They’re Making My Old Room a Sauna

No that’s definitely not true. My parents are turning my childhood bedroom into my dad’s office. My dad has been working from home for several years now, and usually he helps himself to the kitchen table, which is driving my mom crazy. Especially because he sometimes takes conference calls around 5pm and everyone has to be quiet.

So first they wanted to know when I was taking my crap away. It’s a little embarrassing how badly I kept the space all this time when they’ve been so good to me, but now the room is MOSTLY emptied out, except for books, and a lot of what’s here isn’t mine. We’ll tackle it soon.


The desk is not really comfortable for an adult, so now it’s on Craigslist. The plan is to put an inexpensive new butcher block countertop across this whole wall to make a big built-in desk. I checked out the usual suspects for these: Ikea and Lumber Liquidators, and found that the latter offers one 12 feet long for about $340. Sadly, this room is 12 foot, 7 inches. So I looked into places that would make them to order and… you don’t want to know. Instead, we’re probably just going to use 6-foot sections from IKEA and have seams more or less where they are now. Except the counter will be all the same wood and the seams will be joined together tightly. I’ll varnish it with the poly left over from my floors.

But before we do that the wallpaper has to come down.


And they had an ice dam a couple of years ago and now at least one window needs some prep before it can be repainted.



Underneath, I think we can hack one shallow 5-inch IKEA kitchen drawer for the desk, though it will be 7 inches shorter than the span so there will be 3-inch fillers on either side. Not a huge deal, right? It saves a lot of money over custom cabinetry. We can use nice poplar for the drawer front and the fillers so it blends in with the custom cabinets on either side. One of these, but wider.


Then to finish the room, they plan to paint it the same color as my bedroom in the city. My dad thought thinks I picked a cool color even though I picked a really safe light neutral.


And then my mom wants to get him a comfy desk chair that swivels. But it had better not be too big as they plan to leave the bed where it is.


Then, the shelves for the uppers need some work. My dad built them out of pine and the knots bled through the paint and the shelves sagged so he put corner braces on them and just had me place books to hide them. I think we can seal the knots, work out a better way to prevent the sagging, and add the trim to the fronts of the shelves that we always planned to install. Or we could rebuild them out of poplar or plywood but that seems like too much work.

And while this room is turned into a workshop there’s that critical job of hollow core door eradication. My dad has been hoarding all the solid pine doors he needs in the garage for over 10 years.

What do you think? Any better ideas for this room conversion or are we on the right track?





20 thoughts on “They’re Making My Old Room a Sauna

  1. Ross

    Be ruthless!

    Remove the shelves and cabinets.

    Then put the base cabinets back with ONLY 12-FEET FROM END TO END.

    Then get the IKEA 12-foot counter. A perfect fit. No seams.

    Does Dad need bookshelves? If so, put in new, STURDY shelves which don’t sag!

    This may sound like MORE work but I suspect it will be LESS.

    And Dad deserves no less!


  2. Chad's Crooked House Post author

    That adds a lot more work though because he took out all the original baseboards and cut them off to fit around the cabinets. And then there would be 3 inch gaps at either end. Do you think that would look all right?


    1. Ross

      You are planning already to repaper the room.

      You know you need to do something about the saggy shelves.

      You are planning to somehow join three separate counters.

      Again, I say: Be ruthless! Take it all out. Then repaper the whole room, and install base where it is missing. The latter is SO not hard.

      3-inches of space at each end will not matter. The whole will visually float.

      A LONG single counter will be wonderful. By ripping it all out, you will also get rid of the shelving verticals which will chop up the counter. NO VERTICALS!


  3. francetaste

    I agree with Ross. Go for the 12-foot single counter. If you do fillers on either end, nobody will notice. Your dad will, however, notice seams in the middle.
    I’d also just redo the shelves. Maybe you can reuse the wood elsewhere, but the shelves look too long, and pine too soft, to support the weight of books. Does your dad need so much storage space?


  4. Jessica@CapeofDreams

    The plan seems to make sense, although I’m still a little confused where the sauna will fit. Perhaps on the other side of the bed? 😉 my vote is also for the longer counter if you can get it into the room without cutting it. That could be a challenge. If anyone can do it you can!


  5. Mary Elizabeth

    I can picture your dad’s conference calls while your mom is trying to prepare dinner. Caller: “What’s that sizzling sound? Is your office on fire?” Dad: “Um, no. It’s a radiator. This is an old building. Hey! [to your mom] Stop whacking me with the spatula!”

    I think it’s great that after all the help your dad gave you (and your mom’s patience with the whole transition) you are finally able to help them with something. Your dad and you have developed some really mad DIY skills!

    They certainly gave you time to “launch,” unlike my parents, who thought that once we were in college they could sell our house and buy one that didn’t have bedrooms for two of us.:-) I got a call from my mother that I should come home during semester break and pack up all my stuffed animals and books (from Raggedy Ann to Anthropology 101) and put them in storage.


    1. Chad's Crooked House Post author

      Yes, they were really great. My mom did a lot for us, starting with talking my grandmother into keeping the furniture we like least so my sister and I could have our favorite pieces, then paying for storage for about a year, then giving up their nice basement for about 4.

      As for the conference calls, you’re mostly right except I’m pretty sure the people he’s working with (in California, thus the late calls) knows that he’s working from home. And as you could see in my wallpaper closeup, they have forced air heat. The 5pm time is particularly annoying because I work until 3:30, so (if she isn’t teaching a piano lesson) it’s prime time for me and my mom to talk.


  6. Jo

    I agree with the clean slate version. Trying to “make” something work often comes out unused and we definitely want Dad out of the kitchen. Jo @ Let’s Face the Music


    1. Chad's Crooked House Post author

      Well my mom is definitely on board with Ross’ idea to do away with the verticals from the upper shelves, but they really wanted this to look built-in, so we’ll see if they come around to reconfiguring the whole wall to use the stock length countertop.


  7. lifeonhillst

    Why keep the bed in there? At least, does it have to stay so close? Not sure what the rest of the room looks like, but maybe turn the bed against the wall so there’s more room to move around? Just an idea – having my work space cramped like that would drive me crazy. And/or I’d just put a whole bunch of stuff on the bed all the time…


    1. Chad's Crooked House Post author

      And my mom said they should keep the bed where it is (or shifted closer to the door so the room feels cramped when you enter it instead of when at the desk) specifically so my dad can crap it up with papers!



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