How I Share My Office/Craft Space With My Toddler

While sometimes I do dream of having a house in the future with a little more room (especially as a family with two adults working from home), we’ve definitely learned to make use of the space that we do have, and try and share most areas of the house for dual purposes. Our front room doubles as a guest room, our dining area doubles as my work table, and what used to be just my office/craft storage room is now also Lola’s playroom and where we’ve been storing the majority of her toys. As you can imagine, it takes a little bit of thought and planning to share a space like that with an active toddler. So I thought I’d share what works for us in case anyone else needs to have a dual-purpose room as well!

Harmless items are accessible while dangerous ones are not: Especially in my craft supply area, I have a lot of things like scissors, X-Acto knives, and other little sharp tools that I obviously do not want Lola to get a hold of. Even as she learns to use scissors (which she loves doing), her little scissor sets are up with my big ones high on a shelf where she can’t get to them on her own. It’s also a good idea to think about any stools or chairs in the room that could be used to stand on and make sure they are unreachable even standing on one of those. I don’t feel the need to put every item of mine up high though, if it’s not a dangerous thing. For example, she could get to my fabric supply that I keep in a low dresser or my paper collection which is on the bottom shelf of my storage lockers. But that would be more of a nuisance than a hazard. Of course, each age has its own things to think about, so while Lola can get to small wool balls and pom-poms in my craft storage (she likes to play with them in lots of ways), a younger child that’s still putting things in their mouth may choke on those so they would be in the “out-of-reach” category for them. Even things like art supplies are placed accordingly so Lola can get to crayons or colored pencils whenever she wants, but the permanent markers are out of sight.

Make use of storage cabinets (with lockable options): I got this storage locker specifically because it had shelves that were up high and out of reach and had an option to add a little padlock to a door if it was one you wanted to keep locked. At the moment, I’ve followed the above guide for keeping harmless things like paper on the bottom and sewing needles at the top, so I haven’t had to lock anything, but it’s great to know that if I needed to have the cabinet full of things I didn’t want her to get to, I could very easily.

Shelves for everyone to share: Rows of shelves are handy because they can be easily switched to store any kind of object and Lola has the bottom shelves for her items while I can use the top ones she would need help with reaching anyways. I have a cluster of built-in shelves that we share, but then I also have some lower ones elsewhere that she keeps some art supplies on.

Toys are easy to get to (and easy to put away): As there is actually SO much stored in this room with both Lola’s and my items, I wanted a toy storage system that made tidying up easy and something that Lola could do on her own. Things like open shelving and cube baskets make it possible for Lola to get things down and clean up and put away things on her own as well. It’s not every time, of course, but I find that a lot of toddlers actually like to put away toys when you have a clean up song they like, and they love throwing small items into bins and baskets. So it’s great practice for learning to be a helper around the house.

Make use of kid-proofing items: Of course, there are lots of kid-proofing items on the market, so make use of any that help keep your stuff out of your kid’s hands (we use magnetic locks in our kitchen and they are great), but the only thing that I have in the room is a childproof doorknob cover for the closet. I purposefully tried to find places to store anything she would need to get to in the room without having to use the closet, so I could just put whatever I wanted to in there and close the door. I don’t have anything dangerous down low in the closet just in case I forget and leave the door open for a minute, so it’s more like breakables or fragile things I’d rather not have destroyed. Haha.

I don’t know if there’s a perfect system for sharing an area with kids, but this seems to be working well for us so far. Yes, sometimes Lola gets paper out of my cabinet without asking or pushes buttons on the printer (I usually keep it unplugged and then she’s not interested in it), but those are just part of the normal conversations you have with small kids as they learn how to listen and follow rules. Like everything around the house, you’ll adjust things as kids grow to fit their stage of development (eventually she’ll figure out childproof doorknob covers so I’ll have to think of something else there if needed), but that’s a pretty normal thing that parents are always on the lookout for. I have noticed that there are items Lola could get to that I would prefer she didn’t (like some paints), but because they are in a different container than what she’s used to seeing her paint in, she has no clue they are there. Haha! I guess that one is a bit of a gamble, but the worst case scenario would be a mess to clean up, so I guess I’ll risk it. Hope this was helpful for your home if you have to share your space as well with someone small! xo. Laura

Credits // Author: Laura Gummerman. Photography: Amber Ulmer. Photos edited with A Color Story Desktop.

Emma’s Home Office Refresh

I am super excited to share my home office refresh with you all today! I think an alternative title to this post could be something like, “The Power of Paint,” as the majority of what I did to refresh this space is paint it. But wow, what a difference!

