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{Before & After} An Inspiration-Filled Office

I have teased and teased about this transformation over on the ‘gram. Trust me, nobody wanted it finished more than Scott and I. But, non-sleeping baby and five other kids tends to put the brakes on from time to time.

First, let’s look at the before, before. As in, this is what the house looked like when we first saw it. Might want to grab a Pepcid and some sunglasses.

office_before2, blog

The owners were killing me with all that white. I was all, “wait, there’s a room in there?” When we first moved in, we pulled up all that white carpet because five kids and white flooring just don’t mix. And this is your revised before and how it’s looked for the last five years.

office, before, blog_050

I know, marginally better. But not much.

We kept trying to make it work as a formal living room, but really, who has those and actually uses them if you’re under the age of 80? When sweet baby six arrived in May, we realized that a major room shift was upon us. With more kids doing homework and me needing more space for my work, we toyed with the idea of making the old office the nursery and getting rid of the formal living altogether. After pondering about it for far too long, we took the plunge over Christmas break. This whole saga became a small tale of “if you give a mouse a cookie,” but I’ll save you the thesis. Almost all of that furniture got relocated to other spaces in our house – except the chairs – and enter: THE OFFICE!

This space-filled office shares tips on organizing for a large family, setting up functional (and pretty) workstations for kids, doing a little DIY for chair cushions, decorative corkboards and inspiration-filled artwork. Function doesn't have to be boring, even in a room that is a workhorse!

Let’s put on our 80s pants and break it down, shall we?

Main problem? I had kids doing homework in three different areas (our old office, the kitchen table and a desk just off the garage entry), dinner prep in another area and playing kids in the front yard, back yard and upstairs gameroom. We had no dedicated workspace, so there was kid crafting and project stuff EVERYWHERE. Translation? Not working. My bilocation skills are not fully functional and I was completely stressed out moving from place to place everytime a different child hollered. We also needed to do the majority of this by shopping from the house or DIYing the things we didn’t have.

The workspaces

The desk furniture along the walls was bought from Pottery Barn eons ago. I think 12 years ago, now? We bought some at the PB Outlet, some online and some was free because of damage in shipment. There are a few pieces they don’t even make anymore, but I looooove it because it’s all modular. As it turns out, all the furniture you see along the wall and the shelving atop it, we already had, minus one filing cabinet. Score. It just needed to be reconfigured. You can see pics of our old office, here. And, my dear Aggies, don’t you worry. That Aggie room still lives. That’s a post in another week!

This space-filled office shares tips on organizing for a large family, setting up functional (and pretty) workstations for kids, doing a little DIY for chair cushions, decorative corkboards and inspiration-filled artwork. Function doesn't have to be boring, even in a room that is a workhorse!

The new configuration allows for five workstations. FIVE! We’re lucky enough to have an IKEA just a few minutes away, so I braved my fear of big buildings with pretty things and discovered some gems. That work table (hard to tell in the photo) is notched on both sides and it’s absolutely huge, but 100% perfect for this space. We added some stools because I was afraid chairs would be too bulky, both physically and visually. And, I also purchased matching chairs for the desks. The old ones we had were relocated to Craigslist and our oldest son’s room. More on the fabric covers in a bit.

Now that we had places to work, I got busy making it pretty, organized and functional. Giddyup.

Functionality

I toyed with the idea of having pencil/pen cups around the space and five seconds later I had a V8. Why would I provide more spaces for my children to collect c-r-a-p? Enter, the cup dividers. We’re a big “every person has a family color” family and these are great. Sharpies, map pencils, mechanical pencils and #2 pencils all have a color-coded home here. They are just out of reach of small hands but low enough for the bigs to reach. I’m not sure I would’ve done this when I had lots of littles at home, because if I see a sharpie marker on that fabric someone’s getting hurt. Kidding. Maybe.

This space-filled office shares tips on organizing for a large family, setting up functional (and pretty) workstations for kids, doing a little DIY for chair cushions, decorative corkboards and inspiration-filled artwork. Function doesn't have to be boring, even in a room that is a workhorse!

This space-filled office shares tips on organizing for a large family, setting up functional (and pretty) workstations for kids, doing a little DIY for chair cushions, decorative corkboards and inspiration-filled artwork. Function doesn't have to be boring, even in a room that is a workhorse!

Truth be told, the kids are mostly out of the defacing things phase. But, lest you think it’s all Pinterest heaven up in here, may I present Exhibit A.

office, blog_130

It’s true that I left this note on the computer monitor for all to read earlier this week:

If I find any more of these –> 🙂 on anything other than paper, I will cut of all your fingers. Not. Even. Kidding.

