Monday, January 27, 2014

DIY Custom Work Desk

The biggest project of my home office makeover was making a custom work station that spans the length of the room. I wanted and all-in-one, wall-to-wall desk with plenty of space to fit my computer(s), sewing machine and tools, with room left for crafting. I thought about it, researched and planned quite a bit before settling on purchasing two IKEA cabinets and building a wood top to fit. I considered finding a large desk on Craigslist, making one out of metal filing cabinets, purchasing kitchen cabinets, using butcher block, searching for old office conference room tables, you name it, I think it crossed my mind. But nothing seemed quite right (or it was more than I was willing to spend).

I was hugely inspired by the wall-to-wall desk that Young House Love assembled

They were inspired by the desk that Lindsay built in her basement office. I was too. Her step by step process gave me the courage and how-to to give it a try. 

I made a quick little "blueprint" to build my desktop. It was extra tricky because there's a 31 inch vent that juts out from the wall. I had to select 2 different size planks of wood and cut them to fit around this. 

Here's my handsome handy man, helping me pick out the perfect pine boards and transport them home. We used a total of 3 boards to make our desk top. 

At home, we cut and stained them. We had stain leftover from refinishing our staircase, which was the perfect color. I love when that happens! 

Selecting the right pair of cabinets to serve as the desk base was also a little tricky. They had to be the right hight, wide enough and strong enough to support the desk top, provide storage and not be outrageously priced. The IKEA "AKURUM" white base cabinets fit the bill (without the legs). The only problem - I don't live near an IKEA. This has been a problem for quite some time. Shipping was more than the price of one cabinet - yikes. Dear Swedish shopping wonderland, if you're reading this, please open a store here. I can give you an Excel spread sheet a mile long, listing your eager customer base, just waiting to be loyal shoppers. The solution to my dilemma - my sweet Father in Law, who lives near an IKEA, drove there, picked them up for me and gave them to my husband during one of his visits to PA, and he drove them home to me. They are both my hero's!

I was excitedly determined to assemble them - all by myself. How bad could it be? Actually, despite IKEA's notorious reputation for difficult furniture assembly, these were fairly easy to put together and took no time at all! This probably looks worse than it was. That's just my giant cat investigating. 

Once the cabinets were in place, it was time to assemble the top. 

We basically lined them up and used large and medium size metal brackets to screw them together tightly. The cabinets are wide enough that they rested perfectly across. 

Here's a look inside. There's so much storage space! It's fantastic. I added brushed nickel cup handles and bar pulls on the doors (they didn't come with any). 

On the left, is my computer work station (with my printer underneath). 

On the right, is my sewing machine and craft area. 

This is my Singer sewing machine that my Mom got for me when I was in 8th grade. It doesn't have any crazy patterns, programs or bells and whistles, but it's always worked so well. I learned how to sew on it and I've been using it ever since. 

I love how the wood top turned out. It's got it's own character and grain. I'm so proud that we made it and it's one of a kind. I also like accessorizing and arranging things on it. A milk glass vase from my girlfriends to hold pens and pencils. A glass dish from a thrift sale. A live succulent I got at Peddler's Village. Old books. Mason Jars. Things that make me smile while I'm in this room. 

I'm so happy and thankful for this work/craft space. The end result was even better than I imagined! 

If you're considering building a desk like this or something similar, I definitely recommend  you try it. Don't be afraid to do it yourself - get out those tools and make it happen! You can customize it to fit any room, big or small. You may even surprise yourself - and save some money while you're at it! 

Sunday, January 19, 2014

A Few New Favorites

Have you tried any of J.R. Watkins products? They offer a whole line of natural bath & body products, gourmet food items, home care and health remedies. I fell in love with their old-fashioned apothecary style packaging. Even their website is fun and entertaining.

For Christmas, I received their Daily Facial Cleanser with Chamomile Extract and their Lemon Creme Hand and Body Lotion. Both are wonderful. The best part is, they are made with all natural ingredients. Depending on what you normally spend on these type of items, they are a little on the higher end in price, but definitely worth it. The facial cleanser makes my face feel so smooth. The lemon creme lotion is perfect for dry hands and smells like a lemon sugar cookie! You can find them at most drug stores. I highly recommend this brand. 

