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Forewarning. This is sort-of a random post. I feel like the majority of my posts now are about recipes and house projects. It has been a while since I’ve posted about small little things. So here is one.

Welcome our new addition to the living room:

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We took a quick trip to TJ Maxx this weekend and I fell in love with this little inlaid wood box with a Moroccan tile pattern. I love the pattern. It looks great on our bookshelves and I think the color is a nice contrast to all the blue/teal/turquoise in the living room.

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But it serves a greater purpose. A purpose for which I have been searching for a box like this for years to fulfill.

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It holds all (four!) of our remotes (one for the cable, one for the television, one for the sound system, and one for the Roku box). Having four remotes, two of which are only normally necessary for TV watching (the cable remote and sound system remote for volume), made it a pain to find a place to keep them before. They cluttered up the coffee table, fell off the arms of the couch, and none of our side tables had drawers to keep them in. It’s so nice to have a pretty little box to keep them in now! They are close at hand but out of sight!

P.S. You can see part of a crochet project I’m currently working on in the top photo. :)

P.P.S. My sister, Kelsey, and her boyfriend, David, got me a similar box for Christmas last year that is currently in our bedroom. It is smaller, black and white, and also has a similar Moroccan tile pattern. You can see a bit of it in this post. I’m totally loving little storage boxes like these lately!

I didn’t take any before pictures of this bulletin board (bad blogger, I know!), but it was just your average cork-covered, wood-trimmed, basic office bulletin board. Now it looks like this:

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Less than a yard of fabric (home dec from Jo-Ann’s), some brass tacks (I used ones like this that I also bought at Jo-Ann’s), and a few staples in the back and voila! A much more sophisticated office bulletin board. Seriously though, this was a super easy project. Iron your fabric, cut it about 2 1/2 inches wider on each side than your bulletin board, lay flat, space out your tacks, push them in place (as you keep the fabric taut and the pattern aligned), then use your staple gun to staple the fabric around to the backside. Add your hanging hardware to the back and you are finished.

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I love the crisp look of the tacks and the fabric stretched all the way around the frame. A high-impact look for little money!

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It looks great here in my home office, but I actually made it for my work office. It adds a little bit of interest to my otherwise boring work office!

 

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Last week I shared our recent office makeover, including the DIY 12-ft long double desk we built. Today I’m here to give you the how-to so that you can build your own.

This really is a pretty simple DIY project (especially compared to our DIY Old Door Console Table that we built from scratch), that even the less-DIY-savvy of you can do pretty easily.

I had been thinking about this project for a while, so I already had an idea of what I wanted (here are some similar desks that I used for inspiration: thisthis and this), so I measured our space to see what would work best and then made this quick sketch to show Drew. He was on board immediately (he was ready to overtake the room that had long been only my office) and we came up with a plan.

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We started with a trip to IKEA (the closest IKEA to New Orleans is in Houston, TX, so we made a weekend trip of it), where we purchased three of these BESTA bookcases, along with these feet for the bottom of them (the BESTA bookcases have a variety of feet options, so you can change up your look if you want something different).

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Once we were home, we cleaned out the room, painted it, and then put our bookcases together and placed them where we wanted them in the room. The spacing of our room turned out perfect for these! We set those couple boards on top to mimic the desktop, just to make sure the height would be okay. It really depends on the height of your chair, but for me, the desktop is a touch higher than I would have made it for myself. However, I’m sharing this desk with my husband, who is a big guy, and the height is perfect for him. (I’ve been sitting on a pillow in my chair, which makes it the perfect height, but I’m going to look for a taller office chair at some point.) You might find that you don’t actually need the legs on them to be the right height for you. (The BESTA Bookcases without legs are about 25 1/4 inches tall, with legs ours are 29 1/4 inches tall.) With the desk top attached, our desk turned out to be a total of 31 inches high.

