Life With an Architect: Our Office is now a Guest Room Too, an Ikea Hacker Chronicle

Testing the common homily my grandmother taught me:

If a task is once begun, 

never leave it till its done. 

Be thy labor great or small, 

do it well or not at all. 

What do you do with a basement room that has retaining walls that interfere with furniture placement?  Hack Ikea’s Expedit shelving to create built in storage, and do a lot of measuring and remeasuring to make sure everything is going to fit!

I don’t have a picture of the room before we lived here, but here is one of the family room before we remodeled it which has the same conditions.

retaining walls

Ugly barely covers how poorly done this space was when be bought it!  About three years ago Dan laid Saltillo tile floors and installed newly hand finished doors in both of these spaces.


First a platform was built over a low retaining wall wide enough to hold the Expedit shelves and mounting strips were installed on the wall and all was painted.  We chose the Expedit size that comes packaged with the desk attached, using one with a desk and two more.  Square Parsons style legs were added to the bottom of the Expedit shelves to create the proper height to add the desk to a lower shelf than usual.


Test fitting the first Expedit unit below.

Test fitting We used the long single five cubby Expedit mounted high enough to leave room for speakers beneath it to create a credenza behind the desk, and added a glass top to the desk. When we have guests, one end of the credenza serves as a nightstand for the Brimnes queen-sized guest bed.

desk completed

On the opposite wall from the office area there is another retaining wall that was about 40″ high.  We used two Lack shelves on either side of a Lack Wall Shelf Unit.  We had to shorten one shelf to make a seamless wall to wall unit.  Because the Lack shelves were mounted on a retaining wall, they were installed up side down to make the mounting brackets work.  A long thin wood shim was also installed along the front bullnosed edge of the retaining wall to keep everything level. We used a small Lack wheeled table as a printer stand and tucked it under the shelf a bit.

Lack Shelves

Now it really is both a lovely office and a comfortable guest room.

Guest room & office

And there is a laptop desk for Dan here too that can double as a dressing table for guests & a secret lair for Honey Boy & Fireboat.

Laptop Desk for Dan

More About Remodeling Toad Hollow


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