Today, we have another room tour — the Office! Details about the cost are at the bottom of the post.
In case you’re new around here, my husband and I purchased a 1920’s bungalow 4 years ago. While it probably doesn’t count as a true fixer upper, it definitely needs some updates.
My husband and I are both professional classical musicians. We both perform with symphony orchestras, and my husband maintains a private studio. He teaches at our house, in the office ( we call it our Music Room). Private lessons constitute a large portion of his business, so last spring (2019), we decided to professionalize the space and give the office some much needed updates.
Shall we look at some before photos?
The dusty purple walls and the dark gray stick-on tile make the room feel dark and a little drab. Also, the crown molding at the top of the walls wasn’t installed well, which created gaps (and shadows) between the walls and ceiling. Lastly, the old window was very leaky and wouldn’t open or close, which showed up on our inspection report when we bought the house.
A close-up of the cheap stick-on tile. As you can see, it ripped in some places (this showed up on our inspection report when we bought the house). However, we were very pleased to note what looked like original heart pine floors peeking out from under the tiles!
The Music Room doesn’t have a closet, so all of our miscellaneous things like music scores and recordings were stored in the bookcase (it was quite crammed, as you can see!)
As you may have noticed, one of the oddities of the Music Room is that while it didn’t have a closet, it does have three entrances with doors. In the photo above, the doorway next to the bookshelf leads to the living room. In the photo below, the door on the right leads to our laundry room, and the door on the left leads to the dining room.
A shot of the Dining Room entrance to the Music Room:
Ever since we bought the house, the little dining room nook that leads to the Music Room has been “dead space.” We never access the Music Room from our dining room (we use the doors from the dining room or from the laundry room), so we would just use the nook to park our son’s stroller or his slug car when they weren’t in use.
One day, we had a brilliant idea… We could turn the dead space into a closet for the Music Room.
- The closet would provide much needed storage space for our music equipment.
- We wouldn’t even need to add a door to the new closet, because the door was already there. The only think we would need to do would be to throw up a wall!
- The closet wouldn’t cut into the usable space in the dining room, since the nook was “dead space” anyway.
- The closet would effectively turn the Music Room into a fourth bedroom (in ordered to be billed as a bedroom in a real estate listing, rooms have to meet certain requirements, one of which is having a closet).
Now, onto the details of the renovation!
First up, our contractor framed out the wall for the dead space that would become the Music Room closet.
Our contractor also added an overhead light and shelving for the closet.
Next up, our contractor replaced the crown molding.
Next, he got to work ripped out the stick on tile and refinished the original heart pine floors. I think every renovation has a “surprise,” and this was where we hit ours. It turns out the apoxy used to apply the stick on tiles was mixed incorrectly, and it never finished drying… Even after 25 years, the floors are still sticky with glue. The glue has soaked through the entire depth of the floor, so it can’t be sanded down. Sadly, it meant that we couldn’t refinish the original floors. Soooo, we had to scramble to hunt down a good carpet option that could be installed relatively quickly (more details on that later on!).
Next, we painted! We painted the upper walls Sherwin Williams West Highland White, which is a gorgeous warm white. If you google “popular white paints,” it seems like Sherwin Williams Dover White always shows up as one of the best warm whites. I absolutely love Dover White in my kitchen, but it can definitely skew a little yellow/buttery in certain lights. This is totally fine with me in the kitchen, but we didn’t want that for the Music Room. West Highland White was exactly what we were hoping for — warm and welcoming, but still airy and fresh.
Inspired by this gorgeous room by Emily Henderson, we painted the lower walls Sherwin Williams Waterloo Blue. Trim was painted Sherwin Williams Extra White.
So that the Music Room would feel more like an office/music room rather than a den, we swapped out the solid door to the living room for a french door. We also replaced the leaky window with an energy efficient window.
For our carpet, we selected a light gray low-pile carpet from a local carpet shop. Even though I was initially extremely disappointed we couldn’t restore the heart pine floors, I’m actually really happy with the carpet! It’s turned out to be a much better acoustical choice, since wood floors would have been a little bit too loud and “boomy.”
Shall we look at the complete product and some side-by-side comparisons?
Now, for the cost breakdown! The cost for the carpet and installation is straightforward — it was $800. I think I could have gotten this cost much lower if I had had more time to hunt around for different options, but we were caught off guard since we weren’t expecting to put in carpet, and we needed to finish up the project quickly so that my husband could get back to teaching in the studio.
The cost for the rest of the project is harder to tease out, because we had our contractor complete this project at the same time as some other projects, and he gave us just one bill for labor and materials. If I had to make a reasonable guess, I would guess that these updates cost us around $5,500. Including the carpet installation, the total cost was probably around $6,300.
If you’ve read my other “House Tour” posts, you know that this is a pretty high number for us to spend on just one room. However, the cost made sense to us for a few reasons:
- Private teaching is a significant portion of my husband’s freelance business, and we want to have a professional space so his students can have a great customer experience. The old office is definitely not the image we want to go for!
- Updating the office was actually far cheaper that renting an office space somewhere else. We explored several other office options, and when compared to leasing a place somewhere else, renovating the office paid for itself in less than a year.
- Because we are self employed, we can legitimately write off the cost of the Music Room as a business expense on our taxes.
- Updating the Music Room added equity to the house. It is always difficult to determine just how much value a renovation project adds to a house, but I find Remodel.com’s annual cost vs. value report to be a useful reference point (you can even get a report that it customized for your individual city).
- The Music Room had multiple things that showed up on our inspection when we bought the house — with this project, we took care of the damaged floors and the leaky windows, plus we made some aesthetic updates that can help the house to sell more quickly down the road.
- Replacing the leaky window reduced our utility bill by $20-$30 every month. These saving don’t pay for the project costs, but small savings can dramatically add up over the course of a year.
- The closet added a much needed place for storage, and it also means that we can bill the house as a four bedroom house down the road, rather than as a three bedroom. I was curious to see if converting it to a four bedroom house would actually add value to the house, so I checked in with my real estate agent (always good to talk to a professional in these matters!). In her experience, converting an existing space to a bedroom does not tend to add value to a house, because you are not increasing the house’s square footage. However, she said that an additional bedroom can increase your pool of prospective buyers, which can help you sell your house more quickly and for a more competitive price.
To sum up, while $6,300 is not an insignificant amount of money for us, we decided it made more sense to put that money into house upgrades (which count toward equity) rather than putting that money toward an office rental.
I hope you enjoyed this room tour! Thank you so much for reading!