Make it work

For a long time after last year’s bedroom renovation — far longer than I care to admit — this was the general state of affairs in my home office.

Part storage area, part shamefully neglected mess. The kind of room I closed the door on whenever I was expecting company.

A few months ago, out of a desire to sit down at the computer and actually get some work done, I attempted to make it usable again. But it certainly wasn’t pretty:

The office was the only room in the house that wasn’t a completely obnoxious color when I bought it, so it was the only room that I had not felt the need to immediately attack with an arsenal of brushes and rollers. Instead I tolerated four years of this wimpy pale blue semigloss stuff. But it was time for a change. And there were other minor details that needed sorting out, of course:

Yeah. This house is the ultimate “just drill a hole straight through the wall, whatever!” house.

Bam! Let me fix that for you! (Let me mostly fix that for you, because I sure as hell don’t want to go fishing the coax through the wall to a more convenient place, but whatever, good enough.)

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Over Memorial Day weekend I tackled this, the last untackled room, and here are the results:

The main project on my office to-do list was the bookshelf. I had been using a shelving system from Ikea that I hacked to fit in this alcove and it worked okay… but just okay. I knew proper custom shelves would maximize my storage space. So out came the miter saw. I love how I can tuck my paper shredder away, now.

Letterpress prints by my typography classmates and myself, with lots of help from Marianne at Huldra Press.

I got brave and installed this funky light fixture myself, replacing your standard Home Depot nipple light. I also installed a dimmer switch. And I’m proud of all that, really, except that these bulbs are not dimable.

My new lighting choice may be a little underpowered for the space, quite honestly. I’ll live with it for a while and see how it goes, but I have a feeling my electrical tape and wire strippers will come out again at some point. For the moment I’m just glad that I’ve learned to do simple jobs like this without setting anything on fire. Thanks, Dad!

And my workspace. (Yes, I have a PC. No, I don’t want to hear it.) The paint color is Behr’s Puddle, which is maybe a touch darker than what I was aiming for? But it’s growing on me. It’s very subtly purple gray.

The poster, The Pictoral Map and Walking Guide to Philadelphia, is by New York Times designer Bill Marsh.

Elsewhere in the room I did a lot of cord wrangling, art placing and lighting improvements — little things that help immensely when you’re trying to make a space feel homey. On the radiator cover is one of my most interesting possessions: a scan of Constantin Brancusi’s college roster from 1898. Brancusi has always been my favorite sculptor, and when I mentioned this to a woman who worked at the college he attended in Romania, she surprised me by emailing me this record from their archives. I kept it on my desk at my last job. I should really frame it up fancier, because holy cow, Brancusi.

As for the discarded Ikea bookshelves:

I hate to chuck something that I’ve put time and effort into, so I was super pleased when I set my shelves in the craft room just to get them out of the way and ended up really liking them there. I removed the door to this bedroom a long time ago to let the window light filter through the second story, but it had the unfortunate side effect of putting what was a mostly blank wall on display to anyone passing through. Now the bookshelf creates a great focal point.

Also, a girl needs somewhere to display her giant blackbear skull, right?

2 thoughts on “Make it work”

  1. Looks great!
    But , uh… that isn’t still the desk we had to “modify” to get it in there, is it?

    1. Of course it is! I was just telling someone the story of how you hacked off its legs last night. People were very impressed.

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