Man Cave to GIRL NEST

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Cowboy gets all the credits for the most amazing home office ever in the history of home offices.

When we were in search of our new home for our new life chapter it was him who saw this room first and came strolling around the corner to interrupt my chatting with our realtor to exclaim, “Babe, you have to see this . . . ” — the excitement on his face convinced me to let him take me by the arm and round the corner. I gasped when I saw it. The windows, the sunshine – it’s own DOOR. I was speechless so Cowboy said it for me: “Your home office!”

Officing from home is a balance. There’s kids, pets, laundry calling your name, the FedEx guy, neighbors who don’t understand that you’re on a conference call so why can’t they ring the doorbell seventy five times? You’re clearly HOME . . . right? Um, yeah. No. I’m technically not. I hosting a virtual meeting and presenting to a group of people seven states away, sorry!  Check back later, like after 5pm.

And so for me and my circumstances, I have learned the hard way that a home office space is on my personal oh my god/I have to have one or I will die/priority list. For some mysterious unknown reason I let that requirement slide when we bought The River House. I must have been in a trance from the views when we bought it and not paying attention to essential life logistics. And that was hell. There was truly NO WHERE for me to work. Oh sure, I tucked a desk into the corner of our four season porch (with that great river view) but it wasn’t the same. It was a piece of a room that belonged to the family, it was in the center of the chaos (even though it had doors they were glass and not sound proof). I was often hiding in a bedroom hunched over my laptop for the “important call” and praying my iPhone would drown out the “Mom!!!! She’s bothering me!” proclamations from my daughters. Ugh. (Before that I tried to office from the loft in the catwalk open to the entire great room. You know how that ended? That ended with me sobbing on the first day of summer vacation and dragging my desk into my bedroom because my kids had friends over and were screaming and laughing and yelling and fighting.) Not my finest moment.

And so this sun room turned home office has been my FAVORITE PROJECT EVER! I’ve been torturing my Facebook friends with tons of posts about it and even though it is only 90% of the way there, I am doing a blog reveal because I can’t even STAND IT I love it so freaking much!!! All the sudden my kids are a joy, my work days ridiculously efficient and all of life has turned into a Brady Bunch/Hallmark moment. You think your home spaces aren’t important? I am here to tell you they are crucial.

Welcome to my new favorite space in all the world, pull up a chair and come on the transformation journey with me.

Here is the space in all its knotty pine glory the week we moved in and I settled into the space:

sunroom-before-1

I did my best to “office-ize” it with what I had . . . but knew this was just functional for the time being. My black office furniture (which had looked awesome in my single girl character Colonial before I married Cowboy) made the dark space even darker. I threw the Pier One chairs from my River House three season porch in to cozy it up – but all this brown and black and brown and more brown was just so, well – BROWN. Blah. Hated it.

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This picture is a poor quality because it was such a sunny day but you get the idea of how cave like this space literally was.

Step one is something not visible but essential. This room is a three season porch. You know what that means? It means it is not tied into the heating and cooling system. It is not technically livable space. And you know what that means?

1. It means that most of the summer I did not work in here. I was (again) hunched over my laptop in the air conditioned part of the house, mainly at the kitchen counter. While my kids were kids and I tried my best to block out the noise while I worked.

2. It meant a lot of time at the home improvement store with Cowboy before I could truly tackle this room. I took this picture of him during a 45 minute stint in the duct and vent aisle at Menard’s. It was a fun time. Let me tell you . . . (kill me now).

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In the interim, I did do what I could to pretty up and girl-ify this space. I decided that my ivory sectional needed to go in here and it no longer belonged in the downstairs family room where my children were trying most intently to destroy it. (Are you eating chocolate on that ivory sofa again? What are you doing? Stop eating on the ivory sofa! Or at least put down a shower curtain on the sofa first!) Yeah, that was not realistic. So I decided I needed to save my sanity and so the sectional went into my office and the kiddos got a nice faux leather sectional for the family room. (To Cowboy: Thank you for the muscles, honey! To my darling offspring: Who wants chocolate? I’ll bring it on a tray for you – go ahead – enjoy!)

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It was definitely an improvement and the space was on its way!

