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‘Cause We’re Livin’ in a Material World

I know it’s been a while – a long while – since I’ve posted anything about home improvements.

With the exception of certain small-ish projects I’ve mentioned here and there, like painting the office:

and painting/organizing the inside of the hall closet:

We really haven’t been doing a lot around the house lately.

And, I’m ashamed to admit, the closet (which admittedly had more to do with putting off other things I should have been doing than actually making a closet look nice) isn’t even done yet.  But almost.

I promise.

Sort of.

My avoidance of all topics home related is most definitely not because everything is finished.  I could share a list of the things we still need to do before we could ever hope to sell this place, but then I’d probably start crying and my tear-soaked keyboard would malfunction and I’d have to add to the list yet another piece of electronic equipment that’s crapped out because it can’t handle being around me and my hormones.

By the way, I love the fact that being a woman allows me to blame all irrational behavior on hormones.

What?  You think it was immature to throw my POS cell phone across the room?  Well it was the hormones, bitches!

What?  You think I made the waiter feel bad because I cried when he told me they’re out of tiramisu?  Well don’t blame me – it’s the hormones!

Love it.


Like I was saying, the fact that we haven’t been working on house projects has nothing to do with the fact that we’re done.  Far from it.  It’s just that with Justin working his butt off to get promoted (and coincidentally inviting me, of all people, to fancy events) and me gallivanting off to exotic places like Costa Rica, Miami, and Nebraska, (okay, they can’t all be winners), we just really haven’t had the time.  Or the money.  Oh, and my whole quitting my job to “find myself” and make a huge career change thing is actually fairly time consuming too.  And I’m talking about writing – not waiting tables.

But I thought you should know that I’ve finally taken another step towards completing the office.  That photo you saw of the paint job above is the room in its interim phase.  I was just taking a breather before moving on to the next step.

And what is the next step, you might ask?

Organization, organization, organization.

Oh, and I want it to be pretty.

The overall mental plan for the room is to build a new work surface, create a wall of shelving and storage, and paint the existing bookshelves.  If I can find a deal, I might replace the ugly fan with a new light fixture.  I’m working on a very strict budget here, so the goal is to make this as comfortable and functional of a workspace as I can (since I will mainly be working from home), without spending more money than I’ll be making in a year.

(Sooo… what?  Like $50?  Riiiight.  Although, that would be a vast improvement from the $7.88 I earned last year.)

This means we’re getting rid of the two cheap-o desks that were given to us out of pity by another Airman when we moved into our very first shoddy apartment and had only a bed frame with mattress, an old trunk (used as a coffee table), and an entertainment center to our names.  (Yes, we knew what was important.)

Seriously.  We didn’t even have a couch.

So those old desks will either go on Craigslist or we’ll donate them to some other poor military person just starting out.  (Have fun with that, friend!  The debt-less road to materialism is a long one.)

The tentative plan in my head is to jerry-rig a new L-shaped desk into a corner of the room.  The long branch of the “L” will be constructed using filing cabinets (I will need lots of file storage) and some type of narrow-yet-long table top component.  As you can tell, this part is yet-to-be determined.

I like these shallow drawer cabinets from IKEA that Kelly from Tearing Up Houses used in her beautifully serene office remodel to use as the desk “legs”:

The short end of the “L” will be replaced with this desk from Overstock:

It looks almost exactly like this desk from West Elm, but at just over $150 including tax and shipping, the Overstock version is less than half the price:

The shallow drawers will be perfect for some pens, a couple of notepads, and some of the electronic-y type computer equipment (DVD drive, external hard drive, etc.) that doesn’t need to stay out all of the time.

Not a bad deal, huh?  Although West Elm does have an awesome mirror version of this desk that I think would look pretty damn sweet in the office.  But, at $599, it’s just a little out of my budget.  And I’m pretty sure it doesn’t come with a maid who will stand next to it all day to wipe off my fingerprints and tell me to get back to work when I distract myself by squeezing pimples and checking for food in my teeth in its reflective surface.

Plus, I hate to think of all the bad luck I’d have when I crack one of the mirrors by throwing my cell phone too hard across the room.

Because these things happen, you know.

It’s the hormones.


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Haha! I love the image of you hunched over, popping pimples and checking your teeth in the reflection of your desk, then throwing your phone at it. Hahaha. Crazy, woman.


And you know that’s exactly what I’d be doing!

