Disclosure: Runtal gave me a discount on the retail price of this baseboard heater.
Last summer, the impetus for my office remodel was to make it warmer in the winter. My office is in basement — it’s a walk-out basement — and my office is on the corner, two walls to the outside. In the winter, the space was cold enough to require my running one of those little space heaters all the time. And then, it still was chilly. Since I now work at home full-time, I decided to invest in comfort — and yes, it was super fun to decorate the walls with nearly 300 pieces of vintage wallpaper, all Holly Hobby on hallucinogenics-style. The two key steps we took to improve the comfort level in the room: (1) we built out more studs and put in a double layer of insulation on the outside walls and (2) installed this 4′ long Runtal electric baseboard heater under the window. Six months later — and well into a freezing cold winter — how is it all working out?
On Saturday, I went trolling around for treasures. I stopped at the new Re-Store in Pittsfield. Usual story: I found a light for $10, a 4-switch vintage wallplate for 25 cents, and just as I was about wrap it up, I spotted the real treasure: 80 inches of gold sparkle laminate, kind of hidden under a pile of wall cabinets among a used kitchen cabinet set. Happy dance. It’s in excellent shape, barely needs a cleaning. It’s 20″ deep — perfect for what I have in mind for the window wall in my office remodel. It cost just $8, and it even fit in the car once we put the seats down, no return trip with the Ranger required.
Next: I’m dropping a sink right into that 18″ deep shelf.
Yes, it takes “forever” to finish all the details in a room design project. As you will recall, step #1 in my retro crafty office remodel was to get the room gutted, add insulation, add recessed shelving, put on new drywall. Step #2 was for me and Denise to make a patchwork quilt of 18 different kinds of wallpapers, on all four walls. Once all the foundations of the room were in place, I could then proceed to follow up projects — the furniture, storage and decor. Followup project #1, I decided on and installed my crafting storage area using children’s storage and a salvaged countertop. Now I have completed followup project #2: Installing modular storage along the wall by the doors.As you can see, I was influenced by my recent story on the history of Knape & Vogt shelving — the original (1938) patented modular storage system — and that’s what I installed. Read on for more details about why I chose the KV, along with tips from my DIY experience installing this shelving.
Yes, after endless research and second-guessing, I ended up using one of my first ideas — Ikea Trofast children’s storage shelves and bins — for the collage and crafts work space and storage that were a key addition to my office remodel. Alas, my design is not an “epic” solution, and you know how I like the idea of being the epic-est. But: This set-up was cheap, cheerful, fast, functional and fit my space to a tee. It was destined to be. Read on for more about why I am super happy with this solution… and hey, I had my first Ikea cabinet assembly experience in 15 years! –>
Use your wall spaces:
To create: Built in shelves recessed in the wall — with smooth edges — no trim:
While I had my walls open during my office renovation, I used the opportunity to create some recessed shelving — making us of the space in between the studs — above where my collage working area would be. In addition, I want to point out: The edges of the shelving where it meets the drywall are smooth — we used a special drywall edger so that there is no trim required. Read on for more info and photos on how my contractor accomplished this beauteousness –>
Over the years several readers have asked about how to wallpaper a wall with vintage wallpaper. So here I go, explaining how Denise and I got all these vintage wallpaper squares up onto the four walls of my home office studio. Mind you, I am not an expert in applying vintage wallpaper. But, this is the third time I’ve put up vintage wallpaper, and the stuff hasn’t fallen down (yet). My first two experiences were (1) wallpapering the soffits and portions of the wall in my retro kitchen and (2) wallpapering my foyer. Both times I used vintage wallpaper and pretty much the same method — which worked just fine, although it was… tedious. Party on to hear about my experiences and my step-by-step.
- Update: After about 10 years up, the vintage wallpaper on my kitchen soffits and a wee bit of one wall is peeling off. I am not sure why, but I am going to attribute it to the fact that, to start with, the wallpaper was very brittle. Next time I do this, I will probably use even more wheat paste… be sure it soaks in the the optimum time… and also, size the walls same day, never the day before or whatever. So far the foyer is doing fine, although I do see some bubbling in one spot, not super noticeable, though.
The 18 patterns of vintage wallpaper — cut into 277 squares — are no question the highlight of My Big Fat Retro Office Remodel. In this story, I’ll talk about how I acquired, edited, then arranged the wallpaper to create a harmonious — albeit — crazy design. I also want to underscore the message that: This is an affordable — and relatively easy — way to get vintage wallpaper into your house — you only need one or two rolls of each design and you can often find onesie twosie rolls at a dirt cheap price.
How to make the office remodel “epic”? How about: 18 different patterns of vintage wallpaper covering the four walls. Ta da! After two months of work, the majority of the office is done — in particular, all the architectural stuff that was part of the gut remodel. All this week I’ll be talking about the various details in My Big Fat Retro Office Remodel Special Report. But the highlight, no duh, is the vintage wallpaper: Yes, 18 different patterns spanning the 1940s to the 1970s… applied in 12″ x 12″ squares railroad-style, choo choo choo boom chicka boom. I counted 277 squares in all. Getting them cut and onto the walls took about 50 painstaking (Advil for me) hours. My friend Denise — who is a decorative painter and also Astro’s rescue mom — was a godsend and came up for a couple of days to help me get it done. That’s us, above, playing Love American Style Gothic with the wallpaper and daring everyone in America to embrace: Pattern and Color and Being Crazy. Portraits by another good friend, Erica Berger, who played right along and egged us on and made us look beautiful. Read on for more about the inspiration — which included two readers, and, umm, my hoarding gene — behind the room, as well as more about Special Report week.
My office is ready for demo. We emptied the four bookcases… moved them into DH’s office… I stashed everything in boxes, which are now staged all over the house…. I moved the other pieces of furniture and all my computer gear into the family room. It is a madhouse throughout the rest of this house, but this room — it’s ready for its transformation from a makeshift office into a Pam Cave.