Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Is that your final answer?

I was all set to write this post, but I was trying to be all diplomatic and the words were all stilted and forced and it's just not me.  Since when am I diplomatic?  So let me just tell you a story, the way I tell it.  But first, a reminder.  We've all been around long enough to know that when I say my husband pissed me off, it doesn't mean we're getting a divorce.  It doesn't mean I don't love him and it sure doesn't mean you get to bash him.  That happened a way long time ago, and no one does it now but just in case, sometimes you got ta be remindin' folks.

Because my husband pissed me off and it has to do with the computer cabinet/desk/built-ins.
Once upon a time, our house used to look like this.
I would not have lived in it.
When we moved in, it looked like this.  
Better, but not us.

The first order of business was to knock down that old bookcase thingy.  I actually got to swing the hammer a couple of times to get it out, and we lived with it like that until last week.
The wine rack wall was a different color, the towels stayed under the rack and the cabinet in case we wanted to move them (?), and the computer wall was all ugly and gross.

Drew and I spent hours and hours trying to figure out what we wanted to do with the wall.  We drew countless possibilities on the iPad and searched Pinterest and Houzz until we were cross-eyed.
We talked about a reclaimed wood wall.
If I didn't get bookcases in my living room, heads were gonna roll.

We went back and forth a thousand times, never truly settling on a final design.  That's the first tip y'all:  When having something built, settle on a final design.  Draw it out, write across the top FINAL DESIGN.  Put stars and glitter across that shit.  That way, *no one* can come back and be like 'That's not what we discussed!'  And then, no one *else* can be like 'How the hell was I supposed to know what we discussed, there were like fifty different options and you might think you were clear with me, but that must have been in that dream you had because I don't know what the hell you're talking about!'


I wanted a fully enclosed cabinet that hid the computer when it wasn't in use.  I wanted two doors on top to cover the cabinet and shelves part, and two doors on the bottom to cover the computer.  I thought it was pretty straightforward and I didn't want to step on our contractor's toes by questioning him over and over again about design.

That's tip number two:  Step on toes if you have to, because you're the one who has to live with the final product.  It would also help if you had a sparkly FINAL DESIGN to give your contractor before he starts building.

But we didn't and I'm telling myself that it's okay.  Because our contractor started sawing and hammering and it wasn't looking right, but I didn't want to say anything because he's the contractor and how hard is it to build four doors right?

This is what we had after all the sawing and hammering.

As you'll notice, this is not a set-up for a concealed computer.  This is a cabinet on top of a desk, because we did not give our contractor a FINAL DESIGN.  I take full responsibility for this.  Our contractor is amazing and can build anything we want; provided we're clear on what the hell it is we want.

He thought the four doors were all going on top, at the cabinet part, and that the computer desk was completely independent.  When I finally spoke up, it was way too late.  So now, we're going to have two doors instead of four and the computer will be out in the open and tell me that's okay because I can't do anything about it now.
In cases like this, there's not much you can do but paint so that's what I did.  
The wine rack wall finally matches the rest of the living room, and the bookcase part got some high gloss white to make it all shiny and pretty.

Since the desk part was going to be out in the open, I decided to stain it.  Stain is not my favorite thing in the world because when you stain, it goes like this:
  • Sand the wood.
  • Wipe off the dust. Twice.
  • Run your hand over it.  
  • Curse because it's still rough.
  • Sand it again.
  • One coat of stain. Go slow.  No for real, slow down.  
  • Run for a wet rag because you got some on the wall.  So seriously, slow the F down.
  • But don't go too slow because you want your stain to be even and uniform so make sure to blend well.
  • Get a nasty headache from the fumes while you let it dry.
  • Once it's dry, lightly sand it again.
  • Wipe off the dust.  You missed a spot.
  • Let yourself think you're ready for the second coat.
  • Aww, that's cute.  Sand it again.
  • NOW, do the second coat.
  • Get high off the fumes while it's drying, but not the fun kind of high where you eat an entire jumbo box of Chex Mix while watching tv.  Not that I know anything about that.
  • Lightly sand the second coat.
  • THEN, put some poly on it.
  • HEY GUESS WHAT?  Sand it again.  Wipe off the dust.  ALL of the dust.  Wonder if the dust is reproducing when you're not looking.
  • Die from the poly fumes.  PS, make sure it's always two in the morning when you're doing this so your kid doesn't breathe the fumes.  You don't need sleep.
  • Second coat of poly.  Curse the idea of using stain in the first place.
  • Let it dry completely before you put stuff on it. 
  • Sand it one more time and finally be happy because it's as smooth as a baby's bottom, and it *is* kind of pretty.
It's not perfect, but hey guess what I don't care because

that shit is SMOOV homie.
I also took some test pots of paint that we already had 
and painted the inside of the cabinet, because why not?
I should have my doors tonight so I can get those painted too.