Angela Kern

Yep, Sean and I are into the what are we going to do to the house before we move back in phase of discussions now. New carpet a definate, still up in the air about a remodelled kitchen, and bathroom. There is also the possibility that his sister will be moving in with us for a while…..Life will sure be interesting when we are all back in the Williamsburg house!
Love the ideas for the desk, but yukko on the mirrored ones, I wouldn’t want to see myself all the time, plus I’d get distracted every time I move and see movement in the desk…..Have fun!


Oooh oh oooh! If you remodel your kitchen, you know you have to let me help. And blog about it. Wha?? His sister might be moving in? We’re gonna have to chat one of these days…

Oh yeah, I was making fun of the mirrored one. While I definitely think it could look amazing in a room, it is NOT one of those things someone buys with the intention of actually using. People buy that stuff to look good and take up space. Nothing more. Which seems pretty wasteful, you know?

Marisa Wikramanayake

So say you remodel the office. Say you love it.

What happens when you sell the place? I mean I’d hate to part with some of my furniture – especially what I have built/repainted etc from scratch.

And now you make me want to blog about my office space. Except I have no place to blog about it. :(


Well the good news is that when we sell, I will be taking the furniture with! Do they not do that in Australia? :) And why don’t you get yourself a blog already??

Marisa Wikramanayake


I have three current blogs and one dormant one!

Blog 1: my professional writing site: – anything that gets published.
Blog 2: my book reviews:
Blog 3: my photography:

Dormant one is and it was what got me my first writing gig as a columnist and I used to post anything and everything on there.

The thing is I now don’t have a place to post all the random stuff I come up with like a rant about politics or a post about home renovation etc. I don’t want to resurrect the xanga blog – that platform frustrates me now.

And of course after the Frocktober project – – you wanted me to start a fashion blog. Which you still have to come up with a concept for.

In other words, HELP!


Ha, I barely have time to do my OWN blog on top of my other projects! =P Why did you stop writing on the other one? Might be time to start that one up again!


Your need for “some type of narrow-yet-long table top component” over file cabinets reminded me of a sewing table top I had once that was also supported by file drawers…A slab interior door. The hole cut for the knob was perfect for feeding cords down behind to the outlet.

Love your choice of desk. I am at the point where the fewer mirrors, the fewer times a day I am shocked by seeing my mother in my house…so that mirrored one would be a definite no-go.


Actually, that was one of the options I was thinking about! Or seeing if I could find just a cheap, narrow hollow-core door. The only problem is I’m not sure I want any cords on that part of the desk – I was planning on using the other desk for the computer. But if it comes down to it, I’m sure I could find something to cover the hole…

You cracked me up with your mother comment! And yeah… the mirrors look pretty, but definitely are not very practical. :)


Dude, I’m pregnant and don’t even blame hormones! (yet)….I have 22 more weeks for that one to sink in. Let me know if you want help cutting out cute little birds for your office wall…I think they make preggo-safe scissors.


Haha, but you can’t tell me you’ve never blamed them… ever. Like when we ate almost an entire pan of undercooked Ghirardelli brownies? Hmmm? :)

And no, I don’t think I’ll be adding birds to the wall. But I’m sure we can find something fun to do next time you visit that’s kumquat safe. ;)

Marisa Wikramanayake

As for why I stopped writing on there. Take a look at it. It’s part of xanga which used to be awesome but now just frustrates me when I try to use it.

So I’d love to have a place to blog about random stuff like how to make lamprais or whatever, but I’d like it to be on WordPress. And on my site. But I have ze professional portfolio thingy, the book review thingy (i read faster than I write the damn reviews), the photography thingy (updated whenever) and then the currently on hiatus fashion/frocktober thingy (which you still have to give me a concept for and convince me to start using).

I just don’t want to dissuade potential employers by putting personal stuff on the portfolio site.

And I’d want my name on all of these – how odd would it be if you googled my name and you got book reviews, journalism, fashion, photography and food and such all popping up? People would be so confused.

Meh.Ugh. Bah. Humbug.

PS: my lamprais post is FANTASTIC. Save I don’t know where to put it at the moment.


I know I am late to the game on this one, but that desk from West Elm is my absolute favorite. I wanted the green one but they discontinued it before I could by it.


Yes, that green one would’ve been sweet! I might be consulting you for some of my other design choices in there. I’m really liking the white West Elm knockoff from Overstock, and I’m still waiting for Justin to build the rest of the desk (he decided he wants to build one rather than set one on file cabinets, so we’ll see how that goes). I’m afraid of getting too much white in here now, though – wondering if I should stain the shelves dark and keep them rustic looking? Paint bookshelves? Ugh, I hate design. :)

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