Home Office Upgrade

I’m not exactly what you’d call a “DIY” kind of girl. I’m more of an “order online while wearing yoga pants and drinking red wine” kind of girl. That’s a thing, right? I mean, I want to be… I have a whole Pinterest board just mocking me with all the amazing, homemade, affordable crafts I could be whipping up to turn my house into the rustic farmhouse wonderland I’ve always wanted it to be.

But Joanna Gaines lied to me. It’s not a magical fun time with perfect results. By the time you round up all the necessary parts and tools and shop for all the stuff, you realize you’ve spent hundreds of dollars and made about 6 extra trips just to get everything you need. By then you already hate your project with the fire of a thousand suns so you have to make ANOTHER trip to get some more red wine and cookies for stress eating, and at this point wonder why you ever got off the couch in the first place. And you haven’t even started the “DI” part of DIY yet.

Ughhhhh. But I keep trying. I keep buying supplies and I keep hoping some of these things are going to turn out. I mean, the bottom line, truth of the matter is that DIY projects are A LOT OF WORK and you kind of have to know what you’re doing going in or you’re going to go crazy. I prefer to be the “idea girl” and watch Gil execute on things. Or shop. I really just prefer to shop.

But sometimes life throws you off balance a little, like when you take a new job at a start-up where you aren’t making nearly as much as you were before and realize YOU CAN’T AFFORD SHIT ANYMORE.  So you have to get creative.

Or in my case, you have to have in-laws who are creative and willing to share their time and skills (I’ll get to that part in a minute).

When I first started redoing my home office, I had a lot of grand ideas. Since I work from home and spend a ton of time in here, we made it one of our first projects to try to get totally done, so I’d have a zen space for my sometimes very stressful days.

This was a kid’s room before and while I don’t have pictures of the weird giant flower pictures that were bolted on the wall, I do have evidence of the terrible shade of yellow and icky curtains that were happening:

office - before

Blech. No thanks. Gil and I painted the walls a nice taupe and tore those curtains down, and my parents and I replaced the baseboards. And I added a giant fur rug of course.

office pic.jpg

But on the opposite wall, I had wanted to do some kind of show-stopping accent wall. Like a giant wall of flowers. Or since I was on a rustic kick, some kind of wood wall. Luckily for me, Pinterest had the answer. There is a company called Stikwood that sells these peel and stick wood plank pieces. Now, I haven’t seen them in person so I have no idea if it’s just super thin real wood, or if they look more like stickers. Either way, I was really impressed with the pictures and was ready to buy.


Only one problem. For the size of the wall I wanted to do, it would run me around $1,600. Ouch. Maybe if I still had commission checks rolling in and my old mortgage on the condo, but in this life that wasn’t gonna fly.

So I did nothing. We just painted that wall and I figured at some point I would figure out what to do with it. In the meantime, I had shared the Stikwood site with my mother-in-law and she LOVED it (because we basically have the exact same taste in things). And she IS what you would call a DIY girl. She has done so much work on their house, from stenciling the walls, to creating these beautiful mosaic pieces in the yard and in the guest shower.

So she decided to DIY the look and she and her husband bought the supplies and made it happen. This is why you always want someone else to go first on these kinds of things… she told me all about the things she learned on the project and what she’d do differently. And that she and my my father-in-law had time this summer if I wanted to do my office wall.

SOLD! So we planned a weekend for them to come down and help us. And then Gil and I adopted a dog a day before they arrived. I’m a great planner that way. (Don’t worry, we all survived just fine. The dog didn’t start running away until weeks after, but that’s a story for another day).

Guys, we did the whole project in ONE DAY. It was a long day. And super hot. And weirdly humid. And I wound up sweating so much I rubbed my inner thigh and butt skin raw. BUT I MADE SOMETHING WITH MY HANDS THAT LOOKS LIKE A REAL THING.

Well, I helped. My mother-in-law and I did all the prep work for the wood – we sanded it, stained it, painted it, and sanded it again. The boys measured, cut, and nailed it all in. I’ll show you exactly what we used to do it, but first LOOK AT MY GORGEOUS OFFICE WALL. LOOK AT IT.

office - after

office - after close up

office wall after

It looks BETTER than that Stikwood stuff. And guess how much the whole project cost me? Guess!!! Less than $300.

We got bender board from the garden section of the hardware store, and it was a weird light reddish color when we got it and really rough. I think it was around $2/board. Cost for wood: $160. We just sanded those strips down and then hit them with Minwax stain in Espresso. It took way more stain than we thought it would since we tested a few and the wood soaked it up so fast, so I had to go out for more. Cost for the stain: $50

office stain

Once the stain set, we painted over it with white paint. Cost: $30

office paint

Once that dried, we just hit it with an orbital sander to get the desired effect, which we already had so didn’t cost us a penny.

There was the unforeseen cost of extra brushes, rags, etc as well, along with one bra casualty when I exploded one of the stains all over myself.

ruined bra

But all in all, coming in under $300 and turning out something even more beautiful than the pictures I see on Pinterest almost makes me want to DIY this whole house.