Terrific Broth

The life of two scientists, creating a small home, in big mountains

Tag: Office (Page 1 of 6)

Cozy Up for Winter

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Coming into November, we welcomed our second winter in Colorado.

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We moved to Colorado for the snow. And it does not disappoint. We watched so many snow falls from our little ranch, and skied the best powder and most beautiful mountains we’ve ever seen.

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Although beautiful, Colorado’s winter is also cold. With the walls painted white and few furniture pieces, our living space did not feel cozy.

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I am not good at decorating. I can make a room sterile-clean, and super organized, but when it comes to making it cozy and inviting, I really struggle.

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This is how our living room looked over most of this year. Hanging art helped, but did not make the rooms come alive. 2018 is the year of improving our living space. Before the year ends, I set my mind on making our living room cozy for the winter.

The first order of business was to get a new rug. The green IKEA rug had served us well, but was way too small for this room. The pine flooring we discovered under the decade-old carpet is covered with old paint sprays. Before we have time to refinish the floor, we need a much bigger rug to cover the defects.

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Luckily, Slav has much better taste on rugs and is uncharacteristically decisive on his pick. Below are the lucky winners:

The Persian rug for the living room:

The Bohemian rug for Slav’s office:

LR Home Fusion Bohemian Oriental Black/ Blue Olefin Rug - 7'9" x 9'5"

Ordering rugs online felt risky, but when they came in, we were happy with their quality. The color in person is vibrant and the rugs themselves are plush. We bought the living room rug in 9″ x 12″, and it completely changed how our living room feels.

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The dogs love the rugs too. Charlie claimed his spot as soon as we unrolled the living room rug, before Slav even finished vacuuming:

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And he stayed on it for the rest of the day.

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While Roxie prefers a good chair, Charlie is a always a spreading-out-on-the-floor kind of dog. It is important to us that Charlie enjoys the rug.

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I used to shy away from feminine colors and usually stayed with black, white, and grey. But the large area of subtle pink on this rug grounds the room without making it look like a teen’s dorm. I love it.

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The second rug now lives in the adjacent room, Slav’s office.

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I adore the intense yellow color on this rug. This specific shade of yellow was widely used in old oriental rugs and represents significance and honor, especially when combined with black. This rug brings back so much taste of home.

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Do you love it too? It is amazing that pieces this colorful could make a space feel cozy, but not busy.

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Besides soft things, I also added a few more plants.

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My favorite is this Pothos plant.

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It is now hanging in our kitchen with a Macrame plant hanger.

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I also acquired some lights and threaded them in between the plants. They created beautiful shadows on the ceiling and are just perfect mood lighting for the room.

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Room by room, we’ve been upgrading the ceiling lights. The whole house came with the classic “nipple” lights, and they have been replaced with prettier, brighter, and more efficient LED lighting. But finding the perfect overhead light for this little hallway has been a struggle.

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We got this LED warm-light from Costco for a pretty reasonable price. Slav mounted it on in 15 minutes.

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It was perfect – it is much shorter and no longer distract the eyes from the painting on the wall. It is also bigger in diameter and fills the space with warm light.

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The new living space makes us smile every time we walk into the house. Seeing Roxie and Charlie napping on the new rugs also makes our hearts sing. After all, it is our loved ones that make a house home.

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Just like this, we cozy up for winter. We hope you are enjoying the warmest holiday weekend with your family. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

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Finally, Painted

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13 months after moving into our house, our living space is finally painted!!!

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Our walls and ceiling were all “white” to begin with, but the old paint reads very yellow in all the rooms and just feels outdated. The Extra White we chose is the true white color in SW. It reads a bit cool but not sterile, and brings a bit of modern feel into this old house.

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All the walls got Sherwin-Williams Extra White in Eggshell, and all the ceilings went for the same color in flat.

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We used Behr Ultra Pure White in semi-gloss on all the trims and doors throughout the main floor. Although both being white, the different sheens made the trims really pop next to the walls.

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The bedroom feels bigger with the crisp white paint:

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We painted inside the closet a lovely pink (Behr Pale Bud). I think it looks great with the bright white trims and soft grey curtains.