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Next, we made our final plans for the top, measuring to see how long we wanted our desktop to be. Our wall is about 12 feet long and we wanted the desk to be slightly shorter than that, to give it room to actually fit in the space (it is a free-standing desk, not a built-in, so it doesn’t need to be completely flush against both walls). We decided 140 inches long would be perfect for us. We made a trip to Lowe’s and bought three 2x8x12 untreated pine boards and had them cut down in-store to 140 inches. When choosing boards, make sure you lay them flat on the ground in the store and pick ones that are as flat/straight as you can find. (We had some issues with one of our boards being warped because we didn’t check them well enough in the store!) After we got them home, we gave them a good sanding to smooth the surface and also to remove any stamps/marks on the wood. Make sure to also wipe them down and remove any dirt/dust before staining.

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We are still really happy with the finish of the top of our Old Door Console Table, so we used the same method and same stain for this project as well. We used Minwax Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner, 2 coats of Minwax Wood Stain in Dark Walnut, and (later, after the desk top was attached) we gave it three coats of Rustoleum Water-Based Polyurethane in a Satin finish.

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I would recommend staining your wood outside or in some other well-ventilated area. Since we live in an apartment, we were forced to do this inside (with the windows open and a fan blowing the smell out), but it was still pretty stinky. After the stain has cured for a day or two, then you can start attaching the top boards together.

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We used these long metal connector bars that we found at Lowe’s. We used 4– one on each end of the desk and one in each open space (where our chairs go). Make sure you pull the boards together as you screw these in, to prevent large gaps between the boards.

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Once we had the top boards connected together, we measured out our bookcases, put them in the right places, then set the wooden top on top of them. We left a couple inch overhang on each end and each open chair space is 32 inches. The bookcases are only 15 1/2 inches deep, whereas our top is 22 inches deep, so there is a 3/4 inch overhang on the front lip of the desk and about 5 1/2 inches of space left behind each bookcase (which has turned out great for storage of art materials!).

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Once we had everything situated where we wanted it, we used these small L brackets to attach the top to the bookcases. There is a slight gap between the bookcases and the top on ours to accommodate the curvature of the wood (no wood is perfectly flat!), but when making your own, you might find that you don’t end up with as big of a gap there (one of our boards was slightly warped). The weight of the wood also holds the top down, so we didn’t think it needed more attaching than a few of these on each side of the bookcases.

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After everything was attached and together, I gave the top 3 coats of Satin finish Poly and let that cure for a few days.

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So happy with how it turned out! It is the perfect space for Drew and I to work. We each have plenty of storage space in the bookcases and lots of work space on top (with plenty of space between us so we don’t bother each other while working either!).

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It also makes the perfect use of the space in this room. It might be a 12 foot long desk, but it doesn’t feel like it takes up very much space in the room! I still have room for my easel/art stuff on the other side of the room with plenty of open floor space to spread out in the floor if I’m working on a crafting project.

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See more images of the room, here.

Budget Breakdown:

IKEA (BESTA Bookcases ($46.75 x 3 = $140.25) and BESTA Legs ($8.50 a pair x 6 = $51.00) family discount pricing + 15.78 tax) : $207.03
Wood for desk top (3 2x8x12 boards at $7.43 each): $22.29
Metal Connector Bars (4 at $2.80 each): $11.20
Metal L Brackets (3 packs of 4 at $2.27 each): $6.81
Stain/Wood Conditioner/Polyurethane/Foam Brushes: already owned (but would be around $30 to purchase if you didn’t already own these)
Screws, Sandpaper, etc… already owned (but would be around $10 to purchase if you didn’t already own these)

TOTAL: $247.33 

$250 isn’t bad for a 12-foot long desk for two! Plus we sold Drew’s old desk on Craigslist for $100, so that brings our out-of-pocket cost down to under $150!

One of my favorite projects that we’ve done together and we are already getting a ton of use out of it! Yay for pretty projects that increase our productivity!

