Tag Archives: Diy

Office Remodel – Axiom Media

Whew! It has been way too long. For good reason, though. So much design goodness has been happening these past few months. If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, I’m sure you’ve seen the pictures of projects we’ve been working on. It has really been non-stop and trying to balance my regular full-time job with amazing design opportunities has not left me much time for blogging. I am not complaining though – it’s been a great problem to have and I’ve gotten to see what the “design life” will be like once I do it full-time (putting positive vibes out to ya, universe!)!

We are so lucky to have entrepreneurial friends with their own businesses who need help designing their offices. Gordo and Bethany own Axiom Media and had contacted me previously for a design plan in their former office. They didn’t end up staying there and when they signed the lease on a new office space in Chandler, AZ, they contacted me to help.

AXIOM MEDIABeige USA. Beige central. SO. MUCH. BEIGE. Dropped ceilings, old nasty carpet upstairs, a million different paints and finishes… there was a lot going on here, and nothing at the same time. Add tons of fluorescent lighting and you’ve got a recipe for an office that makes you sad to go to work. We were going to totally transform this place! Axiom is a creative business with young, creative people, and the space needed to reflect that.

There was talk about leaving about the ceilings as they were, but seriously, they were 7 feet. That is claustrophobic even for average-height people! The process of taking down the ceiling tiles wasn’t necessarily difficult, but was time-consuming for sure. Once all of the tiles were out, the framing had to be dismantled and pulled down. There was only another foot up to the concrete, but it definitely helped to make the space feel more roomy. Leaving the ductwork exposed created an industrial feel.

AXIOM MEDIA Sayonara, you nasty fluorescent lights!

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AXIOM MEDIAThis doorway led to the staircase and it was Gordo’s genius idea to remove the drywall here and expose the bottom of the staircase.

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AXIOM MEDIAThe ceiling was kind of a mess but we didn’t want to dump money into moving the duct work or other wiring. There were acoustical tiles that were years old and rather than trying to remove them and the glue, we replaced the broken/missing tiles, and had the painters spray the entire ceiling white. The point of this was to make the ceiling just disappear and not stand out at all.

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AXIOM MEDIAWe had discussed leaving the tile and carpet and just working around them, but ended up deciding to have everything removed. I know that budgets are important to stick to, and I also know the feeling of not completing a design exactly how you want because you’re trying to save money. I almost always regret it. If you’re going to end up eventually making the change anyway, my thought is that you might as well do it the way you want in the beginning. It ends up saving time and money in the long run, and you’re going to end up much happier with the final results!

AXIOM MEDIAI knew that the stairs were wooden, but wasn’t sure what kind of shape they would be in after the carpet was removed. These are the kinds of projects that you keep your fingers crossed during, hoping that you’re not opening a big can of worms and taking on a bigger project than you’re planning.

AXIOM MEDIAOverall, the stairs were in great shape. There were about 67,908,786 staples/nails in them that had to be pulled out, and then each rise and run had to be sanded smooth with the orbital sander.  We didn’t sand all of the green paint and marks off because I liked the character that they gave the stairs.

AXIOM MEDIADark brown/black stain was applied in two coats and when it (finally) dried, we added one top coat of clear poly specifically made for floors. Make sure not to get a poly that is for furniture as you don’t want your stairs to be slippery.AXIOM MEDIAThe floors were polished, stained and sealed. We chose a grey stain. You might wonder why a concrete floor would need to be stained grey since concrete is already grey, but there was so much variation in this flooring that staining it grey made everything consistent, covered up existing stains, and gave us a neutral surface to start bringing in other design elements.

All of the main walls downstairs and in the hallway were painted a beautiful, bright white. We chose a deep blue for the slump block wall and painted the upstairs office in Dolphin Fin Grey.

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AXIOM MEDIAMy favorite project by far in the Axiom office was the pallet wall. There is a section of drywall by the stairwell that is bumped out and I knew would be perfect to add some texture/architectural interest too. We had also chosen this area for the conference table so it made sense to anchor it with something visual.

I found a pallet supply company downtown and was able to get scraps from old pallets for FREE and filled up my trunk and backseat. SCORE!  Once I got back to the office, I began sorting the wood into pieces that would work just as they were with no staining or painting, and pieces that needed a bit of help.

AXIOM MEDIAAfter I had a good mix of painted/stained and raw wood, I measured out the wall into a taped square on the floor, then laid the pallet pieces into a design. It was important to not have a seam that ran up the entire length and have the colors/widths varied enough to look random, but perfect.

AXIOM MEDIARandom perfection takes HOURS. Let me tell you.

Plywood was nailed into the studs in the wall and then the pallet pieces were added with finishing nails, starting at the bottom and layered in, all the way to the ceiling. The end results was BANANAS. Absolutely beautiful, basically free, and added so much visually to the space.

AXIOM MEDIAMy other favorite project at Axiom was the stairwell stripe. I felt like we needed some “oomph”… something that was memorable and amazing. I have never painted stripes on a wall, but hey, I googled it once or twice so I could totally do it, right?

AXIOM MEDIAI used a yard stick and measured up from the banister 11 inches. I did this all the way down, making small marks as I went along. Then I connected these all and did another line 11 inches above that one. This made sense to me so without too much more thinking, I taped those lines off and painted high gloss black stripes from the bottom of the floor, all the way up the stairwell. The results are so, so cool!

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AXIOM MEDIAWhen you look at the pallet wall with the hint of the stripes going up behind it, it makes for such an impact! And that was exactly what I wanted.AXIOM MEDIAWe painted the banister and the upstairs railing in a  high gloss black too, in order to keep everything consistent. We wanted the office itself to be neutral enough that it would compliment the furnishings without taking away from them, but also be a “personality” on their own. I really think this design achieved that!

