...because home doesn't happen overnight.
That’s a little before-and-after action of our living room. So, so, so many things have happened in between those two pictures. (Like, two years, kiddo #3, lots of hard work and not a lot of sleep.) I don’t consider the room “finished” but we’re awfully close. One of our biggest undertakings in this space was vaulting the ceiling and it’s something I want to share in more detail now that we’re living on the other (cleaner, less stressful) side of it.
If you have been following along, you already know we removed the walls separating the original kitchen, dining and living rooms. When the walls came down, part of the plaster ceiling came down, too, and it gave us an idea – a wonderful, awful idea. Why not rip out the 8′ ceiling in the future kitchen-living space and vault it? We knew it would be a major renovation but we also knew it would totally make the space.
Steve did a bunch of research online (he found finehomebuilding.com especially helpful) and in person with several contractors and a professional engineer at a local lumber yard. We went back and forth between the options of installing collar ties or a structural ridge beam. In the end, we were advised to install a structural ridge beam. (You can read more about these events as they occurred in real time here and here.)
We hired a contractor as this project was way beyond our DIY skill set. Our contractor worked closely with an engineer at a local lumber yard to create an LVL (laminated veneer lumber) beam specific to our roof pitch, room dimensions and length of span. Like I said, waaaayyyy-haaay-haaay beyond our skill set.
An LVL beam is constructed of multiple layers of thin wood held together by adhesive. This allows for a smaller yet stronger structural support when compared to a solid wood beam. The compact size allowed us to run electrical along the beam (for track lighting + two ceiling fans) and box it in without taking up too much space at the peak. The LVL beam was manufactured off site, signed off on by a professional engineer and installed by our contractor.
These photos were taken after the structural ridge beam was installed. The fireplace wall is a block wall. A support was installed for the beam to rest on the block wall.
At the other end of the beam is an interior wall – no block wall. To support the beam properly, the slab on either side of the doorway shown above was jackhammered and dug out. Footers were poured and the corner studs were replaced with glued and nailed 2 x 4 posts. The header above the doorway was beefed up as well to support the structural ridge beam. On a side note, the boys look so little!
With the ridge beam installed, we were finally able to envision how the space might look someday. It felt so much bigger yet we hadn’t touched the house’s original footprint.
How much did all of this cost? To have the LVL beam manufactured and installed, we shelled out $5,600. That was with us demo’ing the walls, the drop ceiling and most of the rafters. That price does not include insulation or drywall around the beam or affected walls. It does not include the cost of installing tongue and groove on the vaulted ceiling either. (You can read about that DIY project here and here.) That’s no drop in the bucket, for sure. But we bought the worst house on the street for well below $100,000 so it was within our budget and the result was a game-changer.
And a slew more because the boys were behaving and Mabrey took the longest. nap. ever…
…then my camera battery died which explains the somewhat grainy shots. Damn.
We bought a crappy house for not a lot of money and vaulted the ceilings to make it less crappy. We like it here. The end.
Pssst! – We made it to The Homies finals! Whaaaaat?!
Click here to find out who won the epic Barcelona chair giveaway.
images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking
As a follow up to Monday’s workspace reveal, I thought I would share the sources for my favorite office supplies since many of you asked. It’s pretty cool how a few stylish everyday items can put a fun twist on taking care of business.
1 – Nate Berkus marble print tray (Target, no longer available) – It has the look of marble minus the hefty price tag and hefty weight. I use it at my desk to corral a vase of fresh flowers and my glasses.
2 – red Swingline stapler – It’s a colorful version of an office standby. Also, no more staple jams!
3 – acrylic & gold tape dispenser - Anything is better than the off-the-shelf, flimsy plastic dispensers. I always know where the tape is now and I save money by purchasing refill tape rolls.
4 – planner with gold details (Sugar Paper for Target) – If I don’t write it down, it doesn’t happen. This eco-friendly planner is constructed of recycled paper and soy-based ink. The gold spiral binding and letterpress make it special.
5 – elago indigo & gold phone case – I can’t say enough good things about this phone case. I love the look of the gold aluminum while the indigo surround provides an appealing tactile experience. (I have a thing for phone cases that feel nice beneath my fingers. I’m weird like that.)
6 – Lufkin chrome clad pocket tape measure - I keep this tape measure at my desk for quick measurements when shopping online for furniture or home accessories. I toss it in my purse when I’m heading out the door to a brick and mortar shop. It’s less cumbersome than lugging around the bulky 25′ tape measure that we use for home improvement projects.
7 – gold scissors – I have designated scissors in my sewing box for cutting fabric so these are fair game for opening mail and packages and for crafting. My kids love using them, too. They call them The Golden Scissors. All hail The Golden Scissors!
None of these items are must-have’s but you know what they say about all work and no play…
image: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking
Welcome to my workspace!
I don’t have a separate room designated as an office. Instead, I carved out a home office in a corner of my kitchen. This is where bills are paid, mail is sorted, the kids’ school communication lands, grocery lists are written, design work is completed, blog content is created, and – let’s be honest – falling down the virtual rabbit hole happens. It’s a small space with many functions and, up until a few weeks ago, it wasn’t living up to its full potential. I was finally able to give it some much needed attention and turned it into an organized and inspiring place to werrrrk.
First, let’s take a look at the evolution of this lil’ corner.
During renovation, we removed walls to open up the kitchen to the living room. This space was originally a teeny dining room off the kitchen. We relocated the dining room to the mudroom (sounds strange, works beautifully for us) to make better use of the space. We vaulted the ceiling, added skylights and replaced the original dining room window with french doors.
