Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Working 9-5 on the Office Planning

After a lot of non-progress, I'm finally making some progress with the new built-in office plans.  It is surprisingly difficult to find exactly the right cabinets to fit the space.

My criteria is:
  • Enough storage under the desk to hold an array of things, and the size has to also accommodate file folders. 
  • Metal feet/legs on the cabinets under the desk, rather than sitting right on the floor.  This way, if we ever DO have a water issue again, the cabinets won't have water-damaged bases.  Also, it would be far easier to see if we had a problem again if the furniture is off the floor, making the floor visible.
  • Desk surface about 28-29" off the floor.  30" max.
  • Cabinets above the desk, flanking either side.  But these shouldn't be very deep, to keep the room feeling open.
  • Overhead, between the two top cabinets, I'd like open shelving, just for books and other accents, to add some visual interest.
I started my search at 
Ikea: the only office furniture that was really working for the plans, was the Effektiv systems.  I loved that these have a metal foot option, and file drawer inserts.  However, cabinets at either side would have to be either 21" high for one set, or 37" high for two sets.  Too low and too high to have the desk extend over the cabinets.  We could just have a desk surface between the tall cabinets, but I prefer the long look of the desk reaching the entire length of the room.
I also had a look at their kitchen cabinetry, but none of the base cabinets are less than 30" high, so I wouldn't be able to add feet without going too high.

Next stop:
Home Depot: The good news was that they have base cabinets of many different heights, and I could get some low enough to add metal feet.  The bad news was, after sitting with a consultant and pricing out the configuration with some of the least expensive finishes, the price came in at over $3000!!! For just a few cabinets?!  How do people afford to do entire kitchens with nice finishes?  There goes THAT item off my Home Wish List!
On the way home from Home Depot, I stopped at the local
Habitat for Humanity ReStore.  I got this idea from the wise folks over at Young House Love.  (I am a little jealous of how perfectly their office turned out).  Unfortunately, the ReStore near us had little to choose from, and I don't think I have the energy or dedication to check on an ongoing basis.  
I have a number for a custom cabinet maker, so I considered calling him... but the price of standard cabinets at Home Depot ruled out the custom option.  The same goes for some of the custom closet companies, who also do built-in office furniture.  I'm ruling them out before I waste their time.
I decided to revisit Ikea.   This time I walked through the entire store, examining kitchens, offices, even bathroom vanities, in an effort to find SOMETHING in my price point that might work.
I must have been in a better mindset that day, because I discovered two very viable options!

One is "BESTA".  I stood at their planning computers, and drew up the whole plan:  It's on feet, it has filing inserts, there are lots of different finishes available, and it's Ikea pricing!  It's a dream.

But then it got even better.

I stopped at the kitchen department on my way out, and on a whim I asked one of the staff members "just to confirm, you don't have any base cabinets less than 30" high.... do you?"  And she gave me the answer I've been looking for for weeks:  I can take the 24"-high over-the-fridge cabinet and add feet to that.  That would get me 28" of height plus the desk, which would bring me within my 28"-30" range!!  Amen!!  The over-the-fridge cabinets come in two different widths, and at 24" deep, provide lots of storage - big enough to hold some Banker's Boxes of files.  I can also choose from tons of different overhead options in coordinating finishes.  Some only 12" deep, which is what I'm leaning towards.
At home, suddenly so overwhelmed by my options, I decided the only way to narrow it down was to use my Dad's old method of to-scale plans with moving parts.  I cut out all the cabinet options (using different colours for backgrounds to indicate the various depths), and played around with them on paper.  I think we've almost got our plans in place!!

The desk surface itself is also a search in progress.  My only criteria for that, is that it can't look too kitchen-y, but also not too corporate, since this will be in the family room.  In my opinion, this pretty much rules out granite and other stone, and leaves only laminate or wood as options.  If we go with laminate, it will have to be a fairly simple, non-stone looking pattern.

I'm not wowed by any of these options.  But I'm liking the look/idea of wood...

A contender at Home Depot... I wouldn't love it for an upscale
kitchen, but for a basement office, it might do the trick.
Stay tuned, we're making headway!


  1. How exciting! Can't wait to see what you come up with. I like that counter too. Very warm and non-kitcheny looking as you say. All the best with putting the space together!

  2. Thanks Sarah, I can't wait to see some progress! And I'm glad to hear some feedback on the counter choice, thank you!