Before & After, House / Man Cave

While He Was Out: My Engagement Gift to Ryan

This week I’ve managed to keep a couple big secrets from you.  It hasn’t been easy, believe me!  For the last week Ryan has been away in San Diego for business travel.  I didn’t miss him as much as I should have, because I was busy whipping up a huge present for him:   I totally painted and decorated his office, transforming it into the space he’s been envisioning for the last year.  He’s had the paint forever,  has been accumulating a special collection of vintage pieces for the space, but the space wasn’t getting done.  Granted, the hot and humid Virginia weather hasn’t made for the best painting conditions.

I’d been wanting to do something for Ryan.  Something big.  Because he created such a special vacation and gave me the best proposal ever, along with the most perfect ring – his declaration of “I love you.”  And I wanted to give him my declaration.  Especially since it didn’t come in the form of “yes.”

Over the last few nights I emptied out his office, primed, and painted, and then decorated.   I also managed to fit in a Craigslist purchasing trip (without getting murdered)  as well as framing some special art for the space.  I’ve been busy!

When I was out shopping for a few items to complete the space, I really had to keep focused on completing the vision I know he had, and not get too creative with it – because the point was not to exercise my design muscles, but to make him happy.  🙂

So at the time this post goes live, Ryan will most likely be discovering his new space.  I won’t be there to see his reaction, unfortunately, because I have to attend an event for work. Because he’d previously declared his office a blog-free zone, I’m trying to stay conservative with the photos, only showing you the highlights and not getting into every nook and cranny of the space.  Hopefully he won’t mind.

The paint color is “Nasturtium” by Sherwin Williams.  Ryan chose it.

The painting was one of his fabulous $15 flea market finds.

That odd black sack is the new laundry hamper/bag I found at the Container Store.  (His old one was dying.)  It’s pretty tough to find a black laundry bag that is large and functional and man-friendly, but still marginally nice looking. And Ryan hates wicker, so 99% of my choices were automatically out.  And he likes to carry the whole thing down to the laundry room, so it needed to be portable. I had to go to 5 stores to find the right thing. That’s love.

The bookshelf was my Craigslist purchase.  Ryan had wanted a ladder shelf there, but was thinking of building one.  On a lark I checked CL on Monday, and this was for sale for $50.  Right color, good condition, somewhat nearby = SOLD!  It wouldn’t be much cheaper to build and stain it, not if we used real wood at least.

The  “Irrational Numbers Clock” was a birthday gift from me to Ryan.  He freakin’ loves math.  The pink sticky note, added by moi, reads “Time to plan a wedding.”  Because it’s time.  I absolutely can not wait to walk down the aisle to him!

If you’re thinking the man (or woman) in your life would love the clock, I suggest you DIY it.  This thing does not work, it’s so poorly made.

The chrome lamp was a find at Just L, our favorite vintage furniture store.

Is this a man corner or what?  No, it’s just an awesome corner. 🙂

The art on the right is a vintage poster of a nuclear reactor or something engineer-y like that.  I found it for Ryan during my last visit to Just L, when I picked up my vintage chairs and secretary.

The Wassily chair and the chrome & Lucite alien floor lamp (of unknown origin) are both flea market finds.  By Ryan.  Because he’s awesome like that.

Speaking of his awesomeness, the art on the left is a print from Exploding Dog;  this was my real gift to Ryan.

Exploding Dog Art Print Awesome

It’s called “You Are My Awesome.”  It was just the perfect gift for him, because “awesome” is his favorite word and because  I’ve always referred to him as Captain Awesome.  I think it’s romantic, in a guy-friendly way.

One more detail, not pictured above:  I cleaned up his desk a little (Sorry Ryan, I just couldn’t help myself) and then whipped up a little pen holder.  I snagged a clean tin can from the recycling bin, and ModPodged some coordinating fabric over it.  The fabric may look familiar to you, because it’s the same stuff we used for our bedroom lamps and our DIY storage boxes.

So what do you think?  I love how it turned out, even though the Nasturtium paint choice he made scared me at first.  But it’s cheerful and  bright and provides a great backdrop to his dark, modern furniture.  And hopefully he won’t mind that I dove in and did this – or that I blogged about it. But I figure if he was allowed to hijack the blog to tell you he was proposing to me, then I’m allowed to do something similar.

