Thursday, November 15, 2007

Day 10.5 Der Wall

Someone mentioned in the comments section of an AT Fall Colour contest post that it is useful to "hear about the decision-making process" when decorating. And cqindc asked so nicely. So, I offer you this lengthy post. Please grab a cuppa and a cookie (or three)before you begin.

It started with the desk.

The computer desk to be precise.

It was red orange oak--and a fairly new acquisition. When it came into our lives it replaced this get-up:
(Judging from my daughter's size, I'm guessing this is probably 2003/4)

You can see why it might have taken me a while to realise it needed attention.

And so, deciding that sanding and re-staining was too much work, I simply re-stained it darker. To blend with the china cabinet, of course. This was in August, when I was thinking of purchasing the dark Expedit, as well.

But that was about as far as my thinking had got when the cure started.

I knew I wanted to lighten up this room. From May onwards I had considered probably every colour family under the sun. Finally, I appealed to the wisdom at AT in an open thread about painting the walls in a neutral.

And that's when Wende in phoenix changed my life.

"Dark furniture will stand out against light walls. Light furniture will stand out against dark walls," she said. I knew that. No, the life changing moment came when she said: "And we don't want furniture to stand out. We want it to play quietly."

We do?

Of course we do.

So back went the dark Expedit. I told you all about that. But I began to regret having stained this piece dark.

What would I do?

The Cure demands a style tray. As I love looking at pictures of interiors...this is not a problem for me. I had collected pictures of offices for months, chiefly for my mother so she could create a vision for hers, but I had saved a few in a file for me. I put those pictures together in a blog post.

Again, Wende. She said, "looks like you want white shelving" or words to that effect. Oooh yes. I'd already exchanged the dark Expedit for the white: that would definitely work.

Also, looking at the pictures, I really liked one plane of colour for the desk top, all 6'6" of it. So, I sanded the white paint off drawer support tops and stained them with a custom made mixture of "chocolate" and "brandy" until they were as close as plywood and oak will ever be.

(left is one sanded top, right is a stained one.)

But what to do with the drawer supports? You know, those things I made back in University as a temporary desk?

Constructed of "good one side" 3/4" plywood and dressed up with cardboard boxes for drawers, it had just lasted and lasted. I was sick of it. I appealed for help. Most of you said "wait and see" though a few pointed out that staining to match the desk would "contrast" with the walls nicely. Remember, I was having an epiphany about making furniture play nicely, so I still wasn't sure if that's what I wanted.

I sanded them anyway. Days and days of sanding. And in the end, that's what decided me. The "good one side" sanded fine. The other? Not so well. It would take a lot of sand paper to get all that paint off. When the frugal husband made a joke about how much money I was spending on sand paper, I knew I had to stop.
(Here are all the horizontal bits that make up the desk drawers, all ready to be re-painted.)
I am glad I did sand them though. They had suffered two bad paint jobs--and you know, I don't think they had ever been sanded. They were as close to new as they would ever be, and while I wasn't thrilled with them, I could tolerate them in my life again. (And they are just so d*mn useful!)

But that's not all.

Oh no. The story of this wall also includes the wall above the desk on which I planned to put back the same shelves, only a little differently.

After the walls were painted, I procrastinated putting up the shelves. The room was so open and fresh, if a little useless without the computer and the desk. But, I was enjoying this:

I had never seen that before! The shadow of the shaggy tree outside danced on the wall for a few days, but then it was time. Out came the drill, the ruler, and up went the shelf brackets and supports. When I was done, I put the pine shelves up and pushed what I had of the computer desk up against the wall...just to see.

And I liked it. The pine looked just fine against the wall, but I could see it wasn't going to play nicely with the computer desk at all. So, down they came and I marked them for cutting. The handy husband did that for me and then more days of painting followed. Between the trim in this room, the new! shiny! white! dresser, the drawer support units and these shelves, I went through a gallon plus one and a half quarts of Benjamin Moore's Cloud White Semi-gloss.

Finally when they were all done and back on the wall, I got serious about purchasing the final fourth shelf for my plan. I couldn't find one as wide as the others. (Nominal 8" is only 7 1/4" as it turns out) but, in the spirit of flexibility I decided it wouldn't matter. And so, I bought an 8 foot board, had it cut to 6'6", primed and painted and put it up.

As you all know, unpacking those final boxes to put on the shelves was a bit of an underwhelm. Where had everything gone? But I decided to leave them uncluttered and "bare." Yes, this is "bare" to me.

(ps. I just discovered you can click on this picture (and a few others) and see it larger.)

And so there it is. (You can see the curve of a "new" chair ever so faintly in front of the desk. It's dark. I like it.)

From the left to the right in more days than I even want to count.

I think everyone is getting along just fine.


zooza said...

Thanks for sharing this. I must admit I got a bit lost during the Cure as to which walls were being painted, etc. I understand now! Those plywood drawer supports are an excellent design and if they've lasted this long, they must be good and sturdy! The end result is so fresh and welcoming - and I'm sure Benjamin Moore appreciates your custom! I hope you're enjoying using it.

drwende said...

Whoa! I'd somehow gotten lost and hadn't seen the final photos. (So glad to have been of some help...)

The red version was pretty, and looking at it always made me feel as if I'd just had three cups of coffee and a donut. The new version is also pretty and feels so delightfully, deep-breath calm!

smallcitybeth said...

Wow. I love the new version of the office! I especially like the arrangement of things on the shelves. It looks breathable and artistic, and, as Wende said, calming.

What a lot of work! But, from the look of things, the work was all worth it. That's going to be such a nice space to be in.

Now, relax and enjoy!!

lorijo said...

I admit that I had gotten lost also, but I instantly remembered the bird in the corner of your before pictures.
Those final pictures are great! The space looks fresh, open and light. I hope it helps working there.

Mace said...

I was going to say something tantamount to what Wende said. It looks much calmer in that corner now. And the shelves look great - I like the small open spaces.

Great job.

Alana in Canada said...

Thank you.
You got lost?
I'm sorry--but I guess it must have seemed like I was doing more than I actually was. I'll work on my before and after slideshow sometime tody, I hope. I'll do my best not to let you all get lost.

Thank you all so much!

CQ in DC said...

though I do love a red wall, I have to say the aftr picture is fabulous. the office looks calm and soothing, and oh so bright. great job Alana!

and thanks for taking the time to blog this long post. I find it so interesting to trace the evolution of a redesign- having the context and backstory always make the experience better for me as a viewer. I hope you're going to stick around...

Alana in Canada said...

Shucks, cqindc.

I feel the same way, however. I like pretty pictures, but it's even better when I understand what was done and why.

curing what ails me said...

just beautiful!

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