Posted by John on February 6th, 2014
In this post you’ll learn about:
- Two different types of coffered ceiling options and the pros and cons of each
- How to design the layout of the coffered ceiling boxes using Excel and SketchUp
In between shoveling out from snow storms and salting our sidewalk, we’ve been winding down the concept development portion of our home office renovation. So far we’ve installed hardwood flooring and picked our furniture layout. The only thing left before we move into the detailed design work is the coffered ceiling.
Let’s start with the coffered ceiling concept design options.
Option 1: Wood
(via This Old House)
This is the most common approach I’ve encountered. It’s done with three pieces of wood and some crown molding. The advantage is it’s not very labor intensive and there are a ton of tutorials out there to illustrate the build process. The big disadvantage I see to this look is the cost. You’re looking at several hundred dollars worth of pine or poplar on the ceiling.
Option 2: Drywall
This is the approach we’re opting for in our home office. It’s a little less common and we love the high end look. The pros: It should end up being less expensive than using an all-wood design since drywall is fairly cheap. We’ll still need 2x lumber underneath the drywall, but we would probably need that in both options. The cons for this approach is the joint compound. It’s going to take some time and effort to spackle or mud and sand all those seams. Plus it’s overhead work, which means it’s going to be uncomfortable.
Let’s take a quick look at how to layout something like this in a room. We’ll use our office as an example. To make this process easier I drew an outline of the room’s ceiling in SketchUp, just like in our furniture layout post. Instead of 3D, I just drew a 2D perimeter drawing of the room.
With the room outline drawn, the next thing I did was try to deconstruct what was going on in that last picture. It appears as though the coffered ceiling boxes are wide pieces of drywall and around the room there is a half-wide piece. Again, just guessing at that by looking at the Houzz.com photo.
Next, I assumed that the wide drywall is 8″ and the more narrow drywall around the room is 4″. Now I’m going to use MS Excel to calculate how big the boxes should be and how many I should make. You can just do this part with a pencil, paper and calculator, but I prefer Excel since I can make changes on the fly with little effort. (If you want to see a video on using Excel for this type of work, check out our video here).
In Sketchup, I drew a 4″ wide box out from all the walls to mimic the photo. Then I measured how wide and long the room was with the 4″ box added. I entered the room width in inches into the first Excel cell. Then I entered what I think the drywall width is, which I’m assuming is 8″. The picture of the office has three ceiling boxes, so let’s start with that too. Next I calculate how much ceiling the width of the drywall takes up, which is 2*8″ = 16″ since you can see in the photo that there are two full 8″ wide pieces in the middle of the room. I subtract 16″ from the room width, 123″ – 16″ = 107″. I then divide the 107″ by how many boxes I have, which again, in this case is 3. That leaves me with about 35 5/8″ or so of ceiling space for each box. I repeat this process for the length of the room with the goal to try and keep the boxes close to looking like squares and not rectangles. I do that by adjusting the number of boxes so the box widths are within a few inches of each other.
Ok. So now I know my dimensions of the boxes and the drywall. I can go back to SketchUp and draw out those boxes. I’ve extruded them to give them a 3D look and here’s what I end up with.
I then imported this ceiling model into my office layout drawing.
Here’s a closer view of how the ceiling meets the built-ins. I still have to make some adjustments to the built-in design to make sure it all plays nice together.
Each one of those boxes will have a full size crown molding installed in it. The perimeter of the room will also have some crown molding wrapped around it. Either most or all of those boxes will also have small can lights, for which I’ll need to pull a permit. I still need to figure out HOW to install all these boxes too. All I did here was dimension them to get the look we want.
So that’s pretty much the end of the concept design portion of our home office. Next I need to shift gears and dimension the cabinets.
Posted in Design,DIY Projects. Tagged in ,ceiling, coffered ceiling, design, layout, office, sketchup
Posted by John on January 30th, 2014
Over a year ago, we completed a shoe organizer project to help clean up some of the cluttered mess of shoes we have in our garage. We don’t wear shoes in the house so we had a good 8 pairs or so of shoes just piled up in there. Since that post went live in 2012, it’s been one of our more popular pages.
As promised, I’ve just completed the woodworking plans for this shoe organizer and if you’re interested in getting a free copy, just subscribe to our free newsletter and you’ll immediately get an email with a link to all of our woodworking projects.