We installed Ikea cabinetry, including a 9′ island. For the office portion of the kitchen, we created a built-in desk with plenty of closed storage. The base cabinets house the printer, paper, kids’ art supplies, gift wrap and even a charging station for battery-powered tools. The glass front cabinets hold glassware, decorative accessories, my camera bag and plenty of baskets and bins which corral everything from vitamins to paint decks to the kids’ flash cards.
We added a tongue and groove backsplash (it matches our TV wall) to the desk area and painted it white. The backsplash links the upper cabinets to the base cabinets. Before, the upper cabinets “floated” on the wall and felt disconnected from the lower desk area.
Recently, I organized the contents of the glass front cabinets and moved the shelves in line with the grids on the doors for a more unified look. I added accessories to make the workspace more appealing from both practical and visual standpoints.
The photo on the left was taken the day we closed on the house. It’s a view of the original dining area from the front door. The image on the right is the view from the front door now. It’s safe to say I don’t miss the orange shag carpet or 8′ ceiling one iota.
Let’s take a closer look.
For the upper cabinet contents I stuck to mostly glass, white, wood and silver for an organic feel. I threw in a pair of textured gray letter boxes to tie in to my desk stool and other gray elements in the adjacent living room.
(My fiddle leaf fig is still alive! I just wanted to point that out. I think he likes it here.)
The glass front cabinets work great for me. They force organization and discourage clutter while providing a display area protected from dust. The right side of my desk has always been a natural dumping zone so I brought in a wood cubby with hidden storage to give inevitable clutter a sightly place to chill. A decorative tray on top holds fresh flowers and my glasses.
There are two items in my office that always spark compliments from visitors: the wood cubby and the fiddle leaf fig. I guess you could say they are the popular kids.
At the opposite end of the desk, I brought in a letter tray to address my family’s never-ending paper trail. Each family member has their own (labeled!) pull-out tray. I temporarily store current catalogs and glossies in the magazine files until I get a chance to read them. #printlimbo For fun, I personalized the metal files with photo magnets.
A desktop organizer holds smaller items like pens, pencils, planners, a tape dispenser, scissors, a tape measure and my phone. I splurged on a fire engine red stapler after a decade of living with a mini stapler that constantly jammed. And, yes, it reminds me of Office Space which makes me laugh out loud.
“…but then they switched from the Swingline to the Boston stapler but I kept my Swingline stapler because it doesn’t bind up as much and I kept the staples for the Swingline stapler and it’s not okay because if they take my stapler then I’ll set the building on fire.” – Milton Waddams
I’ve long admired loosely arranged inspiration boards. It makes for a casual display that can be easily changed when boredom strikes. I decided to try one myself. I used washi tape and double-sided tape to tack business cards and inspirational images to the backsplash. I hung a framed print with 3M adhesive strips. I tapped a finish nail only partially into the tongue and groove and hung a few rolls of washi tape and a leather bracelet. I shopped my house for the items displayed on my inspiration board so this project was free yet completely fulfilling. It’s so nice to work surrounded by items and images that inspire me in some way.
I spent months searching for a comfortable stool that would go along with the modern organic vibe I had envisioned for my workspace. When I stumbled upon this clean-lined upholstered counter stool, I knew it was the one.
The cushy seat, supportive back and appropriately placed footrest are conducive to long blogging sessions. The simple silhouette and rich wood base are in line with the aesthetic of our open kitchen-living space. I’ve been using the stool for a few months now and it looks and feels just as good as the day it arrived. I am much more productive when my legs aren’t falling asleep.
I always appreciate a pulled back shot to help me visualize how a niche, nook or corner fits into the bigger picture. I thought you might, too. Our kitchen is on the left; our living room is on the right. Can you see how the DIY shelves balance out the desk area on this wall?
I need more Buddha heads. Obviously. Also, I think I may be the only person I know with a high chair in their office. It’s for my assistant.
And that’s my home workspace in a nutshell – almost literally. It’s modest in size yet totally functional and so me. I love working here! I want to work here. Ever since I made organization and inspiration priorities in this lil’ space, I have been waaaaayyyy more productive.
After working for over a decade in a career field that sucked all inspiration out of me, I feel EXTREMELY lucky and am so grateful to be able to do the work I do now and to do it here. I have you guys to thank for that. Thank you! From the bottom of my stripe-lovin’ heart.
wall color – Benjamin Moore tapestry beige
backsplash color – Benjamin Moore white dove
cabinets – Ikea
letter boxes – Ikea
framed wall art – Clare Elsaesser
high chair – Ikea
wood cubby – Wayfair*
letter tray – Ikea
magazine files – Ikea
desk organizer – Ikea
photo magnets – StickyGram
counter stool – Wayfair*
photography prints – Walter Helena
blue & white desktop planter – JoAnn’s
black & white floor planter – vintage
rug – vintage
*This post was sponsored in part by Wayfair. Items marked with an asterisk were chosen by me and donated by Wayfair. All opinions and images are my own. Hop on over to Wayfair to see my top five tips for creating a functional and stylish workspace.
Happy start to the work week, my friends!
images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking
Here are the things that had me smiling this week.
*Jonathan Adler and Simon Doonan’s beach cottage in the current issue of Dwell magazine is sick and the interview is hilarious. Two words: tampon commercial.
*Along the same lines…things you won’t find in a boring house.
*I scored this mid century dresser on ebay. (Deets to come.)
*Layne turned 9!
*Belinda is surviving an amazing kitchen reno with three kids underfoot and one on the way!
*15 design bloggers at home. (I just pre-ordered my copy.)
*My sister is visiting for the long weekend. That means chocolate is on the menu.
I hope you do something that makes you smile this weekend. Preferably with someone you love. We are celebrating Layne’s birthday with family. He’s a pretty special kid.
Oh! And I almost forgot. My workspace reveal is Monday!! See you then.
image: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking