Fashion is everywhere

Chez Larsson

Home office how-to

A couple of days ago I had a request for the how-to of our home office so here you have it.

 

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Our house is from the 1930’s and nothing is perfectly square so when we build anything larger we build it step by step in situ instead of building the whole thing somewhere else and the placing it in the spot we want it. Sometimes this means the finished unit is not perfectly square, but it looks better on the spot and lines up with what’s next to it, in this case a door frame.

 

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The unit is built using 18 mm (3/4”) MDF, wood plugs and wood glue.

 

Tools used are a circular saw, electric plane, mouse sander, electric drill, hammer, tape measure, plug marking tool, spirit level and some clamps. Also remember to wear saftety goggles, ear plugs and a mask.

 

The different pieces of the unit are assembled by using the marking tool to mark where the holes go, drilling the holes, gluing and hammering in wood plugs and pressing the pieces together with clamps until the glue has dried.

 

As each piece is cut and drilled it’s also planed and sanded. This way the whole unit is ready for painting after it’s been assembled and there’s no need for sanding in situ. You can get away without a plane but the edges of MDF are sometimes a little tricky to get smooth so a couple of strokes with the plane really help.

 

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  • Start off by deciding on the depth and height of the plinth. We went for 45 mm (1 ¾”) because this way we could use the baseboard as support at the back for the bottom shelf and let the unit be flush against the wall. Cut two sides and a front piece for the plinth. The depth 40 cm (16") we determined by measuring the file boxes that we wanted to place inside.

  • Add the bottom shelf. It looks nice if it butts out a little.

  • Decide on the height of where you want your work top. Ours is at 1 meter (3´3”) from the floor as we work there standing.

  • Cut two pieces for the sides and two shelves to go in between. Attach the sides to the base.  We use a spare strip of wood nailed to the tops of the sides to temporarily hold the sides upright.

  • Now you can decide at which height you want your bottom shelves. We adjusted ours to the height of magazine holders and file boxes. The narrow shelf is for trays containing pens etc. Mark where you want the shelves to go, drill holes accordingly and assemble.

  • For a chunkier feel and to make the work top a little more substantial we glued together two pieces of MDF. We made the work top a little wider than the sides and 7.5 cm (3”) deeper. Attach the work top to your base and you’re half way there J.

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  • Determine how tall you want your finished unit to be. We decided on 210 cm (7 feet) which is the same height as the tops of the window- and door frames.

  • Cut the pieces for the top sides. We made ours 30 cm (12”) deep which is less than at the bottom because we wanted a slimmer look at the top and it also allows you to get a clear view of the work top from above.

  • Cut the very top shelf. Again it looks nice if it butts out a tiny bit at the front and side.

  • Decide on how tall you want your work space. We use a lap top there so we checked the height of it opened up and stood at it to make sure we could see the screen properly without a shelf above being in the way. The height of our workspace turned out to be 40 cm (16”).

  • Figure out what kind of things you want to place on the top shelves. I knew I wanted a cube look so I just went from there. Cut the horisonal shelves, attach them and then add the vertical pieces.

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I have a problem with bits of paper trailing everywhere so I added some dividers to one of the cubes. It’s basically thinner MDF pieces. Martin, Wille and I each have a slot and there’s one for bills to be paid.

 

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After priming and painting the unit I covered a piece of cut to size foam bord with linen fabric and attatched it to the wall at the back of the unit with strong double sided tape (the kind used for laying carpet).nThe little halogen light is from IKEA.

 

Hey presto – Home office!

 

Oh, and please again be aware that the the metric measurements are correct ones and the inch measurements are approximate translations.  

25 Comments

  • SL says:

    Hi!
    I’m just wondering if you can tell me where you found that great polka-dot fabric on the bench? I adore it.
    Thanks!
    Sherry

  • Hummmlan says:

    Gillar verkligen dom där facken för era personliga papper och räkningar!
    Jag har redan en idé om hur jag skulle kunna göra något liknande hemma hos mig…
    Tack för beskrivningen, den var verkligen utförlig!
    En annan sak jag hade tänkt att fråga om: såg att du gjort hängmappar med manualer från diverse tekninska prylar, mycket smart! Men sparar du tex orginalkartongen från digitalkameran? Eller var gör du av dom? Har så mycket kartonger från digitalboxar, kameror osv och är lite villrådig vad jag ska göra av dom.
    Tack på förhand
    /Hummmlan

  • Cajsa says:

    Hej,
    jag undrar var du köpt dina arkivboxar med hängmappar.
    Tack på förhand
    Cajsa

  • Benita says:

    SL, I love the polka dot fabric too. Alas, it’s a discontinued fabric from Hemtex, a local chain store here in Sweden. I saw that Pottery Barn Teens had a similar one this summer though…
    Hummmlan, jag sparar de askar och lådor som jag tror att jag ev kommer att sälja längre fram. Annar slänger jag dem med en gång. Om det är många smådelar som tillbehör kan det också hända att jag sparar dem. De ligger här längst nere till höger i hyllan innan den rutiga gardinen :
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/chezlarsson/2380127888/in/set-72157603439433970/
    Cajsa, lådorna med hängmappar kommer från Granit.

