Saturday, April 8, 2017

Instant workspace

So, you may recall from my entry remodel post that I had this awkward space in between our couch and the railing. 
Here is a better look at this useless clutter zone.
I had a dream to use this little strip of space for a desk area.  Up until now, my laptop lived here:
Sup, breast pump?  Obviously, this was totally unacceptable for a work area.  As a photographer, I spend hours on my laptop editing, and this setup was uncomfortable at best.  I also had the bad habit of just setting mail, paperwork to be filed, and my external hard drives right there on the couch.  It was awful!
I also had all my lenses and cameras just sitting on our Ikea bookshelves surrounding the tv.  It looked so messy.
My plan was to replace the console table with a small desk, and move all this stuff over to the desk area.  This was not easy, since the desks I liked were much wider than the 40ish inches I had in the space.  Then, I found this simple 42" desk at World Market, and took advantage of a sale.
It was sort of hard to put together, because the metal is hand forged and the holes didn't exactly match up.  But, I love the look and it's sturdy after assembly.  It was already functioning better to have a desk in this area immediately after I put it together.
Then, I looked to the wall above.  I had two acrylic shelves from CB2 that I had planned on staggering over a dresser in the guest room.  After I came back to reality and admitted that the room was way too small to fit even the tiniest dresser, they hid under the bed until now.  They came with silver screws, but I used some black ones I had laying around, I think they look so great!
These are 4 foot and 2 foot shelves, so I had to place the longer one past the width of the desk.  I thought I would hate that, but I actually don't mind.  It creates the illusion of a wider area, and also frames the lamp nicely.  They are also sturdy enough to hold my heavy lenses!
And I wanted to reuse my beloved pineapple lamp, so I got a new shade and it looks pretty good here.  Here is the final space:
I'm so in love with this!  There is pretty much a place for everything.  It is beyond thrilling to have my lenses look beautiful, and be easy for me to grab whenever I'm heading out to a photo session.  I even had enough space for my speedlight!
The top shelf mostly holds framed prints, because I love some good inspiration while I'm working.  I chose images of my boys that are cute (obviously) but also showcase great lighting, composition, or post processing.  I plan to rotate them out as they get bigger. 
The top shelf also holds my client 'Thank You' cards I include with print orders, and this little white box I found at Homegoods keeps my battery charger, tripod mount, and a couple older memory cards that I don't use often. 
Since the colors in my branding are white, charcoal, and teal/aqua, I was pretty excited when Ashford came home from school with the watercolor art you see framed here.  I found the frame at Homegoods, ripped out the inspirational 'saying' that it was meant to hold, and put his painting in.  The aqua/mint box frame in the middle was also found at Homegoods.  The clock is from Target.
Let's talk about the stag head.  Last year during Black Friday, had their annual sale.  I bought a huge rhino head for my brother, and couldn't help but snap up 'Alfred' for half off for myself.  After I got the shipment, I was sort of at a loss with where to hang him.  Luckily, he looks majestic here, and wears a wooden camera toy my kids hardly ever look at.  I still have some anxiety about him crashing down when the door slams and destroying my laptop and lenses, but I have a heavy duty anchor back there, and I can't live my life in fear. 
Since I needed a desk with small width, pretty much none offered drawers.  I didn't really mind, because I find that drawers in tight spaces just get cluttered and hard to find things in the back.  I measured the openings of the shelves, and found that CB2 had a wool storage box that had the exact same dimensions. 
It holds additional hard drives, referral cards, and my supplies for mailing prints to clients.  It was not cheap, but it's beautiful quality, and I had the best customer service from the store.  Quick story - I ordered the box for pickup at the Chicago store because it's out of stock online, then quickly realized I was never ever going to be able to drive an hour to the city to get it...they shipped it from the store to me, for free.  Awesome!