But here's where I needed a picture of a built-in computer cabinet., because I suck at visualizing and Drew sucks at explaining things clearly to me.
Would you look at all those nasty wires?
That's what you call a hot damn mess.

And this kids, is why you draw out your FINAL DESIGN before your contractor picks up a hammer.  Drew claims that he told me that he wanted to have a tray-like thing that dropped down at the back of the desk so the wires could lay out of sight.  He may have said that but it definitely got lost in the twelve thousand options he drew up.  Additionally, I couldn't visualize what he was talking about when he said tray, and the day Chris built it I swear I wasn't thinking about anybody's tray.  I was thrown that the computer wasn't going to be hidden after all and I was mad about that.  I didn't get what Drew was talking about until I put everything in there and I was like, ooooohhhhh a trough! I totally see what he was saying NOW!  Why the hell didn't he speak up sooner!
I put some hooks on the underside of the desk so the power strip is somewhat hidden
but the mess behind the computer itself is straight up FOUL.

Drew is about to have a bunch of time off for the holidays and he said he's going to fix it all and that's why I love my husband.  Even though he gets mad at me and I get mad at him because we don't always communicate so well, we always come together at the end, and his solutions for stuff always end up blowing my mind because he's cool like that.

And that's all that matters.  We're learning how to work things out and we're going to be married forever.

As long as we never ever ever ever EVER try to build a house from scratch.



  1. OMG! Jake and I bicker over the same things. I like to call it bickering because then it doesn't sound so bad, and when it's over, you can be like "oh that wasn't a fight. that was just bickering." :) Works in my brain anyway! I love the staining job that you did! It looks great! The wires are a bit of a hot mess, but you'll get it figured out. I believe in you!

  2. Desiree - you could use a couple of these things and cut holes in the wall behind the printer and computer, run the cords through the wall do you don't see them dangling....we did this for our tv cables and it worked really well:

    1. This is why I love you guys! I never would have even known something like that existed! Drew says he has an idea of how he wants to hide the wires but I definitely showed this to him. Thank you so much!

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  4. Desiree - this is the first time I've commented, but I've been reading your blog for awhile now. I must say, your honesty and candor crack me up. I'll read your writing and be all, "thank GOODNESS someone actually said that!" So thanks for making me laugh. Also - I could use some advice when sanding poly. I've sanded before using 220 grit sandpaper and it always leaves scratches, although I sand very lightly. Do you use a higher grit sandpaper than that? Am I doing something wrong? Any suggestions would be great. thanks!

    1. First of all, I know nothin' from nothin'. I am no design expert and I only know what I've done, so as long as you have that disclaimer, I'll tell you what I know.

      When I sanded the desk, I used 120 grit to smooth it out, and I used a good amount of pressure. When I was sanding between coats, I used a finishing block (that's what it's called at Home Depot) and it said 150 on the side of it, so I only assume it's 150 grit. Then I used super light pressure, going in the same direction of the grain - like I was wiping it.

      I've never used anything other than my finishing block, so I'm not sure why you're getting scratches. Are you going in the same direction of the grain? If you sand in circles or against the grain, I'm pretty sure you'll get scratches no matter the grit of the paper.

      Man, I hope that helped!

  5. The thingy that lets you take cables behind the wall totally rocks. I love that idea. I was gonna suggest something this:

    But in comparison, I'd say definitely take it behind the wall.

    Can't wait to see what the doors look like! I think it'll be really nice whatever. That corner is so tucked away. It is much less noticeable of a space than you realize. But I totally get you, it's hard not to focus on things once they have your attention. This kind of stuff drives my husband insane.

  6. I think it looks awesome! I'd just make a huge ass corkboard that can lean for the computer shelf. It would cover the cords, but you could move it when you needed to mess with them. Plus you can pin up stuff and be all organized. Just an idea!

    I love where you're headed with the house.

    My bestie is a relationship counselor. We had dinner a few weeks back and she told me that communication, or a lack of, is the number one complaint she gets in her line of work. It's not that we don't want to communicate or be clear. Life is a distraction. Kids are a distraction. Remodeling is a distraction. It happens to all of us!


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You make me smile - I just thought you should know.


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