That got some giggles. This photo also shows that those white desks have seen some love. There are marker stains and smiley faces, all just reminders that I live in a house with six, evidently very happy and artistic, people.

This folder system provides a bin for each child. In it, are two folders, one for school and one for 4-H. The school folders house things that we keep long-term for the school year, like syllabi, reading lists, vocabulary sheets, etc. The day-to-day things that need to be signed are on the worktable and then put in backpacks each evening. The 4-H folders house all the relevant project information we need. I promise I’ll label them in the coming weeks, but I just got labeled out!

This space-filled office shares tips on organizing for a large family, setting up functional (and pretty) workstations for kids, doing a little DIY for chair cushions, decorative corkboards and inspiration-filled artwork. Function doesn't have to be boring, even in a room that is a workhorse!

This space-filled office shares tips on organizing for a large family, setting up functional (and pretty) workstations for kids, doing a little DIY for chair cushions, decorative corkboards and inspiration-filled artwork. Function doesn't have to be boring, even in a room that is a workhorse!

The hanging folders and family notebooks also have a designated spot. These are all leftovers from the old office space. They pull double duty in this one, function and they hide all my books, which are just behind them. We’re primarily an e-reader household, so we’ve whittled our hard copy books way down. I know, don’t judge. The pillows, located on the bottom shelf, are just a nice thing to have against your back when it’s a long homework night. My mom made those many moons ago.

This space-filled office shares tips on organizing for a large family, setting up functional (and pretty) workstations for kids, doing a little DIY for chair cushions, decorative corkboards and inspiration-filled artwork. Function doesn't have to be boring, even in a room that is a workhorse!

More drawers for dry erase markers and labeler supplies. Because I’m just that OCD.

This space-filled office shares tips on organizing for a large family, setting up functional (and pretty) workstations for kids, doing a little DIY for chair cushions, decorative corkboards and inspiration-filled artwork. Function doesn't have to be boring, even in a room that is a workhorse!

The Details

Now, let’s jump into function with some pretty. My old office had a great corkboard but I lost that with the new space. Two nights ago, I had an epiphany and my poor husband said, “Kathryn, you have to stop looking on Pinterest.” There was an empty space below one of the shelves and it looked like the perfect place to add a decorative corkboard. So, I used some of the leftover fabric (I am crushing on this fabric, big time), some cork, a staple gun and a dab of hot glue and voila! {the link to the tutorial is below}

This space-filled office shares tips on organizing for a large family, setting up functional (and pretty) workstations for kids, doing a little DIY for chair cushions, decorative corkboards and inspiration-filled artwork. Function doesn't have to be boring, even in a room that is a workhorse!

Many, many months ago a friend posted some photos of old windows they had removed from their house. Lucky for me, she was getting rid of them and I was more than happy to take this one off her hands. After we cleaned it up and repainted the frame, I decided to paint the back and use it as a dry erase board. Doesn’t that look so much prettier than the store-bought version? I believe, yes. It’s got some quirks and I do so love it. It’s my new favorite thing in the office.

This space-filled office shares tips on organizing for a large family, setting up functional (and pretty) workstations for kids, doing a little DIY for chair cushions, decorative corkboards and inspiration-filled artwork. Function doesn't have to be boring, even in a room that is a workhorse!

This space-filled office shares tips on organizing for a large family, setting up functional (and pretty) workstations for kids, doing a little DIY for chair cushions, decorative corkboards and inspiration-filled artwork. Function doesn't have to be boring, even in a room that is a workhorse!

In this reno, even the mousepads weren’t safe. The kids’ old one had seen better days. It was cracked and torn, so off to the trash it went. Shutterfly was running a sale on theirs and I considered adding an inspirational quote, until a friend reminded me about the funny things my kids say (thanks, Tom!). Enter, the $5 awesome-sauce mousepad. There’s a story behind each one of these and I laugh at them all. I designed it in PhotoShop and then uploaded the file to Shutterfly. Three days later, this cute thang arrived.

This space-filled office shares tips on organizing for a large family, setting up functional (and pretty) workstations for kids, doing a little DIY for chair cushions, decorative corkboards and inspiration-filled artwork. Function doesn't have to be boring, even in a room that is a workhorse!

My beloved Dr Pepper mousepad just didn’t seem to fit in the space anymore. Instead of kicking it to the curb, I just repurposed it with a little wonder under, scrap fabric, fray ease and scissors. Who knew you could even do that? It took me less than five minutes. Pinterest again and the tutorial link is below. There were several versions using modge podge, but I went with wonder under and it was definitely the right choice. And, I just like saying wonder under {giggles}.

