For Josh Landers and Josh Williams, 2011 was a big year. They started it off by welcoming a puppy into their lives, a Jack Russell terrier named Bentley. Next, Williams, a property manager and part-time landscape designer, left his job of three years to join a new company. Months later, Landers graduated from law school and immediately started work as an attorney.
"Our lives went from being gone all the time and never seeing each other to having the flexibility to work from home, actually spend time together and own a dog something we'd talked about for years," says Williams. "Unfortunately, we didn't really have a plan for how we'd make room for all of this."
With three life changes converging at once, the duo decided it was time to reorient the 10-by-11-foot basement of their 1980s Atlanta townhouse as a workspace and dog-friendly den, as well as outfit the adjoining covered porch area as a playspace and dog run for Bentley.
For the homeowners, this new space needed to accommodate everyone differently. Landers needed a quiet, tranquil area to look over cases and do research. Williams wanted two separate zones: one to set up appointments between his properties and another to work on landscape sketches. "And Bentley needed a place to hang out in the sun, run around and do his doggie business," says Landers. To tackle these needs, they decided on a budget of $5,000 and a timeline of two weeks.
After looking through magazines and spending time on design blogs, Landers and Williams created a to-do list that included the following:
"Considering how tiny the room and adjoining porch are, we weren't confident that we'd be able to use both spaces for all of these purposes," says Williams. "I think the reason we pulled it off had to do with space planning and a strong emphasis on scale and proportion."
The couple designated the left-hand corner of the room Williams' drafting area. They used the rest of the space for shared storage as well as Landers' legal library. For furnishings, they brought in a small-scale 1950s drafting table they purchased at a vintage store. Concealed storage and task lighting lines the 7-foot wall located next to the spiral staircase. To utilize wasted space behind the spiral staircase, they designated room for Landers' legal library by placing a steel tanker desk in the middle of the room, leaving 36 inches of open space around all four sides.
The first step in getting the project under way was removing and then sorting through the mass of stuff that had been gathering dust in the space for three years. "Getting everything out of there and sorting through it was kind of a nightmare," says Landers. "I promised myself the new space would stay neat and organized forever."
Once Landers and Williams pared back to the necessities, they ripped out the 20-year-old carpet. Williams suggests, "Anyone ripping up carpet themselves definitely needs to invest in a good pair of gloves because it's really hard on your hands."
The homeowners learned that wall-to-wall carpet is easiest to remove by cutting it into 4-foot strips with a utility knife, then taking it out of the room in several small rolls. They found this to be a much better alternative than rolling the entire carpet up into one giant roll, which is not only heavy and cumbersome, but also difficult to dispose of properly.
With the carpet gone, Landers and Williams called their contractor to install the vinyl plank wood flooring. "It was a really easy product to put down, but we didn't have time," says Landers. "All that it requires is a utility knife for installation." From start to finish, their contractor installed the planks in three hours.
Once the flooring was complete, it was time for the walls to be updated with crocodile vinyl wall covering. "There was no way we would have attempted installing the crocodile wall covering," says Williams. "It required too much math and patience." Instead, they paid a wallpaper hanger $350 to install it. To make for a quicker installation, the homeowners prepped the walls beforehand by rolling a coat of wall-covering primer.
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