If you missed part one of this series, you can check out all the before photos here.
If you’re dreaming of that perfect office, there are loads of pros and cons for investing in a space. I covered them in part one of the DIY office series.
We did some serious DIY hacks and we were awesomely creative to get the branded experience we were seeking. Let’s jump into the process and all the fun DIY activities!
DIY Whitewash Beachy Floors…
I was a little skeptical of the floors—if you know me, you know I HATE carpet… unless you’re throwing down some Persian rugs or something. One of the first things we set out to do, was figure out what was under the carpet. We figured, worst-case scenario that it would be plywood (and we would have to grab a few boxes of Bamboo flooring).
Luckily, the main room was already hardwood, and I loved that.
Austin and I lifted a small corner of rug, and lo and behold… hardwood floors! I don’t know why anyone would hide hardwood floors underneath grungy gray carpets… but these guys did!
I was super relieved to find the hardwood, and knew that it would be a little easier to get the space in shape. Austin and I tore up the carpet in the two rooms and both rooms had the floors I was looking for.
Though they were a little beat up (probably original to the building- built in the 1800s).
My mind, set out immediately to find a workable, professional solution.
I really loved the white epoxy look, that I kept seeing in offices and homes in Pinterest. I wanted that.
You know… creatives just love light, and white reflects light!
I relished at the idea of having frosted glass doors, and an open room.
I mentioned the floors to Charlie, and he thought it might be kind of cool. He liked the idea of a “white-wash” because then some of the already existing rustic floors would show through. He even mentioned that taking a hand-sander and going over the floor in certain areas would just add to that rustic-chic vibe I was looking for.
“Might be cool” he said. And I was all for it!
We promptly went to Lowes and Home Depot to see what was involved. Turns out epoxy wasn’t the best solution for us for the floor, so we decided to do a white-wash with white deck paint. I didn’t know everything I needed, so I asked the knowledgeable staff at Lowes. I told them how much activity would happen on the floors, and asked how quickly they would get dirty (pretty fast apparently… white… who knew!?).
We ended up grabbing a water-based poly to lay atop the floors when we were done. The benefits of the water-based poly are that it dries faster, and doesn’t smell for days on end. It’s not as durable as the regular polyurethane, but you can spot treat it in the future as you need. I figured we’d just be gentle with the floors. We threw down 4 coats.
Plus, if we used regular poly on white floors, it would stain the floors yellow… yuck!
The floors were one of the biggest challenges for us in the space.
There were pockets in the floors missing hardwood. I picked up 2 bundles of raw hardwood planking, and had a couple contractors add in the hardwood to the pockets in the floor that didn’t have it.
We also noticed that the floors were missing molding, so we grabbed 1/4 round molding for the middle room, and some decorative larger molding for the office room (to cover some spaced where the hardwood floors didn’t match the walls).
We had a friend (contractor) come over and pop out the hole in the wall, and buff the floors so we could throw down the white wash. We got some more molding to place around the cut-out in the wall to make it look more “framed.”
We also tore up the cruddy bathroom tiles (and the GROSS carpet in the bathroom!). We were surprised, and happy to find more hardwood in the bathroom. And, when I say “we,” I of course, meant that Austin tore up all the tile!
After we took care of the flooring, we jumped into taking care of the walls.
Ultimately Creative Walls…
First thing— we taped everything off, and painted all the walls and the ceiling a fresh coat of crisp white (more like 2-3 coats). Of course we hit all the stains with primer, and repainted.
I chose some colors that were within our branded pallet for d.science. I loved a cobalt blue, a 10% black for a gray tint, and a sage green. I picked up the blue and the gray at Lowes, and I grabbed a gallon of $4 green mis-tint that I mixed with white paint to achieve my desired sage green.
I really wanted the space to be uber-collaborative, and very creative. Austin and I decided on a chalkboard wall, and tons of white-board walls to let our creative juices flow.
Now, there’s no reason to pay premium pricing for “whiteboard paint” or “chalkboard paint.” I think we saved probably $400 or even more just by finding the corresponding DIY options for these walls.
Lighting that makes you feel like you’re getting sun…
All the lights were your traditional fluorescent light fixtures that make you feel like you’re in a high school. I wasn’t into that.
