Archive for the ‘Office’ Category

Manchester Tanned

Before I dropped off the planet, we had prepared Alec’s office for painting by removing a shelf and beadboard, taking down the glow-in-the-dark stars on the ceiling, spackling over holes and washing the walls.

The next step was priming. Alec got started first and when I came upstairs, he had a little surprise for me!

Thanks to this year’s CES swag, we each had free t-shirts. Alec’s was from ioSafe, a maker of rugged hard drives, and says “Protect Yo Self Before You Wreck Yo Self” on the front. Good advice for tackling a home improvement project! My t-shirt was advertising Corning Gorilla Glass (you know, the stuff that smartphone screens are made out of).

When we applied the first coat of paint, I was worried that it was going to be the same color as the existing trim. See above and below the tape?

But after we put on the second coat and let it dry, the colors became more distinct. I’m not 100% happy with the contrast, but we can always go back and paint the trim later. The current priority is finding a carpenter who can build shelves for the office. I compiled some candidates based on friends’ recommendations and Angie’s List reviews, and a couple of them are coming over this week to provide estimates.

In the meantime, we moved the bare minimum of furniture back into the office so that Alec can start working in there again. I’m not sure if the desk will stay in this spot after the shelves get built; Alec’s dad had recommended that the desk face the door for feng shui reasons (also so that you don’t get snuck up on, as my cousin pointed out this weekend), but there might be too much of a glare from the window.

More updates to come after we hire a carpenter!


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Office Space: Getting Ready

Alec is always a busy bee and he’ll be writing the third and presumably final installment to his trilogy this year, so it was important to make his office into a place where he can work comfortably. Up until now, the room had consisted of his desk, a leather club chair, two bookshelves (all from our previous apartment) and hundreds of books stacked on the floor.










Our plan is to hire a professional to install floor-to-ceiling shelves in the office. We had considered building them ourselves, but the task of getting so many shelves properly aligned was pretty daunting for rookie homeowners like ourselves. We do want to paint the room, though. And this meant clearing all the furniture.

The emptied bookshelves, club chair, swivel chair and file cabinets went into the mostly empty room we call “Natalie’s Room” because our niece naps there when she comes over to hang out. The desk and all the books went into the guest room, making it look like a used bookstore run by a couple of lunatics.

While I shuffled books across the hallway, Alec removed a wall-to-wall display shelf/plate rail thing. The new power drill he got from my brother and sister-in-law for Christmas proved useful for removing the big board, supports and beadboard. Here’s a photo with the shelf already taken down:

I helpfully removed nails from the boards, a task I performed while wearing Winnie the Pooh slippers as protective footwear. (My mom found these slippers in my childhood bedroom and brought them over. She is really determined to get rid of my old clutter now that I have an entire house to store stuff in!)

Back in the room, Alec also took down a bunch of glow-in-the-dark stars and planets that were stuck on the ceiling. We’ll tackle that later.

Alec carefully spackled over holes and cracks, then ran over the walls with a sanding block. The last step was to wash the walls. We went over them with water, let that dry overnight, then wiped them with a TSP solution and more water. Now the room is ready to be primed and painted next week. Good-bye green walls, hello Manchester Tan!

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Alec and I returned this weekend from our last trip of the holiday season (can I still call it the holiday season?), which kicked off with our Hong Kong/China vacation and ended with a week in Las Vegas for the Consumer Electronics Show. We were away from home so much that we had to suspend our Fresh Picks produce deliveries for more than a month. We went shopping today for a full week of groceries – I’d practically forgotten what that feels like!

Now that we’re staying put for a few months, I’m excited to tackle a long-delayed list of projects. First up is painting Alec’s office, the dining room, the kitchen and the powder room. I had been researching colors for months and could have happily kept procrastinating, especially because paint names are so fun.

But Alec’s office was pretty urgent. All of his books are still on the floor and we can’t get shelves up until the walls get painted. I was also under deadline to spend a Benjamin Moore Groupon I had bought ages ago. So without further ado, here is the color for Alec’s office:

Benjamin Moore’s Manchester Tan, not to be confused with Gladstone Tan, Bennington Gray, Northampton Putty,  or any number of other tweedy-sounding paints.

