18 September 2009

the condo project, part 2

Update: We've continued to improve the office since this post. Read about it here, here and here.

The chronicling of our renovation/redecoration of the new(ish) condo continues...

Though it was the last room to be "finished," the office/guestroom is the most exciting to me because it was definitely the most challenging. Multi-purpose rooms are inherently difficult, I think, because they inevitable need to store a lot of stuff, and they need to function in a lot of ways. Because we have just two bedrooms (still a very nice step up from the one-bedroom apartment we inhabited for 3+ years before we bought this place), our spare bedroom has to serve as Mark's full-time office, my part-time office, our guest room, our library, and the storage space for our voluminous skiing, camping and climbing equipment. No small task.

When we first moved in, we decided to keep the existing carpet in our bedroom and in the office/guestroom, so the only major renovation was scraping down the popcorn and resurfacing the ceiling, in addition to painting. To continue the blue color scheme from the living room, and to make the office more soothing, we decided to paint the condo's only accent wall, in a medium cornflower blue. Here is the progress from beginning to the almost-end...

The office/guestroom "before" -- felt very small and cramped, and totally devoid of personality


The office/guestroom "during" -- ceiling dust everywhere, and paint test swatches


The office/guestroom in the intermediate stage -- fully renovated, and mostly functional, but not finished


So here is the part of the decorating process that I get a little overly excited about: the addition of Elfa!

We have been in the condo since April, and we just finished the office. So clearly we were laboring over some decisions for that room that did not torture us in other rooms. The main questions were 1.) how to lay out the room, and 2.) what kind of storage to employ. We tried both desks on the wall away from the door, and the desks split onto the opposite wall. Both layouts had their virtues, but both desks on the same wall seemed to make the room feel most open, because it let us keep the bookcases under the windows, and push the daybed up against the wall. (I know this is a cardinal sin of decorating, but when you have small rooms, you sometimes have no choice but to push the furniture against the walls.)

In terms of storage, I had seen some very cool full-wall Elfa set-ups in design magazines, and thought that would be what we would want. But Elfa is not cheap (in keeping with the not-cheapness of its sole purveyor, the Container Store), and Mark wasn't sure if we wanted a full wall (or upper half of a wall) of shelves. We explored various floating shelves, bracket shelves, smaller shelving units, freestanding shelves, and at the end of the day, Elfa was clearly the best option. We did decide, though, to have two separate set-ups above each of our desks, so that we could put the shelves at different heights and not have it look funny.

Luckily for us, the Container Store was having their annual shelving sale, which made the Elfa gear slightly more affordable. And it really was impressive how quickly our sales consultant whipped up the plans with our particular details and components. Here are the pictures...

Mark putting on the final touches... oh, baby


The final Elfa set-up, in our finished office

The guest half of the room, with flip-out daybed. I love how the stripes on the pillow shams echo the stripes in the convention poster and watercolor above. Purely accidental.


My new desk/shelf combo.... I love it way too much


I swear the room looks bigger, and more open. And it holds a heck of a lot more than it used to! More importantly, things are finally put away, which makes me feel so much more productive in the room. (Whether I actually am more productive is up for debate.)

Update: We've continued to improve the office since this post. Read about it here, here and here.

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