Tag Archives: home decor

Last before-and-after of the office redecorating project: The closet

The first things people often think of when they think about getting organized are their closets.

Oh, how easy it is to shove clutter into a closet and close the door.

Unfortunately, clutter multiples in the dark.

While it may be the first thing unorganized people think of, it’s also often the last thing they tackle. And so it is with me, friends.

Here’s the last before-and-after of my office transformation:

My office closet before the redecorating project.

My office closet before the redecorating project.

Since my office is a converted bedroom, there’s a standard bedroom closet in it. This is both handy and dangerous. Prior to updating my home office, the closet stored gifts, gift boxes, gift wrap (all that is behind the closed door), knitting projects, suits, boxes of old files and whatever else had no home in my office.

files beforeI found a new storage location for the gift-related paraphernalia and moved all the old files down to the basement so I could make room for my current files. My current files used to be next to my desk, and they were a mutated union of good intentions and poor follow-through. I don’t even have a good Before picture, but you can see a glimpse in this cutaway from in front of my desk.

It’s taken me two weeks to sort through all the files, dump bags of irrelevant material and re-alphabetize all them into the files drawers, which are now wisely situated inside the closet. Look! The drawers now close!  And I can close the closet doors, too, clutter reproduction risks be darned.

The closet after.

The closet after.

I painted the closet — including the ceiling — in a slightly brighter yellow than the walls of my office: Butternut.

clothes hangingI also rehung all my suits on matching hangers and organized them by color. Normal people will wonder if maybe I should have my head examined, but if you’re a fanatic for organization, this impresses you.

It won’t stay this way forever — or even for long — but it’s perfectly organized right now, and I’ve got the photographic evidence to prove it.


The power of the hex head wrench

Not sure what a hex head wrench is? Otherwise known as an Allen wrench or Allen key?

hex head wrenchThen you haven’t put together any build-it-yourself furniture lately.

My Beloved has a garage full of tools of every size and type, flavor and color, but I assembled my new desk and chair all by myself with this little powerhouse. And a few grunts and groans. (OK, I used a Phillips screwdriver for fewer than a dozen screws, but that fact messes up my ode.)

Too often we cruise through our day without the proper respect for uncomplicated tools like can openers, pencils and puffy shower sponges. The simple hex head wrench helped me connect strange pieces and parts into, lo and behold, a comfy swirling, twirling office chair and a glass desk any design minimalist would love.

In the vein of this week’s theme of before-and-after photos (missed the previous entries in the office redecorating project? click herehere and here), here’s my desk area before, a perfectly functional dark wood desk and black office chair:

desk doorway before

And here’s the after:

desk doorway after

To be clear for copycats out there, my desk is actually TWO desks. The design offers a corner connector, but I didn’t want my desk to be that long on the side. And see that cigar box under my monitor? Phfft, that needs to go. I’m thinking maybe glass block; a trip to Menards is in store.

At least one online source confirms glass is an excellent symbol for career in feng shui (also, the position of my desk prevents invaders from entering the room and stabbing me in the back, which would be very, very bad feng shui). But probably my wisest decision for creating flow in my new office design was the one to remove the chaise lounge. That lounge chair, also known affectionately in our family as the therapy couch, served as a useful resting place for my Adored stepson when he was living with us a junior high school student. He spent many afternoons after school recounting his day and soaking up my attention and advice. But the chair was too big to keep (and the Adored stepson is now a college student who still soaks up my attention and advice, but far less frequently).

Thank you, hex head wrench, for the power you represent (and it’s pretty much disposable, too — a new one comes with every home assembly project).

Appreciating ingenious simplicity, indeed.

Picture grouping brings office space together

My Beloved hangs the moon for me. Or at least he hangs my pictures.

Putting my office back together after the paint job and bookcase installation has progressed to picture hanging today.

For those of us who love before-and-after pictures, here’s the space behind my desk before:

desk before

And here’s the space now:

desk after


Let’s start with one of the best new features of my office: The crown molding hung a few inches from the ceiling. Dad installed it with the bookcase last week (it matches the top lip of the bookcase on the wall opposite this one), and I love it. We dropped rope lighting inside and connected it to the room switch so I no longer have to cross the room to fumble with the desk lamp in the dark.

crown molding close upI saw this technique in a friend’s bedroom, and the soft lighting sets a calm mood in the evening. Here’s a shot from the top of the crown molding. Tin foil tucked beneath the rope lighting concentrates the illumination upward. The approach also made painting the ceiling easier. The ceiling is the same color as the top 9 inches of the wall (Pittsburgh Paint’s Sawdust, a light yellow), so no one had to cut in the wall color at the crease.

Before I get to the main picture grouping, I’ll note the bulletin board is now repainted (a smoky purple we never used when we repainted downstairs last year) and hung vertically to make space for the inspirational “Life” wall hanging found at a flea market this summer.

Because my computer monitor is a bit of an eyesore in the after photo above, I took another shot of the wall:

wall hanging close

Picture frames before.

Picture frames before.

The images across the top are Gustav Klimt works (same artist who created “The Kiss” in the bottom left). I salvaged the smaller prints from a weekly planner I bought but never used in 2004; I couldn’t bear to part with the beautiful pages when the year came to a close. They’re displayed in heavy frames I found at a garage sale for $1 each and repainted with the same Milk Paint white I used on the credenza.

