08 January 2012

Office Presto-Change-O

Look what we've been up to!

What you're looking at here is our brand-new, completely revised and now crazy-functional office, which we tackled on Saturday in a fit of this-has-just-got-to-change-right-now!  I'll get into the details as to how this amazing presto-change-o came about, but we should start at the very beginning.  Remember when the office looked like this?

This was before we installed the rug (designed to define the room as more than a through-way, provide some sound absorption and of course, to hide our poor floor that was ruined when the dishwasher flooded the main floor, and which we can't afford to replace just yet) but the layout remained the same.

As you can see, it wasn't the most attractive or functional of rooms ... not the best example of my sense of size, space, design or, well, anything really.  Since we moved in to the house eight years ago we've struggled with the layout and function of this room: is it an office? is it a library? a hallway? an extra sitting room?  It seemed impossible to pin it down.

Nor was our difficulty in defining it unique just to us.  Even when my grandparents owned the house, this room was in constant transition as they tried to nail down its best use.  In the original floor plan this was the dining room; the huge walkout door to what is now our living room was a wide picture window to the backyard in the original structure.  Our current dining room was the original living room and within that small footprint, defining the function of each space was obvious.  No identify crises for these rooms!

Not, at least, until the sun room was built.  Once the addition went up, however, all spatial hell broke loose.  Suddenly the old dining room ~ whose purpose had previously been so clear and true ~ was now an awkward transitional space, the hub from which the rest of the rooms in the house jutted out like spokes.  Every other room has an obvious identity except this little one, and it's been puzzling all of us for years ... until this weekend!!

It occurred to me on Saturday morning that it might be as simple as flipping the room around in a 180 for it to finally make it make sense; thankfully, Daryn was game to try as the desk alone weighs, like, a thousand pounds and would have been impossible for me to move myself.  We started by clearing out all the contents

and then the furniture, except for the desk which we just shifted around in pieces.

Yes, that's hubby in his sexy pyjama pants and Hugh Hefner slippers taking the desk apart

We installed the bookcases on the north wall (where the desk is in the photo above) and pushed them together to create a more unified library look (when they were originally separated by the white library desk they were all sort of like I-am-an-island and looked a little lost being stuck out on their own in a sea of white wall+table).  By being together and also by being placed on the smaller wall, the two cases make a more substantial impact and ground that side of the room without overwhelming it.  As well, they're relatively shallow as most bookcases go so they tuck in neatly between the wall and the door frame, which means that sight lines are clear to the living room.  From the entrance, you can look straight through the office without anything jutting into view, which serves to make the space look bigger all around and with much better flow.

The bookcases are flanked by two of the dining room chairs, which we have eight of and can never find enough places for (since only four of them fit around our actual table).  Though they extend out past the bookshelves, they're white against a white background so they're not noticeable at all.  It's perfect.On the flip side, the desk was centered against the long wall.  The dog crate, which is unattractive in the extreme but also necessary, is tucked away to one side and isn't immediately noticeable when you walk in the door.

It also opened up a huge expanse of wall space, which previously was at a premium, for our art and photo collection.  Now we have real art-gallery potential in here, which we love!

We had a beautiful poster of the Royal York Hotel wrapped up in storage that we had had framed more than a year ago and had been waiting for just the right space to put it.  We thought originally we would hang it but it looked so terrific just leaning casually against the wall on the desk that we decided to build the rest of the gallery wall around it.

We also had some wall-mount shelves from West Elm in our basement storage, which I had purchased eons ago on final sale.  Originally my idea had been to put them in A's room but I hesitated when it didn't feel quite right, then wound up putting them in storage until I could decide what to do with them.  Once the Royal York poster was up, the rest seemed intuitive.

To finish things off we made a quick trip to IKEA for such fundamentals as a big plant, a small plant, some pots to put the plants in, a desk lamp and, for a different room, a curtain rod, some brackets and some curtain rings (but that's a story for another day).  By an added stroke of good luck, the IKEA winter sale was still on and we nabbed some great deals: our entire purchase of three (mostly big) plants + pots, lamp, toilet brush (we needed one for the basement), curtain rod, finials and rings only cost us $120 bones, including taxes!  What a steal!!

Anyway, I digress.  The greenery really adds a punch of life to the room that was otherwise missing, and once the artwork went up and the book shelves were re-stacked and "styled" (insofar as I style them, which is to say, not much), the room was done!  Let's have a look again at the finished product:

Ahhhhh, so pretty!  So functional!!  So much better!!!

Of course, there are still a few things to fill in before it's really "done".  The gallery wall has a number of blank spaces that are waiting to be filled in over time with photos and artwork as we acquire and frame them.  We also need another lamp to balance out the lighting on each side of the room.  Otherwise, though, this baby is absolutely, positively, 100 per cent finished!


But you might be wondering what happened to that weird white library table and the two stools?  For reasons we can't really put our fingers on (except that the table is originally from the U of T library and Daryn has a real thing about university libraries), we both luuuurve that library table and can't bear to get rid of it.  So for now we've moved it into the laundry room to use as a folding table while we consider our next move, and where it might actually find a permanent home.  It's not great, but it'll do for the time being.

The stools are for sale ~ if anyone is looking for two 1960's diner stools in great condition, feel free to pop on over to the the Craigslist posting here.

And as for what we did with that curtain rod, I'll be sharing those details later this week!

And how about you?  How was your weekend?