P.S. We did plan ahead and made sure that whatever connecting methods we used (the metal connector bars and L brackets) could be disassembled rather easily in the future to move to a different house. We also thought ahead before we bought our 12 ft long boards and measured to make sure that we could even get them in the house. Some things that you also might want to consider before building!

The last time I shared photos of my office/studio, it looked like this:

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It continued to look like this until about a week and a half ago. Now it looks quite a bit different (but we’ll get to that in just a second).

The room was great before. It was pretty. It was functional for storing my things. But I felt a little like that was all it was being used for. Just a room to house my stuff. During college, it was great to have this space to myself. I needed a quiet spot to write papers and do homework. However, now that I’m out of school, I found that I didn’t really use the space as much anymore (only when painting). I still work some from home, I still blog, and I still spend a lot of time on my computer, however, I found this space to be too quiet (and lonely) for me to work in very often. Since Drew and I both work away from home during the day, we only get to spend time with each other at night and on the weekends. If I spent all that time working in here, with him working in the other room, we would never see each other. So we would both end up bringing our computers into the living room where we could work together.

So we decided to give this room a little makeover. One that would make it work a little better for both of us. Now it looks like this:

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I’ve always loved the look of double desks (especially since Drew and I both do a lot of work from home that we need office space for) and I’d been envisioning one for this room for a long time. This wall is just the perfect spot for it. (Inspiration: this, this, this, thisthis and this.)

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We built the (nearly 12 foot long) desk ourselves using Besta bookcases from IKEA (outfitted with these legs) and wooden 2x8x12 boards that we stained/sealed/and put together. A longer post coming soon about exactly how to DIY one of your own. (We did a few things differently, but our process was very similar to this one.)

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We ended up painting the wall behind the desk with chalkboard paint (Valspar from Lowe’s) and it is one of my absolute favorite things about the room. I’ve always admired chalkboard walls and I love the functionality of this one (inspiring quotes, to do lists, etc.) and the gorgeous statement it makes (I’m so into high contrast these days!). It took about 3 coats of paint to cover our wall and even though our walls are bumpy plaster, it still works great. If you do this in your own home, remember to “season” the entire wall with chalk dust before using (it makes what you write on there easily erasable without leaving an impression of what you wrote on the wall), but I will warn you that it makes a huge mess! Totally worth it in the end though.

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The other walls in the room are painted in Grey Ghost (Valspar from Lowe’s) in a satin finish. I love the contrast of the black chalkboard wall with the lighter grey walls and the white bookcases, etc.

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I’ve found lately that my style is changing quite a bit. I’m into really high-contrast and neutral spaces (black, white, grey, gold, and wood), with just smaller bits of color (and I would even like a little less color in here, but I’m working with what I’ve got — LOVE this office), patterns, abstract art (when wasn’t I into that though), elegant but with a more casual feel (love the imperfect to do list and the art taped right on the wall), contrasting textures (matte black wall with satin grey on the other walls, smooth white bookcases with an imperfect wooden desk top), a little old with a little new, and a little bit of quirk. This is definitely my favorite room in the house.

See more of my office/studio inspiration on my Pinterest board, here.

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The room feels so much bigger now! Not only is it such a better use of the space in our small apartment, and more functional, but it also provides so much extra storage and organization. It is so nice to have a desk with shelves. I didn’t even know how much I missed that before with my open desk. The small gap behind the desk bookcases, between the wall, is also great for storing art paper pads, unused art frames, etc! A nice little accidental perk!

This room has come so far from the before pictures in this post!

Now I’m on to the search for a larger rug for this space!