The basket on the top shelf was a Michaels find, and it has a homemade camera cushion created with a $3 Target infinity scarf wrapped around a dish towel.  I do not sew, people!
Seems to be working just fine, and the baby hasn't figured out my camera hiding spot yet!
Here's a better view of the space I have between the desk and the media stand.  It's not a ton, but there is a nice little spot to store my reflector, and enough room to pull out the bins. 
I wanted the desktop to be pretty clean, but I did need to have a spot for pens, my scissors, and lens pens.  I got lucky and found the acrylic divided organizer on clearance at Homegoods.  I got the business card holder on Amazon.  The elephant file organizer is at The Container Store, and you can mount it or use it on the desktop! 
The elephant is important because I wanted an easily accessible place to store prints until I figure out what to do with them.  I'm usually pretty good at printing the ones I like, but as you can see from the pumpkins...I don't always do anything with them in a timely manner! 
Also at The Container Store, was this clever peel and stick weekly task pad.  I thought it would be great to keep what I had to do for my business separate from the family calendar in the kitchen.  I also like that I can just stick it up on the wall in my line of sight.  I know many people use their phones, and I do as well, but I love having a visual for small tasks that don't merit a phone entry.
Here's a more realistic version of what the desk looks like while I'm working.  It's five o' clock always!
And here's what my kid is doing while I'm trying to take photos. 
Speaking of the media stand, this thing is pretty boring, and not really my style anymore.  We got it for $250 back in 2008, and the veneer is starting to bubble and chip on the top and edges from being moved so many times.  I thought long and hard about what to do with it.  Paint it?  What color, white?  NO -  I have kids and this thing is perfect drawing and rolling height.  Black?  Too much black.  The navy on the front door and closet?  Eh, too close to the blue couch and may not look good.  So, in the end, I got some new bright boxes for inside and left it as is.  And that, my friends, is how you justify doing absolutely nothing. 
I'm excited about the mint boxes, because the largest one will easily hold mailing boxes for 11x14 prints, which is something I usually have crapping up my house in every room.  The rest will hold older prints, and miscellaneous photography supplies.  I got mine for 30% less than retail at Homegoods, but you can get them full price at The Container Store
The antique tray on the top has some little doo dads, but I'll be honest - the baby just picks that stuff up and throws it, so it doesn't normally live here.  Tiny acrylic box of memory cards, succulent from Lowes, gold lid acrylic box with fancy binder clips for my packaging. 
So, the last detail I obsessed about is the chair.  I disliked using a dining chair, because I want all my dining chairs around the table.  I wandered around World Market one day, looking for accessories to spend $40 in 'explorer' rewards on, when I saw this chair was marked down to $100.  I loved the airy look, and the metal legs.   
After I signed up for their 'text' program, I got 15% off.  With my rewards on top, I ended up paying $48 for the chair.  Not bad!  It's comfy enough for working, but I initially added a little faux fur to the seat to protect my delicate heiny.  Then I saw this throw at Target, and loved the texture.  It makes the chair more comfortable, and also adds an extra element and brightens the dark corner a little bit. 
So, now that you've spent your entire morning reading about a four foot square spot of my living room, how about some before and afters?
And here is another angle that I love, seeing both my gallery walls at once. 
Thanks for reading, I hope you are inspired to turn an unused corner into something great!
And if you are in the Chicago area and need family portraits taken, please contact me for a blog reader special!

