Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The DREADED "Electronics Bag"

There is no other way to put it folks. We have an absolutely DREADED electronics bag.

I'm serious, it's awful. It houses everything electronic and/or workout related because we don't have any were else to put it. It is a total mess and impossible to find what you need without dumping the entire bag. With the new office in the works, I needed to designate some space to organize these items. Thus, I set out to organize the DREADED electronics bag. 

I dove right in and dumped everything out of the bag. Gulp.

I also grabbed a little tray I keep in the bedroom with my commonly used workout related items because I couldn't handle retrieving them from the bag anymore. 

In order to organize this stuff I needed to know what I had, so I laid out everything from the bag. This included but was not limited to...hard drives and thumb drives, computer mouse, SD cards, cell phone case for running, case for sunglasses, cell phone case, mini camera tripod, camera battery charger, two pairs of swim goggles, sports gel, extra run ID strap, numerous sets of headphones, CO2 pump (for filling a bike tube), bicycle light, and a ton of chargers and cables. I can't even breathe. 

Then I added the contents from my 'commonly used items tray'. Hair tie, water proof iPod shuffle case for swimming, heart rate strap, iPod, chap stick, Garmin, Garmin wrist strap, Garmin charger base (no cable in there though lol), and two pairs of sunglasses. 

Sadly, I knew there was more. So I rummaged through The Engineer's stuff and found his commonly used items and a few other things around the house that belonged with this stuff. Thus I added another heart rate strap, pair of headphones, his Garmin, iPhone running case, camera charger, more thumb drives (where did they all come from!?), more SD cards, and a 12V USB charging base. 

Excuse me while I practice some calming breathing techniques or something. These items obviously weren't going to fit all in one place but I wanted to start with a sectioned organizer that would fit our sports gear. I immediately thought of this: 

It's a silverware organizer. It's actually the exact one we use for our silverware in our kitchen.

I liked it because it is short (hence it would fit on the shelf I had planned for it and it had plenty of different compartments. Don't worry, I didn't dump all the silverware in the drawer and steal the one from the kitchen. I went to The Container Store (<3) to get a new one haha! I also knew I could re-purpose the tray that I had been using to store my commonly used items. 

I decided to put our common athletic items in the silverware organizer and all camera related items in the tray. I took my trays to the office to test the space out in the far right cabinet (I did this in the middle of installing countertops haha!). 

I had set the top shelf high just for this purpose. 

The sport equipment organizer fit with room to spare for the camera tray next to it.

When I was testing to see how these would fit on the shelf I noticed that they did not slide very well, and with the countertops installed, the only way to get these in and out would be sliding. Thus, I decided to glue felt on the bottom. I only needed one $0.29 sheet of felt and simply cut it into strips with scissors and glued it around the outside of each tray with a hot glue gun! They slide like a dream now!

I loaded the sports items in the big tray and all the camera stuff in the smaller tray and slid them right into place.

This has helped immensely and I don't want to cry every time I need something. I still need to organize the rest of the office related electronics, but this is a great start.

Friday, May 22, 2015

There is a Desk in the Office!

Holy excitement! We have a beautiful desk in front of the window in our home office! <3 <3 <3

I am in love! The desk turned out better than I had imagined it (and I had imaged it looking amazing). Let's talk about how we installed this bad boy. Recall that before this beautiful desk occupied this space, there was nothing but a big gaping hole between the cabinets.

The existing countertops are at 36 inches, which is a little high for a desk so we had already planned to drop the section of countertop for the desk to 30 inches. We debated different ways to attach the desk top. We wanted it to look good but also wanted  to ensure it was safe and functional. It is situated directly in front of the window and it turns out that the window stool is 29 inches high. If the desk top is set on top on the window stool, the thickness of the countertop puts the top of the desk right at 30 inches. This works perfectly because it gives support for the back of the desk! It also allows the desk to be inset slightly which I think adds a nice architectural feature.

We then had to decide how to secure the rest of the desk. The idea of securing two horizontal support rails to the cabinets that the desk top would then rest on and be attached to was thrown out there. While this would work just fine, we decided we wanted to upgrade a little bit and get a little fancy. Enter table legs we bought at Lowe's.

You got a sneak peak of them in the countertop post because we have been supporting the countertop overhang with one leg until we got them installed. We are planning on having two legs on this portion of the countertop (the floating desk will have a docking station of sorts here once we build it). In the below picture you get the idea of where we are going with it.

To match, the other two legs were to be ascetically pleasing supports for the front of the desk. Since they were bare wood, I painted them white. I briefly debated painting them some fun color, but ultimately decided to let these be subtle features in the office and bring color in elsewhere later on.

Painting them took a while because I applied very thin coats of paint to avoid drips. I started with a flat white paint as a base layer and switched to semi gloss to give them a more polished look that would match the cabinets.

Unfortunately I made the mistake of switching to the semi gloss paint before the flat white had full coverage. The semi gloss paint is much thinner and does not get good coverage at all. I ended up switching back to the flat white paint to get full coverage after a few coats of the semi gloss paint were not doing the job. In the end they look great, but my mistake costed me a few extra coats of paint.