UPDATE: 7:20 am – Ryan came home, earlier than I expected.  He didn’t sleep at all on the overnight flight, and is exhausted. I may or may not have run down the driveway in my pajamas squealing my excitement.  He came inside, informed me “I’m not going in my office b/c I don’t want to see my present until I’m rested” (he thinks there’s a wrapped present in there) and I was suddenly disappointed! But then I got my big girl pants on and understood. So. . . the wait continues.  I couldn’t sleep at all last night I was so excited he was coming home.

Have you ever subjected your significant other to a surprise space makeover?  If so , I’d love to hear how it turned out for you!

PS:  Want to see if Just L has any goodies that might be perfect for your home?  You can find them on Facebook – and tell them I sent you! 🙂  (And no, they’re not paying me to say this!)

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  • Reply Jen on the Edge at 11:03 am

    That is a seriously awesome room and an amazing gift.

  • Reply Anonymous at 12:29 pm

    I love love love that yellow!  The office looks fantastic – what a great surprise.  I am sure he will love it 🙂

  • Reply Cait @ Hernando House at 1:10 pm

    That looks great! I’m sure he’ll love it! (You’d better fill us in on his reaction! haha)

  • Reply Aurora at 1:59 pm

    I LOOOVE EXPLODINGDOG. That ladder shelf is pretty neat, too. You really make me wish I had the space and focus to whip up my own room all neat and orderly and matched and stuff. To go with the theme here, this is totally awesome. Cowabunga.

  • Reply Loren at 3:07 pm

    Love the yellow! You did a great job. It’s like super manly without being dull or dark, or dirty looking.

  • Reply Jenn @ A Home inthe Making at 4:15 pm

    This is seriously amazing … you did such a great job, and it’s such a perfect idea for a gift! Can’t wait to hear how much he LOVES it 🙂

  • Reply Mikalah at 4:44 pm

    Oh my gosh! I love it! You did such a great job pulling these things together, I love how the room looks. Seriously, that wall color is awesome. It would have freaked me out at first too, but I can’t believe how great it looks! That print is SO cute too.

  • Reply Liz at 5:02 pm

    Looks wonderful! I love the chair, and just that entire corner of the room!

  • Reply Ghefty at 5:53 pm

    LOVE IT!!!!!

  • Reply Kalanicut at 6:07 pm

    I can’t believe how much you can get done & still work a full-time job. Wow! What a great job you did. I cannot wait to hear his reaction. I love the awesome poster, perfect, perfect, perfect for your guys! Great job, Jane!

  • Reply Hena Tayeb at 2:20 am

    I love the Awesome poster.. I want the Awesome poster! He’d be crazy not to love it and you! What a great gift. Congratulations on the engagement

  • Reply Julie B at 8:12 am

    I love it, Jane!!  That’s a great color.  I’m very impressed that Ryan picked it!  Carl would never, in a million years, pick any color other than white or beige.

    It’s funny, because YES, I have surprised my hubby and son with a space redo, but totally forgot until you mentioned it!  Ha!  So I just blogged about it.  Here’s the link:

    • Reply Julie B at 7:46 pm

      OH!!  And I LOVE the totally awesome “You Are My Awesome” picture!  Love it!

    • Reply Julie B at 7:46 pm

      OH!!  And I LOVE the totally awesome “You Are My Awesome” picture!  Love it!

  • Reply Crys Perkins Photography at 11:14 am

    love it 🙂  the color is fabulous…go Ryan!!!!  and the awesome awesome picture is awesome 🙂  my house next…it needs you!

  • Reply JoDi at 1:04 am

    The man corner is completely awesome! Seriously LOVE that Wassily chair and everything about the room. I hope he was thrilled!

  • Reply JoDi at 1:04 am

    The man corner is completely awesome! Seriously LOVE that Wassily chair and everything about the room. I hope he was thrilled!

  • Reply Chris Newald at 3:43 pm

    I really like the colours you picked and the print is
    pure awesome. Great job! I’ve done outdoor surprise projects that turned out
    really well but never a full room surprise. Still, it’s a great idea so

  • Reply Stephanie at 11:29 pm

    Looks Awesome!!  And now I am sitting on pins and needles to hear what his reaction was!

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