Speaking of hands, have you seen this item? It's an Amco Rub Away Bar. Have you ever chopped onions, garlic or other stinky foods, and noticed the odor lingering on your hands, even after washing them? This magic bar erases the smell! It's made of stainless steel. Rub it on your hands while washing them in cold water (I use soap with it too) and it removes the odor from your hands. I received one as a gift a few years ago and it's been one of the most useful kitchen tools I never knew I needed! 

I have been a nail polish connoisseur for most of my life. What I look for: great colors, durability, cheap inexpensive price. I recently tried ULTA's brand of nail polish and was pretty happy with it. It met all of my criteria. They offer a wide variety of current and timeless colors, it lasts a good week or more and is very affordable. Especially when they have a sale and you can use a coupon! 

I mentioned TAZO's Chai Latte Concentrate in my last post, and I just wanted to point it out in case some of you are chai lovers as well. I keep it in the fridge and mix it with almond milk (or regular milk), then heat it in the microwave for a quick chai tea latte, any time. It's the same kind they sell at Starbucks. For the price of one store bought chai latte, you can make about 8 DIY lattes at home! (Half cup of chai with half cup of milk) Enjoy! 

Sunday, January 12, 2014

A New Year

I've been experiencing a mild case of bloggers block. I've been putting off posting anything in the new year, thinking it needs to be something significant or really great to start the year off on a high note. But I've got nothing. Well, not really nothing. I have projects to post and other things I could write about. Maybe I put too much pressure on myself. So, here goes a random post of nothing and everything to get the 2014 ball rolling. 

My husband and I took a couple days off work around new years and it was glorious. I definitely needed some down time and took full advantage of not having a schedule. I slept in. Watched movies and too much TV. Ate junk food. I didn't leave the house for 3 whole days (coincidentally the weather was terrible). I got to see my girlfriends. It was marvelous. I need to do that more often. 

I'm actually reading a fiction book, just for fun (Mockingjay, the final book of The Hunger Games). I was completely opposed to the concept of the story and the obsession that was sweeping the nation when the first movie came out. Now that I've watched the first and second movie, I need to know how it concludes and can't wait for the third movie, so I'm actually reading the book before the movie. Something new for me. 

My current cold weather drink of choice is a chai latte. I bought a carton of TAZO Chai Tea Latte Concentrate (the same stuff they use at Starbucks) and I've been mixing it with almond milk and heating it in the microwave. The perfect way to brave a chilly morning drive to work.

For Christmas, Andrew got me a beautiful keyboard (piano, not computer) with all the bells and whistles. It was a total surprise! I've always loved listening to and playing the piano, but I haven't tickled the ivories in years. I took lessons in elementary school, but I admit, I wasn't a very good student (I hated practicing and don't enjoy reading music). I prefer playing by ear and memorizing a piece. I am extremely rusty but I'm looking forward to picking it up and trying to learn to play again.

I celebrated my "1 year" anniversary working in my "new job" (which really is almost the same as my "old job"), but now I'm working for the same company that hired me for my first job ever, back in 1999. So, technically I've been working for, or with, the same company for almost 15 years, which is just crazy to think about. And a little confusing. But, I'm so thankful to be doing a job I still enjoy so much. 

In five days, my best friend of 16+ years will be moving 11 hours away. I am not too happy about this. Her husband has an amazing new job waiting for him and they are following God's leading. I know they wouldn't be going if it wasn't clearly God's plan for the next chapter in their lives. I'm going to miss them and their two beautiful kiddo's terribly. I took for granted the fact that we grew up together and lived in the same town all our lives. I know this just means we'll have to keep in touch more frequently, and I'm thankful for the many ways technology makes that possible and easy. I'm excited to see where this new adventure takes their family, but they'll be taking a piece of my heart with them.

I am trying (key word trying) to eat healthier and incorporate some exercise into my week. I know, I know, it's January, who isn't? But, honestly, my goal is simply to increase my intake of fruits and vegetables, limit sweets, and start using our elliptical. We even brought the elliptical up from the basement and into the sitting room to make it more convenient. Because who wants to work out in a cold dark basement? No one. I plan on using it a couple times a week. Especially since our group of girls apparently "agreed" to do a 5K in the near future. I better start training! 

That's a little snapshot of my life at the moment. I do like the idea of a new year and a fresh start with new possibilities. I have been encouraged by this scripture in Isaiah 43:18-19,
"Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert." 

I'm looking forward to what God has in store for 2014.