****UPDATE**** Want to build your own DIY Double Desk? Check out the how-to, here

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Sources:

My desk chair is from World Market, Drew’s wooden desk chair was thrifted, baskets on the built-in shelves and the middle desk shelf are from Target, other smaller baskets on desk shelves are from Michael’s, rug is from Target, curtains I made out of sheets from TJ Maxx, easel is from Craigslist, pink curvy glass lamp is from Home Goods (got it on vacation years ago in Charleston, SC), standing lamp is from Target, shelves DIY built-in out of IKEA Extra-Deep Billy Bookcases, Painting Taboret is IKEA kitchen cart, big white ornate frame with painting inspiration pics is thrifted and turned into bulletin board, big ornate gold frame is thrifted, elephant print on bookshelves is from this Etsy shop, Live Simply print from this Etsy shop, small purple/yellow print on bookshelves we got in Portland, OR but is Old School Stationeersgreen elephant piggy bank is from Urban Outfitters, glittery gold frames on wall are from Michaels, prints in them are prints of my paintings, wooden abstract painting on desk is by me, two taped up paintings on my side of the desk were bought at an estate sale and painted by Pierce Jonassen, taped up painting on Drew’s side is by me, crewelwork embroidery in gold frame was thrifted, white ceramic turtle is from West Elm, gold plant pot was thrifted, silver desk lamp is from IKEA, and rose window print is from here.

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I just love how cozy our house is at Christmastime.

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We kept our decorations really simple this year, only putting silver/gold/white ornaments and beads on the tree, snowflakes on the windows, and my favorite Christmas print up. Our apartment doesn’t have a ton of storage space, so we can’t have too many seasonal decorations. The beads on the tree are all ones we have caught at Mardi Gras parades here (most are from our first Mardi Gras in New Orleans).

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This year, in addition to small, normal tree lights, we also added some bigger globe lights as well, which gives the tree a really pretty effect. I saw the idea on Vintage Revivals. We used these bulbs from Target. The glass jar candle luminaries on the TV console are from our wedding.

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My glittery, metal snowflakes that I hang from the curtain rods might be my favorite part though. I did that last year too (you can see them a bit in this photo from last year). It is the closest thing to falling snow that we get in New Orleans!

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On one side of our French doors, I’ve been taping up our Christmas cards (we’ve gotten a few more since I took these pictures). I had visions of clipping them up onto a string with pretty gold, glittery mini clothespins, but that never happened. Maybe next year. It is strange. This is the first year that I haven’t had a Christmas break/vacation. I get a couple days off work, but that’s it. I’ve never worked right up until Christmas Day before. It is definitely different. I miss having those weeks off before and after Christmas to decorate, bake cookies, shop, drink hot cocoa, spend time with family, wrap presents and sit by the fire and crochet. There was always a peacefulness surrounding the slowing down during that time (often because we were snowed in at home). I feel like Christmas this year is so much more rushed without that down time.

In front of that door, I pulled out a basket (that usually lives behind the door with magazines in it), and made it into a mini wrapping station. It is holding all our wrapping paper, boxes, tissue paper, etc.

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Speaking of wrapping presents, my wrapping has also been simple this year. Paper from Target and simple stick-on name tags. This doily wrapping I did a few years ago would have been pretty with our simple, neutral decorations this year, but that didn’t happen. They are all just going to be ripped open anyway (and we have to transport most of them back to Illinois with us), so I’m not losing sleep over the fact that there aren’t any bows.

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Wrapping up the tour is my favorite Christmas print from Lindsay Letters (she now has it available in white/gold too, here and a canvas print here).

I only put up decorations in our living room, since that is where we spend most of our time when we are at home in the evenings. In past years, I’ve also put decorations in the foyer and some in the kitchen as well. I like the simplicity of our house this year though. Are you a whole-house decorator? Maybe one day when we have our own house and more storage for decorations I’ll decorate more rooms.

Here are a few other past Christmas posts:

Merry Christmas 2010! (the Christmas we got engaged) and Christmas Eve that year (Here is our engagement post in case you are interested)

Christmas Shortbread Cookies (from before I was Gluten-free)

Christmas Decorating (our first year in this apartment)

Doily Christmas Wrapping

Our First Rowland Family Christmas Card (last year)

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P.S. Linking up to The Nester’s 2013 Christmas Tour of Homes

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