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Making the best of an awkward entry

You guys, I really feel I've polished this turd pretty nicely.  The entry of a raised ranch is just so lame.  It's too small, you have to choose whether to go up or down, and there's always crap laying everywhere.  Here is our entry (pretty much) when we moved in, complete with 70s paneling, freshly removed carpet on the stairs, very ugly-fancy closet doors, country oak railing, underwhelming peachy ceramic tile floor. 
And here is the view today!
In this photo, you can see the hideous fan I couldn't wait to remove.  Unfortunately, after the granny curtains were removed from the living room window, and we actually moved into the house, I realized how much that fan must've been used.  It gets so hot since our living room faces southwest.  Another reason to live in a house for awhile before making decisions!
And here is the best before I have from the upstairs.  We had already taken the paneling and all the trim off, painted over the peach walls, and the hardwoods and treads had been refinished. 
Here it is today.
Here is another before.  Our new white trim and light had just been installed. 
Here is this view today - the 'money shot!'  What I love about this before and after, is that only the paint and accessories are different.  All the main elements were already there in the before.  You don't have to spend a lot of money to make a space look much better! 
I can't tell you how much more I smile when I walk past the front door now.  Here is a closer look at the rag rug I got on Overstock.  It feels so good to cover up that floor tile!  I chose this rug for many reasons.  I knew a lighter rug would get filthy, I also wanted a reversible one, and it needed to be low enough to fit under the door.  The price ($35) was the deciding factor.  There are many colors on the website, but our new blue sectional in the living room made me go for this color palette. 
Based on the colors in the rug, I decided to paint the front door and closet doors with another shade of Fusion Mineral paint called Midnight Blue.  I picked up a sample jar to make sure, and loved it.
I think this is such a fun way to handle the dated doors. 
I really wanted to replace the bifold doors with plain white ones.  Unsurprisingly, the opening for the closet is 47 inches, instead of the standard 48.  Rather than special order smaller doors, I decided to just reuse the ones we had while I figure out what I want to do.  I couldn't think of a way to update the dated glass inserts, but thought with the right treatment, they could look ok.  After the dark paint and incredible Anthropologie knobs, they look almost cute and antique. 
The opposite of the closet had a sliver of space for a small stool and table.  I found them at Target, and dressed them up with some accessories to make it look more homey.  I knew I was on the right track when Shaun came home from work after my styling and said 'It looks like a hotel in here!'  I sit right on that stool while waiting for Ashford to get off the school bus every day. 
The planter is an old one from Ikea, the indigo candle is from Target, as well as the gold tray.  The marble clock is from World Market, but I may move that to the guest room nightstand. 
I found the pillow at Home Goods, and the faux fur is one of my newborn session props!
The black coat rack from Pottern Barn has been a lifesaver.  It's usually stuffed full, and is sturdy enough for bags and backpacks.  I love getting that stuff off the floor.  
All of this is wonderful, but my very favorite part of the new look is my gallery wall.  I have never done one, I thought I lacked the creativity to put the different frames together, and also just didn't know where to start.  Then, sent me a mailer with the most adorable print advertised. 
Fowl with Pearls (mounted on wood) became mine!  Look at her, so disapproving and regal. 
I had originally thought a mix of black and white frames would be ideal, but then I went to Target and saw the gold frames.  They were inexpensive, but didn't look it.  I decided a mix of gold, black and wood frames would be beautiful and tie in everything I had going on here.  Since the existing front door and sidelites have a ton of gold detail running through them, and the door handle is polished brass, I chose to embrace it.  If you're looking for gold frames, these look so much better in person than online!  Not sure why they call them 'mat bronze,' though. 
I started the hanging process with paper templates of the artwork, the gold frames, and some simple black frames I got at Michaels. 
I then filled in the remaining spaces with the framed watercolor dots from Target, and other wood frames.  I also splurged on another smaller wood-mount art print from, the dashing Gavroche.
I just love it all together!  I wish I could continue the gallery all the way to the ceiling and around to the right, but it's so hard to hang things that high.  I already had to resort to unsafe measures just to get that watercolor print hung.  (Think a board laying in between a step and a ladder.  Yikes!)
It feels so much better to have something to look at as you trudge up the stairs carrying 8 bags of groceries.
So, this space isn't really done, I have another coat to do on the railing, and some more work on the stairs going down.  For now, I'm calling it done and taking a break!  Here are some before and after comparisons to see how far it's come in here. 

Thanks for reading, I hope to clean up the living room enough to show you that soon!