WARNING: There are some photos at the bottom of this post of an injury I suffered during but unrelated to this project. They aren't really bad, but I know some people don't like to see x-rays of broken bones.
If you're a regular reader, you may remember a few months back we went into great detail about our custom cherry built in desk and the process we took to create it. Though we covered the various aspects of the desk build in depth, we never really talked all that much about the process that took the room our desk resides in from cramped and hideous, to a place we enjoy working. In order to get you all caught up on this project, we'll do a little rundown of our major tasks in this room in a several part series, and we'll also be sure to point out the various lessons we learned while taking on some of the things we had never accomplished before this project.
Before our office was an office, to meet our needs, we used our back bedroom as both a room for a guest (as there was only room for a twin bed) and our office space for computers, bills, and the like. This less than ideal setup was mildly frustrating at times, and infuriating at others. Forget about a normal sized bed in the back room, or the ability for a pair of guests to stay upstairs.
The space that we currently refer to as our office actually started life as a part of our oversized and gross 1980's guest bathroom and a small closet. This inefficient use of space ate up nearly 1/3 of our upstairs, and limited our ability to have separate guest and office spaces. Here's a look at what our now office looked like on the day of our home inspection.
Hmm. Carving out an entire hallway to get to a nasty grey toilet? That bad boy had to go. I'm sure it's hard to picture the former layout, so here's a birds eye view at what we started with, and where we were headed.
Wendy and I got to work on converting the poorly used space to an office, but we had our fair share of difficulties along the way. The walls weren't insulated or even sheetrocked, the floor was seriously damaged, and we wanted to expose the brick on the back wall behind the desk. Despite these challenges, we dove right in and made quick work of removing all traces of the 1980s.
Our first step in the whole process was actually the horribly dirty process of removing the broken and falling off plaster from the rear brick wall to give that wonderful exposed brick look. Though the brick started out covered in a thick layer of plaster and sand (shown in the photo above), we ended up with a pretty good looking wall in the end. We quickly went from plaster on the wall to this...
...and then with a lot of scrubbing, we went to this...
I know, it actually looks a bit worse in some places in the second photo, but you'll have to trust me on this one. We needed to take a step or two back to make forward progress. Also, do you see the hold in the chimney? That chimney is not longer functional, as it's been cut off just under the roof, but at one point this hole served as a coal or wood stove's exit point for the house. It looks like there was probably actually a stove in every room upstairs as we've seen similar evidence in other rooms.
After the dirty work of plaster removal from the brick was complete, we needed to start putting things back together, so we decided to add just a little insulation to the walls. Since the exterior window wall of the office is right on the exterior brick wall, this area needed just a little help. We didn't want to lose much if any space in the room, so we attached 2x1 furring strips to the masonry with masonry screws and filled the voids between the furring strips with polyisocyanurate insulation.
If you're not familiar, polyisocyanurate is the rigid foam insulation you've probably seen at the store. It was perfect for the type of insulation since we knew exactly how thick it was and that it could easily fill the areas as necessary. We also tapes all of the pieces in place with a foil insulation tape. Sure, this isn't R-16 or anything, but it still helps an awful lot. We were then able to attach the drywall right to the furring strips to skin the wall.
Oh, and can you believe this is the same window that featured those nasty pink curtains? We were already feeling like the space was improving. Though more exposed brick may have been nice, the extra insulation and the fact the bricks were painted white in many areas made the drywall a better option.
The drywall we ended up using in this room was actually the fiberglass based DensArmor Plus. This was all the rage back then and you could find it at Lowes. You can actually see the back of it in this photo of Wendy looking oh so DIY cute.
I really liked this drywall and how easy it was to work with, and I liked the idea that it is mold resistent. I don't know why they don't sell or carry it anymore, but if you know, drop us a comment and let us know why.
Once the walls were in place, we turned our attention to patching up the awful and falling apart ceiling. Using our trusty plaster buttons, we secured the various sagging and cracked areas of the plaster.
Once secured, we were able to use our plaster skim coating skills and cover over top to give ourselves a beautifully smooth ceiling and walls and install our crown molding. Ahh, the things DIY dreams are made of.
As you can see form the photo above, we did put a speaker in the ceiling, and we were able to also install the window and door casings to match our original along the way. It's funny, after the tedious skim coating work, the various finish details like molding seemed to move right along.
Before we wrap up our first in a series of office recaps, I may have forgotten to mention the stupid thing I did that really threw a monkey wrench into our plans of office renovating. It seems that I'm no longer 18 and invincible, and I learned this the hard way. Just a short while into our office renovation work I was invited to play with a local softball team. Everything was going fine, I was having run, playing right field. Someone hit a popup into shallow right field and I decided I was going to go all out and try and catch the ball. As I got close to the ball I decided to dive, but realized in mid air I wasn't going to make the catch. I adjusted in the air, and tried to trap the ball and roll into the ground as I had done over a hundred times before, but something didn't go as planned.
Instead my left shoulder hit the ground with all of my body weight behind it and I didn't roll. My collar bone took the brunt of the force and I heard a tremendously loud pop/crack. I jumped up to my feet and realized I couldn't lift my left arm and that my shoulder area hurt. When I put my right hand up on my collar bone and shoulder, I could feel things weren't right and the jagged edge of my bone was forcing my skin up like a tent pole. Here is what it looked like from the outside a couple of days after the incident. Though the bone already started to fall into place, you can see the bruising where it had really pushed up quite hard.
And here's a view of it from the inside.
I had severely fractured my clavicle, and this put a serious damper on our home renovations, ruined a planned trip to the Bahamas, and made Wendy have to care for me like I was an infant. When talking to my orthopedic surgeon, I told him how eager I was to get back to work on the house. Given the severity of the fracture, and the fact that he understood I wanted to be up on a ladder sooner than later, my surgeon recommended surgery to correct the break. About a week after the my stupidity, this was the new look I was going with.
And here it is again from the inside.
Can you believe it? A simple softball game turned into a titanium plate, eight screws, a month in a sling, and six months of physical therapy, not to mention about $13,000 in medical bills. I'm very glad I have good insurance, though I still don't have complete range of motion in my left shoulder.
Thanks to all of my foolishness, Wendy ended up doing some of the heavy lifting along with a very helpful friend. Can you see the glare of death Wendy is giving me in this photo? Yeah, she wasn't happy.
There you have it, that's how we kicked off our office renovation with a bang...or at least a really loud crack. We were on our way to a funcional home office, but we were slightly sidelined along the way.
Have you ever started a renovation project only to be sidelined by an unrelated injury? Were you as frustrated as I was that I couldn't work on the house? Please share to make me feel like I'm not alone.