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AXIOM MEDIAOne of my new favorite things to do is add a little surprise of color on the edge of a doorway. In this case, we did black to compliment the classic white paint. This is a fun little surprise when anyone opens the door.

AXIOM MEDIABeing able to collaborate with Gordo and Bethany was so much fun, and something that really helped me to think outside of my own design ideas. They are also extremely handy and willing to put in so much work and do their own projects. Gordo used leftover pallet wood and created what we jokingly called “MEGA DESK”. A cement top and pallet sides came together to form a totally unique, creative and beautiful desk.

20150925_110013-300x169Bethany’s desk is feminine and simple. Such a gorgeous spot!

20150925_112811-e1443206031978-169x300This amazing sofa from Walmart is by Novogratz and folds out into a futon! Can you believe that? It’s beautiful and firm and perfect for an office. Not to mention it has such a great shape and is so affordable.

IMG_1866The gorgeous yellow and grey wood rug is from HauteLook and perfectly compliments the sofa and also looks great with the pallet wall.

IMG_1803Before the final clean up, but with the main furnishings and lighting all in place.

IMG_1800Curtains add softness and texture to the room, and keep any lurkers from peeking into the office at night. They can open these up during the day but keep the white sheers closed to let in the natural light.

IMG_1801I love this amazing light from IKEA. Super cheap, industrial and beautiful.

AXIOM MEDIAYou may be thinking, “What kind of design uses IKEA and Walmart?” My kind of design! When there is a budget, when you need accessible, great-looking pieces, there is no reason you shouldn’t use things that work, regardless of where they come from. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it forever! Design doesn’t have to be crazy expensive or out of reach for anyone.

We had such a great time working on this project and I’m so happy with how everything came out! Looking back at how this office started, it’s kind of hard to believe how much we did and how much the space changed. Thank you to Gordo and Bethany and Axiom Media for letting us into your lives and space and for all of your hard work and collaboration!

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When one door closes…

Grey House Design Studio

In 2010, we were lucky enough to be able to go to London and Paris for a week of vacation. This was the second time we’d been to London and the first we’d been to Paris.

One of things I was so inpsired by in both of these incredible cities, was the color. The color of the landscape, the color of the street art, and mainly, the color of their doors.

The doors on homes and businesses have personality. It’s as if they are hinting at what might be inside, and inviting you in to find out.


oooh, so magic. can we please come in?

One of the best parts of these colorful doors that I really loved was the amount of glossy lacquer that was applied. It’s as if the original owners chose a wonderful color, and every owner after that added another layer of lacquer until it was an inch thick. The doors glistened and sparkled with the shiny gloss. Let me tell you, I wanted to go knock on every single one, just to see exactly what was inside that made for such a special entrance.

the door to our hotel in paris. made my heart skip a beat.

Because this was the second time we’d been in London, we decided to do some touristy things. When we visited the Tower of London, design inspiration punched me in the face. It wasn’t the moss-covered stone walls, the thick gates that used to house prisoners or the display of weapons and jewels. It was the bright blue doors in the buildings out around the Tower lawn. The contrast between the doors and the dark stone walls was absolutely perfect. I needed this color in my life, and it was now my mission to transform our front door with the same blue color.

Once we got home, I got to work trying to find out what color these doors were painted. My google search showed photos that others had taken of the doors, but there was nothing specifying what color or formula this was. One article that I had read suggested that the blue color was made for the Queen, so it made sense that I wasn’t able to find a canned version of this.

looking back through photos, I noticed that the tower bridge also used the bright blue color.

Relying on my ability to remember colors and later match paint chips, I chose a bright blue that I felt was closest to the Tower doors.

At this point, our front door was a bright red, which we had painted over a navy that had been painted over a green, a white, a cream… layers upon layers upon layers of paint. We considered just buying a new door that wasn’t painted and painting it ourselves, but the door we had was solid wood. To replace it would have been pretty expensive!

So instead, I bought a heat gun and a scraper and got to work.

I originally considered using a gel or liquid stripper, but didn’t want to deal with the smell or the mess. We laid down a plastic tarp, plugged in the heat gun, and got to work. This was not a quick project. I worked on the door, one small section at a time, for a few months. The heat gun is a wonderful tool, but to get through that many layers of paint without setting the door on fire (yes, there was smoke a few times when I held it in one spot too long), it was a very slow process. Hold the heat gun in one spot, wait for the paint to start to bubble, move the gun to the area just below, then scrape that paint off. Oh, and don’t get your hand too close. And also don’t let the old hot paint fall onto your feet when you’re not wearing shoes. Eek!

After all layers of paint had been removed, I sanded the door using sand paper over a sanding block. Then I painted the door with one layer of white, flat primer. I had gotten a small sample jar of the blue paint in a matte finish (there was no choice other than matte) so I used this as a color-based primer over the white.

Because our front door faces West, I wanted to be sure that the door was as protected as possible, so didn’t mind adding a couple of layers. I purchased a small can of high gloss blue paint matching the sample, and painted two coats on the door.

After letting it dry (barely. I have ZERO patience to wait for projects to finish themselves!), John reinstalled the hardware, and I had the door of my European dreams.

For now.

I still need to find a ridiculously shiny clear lacquer finish and start to add layer after layer after layer. When I’ve talked to employees at the hardware stores here, they look at me confused as if to say “Why would you want your door to be so shiny?”

I smile. They have no idea. Maybe our next trip to Europe will involve actually going up to one of those shiny doors and asking the occupants just how they got their door so very shiny.

Blue Door

The finished door. Come on in!

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