This space-filled office shares tips on organizing for a large family, setting up functional (and pretty) workstations for kids, doing a little DIY for chair cushions, decorative corkboards and inspiration-filled artwork. Function doesn't have to be boring, even in a room that is a workhorse!

One of Scott’s co-workers made this beautiful blanket for Gianna and I did the appropriate thing and stole it. I promise to give it back to her. When she’s 80. It’s a great little blanket to have when the room gets a tiny bit cool from our Texas “winters.”

This space-filled office shares tips on organizing for a large family, setting up functional (and pretty) workstations for kids, doing a little DIY for chair cushions, decorative corkboards and inspiration-filled artwork. Function doesn't have to be boring, even in a room that is a workhorse!

Art and Inspiration

I believe every space should be one that encourages positivity. When we chose our family word of the year – JOY – I knew I wanted this space to have a ton of it. It’s the first room you see when you walk into our home and so much of our day is spent in here. Now that it’s complete, I’m so grateful I took the time to care about the details. Those are what I love the most.

My friend, Lauren, shared this free printable quote of St. John Paul II and it captures so much of what we’re striving for in our family. Well done, Lauren! The frame I already had and I just had the quote printed in an 11×14 format at our local Walgreens.

This space-filled office shares tips on organizing for a large family, setting up functional (and pretty) workstations for kids, doing a little DIY for chair cushions, decorative corkboards and inspiration-filled artwork. Function doesn't have to be boring, even in a room that is a workhorse!

These student and parent prayers and “hands full…” print sit just above one of the kids’ work areas. The “you are my sunshine” is tucked away and hangs just above our printing station. That’s also where I keep our family calendar. I can easily see it from my desk, but visitors to our home rarely lay eyes on it.

This space-filled office shares tips on organizing for a large family, setting up functional (and pretty) workstations for kids, doing a little DIY for chair cushions, decorative corkboards and inspiration-filled artwork. Function doesn't have to be boring, even in a room that is a workhorse!

This space-filled office shares tips on organizing for a large family, setting up functional (and pretty) workstations for kids, doing a little DIY for chair cushions, decorative corkboards and inspiration-filled artwork. Function doesn't have to be boring, even in a room that is a workhorse!

This space-filled office shares tips on organizing for a large family, setting up functional (and pretty) workstations for kids, doing a little DIY for chair cushions, decorative corkboards and inspiration-filled artwork. Function doesn't have to be boring, even in a room that is a workhorse!

Several years ago, Scott traveled to a stewardship conference and came back with this quote from one of the speakers. It has became our family mantra. We’ll start complaining and belly aching about something and one of us will smile and say, “A grateful heart silences a complaining voice.” And then we groan because we know it’s true. I knew I wouldn’t be able to find the quote anywhere, so I just made my own. Scott cut a 2-foot by something (because I am super accurate like that) of pine, then I painted and primed the board with Martha Stewart distressed paint. I designed the lettering, then printed it out to scale, laid it on the wood with transfer paper underneath and traced the letters. Then, I painted it twice, distressed it a little and called it done.

I love it.

This space-filled office shares tips on organizing for a large family, setting up functional (and pretty) workstations for kids, doing a little DIY for chair cushions, decorative corkboards and inspiration-filled artwork. Function doesn't have to be boring, even in a room that is a workhorse!

This space-filled office shares tips on organizing for a large family, setting up functional (and pretty) workstations for kids, doing a little DIY for chair cushions, decorative corkboards and inspiration-filled artwork. Function doesn't have to be boring, even in a room that is a workhorse!

It’s not super easy to tell in all these photos, but the scale of this room was huge. My challenge was to bring down the ceiling and make it feel warm and inviting. I didn’t want to feel like I was walking into a warehouse with 20-foot ceilings. We achieved that welcome (I hope!) by painting the walls a neutral color and then adding pops of color in the central molding. I really wanted to rip out all that trim but the Mr. said no. Now, I’m grateful he did. You know what they say about a grateful heart…

We used the same color as the ceiling in our guest bath and it was perfect! I also added some drapes made by a very talented friend. That fabric and I have a serious love affair. The colors in it are even more awesome in this space than the photos do it justice. I’m usually a jewel-toned decorator, but the light, bright pops of spring colors are perfect for this room that gets tons of sunlight. Sorry, I geeked out in designer speak there for a moment.

