Renovation Close-Up: Office #1

Because it isn’t just as easy as picking out a color and waiting for the “after” photos, I’m going to start outlining each room, the process of design and renovation, and finally what I would change (or wouldn’t) if given the chance. I’m going to upload a ton of pictures with little descriptions, but if you just want the final run-down (or the finished pictures!), scroll to the bottom.

This is kind of half-assed of me. I’m posting a close-up of a room that isn’t even a room. But it is a separate space, so it’s kind of like a room by NY standards. At least I’m not talking about the shower in my kitchen (I was actually over at a friend’s apartment recently who has a shower in her kitchen. If you’re reading this– sorry! No judgments 🙂 ).

Since M and I both work from home, we wanted to each have our own office space. Back in Toronto, we bought a big desk and shared it, but since my space is always messy from crafting and his is always covered in paperwork, we decided to split off our offices into two spaces. I got the window side of the living room and he got the window side of the bedroom.

This is kind of what it looked like on paper:

As you can see, we divided up the space with furniture. My office is separated from the “living room” space with a wood credenza (aka liquor cabinet) and his by a huge Ikea Expedit bookshelf. This leaves slightly-larger-than-doorway-sized open spaces for us to “enter” our offices. Without this, I would spend my work day trying to catch a glimpse of the TV and he would roll over into bed around lunchtime.

I’m not going to go into renovation details. New floors, new AC units, new windows, new electric. Here’s a quick refresher:


before, clean-ish.


6 months of work in 3 images– how about that? Anyways, once we got moved in an unpacked about 80% of the boxes, I was finally able to SEE my office space again.

^I probably shouldn’t tell you how long we lived like this^

I put together the Ikea desk and the small Ikea Expedit bookshelf. I constructed some curtains (Ikea fabric. Do you see a trend?) and realized I had no space whatsoever for my yarn and fabric. Back to– guess where??– Ikea! 3 Billy bookcases and one week of hex keys and particleboard later, I have this:

ImageIsn’t she a beaut? I love her. The tops still need to be filled with tsotchkes– I can’t reach them without standing on a chair, so I didn’t want to put anything functional in there. I was finally able to start unpacking the rest of my office supplies, and later that week I had this:


There are still some blank spaces on the wall to fill in, and I want to do some fun crafty things with the desk. But overall, I’m happy with where I am right now. It’s a great space to work in. And hey– I’m not using the kitchen counter as a desk… anymore…


• Desk – Ikea… purchased years ago and no longer available.

• Bookshelf – Combination of Billy bookshelves from Ikea with glass doors and height extention ~$300ish

• Curtains – Ikea Monalis, $7/yd

• Flower Pots –Ikea Kardemumma, $4-6 each

• Egg chair – Ikea. Super old… they probably don’t make it anymore. And if they do, don’t buy it– least comfortable office chair ever.

• Chalkboard Window – from Building Character in Lancaster, PA

• Desk Lamp Bird Branch Task Light from Pottery Barn Kids.

• Art bulletin board and “Chinchilla Ranch” sign are handmade by yours truly. Bunny etching from Oldie’s Marketplace in Newburyport, MA (antique), $12. “Make Do and Mend” sign from Urban Outfitters, $20


Next post will be about some exciting life updates! Much more interesting than Ikea furniture!



With the main part of the renovation mere weeks from completion, I thought I should post a little overview of the changes we’re making and our final color scheme. Yay!

Here is the original floorplan:

And here is what we’re doing:

Major changes include:

• Gutting the disgusting, tiny, ancient kitchen, knocking down a wall, and putting in stainless appliances, Ikea cabinets, granite counters.

• Converting the oddly placed coat closet into a pantry (my first pantry ever! yay!).

• Gutting the dingy bathroom and replacing the tub with a marble spa shower.

• Tearing down the existing hanging rods in the bedroom closets and redesigning with Elfa.

• Replacing the windows in living room and bedroom.

We also made lots of more minor changes like switching out all the doors except those in the bedroom closets, replacing the super heavy wood sliding doors in the dressing room with mirrored bi-folds, and refinishing the floors. We’re also reversing the door to the bathroom which involves taking out the whole metal door frame and cutting through four inches of concrete.

We’re crossing our fingers that the major stuff will be done by early next week, but we’re facing delays on replacing the window air conditioners with through-the-wall a/c’s which means we might not be move-in ready for a few more weeks. Either way, it’s starting to look like a real apartment! I can’t wait to share final photos and all the DIY projects that will follow.


The renovation is underway!

It took 4 months to navigate through the bureaucracy of our New York co-op board, but we finally got all our approvals last week and the crew has already nearly completed the demolition.

In just a few short days, we’ve gone from this:

to this:

Sorry for the terrible photos, the crew really didn’t seem to want me there.

I think it looks better already– the rooms are bigger and, after a skim coat on the walls, I can finally imagine us moving in the not-too-distant future.

I’ve also started playing around with paint swatches. So far, nothing I love, but I feel like I’m getting closer.

We want the living room a nice deep teal, but the color on the left (Behr Realm) is far too dark and the color on the right (Behr Tuscon) is too bright.

Attempt #2 for the living room. I think the color on the right (Behr Mosaic Tile) may be a winner!

Similar problem in the bedroom. We want a New England/beachy feeling dusty blue. It’s a very particular and obscure color, I wish I knew what to call it. Regardless, the swatch on the left (Behr Bayside) is too dark and too blue, while the swatch on the right (Behr Agave) is too green and too gray. If we mixed the two, we would have the perfect color. (It’s an option.)

Attempt #2 for the bedroom…. still a teensy bit too blue but might be a winner anyway.

More inspiration to come. For now, I’m trying to shake off the very real notion that I just spent $240 on doorknobs.

New Plan!

I know I was mostly MIA last year, but not a lot of knitting has happened, so I’m making an executive decision (this blog and my kitchen are my only jurisdictions, give me a break). As I mentioned in my destash post, M and I are moving– AGAIN. However, this time it’s not to the Deep South or way up North, it’s just across town. We bought our very first apartment, and it’s a fixer upper for sure, but that’s where we come in!

There’s a lot that has to get done– from mood boards to sanding and repainting furniture to tile shopping. And by the end, there will hopefully be a butterfly-like transformation from a dingy, generic space to a beautiful and inspired home. I hope that you poor neglected readers, who ever is still reading, will enjoy the journey. New readers, welcome! Any advice, tips, tricks, or horror stories are appreciated!

The apartment as we found it was a scary place– covered floor to ceiling and wall to wall with the belongings of its previous owners, who had recently passed. It appears that they had lived here for a very very long time, and not made any changes or upgrades to the original 1952 apartment. It still has its original cast iron bathtub, 36” wide gas stove (here in NYC, 24” is the norm, 30” is an extravagance), metal kitchen cabinets, and deteriorating parquet floors. Once we got all the stuff emptied out, we noticed the severe water damage in the bathroom and back walls of the closets. We also noticed the electrical outlets– they are all two prong! Eek, this is going to be a big project.

Step 1: Get it empty… check! I’ll leave it here for now. Next time around I’ll post some inspiration boards and possible kitchen/bath ideas. I promise they will be good! Happy New Year, everyone!