Temporary Walls

Build a home office on the cheap

aka Temporary Walls

I built some temporary walls to create an office in my basement.

The Back story

I was renting a small office for contract work, and decided to move home to save some money. The only available space was our unfinished basement. It was too large to keep warm in the winter, so I came up with an idea of creating cheap walls to make a room.

A small office in the basement also had the advantage of creating 2 layers of separation with the house. It’s too easy for someone to accidentally open a door during an important meeting. It’s much harder to open the door to the basement, walk down the stairs, wander over to the corner office, and peak inside.

I started my research and came across this old article about creating temporary walls in a house. It started me in the right direction: https://www.thisoldhouse.com/ideas/instant-extra-bedroom

One of the walls


Step 1: the walls

The wall material is a cheap lightweight sound proofing material called Homasote. It’s a very lightweight highly-compressed paper-mache material. I found a bunch at my local used building materials store.

Step 2: measure your height

I measured the height of the basement ceiling and made each wall an inch shorter. I also made sure I could move them in, out, and around the basement without too much trouble.

Step 3: the frame

I built the frames using 2×2 wood boards. I constructed a simple frame around the edges and then screwed the Homasote sheet to the frame.

Putting it all together

I struggled for a while with how to hold the walls in place. I didn’t want them to fall over. In the article they used furniture levelers, but I found them a little pricey.

My solution was to build a couple walls at right angles. I then made sure any straight wall was attached to a right-angled wall. In places where a wall was a little wobbly, I wedged a piece of wood perpendicular between the ceiling and wall.

A right-angled wall. For this one I used hinges.

What about a door?

There was no way to create a proper door, but I came up with a good solution. I left a door-sized gap that would serve as the entrance, and hung 2 wool blankets on either side of the doorway. This made for a rather heavy blanket door that did not let in any drafts.


The basement wasn’t heated, so I used a strategy involving 2 electric heaters to keep warm:

  1. A radiator-style electric heater provided most of the base heat. I had it hooked up to an industrial timer that would turn on the heat a half hour before I started work.
  2. An electric fireplace heater that had a temperature control and remote. I used it to dial in the heat a little better, and as a bonus I had some fake flames to look at for some ambiance.

The office worked very well over the years. I even incorporated a portable air conditioner. Often times I would come up to grab a snack and my wife would remark that she didn’t even know I was home.

If you are looking for a cheap way to create some separation in a room, this could be a good solution for you.

Lego Solar System

I made a solar system out of Lego!

This post will be a little more detailed. You can see a nice summary album of the process on Imgur: http://imgur.com/a/KqjZK

The final results
I got my inspiration from a mosaic displayed at the European Space Agency in Germany (Pacman Solar System).  It was made by the artist Invader (Invader) .  I borrowed heavily from his design and made some changes along the way.
I liked the 8-bit look of the tiles and had been thinking about starting a project using Lego, so it made a lot of sense.  


I started by making some mock-ups on paper of each planet. I originally thought I would use 4 Lego plates for each tile, but I quickly realized that would make it too large. I switched to using just one 1×1 plate per box.

Building & Learning

We tested our plans on one planet – Earth. I’m always on the lookout for things for my kids to do. It’s more important to be fun than a success. Fun means they might try it again.

I started out by getting a standard plate from Lego, which only came in 2 colors: tan and green.  I thought I would just cover everything outside of the planets in black pieces.  This idea was quickly dropped after I realized how much money I would have to spend on black background pieces.  After finishing the first planet (Earth), I found some black base plates on ebay.

Goodbye tan baseplate, hello black baseplate

After the first two were done, we got into a rhythm and pushed out the rest in quick order.  I wasn’t planning on making the sun, but I accidentally ordered too many baseplates and figured why not.

Keep an eye on Uranus’ rings


I mounted the plates to a 1/4 inch piece of wood that is 6 feet long.  I painted it black and attached each plate using liquid nails adhesive.

Extra Credit

I decided to try to add some additional fun themes to my solar system. I played around with making some things using my extra pieces, but I couldn’t get them to look quite right.

I was trying to find a way to make a convincing Starship Enterprise when it occurred to me that my strategy suggested two-dimensional thinking. That’s when I found lots of instructions and small sets on ebay – a TARDIS, X-wing, TIE Fighter, etc.

My first attempt, any guesses as to what some of these are?

Final Result

After I had pretty much finished, a friend pointed out that Uranus’ rings we situated more North-to-South. One advantage of using Lego is that you can change things fairly easily.

This project cost me about $300:

  • $200 – Legos
  • $60 – Baseplates
  • $30 – wood
  • $10 – glue, picture hangers, etc

I spent a lot of time on various Lego websites, but I almost always used ebay for my final purchases.  The people running little Lego shops on there are very organized and ship fast.  I made one order on Lego’s Pick-A-Brick website and I’m still waiting for those parts to arrive.


I made my fridge into a TARDIS! I know that you can buy kits to do this, but I decided to try to make one. I used packing paper, some paint, and lots of measuring.


  • Blue: Empire Fleet Blue, Flat (from Lowe’s)
  • Black: generic poster paint, Flat (I’d suggest not using poster paint – it’s water soluble
  • White: semigloss White


  • Gill Sans MT Condensed (POLICE PUBLIC CALL BOX (on side))
  • Calibri (PULL TO OPEN)
The finished product!
I had lots of packing paper from past Amazon orders. I rolled them out on the floor and painted them with a small roller. I found a couple suggestions for colors, and took the easiest one. Lowe’s “Empire Fleet Blue” in flat.
Hanging the first paper on the fridge. I made some guides to help make the different panels. I had a couple reference models in my house which I used to determine rough dimensions.
A closeup of the window guide.
I used magnets to hold each panel in place, then taped the edges with black tape. I originally wanted to take the door handles off, but I couldn’t figure it out and decided against it.
I used the guides to trace an outline of each section.
My neighbor had a laser level, which I decided to take advantage of when trying to line up the panels on both sides.
After all the outlines were traced, I cut out the windows on my guide to help make the individual windows.
First windows painted! I decided I liked the translucent look and did not add any extra coats.
I figured out the font for the top (Gill Sans MT), and then printed out the letters on my printer. Once I had the sizing, I used an x-acto knife to make a stencil and traced them in the right spot for painting.
It took a while – it turned out I needed 2 sets of stencils, one for each side. Since it wasn’t as wide, I had to use “Gill Sans MT Condensed” for the side.
By the time I got to the sign, I just researched the fonts and printed them on paper that I cut to size. I used spray glue to attach it. The fonts I used were: Times New Roman, Gill Sans MT, and Calibri.
I decided to add the St John’s Ambulance logo as well. I found a bunch of examples online.
The finished product! It took much longer than I was expecting, but it was something artistic to do when I needed a distraction. Maybe we’ll find more room in there for milk now?
The base blue paint is rather sturdy. Unfortunately I used some poster paint for the black, so it is not exactly water safe. I used a semi-gloss white for the letters/windows, which gives it an ever-so-slight glowing effect next to all the flat colors.
K9 approves!