For this project, I worked with The Home Depot. I checked out the Behr 2020 Popular paint colors and actually considered three different ones before I landed on the paint color for my space—Battleship Gray. I used Behr Marquee paint in a satin finish for my walls. And I highly recommend talking to the folks at the paint counter when you are working on a paint project. I’ve always found everyone at my local Home Depot to be super friendly and helpful. I actually asked them a few questions around painting my office desk and shelves, so I’ll share more of what they recommended to me (which I followed) below. I’ll also show you the other paint colors I was deciding between.

Before we dive into painting tips and tricks, let me share a few of my goals for this refresh. First, I wanted to go ahead and take down my faux living wall. I had it up for about a year and a half, and this past autumn I actually added fall color leaves to the mix too (which was really fun!). But I was ready for a change to something that was way more visually minimal and streamlined. We are also (casually) looking for a new home and although I don’t necessarily think we’ll move anytime soon, we are looking and for us it’s just a matter of finding THE house we both fall in love with. Anyway, with that in mind, I knew my faux living wall was something I would probably want to take down before we try to sell this current home (as even though I loved it, I could see other potential buyers finding it strange or off-putting).

Other goals:
-more storage, preferably open storage
-minimal and clean feeling
-space for a large calendar and small bulletin board
-space for my painting easel
-I wanted this space (which has no door or fourth wall) to feel like its own space/separate
-something that shows off my black and white floral file cabinets

Here are the three colors I was considering: Battleship Gray, Graphic Charcoal, and Back to Nature. Most of our home is decorated with black, white, grays, and greens. Of course we have other various pops of color like photos and throw pillows, but these colors make up the majority of our home and I wanted to stick to that general color palette. In the end, I decided on the gray because I thought it would show off accents, go with my cabinets and some other things I owned (like my office chair).

When you’re considering multiple colors for a paint project, it’s great to tape the paint chips up in the space so you can see them alongside any furniture and also with the light in the space. Another option is to buy small sample amounts of the paint you’re considering and paint small swatches on the wall. I think it’s definitely worth the extra effort either way to make sure you are happy with a paint selection before you buy your paint.

Painting projects are usually 50% painting and 50% prep and clean up work. Or at least that’s how it seems to go for me. Ha. If you are planning to paint interior walls in your home, here are some things to consider:

-Remove any outlet or switch covers.
-Tape off any seams or trim you don’t want to get paint on.
-Cover floors and any nearby furniture you can’t move away.
-Remove any wall anchors or screws and fill the holes.
-Prime! You may not need to depending on the color before and the type of paint, but ask the folks at the paint counter if you aren’t sure (show them pictures of your room from cell phone pics if needed).

I also decided to paint a few furniture items in my home office. We painted my desk as well as two floating shelves. Since one of my goals was for my space to feel very minimal and streamlined, I wanted the desk and shelves to feel almost built in or like they disappear in the space.

We talked to the folks at the paint counter about painting this desk and shelves. They suggested giving the surfaces a light sanding and then either painting two to three coats or sealing the paint once dry to give it some extra durability. I just completed this space about a week ago, so I’ll have to update you all how the desk holds up over time.

I am LOVE with how my home office feels. It feels a lot less cluttered and I think a big part of this is the open shelving unit I added. I still plan to regularly clean and donate anything I’m not using, but I do often have a random influx of supplies. So it’s nice to have storage that I can quickly access but doesn’t feel super cluttered.

Thanks for letting me share! And thank you to The Home Depot for sponsoring this post. Do YOU have any painting projects in your future? xo. Emma

Room Details: Paint/Behr “Battleship Gray,” floating shelves, metal shelf unit, grey storage baskets, black storage baskets, rug, file cabinets from Poppin that I covered with removable wallpaper. In case you’re curious, my sweatshirt is from Ban.do.

Credits // Author: Emma Chapman. Photography: Janae Hardy, Emma Chapman, and Ethan Randolph. Photos edited with A Color Story Desktop. Project assistance: Ethan Randolph.

Painted Star Faux Tile Floor

Hi friends! Today, I am so excited to share the tutorial for the painted floor Collin did for our Apple + Oak office makeover. When we first began to plan the office, Allison told me she wanted a LOT of pattern mixing (which is so rare and SO FUN). I picked out a bunch of pink cement tile options, but when budget wouldn’t allow for tile and install we turned to DIY.

Now, this isn’t our first rodeo with painted tile. No, no, no. We have a pretty deep archive of painted tile projects, actually. See a few of my favorites here and here.

This DIY saved us thousands of dollars, but it was time consuming for sure. It cost only $85 to do this whole room, but be willing to spend up to 40 hours on cutting stencils, painting and detailing. 