Posted in DIY Projects. Tagged in ,plans, shoe organization, woodworking
Posted by John on January 23rd, 2014
In this post you’ll learn:
- How room layout options can be tweaked to get desirable results
- How SketchUp can be used to design and build room layouts
With all the snow we’ve had this week, I had enough down time to work on our home office layout options. To make things easier on us, I used SketchUp to draw the room and try out different furniture arrangements. If you’ve never used SketchUp before I would encourage you to give it a shot. It’s an incredibly powerful tool for professional designers and your everyday DIYer can really take advantage of it’s easy to use interface. At the end of this post, I’m sharing a quick video I made that will show you how to use SketchUp for your own simple room layouts.
So, let’s dive right into our room layouts. We made four different versions with slightly different changes made to each. It was a bit of a goldilocks process. We started with something we liked, but didn’t love and then just made some tweaks until we got to where we wanted to be.
Option 1: Second Desk
The first layout option is the separate desk design.
I like the back to back desk option. It was similar to a couple pins we liked. The built-ins on the back wall look a bit large and I think the angled wall in this room sort of takes away from the benefit of this option. Very cool idea, but maybe not ideal for this space.
Option 2: Side by Side Desks
This layout is hit with both Lisa and I. The built-ins look like a good size for the room and the side by side desks open up the rest of the office for other options.
So what to do with the rest of the room? We’d still like some more storage.. Here’s what we came up with to gain more cabinet space.
Option 3: Second Large Built-in
We took a look at adding a second built-in along an adjacent wall and didn’t like the result. Sure, we gain a ton more cabinet storage, but the back wall cabinets now look unsymmetrical. That’s a deal breaker.
Option 4: Smaller Separate Cabinet
This is the layout option we’re favoring at the moment. We get to keep the symmetrical built-ins along the back wall, get some additional storage and still have extra space leftover for a kids corner.
We also decided to make the built-in countertop site higher than the desktop. You can see the height difference in this next photo.
So that’s our layout options as seen in SketchUp. You don’t need to be an architect or a graphic designer to make your own room layouts. Here’s a video we whipped up to show you some of the basics of using SketchUp for room designing.
Next time we’ll discuss coffered ceiling design options.
Posted in Design,DIY Projects. Tagged in ,design, layout, sketchup
Posted by John on January 20th, 2014
In this post, you’re going to learn:
- How your home improvement project is exactly like the space shuttle
- How to use the Home Remodeling Process for your next home improvement project
After another full weekend of labor and our home office floor is finally finished. Now it’s time to turn our attention to the remainder of the remodeling process. If you’ve never upgraded a house or even a room before and you’re not sure how to get from start to finish, this post should help. I’m going to borrow the design and build process from my engineering experience and give it a home improvement spin. You certainly don’t have to follow this process to get a quality result on your home project, but it may help you to map out the entire project so that you have less surprises.
The Home Remodeling Process
Ever wonder how people can build something so complex like a space shuttle or an ocean cruise liner? It not only takes talented engineers and enormous budgets, but a build process that designers can all follow throughout the project. The hull team needs to know the requirements of the propulsion team, the propulsion teams needs to know the requirements of the mission planners, the mission planners need to know the budget and the available talent and equipment. It gets complicated pretty quickly. Your home improvement projects, while considerably smaller in scale can benefit from following a similar process. If you’re renovating an entire house or doing a lot of work in one room that includes electrical, plumbing, framing, drywall or furniture building all rolled together, you’ll be much better off following some sort of build process.
In this post, I’m going to describe a basic, 3-step design and build process for home improvement enthusiasts that can be used on nearly every project.
The Home Remodeling Process starts with the Concept Development Stage, moves into the Detailed Design Stage and then finishes with the Build and Installation Stage. We are essentially moving from early ideas, to concrete plans to execution. Our home office project is still in the Concept Development Stage since we don’t have any concrete plans for furniture or room layout yet.
Let’s take each stage and do a quick breakdown.
This first stage is where you brainstorm. Spending hours on Pinterest during this stage is NOT a waste of time as you are getting a feel for what you want your home or room to look like when it’s finished. You also may be looking through magazines or making mood boards. It’s important to think about the requirements for your finished space.