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Our walls were textured and it took Slav several weeks to smooth all the walls with joint compound as well as patch nail holes. Needless to say that this process produced lots of dust. It feels so good to have the house dust-free again and all the furniture uncovered.

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The puppies are more than pleased to have their favorite spots back.

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We decided at the last minute to upgrade all the wallplates, light switches, and receptacles. Not only the old ones have yellowed overtime, they were also covered with layers of paint. The screwless ones bring this house to 21 century.

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We replaced the old and dingy air duct covers shortly after we moved in. Now with freshly painted walls and new wall plate, our place feels so so upgraded.

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We used the last bit of wall paint in our kitchen. After removing some upper cabinets, we lived with a cabinet-shape yellow portion of unfinished drywall. A quick layer of white paint got rid of a major eyesore:

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And all the receptacles in the kitchen were upgraded as well:

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It feels so nice to be able to look around and see crisp white everywhere.

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Getting the place painted made a huge difference on how the main floor feels. It is a lot brighter and feels clean. Now it is finally time for flowers and art!

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Next week is our wedding anniversary and it is a big relief to finish painting before the big day. We have several fun activities lined up and I will be sure to come back to report! But first, we kick back in our bright and fresh living space, and enjoy some cut flowers and herb drinks from our own garden. Happy summer!

Finished Doorway = Finished Office

Ladies and Gentlemen, our office doorway is FINISHED!

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Since we framed the office doorway back to Valentine’s day (!), we have been living with this rough opening for weeks.

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And today, we have this 🙂 :

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The original plan was to install a pair of 36″ french doors here. We picked out the doors early February, long before we framed the rough opening. However, longer we lived with the opening, more we prefer the doorless look and the uninterrupted flow. In the end, we made the decision to return the door slabs (thanks to Lowes’ 90 days no-fuss return policy) and finish the doorway with trims.

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The whole process of finishing the doorway was surprisingly straightforward and DIY-friendly. It included three steps: 1. Installing door jambs and door header (even though we are not putting up doors, we still want to finish the doorway as if we are installing them). 2 Installing trims to cover the gap between the jambs/header and the surrounding dry wall. And 3. caulk + paint.

1. Door Jambs and Header

The first step was to install door jambs and header. Door jambs are the vertical pieces on either side of the doorway (to which hinges would attach if there were doors). And the header refers to the horizontal piece at the top. The rule of the thumb is to have them slightly roomier than the door perimeter, leaving 1/8″ gap all around. They usually come with the pre-framed door purchase and ready for installation. But in our case, we had to buy door jambs and header separately. We ended up picking out two 8′ door jambs and a piece of pine board to make the header ourselves.

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As you can see from the picture above, pre-made door jambs have small notches on the top for the header to sit on. Due to the ceiling height, our door header sits a few inches lower than the framing header. So I added a few pieces of 2″x4″ blocks in between for the door header to attach to.

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The door jambs, header, and the floor below form a perimeter in which the doors sit. Understandably, they have to be a perfect rectangle, which means they need to be plumb, level, and square.

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To help squaring the assembly, I cut a spacer as the same length as the header and placed it on the floor and between the center of two door jambs. It creates 2 pairs of opposite, equal and parallel sides, so I knew I had a parallelogram to begin with.

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Let us talk about size for a second. The door jambs are ~11/16″ thick, taking just under 1.5″ inches of space total. The rule of thumb is to  leave 1/16″~1/8″ between a door and door jambs, which means 1/4″~3/8″ for a pair of doors (1/8″ in between the two doors and 1/16″~1/8″ between each door and its door jamb). With a pair of 36″ x 80″ doors in mind, I cut the door header and the spacer to 73 3/4″ so we have just the right width between the two door jambs both at the top and the bottom.

We also needed to leave 1/8″ above and below the door. For 80″ doors, the header should be 80 1/4″ above the floor. Our floor is 1/4″ off level, so I cut one door jamb to 80 1/4″ and the other 80 1/2″.

