One Room Challenge: Week 7 |Simple Office Makeover Reveal

Today is the big day friends! Although we weren’t able to keep up with the weekly progress posts for our One Room Challenge, we still managed to finish the room on time (hooray!). If you’re just tuning in here for the very first time and don’t know what The One Room Challenge™ is, it’s a widely anticipated biannual event every April and October, hosted by Lisa of Calling It Home, in which twenty design bloggers take the challenge of transforming a space in just six weeks. Every Wednesday, the designers document their process while sharing their sources and professional advice. On Thursdays, guest bloggers, like us, can play along and support other guest bloggers that are also tackling a room renovation. As you may already know, we were working on an office makeover for my brother and sister-in-law because although we love DIYing, we couldn’t handle the stress of doing our own home renovation while both of us are in school.

ORC GPDon’t worry I’m not going to chit chat too much. The whole point of this post is to see a satisfying transformation and we will get to that in just a minute. Of course we also want this post to be inspirational and informative so following the before and afters we will give an overview of the changes this project entailed, the cost, and our sources. If you don’t even remember how this project began you can refer to weeks one, two, and three for a quick reminder.











So how did we get from A to Z? Never underestimate the power of a fresh coat of paint. In our opinion it is the cheapest, easiest, and most impactful way to transform a space. My sister-in-law wanted a bright and modern space so we went with Behr in Ultra White for a fresh clean look. Another impactful thing we did was to take down the vintage lace curtains and replace them with brand new blinds that I purchased from IKEA for $2 each (yes you read that correctly). Let’s just say it pays to lurk in the last chance section!


Replacing the fan light with a modern ceiling light from IKEA for $30 also dramatically changed the look of the office. The black fixture really complemented the gray desks and the hardwood floors and brought in much needed light. Of course one of the most expensive purchases was the Algot system which we added for shelf space above the desks. While we did toy around with the idea of building custom shelving, we decided in the end that spending a little more on a system that could be adjustable to changing needs would be the smartest choice. For $85, it was well worth the investment and provided the perfect amount of space for organizing books, supplies, and for styling decor. The best part about this transformation was that nothing was difficult to do; painting, installing shelving, replacing the light fixture, all of these required no super special tools or skill sets (which means you could do it too!). 


We could not be happier with how this room turned out. Considering our crazy schedules and all the stress in our lives, I think we did a pretty good job of bringing  our simple vision to life. We wanted a fresh, inspiring space with bohemian elements (patterned rug, copper accents, plants) and I think we definitely pulled that off. While we are very happy with the final look of the room, there are still some areas of improvement that we will probably return to. One of them is wire control. We definitely want to find a way to conceal and minimize the tangling of the printer, desk lamp, and laptop cords. We also want to add a little more color and character to the rest of the walls. I think this is something that will naturally come as my brother and sister-in-law live in the space and identify what speaks to their style. In that sense, I don’t mind the empty walls as much because I think of it as their decor journey has only just begun. I also thought it would be nice to have a fun little reading corner complete with fancy shmancy floor pillows but it looks like that will have to wait.





Ceiling Light $29.99 | Office Chair  $84.99 |Shelving  $85| Rug $69.99| Desk Lamp $12.99 Magazine Rack $14.99 |Vase $2.99 | Plants $2.99| Hanging Storage $4.36| Frames $.99

As you can see, many of the items we purchased are both accessible and reasonably priced for the average home DIYer. We took advantage of many deals to save big including using a 10% off coupon from Wayfair and thrifting to keep our makeover well under $500. The rug was my sister’s belated birthday gift to my brother for the renovation so all we really had to purchase was the shelving, chairs, lighting and accessories. This came out to about $350. For the decorating I was a little savvier as I relied on some thrifty finds like a set of 4 wall baskets for $1.99 and free printable wall art (tropical palm leaf and keep pushing on).



All in all, it’s been another successful One Room Challenge and we can’t wait for the next one 🙂

Any questions? Thoughts? We would love to hear from you in the comments below. Don’t forget to check out everyone else’s final reveal posts and as always, if you liked this post please follow us and share!