The kitchen and powder room will be painted in Harp Strings, a neutral that has a little yellow and a little brown to coordinate with the kitchen’s wood trim and earthy tile backsplash and floors.

And lastly, the dining room will be painted in Summer Shower. This was the color that took the longest to decide on, as I wanted something that would coordinate with the green of the adjoining dining room. I was originally leaning toward hues with more green and gray in them, but then returned to a color that was more distinctly blue.

As paint novices, we were a little baffled by all the options you have for paint.

But the guy at the J.C. Licht store was very helpful, and we ultimately settled on the Natura line because it is no-VOC and I have enough dermatological issues without worrying about exposure to even more chemicals.

Alec is headed to Home Depot this week for primer and other supplies, and then we’ll be ready to go! It’s good to be home.

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Things have been very busy lately, and not just because a certain company I cover at my day job just went public to the tune of $12.76 billion. The weekend was a whirlwind of planning, shopping, cleaning and organizing. Here are the highlights:

On Saturday morning, we met with an interior decorator. The consultation was a housewarming gift from our realtor, who works with this designer on getting homes ready for sale. I was SO EXCITED about discussing furniture and colors with a professional. In fact, when she asked me to drop her an e-mail about what kinds of styles I like etc., I may or may not have written her a 520-word manifesto declaring my love for mustard yellow.

In my fantasy world, Sarah Richardson and Tommy Smythe would have dropped by with hot cocoa and some fabric swatches. (Actually, in my fantasy world, my friend Victor and I have our own HGTV show where we go shopping, gossip and do craft projects. But that’s neither here nor there.) Anne, the interior designer who spent two hours with us on Saturday, does not have a show on cable. But she was extremely friendly, knowledgeable and encouraging. And she had some great tips.

For starters, she showed us how to improve the placement of our rugs. I don’t really have before photos, so this is kind of a stupid exercise, but here’s how our guest room rug looks after we rotated it 90 degrees per Anne’s advice. (Also note the new sleeper sofa, which almost did not fit up the stairs. That’s a story for a different day. And that’s the highly recommended Thanksgiving 2011 issue of Cooking Light on the sofa.)

For Alec’s office, Anne recommended a seagrass or other kind of thin rug that his chair could easily roll over. We went to Pier One that afternoon to look at dining room chairs and ended up buying this rug, which was the right thickness (or thinness, in this case) and in the right neutral tones. Plus we had a 20% off coupon!

Anne also helped us with rug placement in the master bedroom, where the furniture configuration is a little trickier. (This rug is from Overstock and seems to pill a little bit, but it’s in a low-traffic area so I think it will be OK.)

And finally, we moved the new living room rug to make a little space between it and the fireplace. (This photo does not illustrate this at all; just use your imagination!) This rug was our first-ever purchase from One King’s Lane, a flash sale site for designer home goods. It took almost a month to get here, and I’m convinced it only got shipped at all because I e-mailed the customer service department. We do love the rug, though, and Anne complimented it too.

Anne’s other big task was suggesting colors for the rooms we want to paint. We haven’t had a chance to pick up chips yet, so I’ll save that discussion for a different post.

After Anne left, we visited Pier One and some other stores for miscellaneous things, then drove down to Joliet to visit a carpenter who makes rustic dining room tables. I had found him on Craigslist and he gets rave reviews on Yelp, so I was convinced we’d be ordering a table from him. We ultimately decided against it, for reasons I’ll explain in a later post after we get our dining room table, but he had beautiful tables and was super nice.

On our way home, we stopped at a newish Oak Park restaurant for dinner. Service got off to an iffy start, but we liked the food and we’ll be back. Alec had a proscuitto and butternut squash flatbread, and I had a flatbread with olives, eggplant and Parmesan. The stand-outs, though, were the butternut squash soup and apple crostata. Look how pretty the soup was!

On Sunday, we did boring but necessary chores like raking the leaves and cleaning the house. We also saw one of Alec’s heroes, Nicholas Meyer, speak at the Chicago Humanities Festival and got sushi at a restaurant where we had a restaurant.com certificate.

I’d like to say life is going to slow down now, but I think it’s just going to get busier as the holidays approach. This week, we’re planning to hit up the paint store and World Market (to look at dining room chairs), see some out-of-town friends who are visiting and drop in on the Vintage Bazaar. More updates to come!

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