  • Paul says:

    What kind of paint did you use? I have trouble painting high-traffic pieces of furniture.

  • Rachel says:

    FABULOUS! Yours was one of the blogs I missed most while I was on vacation!

  • Februari says:

    Tack för beskrivningen, den kanske kan komma till nytta eftersom jag inte verkar hitta något bra skrivbordsliknande att köpa. Undrar också vad för färg som är bäst att måla med, och sen vad “plane” innebär?

  • Lisa says:

    Thanks for the quick response to my request. I wish I could say “Hey, presto” and the thing would be built, though!

  • Pearl says:

    Your directions are so thorough and so simple. I also love that you put the foam core/fabric on the back, to protect the wall. Smart!

  • Ksenia in Canada says:

    Thanks for this Benita! Very inspiring as usual. This might seem like a silly question, but how to you stop papers and things from sliding *under* the unit…did you caulk at the base of the plinth. Or maybe you don’t have the kinds of problems that plague our household ;-).

  • Benita says:

    Paul, I prime twice with a special water based primer. It makes the top coat of thinner based paint adhere really well and I only need to apply one coat. Sometimes I add another coat on the work top. I’ve tried water based paints too but they seem to need longer to harden and me being impatient… Oh, and I use semigloss, not that that will matter though…
    Februari, jag stryker ett par gånger med V-slip och sedan en gång eller ibland två med Servalack halvblank lacknaftabaserad lackfärg. Plane = (el)hyvel 🙂
    Ksenia, I have occasionally seen a paper go in under but have gotten to it before it disappeared completely 🙂 You can caulk the base to the floor though and it will prevent that.

  • London Mummy says:

    Look great, can I just ask, how did you attach the vertical pieces or did you just slide them into place?

  • Danette says:

    Wow, that looks great, my girls could use that in their room.
    I love the white file boxes. I found other sizes at IKEA, but not the file size. Did you get those at IKEA?
    You are always a source of inspiration.

  • Benita says:

    London Mummy, I attached the verical pieces too. They help stabilize the unit.
    Danette, They are not from IKEA but from a local chain store called Granit.

  • Sherry says:

    Thanks, Benita, for the information regarding the fabric. I checked out PBTeen and it is very similar. I appreciate your time and love your blog!

  • Anna says:

    Hej Benita! Otroligt fint och bra beskrivet! Jag har sökt i din blogg efter tips på hur man skall organisera viktiga papper; deklarationer, CSN, försäkringar, garantier, div avtal etc (jag är 30 år och har fortfarande inget system…suck!). Kanske finner jag bara inte inlägget annars är det ett förslag på ämne! Tusen tack!

  • Februari says:

    Tack för svaret om färgen, det kan säkert komma till nytta. Och såklart det är en hyvel, hjärnan stod still där! 🙂

  • elizabeth says:

    I’ve always admired this piece in your photos, so thanks for the details! Did you do anything so that it fits flat against the wall or does it just go up to the baseboard and have a gap above?
    Thanks!

  • Benita says:

    elisabeth, it rests on the baseboard and lies flush with the wall behind. No gaps.

  • Kat says:

    Benita about how long did it take you to complete this project? You mentioned that you are impatient, I am too… I also have a completion complex.
    I’m also wondering why one would use wood plugs vs. nails? Additionally how does the plug marking tool work?

  • Kat, I can’t remember exactly, but the actual building part (measuring, cutting, sanding, sawing and assembling) probably took a couple of days. Then there was the painting which took a couple of days (two coats of primer and one top coat) and then the waiting for the paint to dry. Also one has to consider the time it takes to plan everything and make a simple drawing, measuring the things you want to fit in there etc).
    We use plugs because it’s a stronger construction when the plugs are glewed in. Also nail heads need to be sunk and spackled…
    To use the tool you
    * Drill holes in one side of the connection
    * Insert marking tools (also called pins)
    * Put the piece with the pins in place against where you want to attach it.
    * Press down to dent the other piece.
    * Drill holes in the other piece using the dents as a guide.
    * Glue dowels in place and wipe away excess glue.
    I’ve added the tools to my Amazon shop http://astore.amazon.com/chezlars-20?%5Fencoding=UTF8&node=18 as I get this question a lot. You will also need to buy a corresponding size wood drill bit.
    You can probably also find the tools at your hardware store. Ask for “dowel points & bits” or “dowel & tenon kit”. They will probably also be able to explain a bit more.

  • Hi! I did a post awhile back, http://decorology.blogspot.com/2010/10/home-offices-to-drool-over.html, and a reader was kind enough to mention that it was from your site. So glad I found you! I’ve added you to the blogroll over at Decorology.

  • Tanja says:

    Did you build the bench in the hallway yourself, too?
    I really like it.

  • We did, we built it from an old unused door in the house.