Cozy Kitchen Series Part 2: Demolition

For those of you who read the first entry in our Cozy Kitchen Series, Cozy Kitchen Series Part 1: Planning, things will take an exciting turn in the next posts because we will be putting all that meticulous planning into action. Depending on the type of kitchen renovation you’re envisioning, having a checklist or order of operations will really help you stay organized and on task. Based on our kitchen plans, my checklist looked something like this:

  1. Remove walls
  2. Remove flooring and subflooring below the laminate tiles
  3. Re-wire and/or re-direct electrical wires
  4. Tile installation, grouting,  and sealing
  5. Drywall
  6. Cabinet Installation
  7. Have a countertop template be made
  8. Countertop installation
  9. Drywall mudding and sanding
  10. Priming and painting
  11. Appliance installation
  12. Clean up
  13. Kitchen organization

In this part of the series, I will cover only the demolition portion of our renovation; specifically what it entailed and why I made the choice to hire a contractor. As I mentioned in the last post, it was a no-brainer for us that we needed to tear down a wall or two to achieve the desired kitchen layout. Taking down walls is a great way to achieve an open-concept look and dramatically change the organization and feel of a room. Which might explain why HGTV is always so demolition-happy. “Let’s take down this wall and that wall.” While it’s not hard to complete, it is certainly more involved than these shows let on, which is why I want to lay it all out for you so there are no surprises. Before I get into the details of the demolition, I want to explain why I decided to hire a contractor to oversee this portion of the renovation.

As someone who thoroughly enjoys DIY construction projects and all that they entail, it was definitely hard to give up control of this part of the renovation. But when it comes to the structural integrity of the house and safety, those take priority over anything else and after much research, I realized it was against city ordinance and just not worth the risk. However, that didn’t mean there wasn’t a way to have some hands on experience and save a bit of money. I decided that I would be able to do the demoing myself as long as I did my homework and prepared accordingly. When I called around for quotes, I made sure to say that I would be removing the drywall and cleaning up all the debris so that they were just responsible for removing the beams and reinforcing the structure of the house where needed. Because of this, I saved around $700-1,000 just by doing my own demolition and clean up.

So here’s what you’ll need to do leading up to the demolition:

  1. Hire a reputable contractor
  2. File a city permit to do the construction (every city is different so check online or call and ask)
  3. You either can work with the city engineer for inspection and approval or have your contractor handle all of that and keep you out of it

I got lucky and hired a contractor who did steps 2 and 3 for me. After everything was approved by the city and we paid the appropriate fees, we set a date for the removal of the wall. All I had to do was make sure that the drywall was removed and the electricity was rewired in the adjacent wall before they arrived as well as keep my hands off everything structural when I directed my rage at the walls. My only advice is that if you are uncomfortable or unsure about working with electricity then hire someone. It is very dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing and don’t follow your city’s code. As an electrician once told me, “you don’t learn wiring after the firetrucks have left.” You have been warned!


Now for the fun part! This section is an overview of the tools you will need, the preparation, and the basics of how to knock down a wall. Some say the demolition is the easiest step of remodeling but I beg to differ. It’s not all aimless fun hammering down walls like you see on TV. You have to be cautious and really watch out for electrical, gas, and plumbing which is not difficult but is certainly tedious.

Ridgid Multi-Tool $79.97
Ridgid Wet-Dry Vac $79.97
Heavy Duty Mask  $39.97
Hammer $29.97
Stud Finder $19.97
Heavy Duty Bags $17.48
Broom $15.98
Plastic Cover $12.98
Retractable Knife $12.97
Pry Bar  $8.87
Heavy Duty Gloves $4.46
Goggles $3.98

Before you start removing anything, make sure to prepare the area for the messy aftermath. If you are able to remove furniture or anything in the immediate vicinity to a different room and keep it closed, that would be ideal. If you are not able to do that you can always cover everything to the best of your ability with plastic sheeting commonly used by painters. Cover all air vents and shut off your furnace/AC because it will move the dust around the house and you do not want that. Ideally the demolition should take you a day or two depending on the workload so don’t fret about the chaos.

  1.  Remove furniture/tables to the side
  2. Cover all vents & misc. furniture with plastic or cloth to protect from debris/dust
  3. Rent a dumpster or arrange a way to get rid of the debris & garbage.

Taking down the walls
After you have prepared the space, you can  proceed with the demoing. Make sure you wear a dust mask, goggles, and appropriate clothing/gloves for the work at hand. Start by using a stud finder to find and mark their location on the wall. If you know the walls are hollow and there are no plumbing or gas  lines then go ahead and use the hammer to your heart’s content! I used the pry bar to break bigger pieces of drywall off along with a retractable knife to cut along the corner edges of the walls so I wouldn’t damage what I needed to keep intact. Just be careful not to hurt yourself. I made sure to minimize dust by trying to break larger pieces of drywall at one time. It may seem tedious and time-consuming at first but it will minimize the amount of work later cleaning and transporting debris. My recommendation is to use a combination of the hammer and multi-tool to create holes in which you can then insert the pry bar and break big pieces of the wall off. Clean up the debris regularly by using a broom and dust-pan or if you have a wet-dry Vac, vacuum every 30 minutes and empty it into a heavy duty bag so you don’t have to do it all at once. Once the drywall and debris are removed, your contractor(s) can begin restructuring the space.