For example, the requirements for our home office are:
-Floor to ceiling built-ins
-A desk and separate workstation
-A station for the kids to play or draw/color
-Possible coffered ceiling
-Additional overhead lights
-Concealed printer storage
Notice that we didn’t list dimensions of the built-ins, talk about the finished look or specific details like beaded face frame cabinets or dark countertops (both of which are on our wish list, but aren’t necessary for this stage of the planning). We’re aiming to get all of our requirements for this stage written down, but not get bogged down in the weeds of specifics design elements.
This biggest goal of this stage is to come out of it with a desk and built-in layout that we like so we can move forward with designing it. There are some tools you can use to make this part of the process much easier. For example, we’ve been working with a free design software called SketchUp to design the room layout. In a future post, I’ll be showing you a video on how to use SketchUp for basic room layout options.
The next stage in the home remodeling process is the detailed design work. We’re going to take the layout and desk selections we made in the concept design stage and add much more detail and depth to our plans. When you’re finished with the detail design stage, you should be ready to start buying material and swinging hammers.
Some of the details we’ll need to determine in this stage of the process are:
-Built-in cabinet dimensions including finished paint or stain color as well as door style and any additional cabinet features
-Coffered ceiling design and dimensions
-Location of overhead lights
-Identify required permits
-Pick a paint color for the walls
-Develop a plan to determine the order for all the projects
-Figure out how to do each project (ex, wire an overhead light, install crown molding, etc)
You can see that there’s a lot more specific requirements as opposed to general ideas in this portion of the planning.
It can be tempting to just jump right to the detailed design work for some elements of your remodel and in some instances that may be acceptable. However, if you’re talking about a large project with a lot of interrelated portions, it’s wise to start at the beginning of the process and work your way up to the finish. By skipping steps, you’re opening yourself up to making a mistake later on. For example, if I decided to build the coffered ceiling first without taking into consideration what the finished built-in cabinets would look like, I’d probably run into issues if I took the cabinets to the ceiling. At that point I might have to make changes to the ceiling or the cabinets. Wouldn’t be fun.
If this process sounds a bit tedious and nerdy, understand that most of you are probably already following this to some extent already. If you hired a contractor to help with your kitchen remodel and you told him that you want new cabinets, the first thing he’ll probably do is ask you how many cabinets, what sizes, colors, layouts, etc. It’s unlikely that he’ll try to sell you a couple of 15″ wide stained cabinet within the first few minutes of meeting you. If he did, you probably wouldn’t hire him.
The last part of the process is pretty straight forward, it’s the Build and Installation Stage.
Build and Installation
At this stage in the process, the wheels are already in motion. I’m buying material at my local lumber supplier for my cabinets, I’ve already developed cut sheets and I’m stopping by my local township building to pickup my approved permits. There isn’t much planning going on in this stage except for daily job plans. For example, this Saturday, I’m going to accomplish X, Y and Z.
If you performed the first two steps thoroughly, this last step isn’t going to be very difficult, at least mentally.
I hope this post helped you understand how large, complex home improvement projects can be made easier through extensive planning. It can be overkill at times, but in the end it’s usually worth the effort.
Here’s where our office stands at the moment…
If you’re interested in more home office work, you can also check out our friend Colette’s latest work. She just installed hardwood flooring in her Ryan home and will be taking a similar approach to her space. Check it out!
See you next time.
Posted in DIY Projects. Tagged in ,DIY, planning, process
Posted by John on January 15th, 2014
Since we started releasing our free woodworking plans to our newsletter subscribers, I realized that not everyone may be interested in building projects that are exactly the same size as the units in our house. Fair enough. So, I decided to open up an Etsy shop and sell custom dimensioned versions of the projects we make available to our newsletter subscribers. If someone wants to build one of our built-ins for example, but would prefer it taller or wider, no problem. You can buy the plans online and specify what final dimensions you would like and in a few days we can email you a customized set of plans specifically for you.
We’re also selling the same plans that are available for free to our newsletter subscribers. Why would I do that? Well, for one thing, it’s an opportunity to try and leverage some of the work we’ve done so far. It’s also a great way of establishing value to our readers and subscribers.
Here’s a link to our Etsy store: http://www.etsy.com/shop/OurHomefromScratch
This weekend, we’ll be back in our office finishing up our hardwood floors. In our next post, we’ll be sharing some of the design process and layout options sized for our office. We’ll get a chance to see what those ideas we considered actually look like in the space.