Home Renovations: Part 16 – Home Office

This post should really be right after the Part 1 overview of our kitchen progress as it came about sometime while we were uncertain of the timing of when we could actually finish the kitchen.

So, while waiting and deciding the direction of the kitchen, we got impatient. We did several other projects including the master bedroom, replaced a few closets, some back yard work, and of course: my office.

I’d grabbed the room right at the top of the stairs for my home office: it was originally a bedroom, but for some reason had a French door installed. Maybe the previous owner thought it should be an office, but it had carpet and a closet just like a bedroom. It is separate from the other upstairs bedrooms – off to one side and apart from all the others, and the glass paned door made it perfect to modify for a home office.

At the time we moved in, the job I had did not allow me to work from home, so it wasn’t used every day: it was just where I set up my computers.

Then came the pandemic and forced “work from home”. Now, working from home is something that I had planned to make a part of my next job, whatever that would be, so I embraced the home office. Even my new job was mostly work from home.

This meant the office needed to be brought up to snuff as a real workable space.

Before any changes

The actual work space.

The first thing I wanted was to be able to roll my chair back and forth on my floor without getting stuck in carpet pad ruts. The padding was so thick, that my chair wheels would not roll out of the depressions easily. That meant a new floor. So, we went shopping for flooring and eventually decided on an engineered hardwood floor made of acacia wood.

We brought the wood in to acclimate.

Once that decision was made, we contacted our floor guy who helped us with the master bedroom to do the install. That meant removing everything:

Of course, any change in the room meant painting the walls also. You can see some of the samples going up.

This was beginning to look beautiful.

Floor install complete

Ready for the next steps.

Once the floor was in, painting could begin.

Dark colors take many coats.

Lots of coats.


We painted the rest of the walls a cool gray to go with the blue.

Once the painting was done, we could move on to the finishing touch: a removable wallpaper. We chose the wallpaper first, matching the color tones from it for the walls. Installing it would be a challenge: but one we were up for!

Laying it out on the floor, we noticed the sun would be obscured by the window – and we didn’t like that.

However, I noticed that at some points, the design was made in such a way that we could move the panels around and they would still be aligned with each other. We moved the sun over.

Laura is very good with the detail work, and I’m good with the larger things. I hung the panel, while she lined it up and did the fine cut-in work at the edges.

Going around the window was especially difficult, but we managed it.

A final empty room wide shot of the finished project.

Putting my equipment back in, and adding a whiteboard made this feel like a real office.

Since we had some leftover pieces from the window area, Laura decided to add some trees to a blank area.

Bonus room: since the closet was empty for the new flooring, we decided to paint it also, but using a custom designed (by me) geometric pattern getting its theme from the wallpaper.

Finished project.

Now, everything is moved back in and I’m using the office almost every day.

This was a very worthwhile project and investment.

Home Renovations: Part 15 – Electrical Work Done

Back in the “part 3” post, I mentioned that the electrical work was three times what was initially planned and budgeted, and that might have been slightly less than the final bill. I think we may be at quadruple what was originally planned.

But is it worth it? I think so.

In other parts of the house, when a large appliance or device is powered on, such as a printer, the lights flicker and dim. In the kitchen, we will never have this problem now.

Where there were maybe 4 circuits before (oven, stovetop, lights, and all outlets for 3 rooms), now there are 8. Breaking up the outlets into zones and removing the lights from outlets will make a difference. In our temporary kitchen, we can only operate one cooking device at a time – either the griddle, the toaster oven, or the microwave. We’ve tripped the breaker a few times with those.

The initial wiring work was done back when Part 3 was written (new wires run in the walls, tied in down in the crawlspace, and “home run” back to the panel), but the finish work has only just been done. A few weeks ago, the first plugs went in just after the tile work was complete on one wall, then last week, the last of the plugs were wired in (almost).

This week, the final pieces were done. The oven plug was finished off (apparently a code issue for modern ovens – no more direct wire) and the final hall 4-way switch was replaced (that wasn’t present in the last effort to finish so I had to buy a new one).

One problem we discovered when we plugged everything back in, was that the ceiling fan was not working with the new switch and wiring and initially, the electrician couldn’t figure it out.

Yesterday, while the electrician was taking a look at the wires, we noticed a small black dangling wire sticking out of the base of the fan where it attached to the ceiling. Turns out, it was attached to a black box – a wireless receiver which turned the fan and light on and off. Even though the wires to the wall were connected directly to the fan, the previous owners used a wireless transmitter/receiver combination to control the fan speeds and lights. This is no longer necessary since there are capable wired switches that can do the job.

The black box and old switch controller are now gone and no longer interfering with fan operations.

Here is the new 4-gang switch group with the new fan switch on the left.

So, it’s all done now. Well, the electrical is, and we have sufficient power and nice fancy new switches.

There is one thing left for electrical related items: we have new kitchen lights on order, so once they arrive, we will install them.

That’s something we can do ourselves.

Home Renovations: Part 14 – Paint

Now that the tile is done, we are moving into the final stretch of the remodel.

Painting, which had we known which color we wanted, could have been done earlier in the process with less disruption. But, to choose a color, we needed the cabinets, counters, and tile all in place with the lighting in order to determine the best color. So it was a catch-22 proposition. Can’t choose before, but painting after is harder.

After several shades of gray (yes, too much color would detract from the beautiful blue cabinets – or compete), we landed on a very mild gray called “Olympus White”. It’s not white. I’m not sure why the call it that. But, those paint companies have to come up with creative names for “gray” all the time.

We had our contractor paint the ceiling a very bright white – brighter than even “ceiling white” which is pretty bright. We wanted it to lighten up the room since we removed a window and a door – we didn’t want to lose that light completely.

Everything had to be covered – we had the ceiling paint sprayed on, and even with the coverings, it went everywhere.

The sloped ceiling was the hardest part, but the painter brought scaffolding to help with the process and wrapped the lights to protect them.

Once the ceiling was done and dry, the wall color went on in the corners first. Notice how dark it looks here? Well, it dried a much lighter color.

This is the finished color for the kitchen walls and ceiling.

And since we were at it, we had the painter do the entry way. You may wonder why we bothered? Well, see how tall the ceiling is here:

I am not getting up on a ladder here.


Again: nope.

But it looks nice. It’s a slightly darker shade of the same tone of gray, which is the exact same color as the back wall of the living room, the gym room and the hallway, so it’s now unified.

When we decide to finish painting the upstairs hallway, we’re almost done already.

Now that the painting is done, there are only a few more touches to finish.