Supplies:
-roll of peel and stick vinyl contact paper
-piece of card stock or thin cardboard
oil based paint pen 
porch and floor oil based paint

Tools:
-cutting mat
-razor knife
-scissors
metal ruler with nonslip backing
-right angle ruler (optional)
-4′ ruler or level
-tape measure
-mini paint roller

Total $84.23

To start, we’re going to trace and cut out a stencil out of the card stock. This is because you’re going to need to trace the star design lots of times onto the contact paper and it is super helpful to have this stencil on hand to speed things up a little because honestly, this one took quite a long time!

Take a sharpie and trace a 5″ square onto a corner of the card stock. You can make the size of your square bigger depending on how big you want your design to be, but we did 5″ “tiles” with our floor. Next, trace out your star design (or any design you want) inside of that square, making sure it is perfectly centered and cut it out using a razor knife and cutting mat.

Unroll and cut 3 to 4 sheets of the vinyl contact paper, long enough to fit about six “tiles” on it. The back of the contact paper has this super helpful grid on it to help with this. Layer the sheets of contact paper and tape the four corners down onto your cutting mat and take your stencil and trace out six “tiles” as shown in the picture above. it may also be helpful to tape the corners of your cutting mat down to prevent it from slipping when making cuts. Safety first!

The reason to layer the sheets of contact paper is so you can cut out multiple “tiles” at once as possible to again, speed things along because you’re going to need a lot of these tiles, depending on the square footage of your floor and also how big your “tiles” actually are. We were working with about 80 square feet and 5″ tiles, so i needed to cut out about 400ish of these contact paper tile stencils (yikes!). It took a a few days but the end result was worth it! Take your metal ruler and your razor knife and place the metal ruler and cut out the center star as shown above. This will take a good amount of pressure and focus, so be really careful not to cut yourself! Go slow and be safe.

Once all of your contact paper stencils are cut and ready, it’s time to prep the floor. Make sure your space is swept and mopped thoroughly of all dirt and debris. If you are painting your floor first like us, use a oil based floor paint. Oil based paint is very smelly and takes 24 hours to dry, so make sure your space is very well ventilated and always wear a mask when painting with it! After it dries, take your oil based paint pen and your 4′ ruler and make a 5″ x 5″ (or whatever size you want) on the floor using the ruler to trace straight and even lines.

Peel and stick the tile stencils onto the 5″ squares traced out on the floor and with a mini paint roller paint over the stencil with white oil based floor paint. Wait 24 hours to do a second coat and wait at least 48 hours after the last coat is done to remove the vinyl stencils. This DIY definitely took a lot longer than expected, and there was also construction going on around our space while we were doing it, so it kept getting messed up. But overall, it was worth it because it was just a fraction of the cost of real tile and installation—only $85!

Isn’t it beautiful?! I’m so proud of Collin for this one. It’s a DIY dream come true!

xx – Elsie + Collin

Credits/Author: Collin DuPree and Elsie Larson. Photography: Amber Ulmer and Collin DuPree. Photos edited with A Color Story Desktop.

Easy Oversized Acrylic Calendar

Here at ABM, we love a good project that not only helps organize our lives, but is also pretty to look at, too! We did an office makeover for our friend Allison recently and she asked for a oversized calendar to help keep her busy schedule all in one place. I love the look of acrylic calendars, but this time we wanted to make something that was a pop of color so we decided to feature a coral pink colored sheet and we are in love with how it turned out!

Supplies:
large acrylic sheet (I ordered a 1/8″ thick 36″x36″ square in the pink color)
4″ white letter stickers
1/8″ white vinyl chart tape
wall mounting hardware and drill
-ruler, X-Acto knife, and painter’s tape for placement guides (a clear acrylic ruler is helpful)


First, cut your day of the week letters out of your sticker sheet leaving a little bit of paper around each letter shape. This will allow you to place the letters in roughly the space they will go and give you some idea of placement. Cut out two of the parentheses as well and place then in the middle near the top where you want to write your month.

Take your painter’s tape and use a ruler to mark out a rectangle that is 28″ wide and 20″ tall on the inside edge of the tape. The inside edge of the rectangle starts 4″ in from each side and 3″ up from the bottom.
Once your rectangle is taped off, take your ruler and make marks on the tape every 4″ so you have a row of 7 marks across the rectangle, and 5 marks down the rectangle. Use your thin vinyl tape to connect the marks across from each other so you end up with 35 boxes. You can either try and cut your tape with scissors to be as close to the blue painter’s tape as you can, or your can use an X-Acto knife to cut through the tape at the point where the tapes overlap.  To close up the sides of your grid, mark on the bottom and top pieces of painter’s tape where the side tape should be, pull off the side painter’s tape, and run a piece of tape from the top to the bottom mark to close up the side. Repeat with the other side and then remove the bottom and top tapes and run tape across those lines as well to complete the grid. 
I used acrylic rulers so I could easily see where the middle of each square was (and keep the bottom of all my letters at the same 1/2″ height from the grid line) for placing my letters above the grid.