All of the above may sound like a gross simplification but essentially that is the work that needs to be done if you’re looking to tear down a wall or two. To summarize, it’s not something you can do completely on your own but you can play a significant part and save yourself some money in the process. My next post will cover the rest of the order of operations and the struggles I faced along the way so don’t forget to check back in.  If you found this post helpful or have any questions, share your thoughts in the comments below and as always, if you liked this post please follow us and share!

Sneak peek of the next post….

Don’t Fear the Tile

I know we have been MIA but for good reason. We recently started remodeling our kitchen and we are doing pretty much everything ourselves from demolition to tiling to cabinet installation (which means some fun new posts coming soon). This means writing has been on hold for the most part as we juggle chasing after our kinetic 10-month old in between piles of schoolwork and construction. This is a post we have been wanting to do for a while but we just weren’t sure how we felt about encouraging you to tile on your own. Maybe our first tiling success was a fluke, we thought. Considering how many people furrowed their brows over the thought of us tiling, you can’t blame us for being cautious. But having tiled our entire basement in 2014 and now our kitchen in 2016, we are confident enough to encourage you to skip the contractor and try tiling for yourself. So if you’re getting ready to start a major renovation and are thinking about picking up your phone to dial a contractor, stop for a moment and listen to what we have to say. It’s normal to be skeptical about your handy skills and worry that an attempted DIY would end badly for you. You know? That worst case scenario that pops in your head telling you your work will be so bad you’ll have to pay twice as much because you will need to hire someone to fix it up. While that might be true for some things, it is not the case for tiling. Yeah, yeah, we know what you’re thinking. We had plenty of people tell us we were crazy for wanting to tile the basement ourselves. “It will be so uneven,” they said. Not so. We are nowhere near professionals and prior to renovating our basement we had not installed a single tile in our lives. Not only were we able to tile a 1,000 square feet on our own but we did a dang fine job too. With the both of us (plus my father-in-law and brother-in-law helping on occasion) putting in a couple hours of labor after work hours, we were able to complete the project in 5 days. With our kitchen remodel, I was able to tile and grout a 10×11 kitchen in just 2 days working after work hours. Still not convinced? Keep reading to see just how easy it is. And if budget is important, get ready for some major savings!

Tile Spacers

Power Drill
Mixing Paddle
Big Trowel
Small Trowel
Rubber Grout Float
Cleaning Sponges
Grout Sealer
Empty Buckets
Clean towels or rags

Below is a more detailed explanation and cost-breakdown of the supplies we picked out:

Because we were tiling our basement, we wanted tiles that were both durable and inexpensive. After a bit of research, we settled on TrafficMaster from Home Depot for $0.57 a square foot.  For the 1,000 square feet area we tiled, we ended up buying 68 cases of tile, which put us at $582. Always buy an extra case of tiles to have as backup in case some break or you need to replace some in the future.


For the mortar, we settled on VersaBond Gray 50 lb. Fortified Thin-Set Mortar which cost us $14.47 a bag. Since each bag covers 100 square feet, we purchased 11 bags (to be on the safe side) for a total cost of $160. Below are the pictures from Home Depot’s website for this product.

The trickiest part about selecting grout (that stuff that goes between the tiles) is making sure that the color matches with the tile. After some back and forth, I settled on the Polyblend #380 Haystack 25 lb. Sanded Grout from Home Depot. Each bag ($14.49) covers around 680 square feet so I bought 2 of them for a total of $29.

Last but not least, I went with the 3/16 inch Job-Tough Tombstone Style Tile Spaces (500- Pack) from Home Depot for the cute little tile spacers. They go for $6 a pack and can be enough unless you plan on finishing the tiles in 1 day, then we recommend you buy 2 packs for a total of $12.

Labor: By putting in the elbow grease yourself, you can save anywhere from $2-3 a square foot. Just to give you an idea-for a 1,000 square foot space that amounts to $2000-$3000 in savings. For a smaller space like a kitchen, the savings can be anywhere from $200-$300. Hey, every penny counts when you’re dropping 10K on a kitchen right?

Note: If you need to cut any tiles you will need a small manual or electric tile cutter (ex. QEP Rip Ceramic Tile Cutter @ $30).


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