We also had to go back and re-install a new window stool since we ripped the old one out. We simply cut a piece of wood to match the length and depth and painted it white so the small amount that would be seen behind the desk would look nice. I used construction adhesive (liquid nails) to attach the wood to the random pieces of concrete that the previous stool was attached to.

The wood stool fit right in and I applied some pressure to make sure it was secure. 

Once the new stool was installed we needed to seal the gap left below the stool. When we ripped out the old stool, we found out that this had been taken care of with copious amounts of caulk. We wanted to fortify things a little bit better and I was planning on cutting some small wood slivers to fill the gaps and caulk the other minor gaps that were left. 

That, however, is not the route we too because...

The Engineer got some new toys. When we take on big projects we usually buy one larger tool item that we don't have to build our tool inventory. This time is was an air compressor with two nail guns and a staple gun. Since he was so excited to try it out, we decided to nail a small cover board over the gap. We used a scrap of 1" x 2" wood and cut it to the right length. 

The Engineer tested the first nail...

...and this face of smitten excitement did not go away for a few hours. Let's just say he is in love with his new toys and I'm lucky that everything in the house isn't nailed to the walls. 

After The Engineer fully secured the wood to the wall, I painted it grey to match the walls. After that we were ready to attache some legs. We started with the countertop overhang. At 35 inches, we had to shave about a saw blade's width from each leg to get everything to level up (our floor is no where level so the legs are at different heights).

To secure the legs, we screwed them to the underside of the countertop. To best hide the screws, we diagonally screwed in on the back side and countersank them. 

Wie simply drew a diagonal line and I kept The Engineer on track as we was pre-drilling the holes. This method got us close enough to where we needed to be since we weren't trying to hit a specific point. 

I am really pleased with the way the overhang looks with the legs. We debated several options for the end support and I love the result of our decision to go with legs to match the desk! I'll have to update you with a picture of that soon!

So we then started working on the desk and temporarily set the desk top in place. The back was supported on the window stool as it would be in the final instillation, and the front rested on a chair, a cooler, and two old textbooks.

At least there is one good use for old engineering books right?! This time we cut off about six inches from the legs to get them to fit. Again, since the floor in this room is not level, we were sure to measure the legs in their exact location. We even cut them a little bit long the first time around to be safe.

Because the desk is supported differently than the overhang, we opted for a different method to attach the legs. The desk is resting on the window stool in the back and the table legs in the front, and we screwed from inside the cabinet on each side into the side of the desk. We felt that we didn't need to go trough the trouble of countersinking screws in the legs to attach them to the countertop, so we simply used liquid nails to attach them. When we did this, we weighted the desk with other scrap pieces of counterop while it dried. We figured that if it turns out to be too loosy goosy in the future that we can always put screws in.

Wahoo look at that desk!

We still need to screw it in on the sides but I couldn't help sharing it! Hope you all have a great Memorial weekend!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Installing Wood Countertops

Hey you guys! Guess what? We've installed the countertops in the office!

After cutting the countertops, installing them only took about an hour. We wanted to connect the countertops in the corner to create one solid piece. Our goal was to create a system in which we could tighten the two countertop pieces together to minimize the gap at the seam between them, and we used some great tips from my dad to do this! First, we placed both pieces on the floor upside down and roughly lined them up.

(Prior to taking them off the cabinets, we traced around the cabinets on the bottom side of the counters so we knew the boundaries of our working space down there.)

We then took two boards, one for each side of the seam, and cut them to fit within the traced area we had. To tighten the counterrop pieces together, we attached these boards to each countertop piece, connected the boards with threaded rods, and used nuts to pull them together. We drilled holes through both boards to insert the threaded rod in first to avoid alignment issues. The threaded rod came from one 20-inch piece that we cut to the length we needed with a small saw.  

With the rods in, we used 1-1/2 inch screws to attach both boards to their respective countertop (via pre-drilled holes). 

Six scres on each side may have been a nit excessive, but we didn't want the boards to bow at all when we tightened them together. We then loosely tightened the nuts onto the threaded rods so we could flip the countertop and set it on the cabinets.   

With the countertop in place, we pulled them apart slightly so we could caulk the seam. We chose almond colored caulk to blend with the color of  the countertop. 

After caulking the entire seam, we pushed the countertops together, tightened all the nuts down, and used damp cloths to wipe the excess caulk away. 

Since the caulk shrinks as it dries, we gave it a second round after everything was tightened and dry. After all the nerves involved, we are very happy with the result!

And here's a look at the underside after tightening. 

To finish up, we used L-brackets to attach the countertop to the cabinets by pre-drilling holes and screwing them in while pressure was applied to the top. 

The poor Engineer had some tight spaces to get into!

The countertops look great and I am super excited to get a move on with more work in here!

Hopefully I will be posting from my new desk under that window in no time!

Have you missed some of the office progress? Check out every step!

How to Cut Wood Countertops

Ikea Cabinet Builds


Getting Ready for a New Office