PRO TIP! For projects like this I like to peel off the backing of the sticker on just a small section of the letter, place it and adjust as needed, and the push down on the part that doesn’t have the backing to tack it down in place. Then I peel off the rest of the backing (while that one part remains stuck) and then smooth it all out. It’s way easier than taking off all the backing and trying to place it perfectly and smoothy on the first try!
Once all the letters were in place, I centered my parentheses about 1 1/4″ from the top of the letters (and about 14″ apart) and did the same trick with peeling of part of the backing to stick them in place.

Once my month spot was set, the calendar was ready to hang!

I painted the wall hardware gold and drilled 4 holes to hang the calendar. Some people recommend drilling backwards into acrylic while pushing down with the drill to drill a hole more slowly and avoid any cracking, but I’ve done that and the regular forwards way and haven’t noticed much difference. But try the backwards method if you are worried about it.

I love the simplicity of the calendar with the clean look of the tape and stickers, but the pop of color from the acrylic really makes it feel special. This looks so good in Allison’s office and now she can have a space to plan out her month and organize all the things a busy boss babe needs to attend to. If you’ve got a need for a chic calendar to organize your month, I hope this can help plan out your life too! xo. Laura

Credits//Author: Laura Gummerman. Photography: Laura Gummerman and Elsie Larson. Photos edited with A Color Story Desktop.

Apple + Oak Office Makeover

Chandelier and Pom Basket/Apple & Oak

I am so excited to share the office makeover that we did for our friend Allison at her new shop, Apple & Oak in Nashville. We met while we were working on Kacey’s dining room and she has become one of my best friends. This past summer, as she was renovating her new location, I volunteered to help her design her office because I was in between projects and honestly, I just love being busy!

She told me that her dream office would be themed “’70s Barbie” and I knew it was going to be fun!!!!!

Here’s how it looked before we began …

The before was pretty crazy. The first time I walked through it, it was a dressing room from a shop that was previously renting the building. It’s basically a large closet—concrete floors, patched together walls with a LOT of pipes, and very, very sad lighting. We got right to work designing and had so much fun DIY-ing a ’70s Barbie-themed office for Allison.

I love love love what she did with the door (and this view) because you can see all the patterns at once!

She hired I Saw the Sign in Nashville to gold leaf “maximalist headquarters” on the door— it’s so pretty and obviously the perfect mantra for Allison’s aesthetic.

First, let’s talk about the wallpaper. I LOVE this wallpaper and it has been on my “wallpaper bucket list” (huh, that’s not a thing?) for a few years. It’s incredible! It’s made by Juju Papers. Since it’s a large scale pattern, I wanted to use it on just one wall for maximum impact.

It has a gold finish and is just so pleasing to my eyeballs.

We found this printable Stevie poster on Etsy and had it printed at Office Depot. We made our own frame with this DIY, per usual.

Adding the shoe shelves was a last minute idea—a little extra personality piece for Allison. I mean, you can’t have a ’70s Barbie office without a shoe shelf, can you?

We added these white chairs from Wayfair to each side of the door, facing the desk. They’re the perfect size for the space and both functional and beautiful. I added these orange velvet pillows as well for maximum ’70s effect.

Rattan Mirror/Apple & Oak

And, one of my favorite details is this pink lucite marker board (it will be a DIY soon—Laura made it!). It was Allison’s biggest ask. She really wanted a giant marker board. I love how it’s beautiful AND functional (and PINK!).

This floor was maybe the most time consuming DIY we have ever done in the history of ABM, but look how magical it is!

We were originally looking at pink ceramic tiles for the space, but when the budget wouldn’t allow, so we decided to do a DIY painted floor instead. It’s SOOOOO pretty! I am really excited about how it turned out. (and yes, we’ll share the DIY in a post here soon!)

For the rug, we used one from Allison’s shop, Apple & Oak.

The desk was a super basic desk we picked up at Target that we DIYed the hell out of (paint, new hardware, etc.) until it felt mid-century glam!

The chair is from Amazon and is THE perfect desk chair! It’s gold and white and beautiful (it comes in other colors too!).

Here’s a link to the leather pencil holder.

Picking out details is always my favorite part. The butterfly, the eye, the mod vase, the tray … I love details!

I had so much fun working on this project! I’m so happy for Allison and her new shop. If you ever come to Nashville, you’ll have to visit!

Let me know if you have any questions in the comments. xx – Elsie

Credits/Author: Elsie Larson, Photography: Amber Ulmer. Project Assistant: Collin DuPree. Photos edited with A Color Story Desktop.