Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Nest & Cloffice: How we converted a home office space to a kids room with office space

Since we have a somewhat petite living area here... 950 square feet, with the impending addition to the family, there is no unused space, things had to be rearranged. The home office / guest room had to change to much more like 95% kids room, 5% office.

The room prior had a pretty strong office feel to it; big filing cabinet, desk, the small cabinet housed the home network equipment and multi-function printer. The closet in the room was pretty big, a 'step in' closet, but we had piled our old files and books which didn't fit elsewhere in there.

Our goals for the room could be summed up as follows:
  • Create space in the room for crib, changing table, clothes & toy storage... kid stuff space.
  • Move all the network gear into some place far less visible, but still accessible, especially for the printer.
  • Sell the current desk & create a smaller, possibly convertible or hidable workspace similar to a "compact office" or office armoires, so Gary can still work at home.
  • Sell the 4 drawer filing cabinet & reduce what we have filed to a 2 drawer cabinet. Throw out or scan which is not retained in hard copy
  • Transform the closet to possibly create more efficient & organized storage.
  • Reduce the amount of crap we had stored in the closet dramatically; selling books, throwing away junk & scanning things for which hard copies are no longer needed.
  • Make things functional, but with charm.

While we were trying to figure out how to move everything around, and how anything we got might fit into the place, we started using the Ikea planning software, which is 1) free, and 2) pretty easy to use & includes all the typical furniture pieces you may want to put in your rooms.

A while ago we got rid of the futon we had in the room, when we had some other grand scheme. We craigslisted the desk & big filing cabinet. Gary sold / traded / gave away a pile of books from the closet (via amazon, ebay & bookmooch). The paper feeder on the multi-function printer proved it worth. Probably 6 linear feet of paper and documents or more has been scanned. We store everything we scan on our network drive, shred it & also burn a copy to DVD and drop it into the safety deposit box.
Our former filing cabinet, desk & futon

The cabinet in the room had the multi-function printer on top, as well as the router, modem & network drive inside it. The cabinet was the perfect size for a changing table, so we left it & set out to relocate the network stuff. Moving them into the closet seemed the most obvious choice since we print wirelessly, so it doesn't need to be out in the open.

The biggest problem we had with the closet was that it had no power, lighting or phone jack. After getting an insane estimate from an electrician to add all these, i ran a phone line extension (for DSL + phone), and the power strip / battery backup cord along the baseboards into the closet. For lighting we got a track light, which can use a regular cord and have a switch.

Looking up at the track lights:

The second issue for the closet was it had basic clothes rod, which wasn't going to work. We replaced the basic closet setup with a Container Store Elfa shelving "system", taking advantage of their yearly Elfa shelving sale... this was probably the thing which kicked this whole project into gear. The sale is normally only in January, so we had to rush before the sale ran out. We've used the Container stuff before, in our laundry area and when we lived in San Jose. It's a great product, but kinda pricey, so the sale helped.

While we were at the Container Store, we got boxes for the various items in the closet. Sarah had a desire to have a coordinated looking closet, we went with black & orange. I was afraid it would look like Halloween, but it is not as spooky as I had envisioned.

All the network stuff (network drive, dsl modem, power backup cables) are all down low, and I punched a hole through the wall so the router is mounted on the wall in our laundry area. We wanted the router out of the closet and a bit higher, thinking that it would have better transmission. The printer sits just above all of this, and then power to the laptop at the workspace is convenient also.

Next a workspace or desktop was needed so Gary could have an area for the laptop, phone, etc, but the space could still function as a closet and whatever was stored within remained accessible. I added a 5/8" thick piece of solid pine as a desktop fit with door hinges & a latch. It folds down onto small supports on the far wall & folds up, simply latching into place. I don't keep a very cluttered desk or utilize a large workspace, just enough room for the laptop, and since nearly everything i work with is in the computer, so I don't have much of a paper need.

I also got some wall mounted organization, overpriced metal plates & stuff, you can attach magnets to them for you miscellaneous papers. etc. We added a simple drawer set to hold pencils, tape and other office supplies.

We needed a bit more "normal" storage in the room, not office storage. The previous cabinet we got from Ikea, we added a second one, slightly different shape, so we have some more diaper / clothes kiddoe storage.

We got a crib from friends who's daughter graduated to a big girl bed (thanks Trevor, Victoria & Lydia!).
With all the books & other junk I sold on eBay, i turned to proceeds into buying a car seat & stroller, a baby monitor video camera thing, a baby bjorn & other stuff. we think we have our "nest" set up fairly well for the big arrival soon; the car seat bases are in the cars, we need to put together our 'suitcase' and have it sitting by the door i think.

Things left to do:
Paint. Yeah, yeah.... we should have done this first, I know, but when the renovation bug strikes, you just gotta run with it. the holes are all patched thought :) I don't know what the previous owners did in this closet, but i think a "drilling holes in the wall" contest was a part of it.

Some hints for those baby gender guessers out there:
  • The room is yellow, we painted it 3 years ago and don't plan on changing it any time soon.
  • The rug we put in the room is blue! we got it about a year ago.
  • We kind of have an elephant theme in the room, sort of. We have a poster which has an elephant on it, which is pink!
  • The bird hanging from the ceiling (or "Berd" to be technical) is blue, of course, we put up in September.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You two should win the IKEA prize for room organization. It is like an episode of Clean Sweep. Could you work on my room next?