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To get a perfect rectangle, I made sure the door jambs were plumb and the header was level. This step was accomplished by putting shims between framing studs and the door jambs. It would have been a lot easier with two people – with one holding the frame while the other shim. I was flying solo so I screwed two plywood pieces at the top corner to hold the whole assembly in place.

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As you can tell from the gap between the framing studs and the door jambs, we framed the rough opening just wide enough (~74″). I always cut close – it give me a high for being risky. It also saved us unnecessary drywall work.

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Shimming was kind of fun. There was lots of leveling and hammering until everything was perfect. That is my definition of fun y’all.

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Professionals often square the door framing using a plumb bob, which aligns the center point of the header to the center point of the spacer. We do not have a plumb bob, so I measured the final opening diagonally to make sure I had the same distance between two measurements. And the result was pretty good.

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Once all the shims were set to place, I secured everything in place by shooting nails through the door jambs and the shims into the framing studs. Then I took the plywood pieces off.

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After I finished framing, Slav patched the missing drywall:

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and finished the seams with tape and joint compound.

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Up until this point we were still on the fence about the doors – you can see them in the picture above. Ha! Although we decided on a doorless look, I am still glad to have framed the doorway precisely so that we have the option to add doors later.

2. Trims

Things started looking up after the drywall was finished. We picked out trims and Slav cut them to length on our miter saw. Finishing nails hold everything in place.

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We decided to have a tiny bit of reveal (<1/16″) between the edge of the trim and the door jambs. It gives a layer look while keeping a narrow profile. My understanding is that reveal is for hiding imperfections of whatever you frame around, such as a door, a window, or an opening at the front of a furniture piece.  More crooked the opening is (in our case, door jambs), wider the reveal you will need. Fortunately, our door jambs are perfectly straight and plumb, enabling narrow but consistent reveal along the entire length of the trims. 🙂

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We also chose a narrow reveal to leave enough negative space between the trims and the library built-ins.

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We love how elegant the trims look – it is more decorative compared to rest of the trims in the house (now I want to replace everything!), but simple enough to not be distracting. It makes the office feel traditional and elegant.

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3. Caulk and paint

To polish everything off, Slav caulked around the trims and filled nail holes with wood filler. I then coated everything twice with ultra pure white by Behr in semi-gloss, the same paint used on all the trims and doors.

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A new grille covered the vent return that had stared us for months. :

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Within a couple days, we went from this:

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to this:

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then to this!

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It is amazing how trims transform a room. With the finished doorway, we officially closed the curtains on the office renovation. Starting early January, we’ve accomplished a long list of things in order to convert this small bedroom to Slav’s office/library:

Reverse the office closet to face the bedroom
Cut out a new doorway
Put up drywall in the closet and old doorway
Open up the new doorway to its final size and rough framing
Patch the floor
DIY built-in library (bookcase assembly, create a built-in look, DIY  baseboard drawers, add crowns and trims)
Upgrade lighting and hang window blinds
Install Ethernet cables
Drywall finish
Finish the now-bedroom closet with trims and paint
and today, finish the new doorway!

The “Before and After”s

Out of everything we did, I am most grateful for the decision of changing the layout. It certainly created a lot more work, but as a result, our living space became much more functional. For example, this was the office/living room wall before the renovation:

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And these are the shots from the same angles today:

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Closing the original doorway made room for our dream library wall. This is the office/bedroom wall when we moved in:

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And this is the same wall just before office renovation:

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And today 🙂 :

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Changing the layout also added the second closet to our bedroom.

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This was the same wall in our bedroom on move-in day:

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It looked a little better before we reversed the office closet, yet still failed to provide enough storage:

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We now have his-and-hers closets which are much more functional:

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Our master also feels more secluded, a bonus we totally did not expect. Closing the old office doorway created a new “entryway” dedicated to our bedroom and the bathroom. Although small, it creates an effective negative space separating the “master suite” area and the rest of the main floor.

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Comparing to the hallway when we moved in:

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And before the office renovation:

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Quite a transformation, right?

I think Roxie agrees.

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