The gold frames (right side) used to be chrome with a ridiculous ship decal in the corner (must have picked them up on one cruise or another, but there were no images in them when I found them in the closet). I spray painted them gold (same at the hardware on the credenza) and found a couple sweet photographs to tuck inside.

faith hope loveI really love the profile shelf in the middle. I’ve collected those portrayals of  words from 1 Corinthians 13:13 over the past couple of years but never displayed them together.

The whole space just makes me happy. My Beloved remarked, “This is so Monica.”

Super cool credenza brightens room (and the heart)

Paint is amazing stuff.

It covers a multitude of sins and the right colors transform a surface from beat up to practically new.

Remember this?


We found it on Craig’s List. It originally had a huge mirror with drawers on the side (yes, a mirror with drawers) which we rejected. Solid wood with nine drawers (there are three drawers hidden behind the middle cupboard), it had what I wanted despite all the dings and scratches and the gothic-looking hardware: Lots of storage space. Our offer of $100 was accepted.

The former owner was a chain smoker, so it stunk up the garage until I attacked it with a spray bottle of vinegar. Vinegar is as magical as paint! The smoke odor is gone.

I’m not expert so I won’t bore you with the details you can find elsewhere, but the remake required sandpaper, three colors of semi-gloss latex paint in three coats, three different brushes, paint tape, a can of gold metallic spray paint (for the hardware) and Minwax Paste Finishing Wax (because it doesn’t yellow like polyurethane can).

Cost of the paint and brushes? Roughly $80, but I had a Menard’s rebate so my cost was only $55.

painted credenza

The result coordinates with Pittsburgh Paint’s Yukon Gold walls in my office beautifully. Compared to industrial black and steel, it just makes me happy! The top is Bronze Eucalyptus and the body of the credenza is Milk Paint.

gold glaze close upIn addition to the Green Wave from Pittsburgh Paint on the drawers, I used a small bottle of gold accent paint and baby wipes to glaze the edges of the drawers and complement the shiny hardware. The trick here is brush over the whole surface and wipe most of it off; the glaze catches in the nooks and crannies and creates interest. The hardware is still a bit too pointy and dated for my taste, but the spray paint brightened them considerably.

I now have a huge open space above the credenza to fill with artwork which will be anchored with a copy of Gustav Klimt’s “The Kiss,” a beautiful painting heavy with yellows and oranges. Because I love the transformative effect of paint so much, I used Milk Paint on a set of beat-up picture frames I found at a garage sale. One of the frame needs new glass, so I’ll share that scene as soon as I accomplish that task.

A new bookcase (to house books and big ideas)

Why are some people compelled to redecorate often, heck, every year, and some people live in the exact same floor plan with the same colored walls and the same pictures on the wall for decades?

Sure, money is part of the answer, but there lots of inexpensive ways to refresh a space, even simply moving furniture around. Beyond finances, I’m not sure what personality quirk is responsible for living quite literally in a rut.

And I’m not sure which camp in which I reside.

I had a sister-in-law once who moved around the furniture in her living room every six months or so, and I always was astonished with the configurations. I admired her. Yet I my bedroom furniture is sitting in the same carpet divots created when it was moved in six years ago.

You may have noticed Minnesota Transplant hasn’t post a new entry in almost a week. That’s practically a record. Since early 2009, I’ve posted almost daily without a pause of more than 48 hours.

I’ve been busy this week preparing a new womb for the incubation of blog ideas (and other, possibly more lucrative, creations). I’ve been remodeling my upstairs office, a room that remained in the same state for six years (plus or minus minor and major cleaning sprees).

I believed I was too busy to monkey around with the decor of my office. Maybe I was. Maybe I wasn’t. Perhaps I didn’t think it important. The office configuration was functional. Probably I was too lazy to attempt anything significant.

But the room has undergone a complete transformation in the past couple of weeks. And maybe I have, too. I have a whole new appreciation for paint (and screwdrivers).

I have tons to show you in the next few days, but we’ll start with the centerpiece of the remodel, the reason d’etre so to speak, of the whole project: A new bookcase. I’m a writer and a lover of writing, so I have a lot of books (yes, the old fashioned bound kind).

Here’s the before a look through the doorway at the east wall before:

doorway before

Since then, I moved everything out of the room, and my Beloved and I repainted (or possibly painted for the first time because I don’t think the room was ever painted anything other than white). The chaise lounge found a new home in my bedroom for the time being (ah, a new layout in a second room, too!).

Then my father stepped in. He’s created a built-in bookcase for me before but, alas, I moved out of that house (the bookcase is still there, even if I’m not).

This time, I asked him to fill an entire wall with shelves and install crown molding throughout. He arrived Tuesday with his pick-up filled with a saw, tools and a pile of finished shelves.

After two days of installation (he’s a hard worker, even in semi-retirement), he delivered this fabulous bookcase and bench:

doorway after

I’m sharing on this side view today because I’m still working on the bench area, but I’m so pleased I can now display all of my books and photo albums in one place.

Mom helped me organize my books by category (religious/spiritual, self-help, writing, crafts, business, memoir/biography — by far, my largest category, fiction and science fiction). Space remains for my notebooks and future purchases.

Tomorrow, I’ll share the results of my work (and lots of paint) on my new credenza. Remember what that looked like two weeks ago?