Additionally, there are plenty of studies that show that fluorescent lights actually disrupt your work patterns in your brain and make it challenging to focus. Google this one, I don’t have the references at top of mind.
Anyway, I made a decision to swap out all the lights for LED lighting. They last forever, and give a blue tinted light that emulates sunlight. I wanted the cleanest light while I was working (not the best for working at night… just an FYI).
If you plan on working more at night, I’d grab some incandescent lights so you don’t mess with your internal clock too much.
One of our contractors took out the fluorescent light fixtures for us. We ran over to the hardware store and bought 4 sets of track lights (3 in a set) for about $120. If I remember correctly, it cost us about another $125 or so in labor to change out the light sets.
I swapped out the fluorescent light bulbs in the main room for LEDs and we were good to go! Oh yea, and I ordered new LED track lights from Ebay (the halogen bulbs that the fixtures came with ran super hot).
Chalkboard on, man… a DIY Chalkboard
The chalkboard wall was really easy to put together. We grabbed a gallon of the blue paint I wanted. Rather than spending $18/quart or more for custom-tinted chalkboard paint, I paid under $30 for the gallon.
We then picked up a bag of white grout. I wanted white because if we used black it would darken the paint much more than I wanted. Make sure you take the grout color into account.
We mixed the blue paint with a cup of grout and painted the thick mixture on the wall. You have to paint pretty fast because the grout starts to set. We used two coats and found ourselves in possession of a full-sized, bright-blue chalkboard wall. I was in love!
From there, I hand-drew a pattern that was within our brand imagery, and actually drew it on the wall with chalk. For those of you that haven’t known my full artistic ability for all the years I’ve been alive… I don’t just write and run a blog.
I’m actually a well-versed illustrator, painter, artist, graphic and web designer. My illustration skills don’t come out nearly enough these days, but I can pull them out on demand!
Whiteboard paint can be pretty pricey. We would have spent over $500 on idea paint to cover the space we wanted.
After doing some Google research, we came up with an alternative DIY solution.
We decided to buy “shower board” at a hardware store.
This is the material that goes in between the wall and the shower tiling in the bathroom to repel water. It also happens to be great for white boards and comes in 4’x8′ sheets for approx $20/sheet. Score.
With the help from some friends, we cut the sheets with utility blades to match the walls. We knew that the hardware was going to show in the walls after installing the boards—so we decided to make it look cool. We went with some of the biggest nuts and washers to give it that industrial appeal.
Okay walls are done…
DIY Shelving and Storage…
Moving onto storage! I loved the “shabby-chic” or “industrial-chic” look that I found all over Pinterest. I didn’t just want clean shelves (though they would have been cheaper I’m sure!). I wanted industrial shelves. I searched all over Pinterest and Etsy to get an idea of how to build industrial shelves (and again saved us over $500 in this step alone, by DIY-ing them!).
I planned the shelves out to match the space for measurements.
I knew exactly how many iron pipes and flashing pieces I needed, and their exact sizes. I found that if you go to a hardware store, that you can purchase the pipes in long 6′-8′ sections and ask them to cut them to the exact dimensions you need for a small fee.
This worked out to me much more economical than buying the pieces one by one. I think there was a $10 fee or something like that to cut the long pipes and add 1/2″ threading to them.
We grabbed long pieces of wood and had them cut to the dimensions we needed for the shelving.
At this point, I then hired a friend and craftsman to help us build what we needed.
My buddy drilled 1″ holes in the front of the shelves to hold the piping. He stained the wood a nice dark brown and pieced all the shelves together. This was a little harder than we thought—to keep the shelves level we had to twist each pipe the same amount of times in the joint pieces.
Anyway, I’m in love with these shelves. And although I wouldn’t say they were cheap (that piping adds up), I’m still glad we save the extra cash and figured it out ourselves.
The rest of the storage (like the printer table and cubbies) I grabbed on craigslist or at garage sales for next to nothing. I took the battered furniture and brought it back to life with some white paint. It matched the space, and looked great!
We also designed and built furniture that went into the office. Here’s a little sneak preview, here!
Keep on the lookout for Part 3 of the DIY office series—I’ll show you all the epic after photos!!
What do you think of the DIY creative walls? Let us know in the comments!