The next step was removing the tinting from the windows and the dark blinds. It was such an instant transformation and REALLY brightened up the space.

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Our old mama kitty, Dolly, was also a fan . . .

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So once the tinting was gone, blinds were down, and duct work was installed (my husband is a trooper – he was huddled beneath this room on one of the hottest fall days on record covered in dirt and spiders with not a lot of room to maneuver!) – it was time to do the unthinkable and . . . HAVE THE PINE PAINTED!

There is a fair share of folks who think that this is an abominable thing to do. Painting a nice wood finish is a sin to some people and I can respect that. But for me, this room is not on a mountain or a lake. It does overlook a nice back yard but the pine finish did not fit the purpose or personality.  So if you are one of those people who is on the floor at the thought of painting beautiful and expensive wood finishes, you’ve been warned. So hold onto your britches because this man cave just went to girl nest, people!

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This vintage family heirloom crib works just beautifully in this space! And really – nothing says girl nest louder than vintage, a pillow explosion, baskets and old suitcases. Am I right?

AHHHHHH! Can you even stand it? I cannot even stand it. Obviously – because notice the light covers aren’t even on yet. I don’t care. I’m styling this space like a maniac (with the door closed – scream away my darling children!) and just LOVING IT. Loving it. LOVING. IT.

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Yes, Cowboy’s hunting trophies made it in! It’s a great place to display them. After all, the guy did spend two hot cramped days in the dirt below this space to tie in the duct work. He deserves a little nod to his sacrificial contributions!

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I keep items around me that energize me and make me happy  – I have started collecting Rae Dunn mugs, I just love the simplicity and quality – and coffee is a staple in this office! Family photos and a framed letter from my Gram and her photo along with some doggie treats for Cowboy’s best friends . . . this is truly a great place to work!
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My little buddy, Sox, enjoys this place as well – and I always try to have a scented candle in my office. I believe when all of your senses are alive you are your best self and do your best work.

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Those wood lovers who are still with me and didn’t faint onto the floor – you may have noticed that I did keep the knotty pine on the ceiling. Phew! Adding interest to ceilings is a “thing” these days and I am so happy I that it worked to keep it here. I had the crown molding strip and the beam painted white for contrast. I just love how it turned out!

Now then, I do plan to replace my hideous (but comfy) black office chair – and the desk isn’t awesome either, I need a keyboard tray as this is a writing desk and not optimal for short me – so those pieces will be the final touches. I am also having blinds installed but they will either be a grey bamboo that roll up or some kind of cloth Roman shade so the views won’t be obstructed. They’ll also add texture to the room that will soften the space further. We have a light fixture in a box in the garage that still needs to go up, oh and those dang light fixture covers – buying those today.

So I’m 90% there and will post updates as they happen. Thank you so much for stopping by my home office! It is truly fantastic – and quite honestly this space is really serving our family well, too. Before and after hours and on weekends, this is the place we welcome the day and watch the sun rise, the place my daughters and I hang out and sort through life (I do love my children if anyone was questioning that!) — and the place where we watch the sun set or open a bottle of wine with dear friends. It is multi-functional and really serves us well.

I am so very grateful for Cowboy’s vision in the first five minutes of stepping under this roof. (I am solar powered – he knows me well.)

Design Tip

Make a space your own. Do not be afraid to break the rules – remove tinting from windows and pay a little extra for your air conditioning, take down perfectly good blinds, and for God’s sake – paint the wood if you hate it. The wood police will not arrest you! Express yourself in your space, have no fear to just be YOU.

On a final note, as I was taking pictures for this story this morning I snapped one from the vantage point of my desk. The picture quality is poor due to all the light but provided me with a very profound realization . . .  . cross

The place I sit every day is literally at the foot of the cross. When I look up, this is what I see. I have goosebumps.

“Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” – 1 Peter 5:7

The place where we can cast all of our cares and burdens is the exact spot that I now sit. Happy coincidence? I think not. A very poignant reminder to us all that no matter where we are, we are always in a place where love can be found if we but only . . .  look up.

Thank you for the chance to share this story and journey with you!

Peace, Joy and Blessings,

~Audra

 

 

 

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