just right in-between. We have really loved putting it everywhere in our house. It’s the best jumping-off point for design, no matter your interior style. In addition to being beautiful, Ingrid is really durable — we have three kids, and we always have a home construction project going on. Ingrid stands up to it all.
Looking for our favorite things? A place to shop our home room by room, or just catch up on what Julia's wearing / loving right now? Browse the CLJ shop.
Befores, afters, mood boards, plans, failures, wins. We’ve done a lot of projects, and they’re all here.
We have a long-standing relationship with DIY, and love rolling our sleeves up and making it happen.
Even when you don’t want to rip down a wall, you can make that space in your home better. Right now.
Last week, Chris and I had the incredible opportunity to travel to London for work. We were invited by Williams Sonoma and William Morris and Co to preview their newest collaboration and the inspiration behind it. It was my first time in London and although it was a quick trip, they brought us all over […]
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