This space-filled office shares tips on organizing for a large family, setting up functional (and pretty) workstations for kids, doing a little DIY for chair cushions, decorative corkboards and inspiration-filled artwork. Function doesn't have to be boring, even in a room that is a workhorse!

While we’re on the topic of great fabric, I think this may have been the project that really put the final touch on the room. I may have squealed – just a tiny bit – when we finished this one. Remember those IKEA chairs and stools? I really did appreciate the lines and small touches of criss-cross, but when I got them in the room it just looked really white. Too white. Off to Pinterest I went. Initially, I thought about sewing some chair cushions. There was enough fabric but I feared the kids would just bust off the tie backs like they’ve done on every single chair in my house. Then, inspiration struck and I decided to go the MDF, foam and fabric route. The kicker? Scott would have to route out that MDF, then drill holes in the chairs to secure the cushions. Worst case is that it would be a total failure and cushions would cover up the mistake. But, best case? Let me introduce you to her.

GAHHHH.

Yes, I believe we call her “awesome” and “best idea ever.” #thankyousaintpinterest

This space-filled office shares tips on organizing for a large family, setting up functional (and pretty) workstations for kids, doing a little DIY for chair cushions, decorative corkboards and inspiration-filled artwork. Function doesn't have to be boring, even in a room that is a workhorse!

This space-filled office shares tips on organizing for a large family, setting up functional (and pretty) workstations for kids, doing a little DIY for chair cushions, decorative corkboards and inspiration-filled artwork. Function doesn't have to be boring, even in a room that is a workhorse!

This space-filled office shares tips on organizing for a large family, setting up functional (and pretty) workstations for kids, doing a little DIY for chair cushions, decorative corkboards and inspiration-filled artwork. Function doesn't have to be boring, even in a room that is a workhorse!

There’s really no need for me to go into detail about how I made these because the tutorial linked below is spot on. It was fabulous, even down to the duck taped corners. My only pro tip is to make sure you put the carriage bolts into the wood before you adhere the foam. Fortunately, I caught that before it was too permanent! As John Paul says, “Mom, it feels so good to sit down.” Words I wish I could say, son, since I never get to do that!

And, here’s the room in action (baby not available for purchase).

office, blog_137

Let’s take one last look, shall we?

This space-filled office shares tips on organizing for a large family, setting up functional (and pretty) workstations for kids, doing a little DIY for chair cushions, decorative corkboards and inspiration-filled artwork. Function doesn't have to be boring, even in a room that is a workhorse!

Two final thoughts before I sign off.

1. My husband is a rock star. With every paint stroke, nail hole, hung drapery and furniture move, he just kept asking, “How else can I help?” Mostly because I think he wanted it to be done, but a tiny bit because he loves me. He joked the other night, “We need to finish this because I’m tired of doing math.” HA. You and me both, Mr. Whitaker.

2. I never dreamed how much this room would transform our afternoons. Now, rather than kids screaming at me from all directions, they’re now contained to one room. Kidding. The really great part is that we all finally have the space to work. It’s driven home the all-important lesson in our family that when you have an organized, inspiring place to work, you are at peace. It’s just so awesome, more than I ever hoped it would be, and the time and effort that went into this space is such a joy. It’s a beaut, Clark.

If you made it his far, bravo! I’m off to drink some sweet tea and enjoy the view.

Vendor Credits & Sources
Fabric Covered Corkboard tutorial: How Does She?
Mousepad tutorial: Homemade Toast
Chair cover tutorial: Eat, Knit & DIY
St. John Paul II printable: The Loveliest Hour
Drapes: Cloud 9 Design
If You Think My Hands are Full print: Bibliosophy
You are My Sunshine art: Barn Owl Primitives
Paint: Rave Raisin (brown) by Behr, Dash of Curry (coral) by Behr and Vanilla Brandy (neutral) by Olympic
Yellow Lampshade: Target (base from Wal-Mart, the shade that came with it was hideous, but I loved the base!)
Desk lamps/shades: Wal-Mart
Worktable: IKEA Hissmon/Nipen
Stools/Chairs: both from IKEA Ingolf (stool), Ingolf (chair)
Fabric: Helen (Natural) by Interior Fabrics, here’s their online store

If there’s anything I missed or if you have questions, leave them in the combox and I’ll do my best to update the post!

For more before and after’s, click here, or visit the before and after tab on the blog!

35 Comments

  1. LeAnna on February 12, 2015 at 1:26 am

    It’s gorgeous! I’m so impressed 😀

  2. Andrea on February 12, 2015 at 4:24 am

    Hi

    This is really lovely! Where did you get the fabric? Any coding that would help me track it down? It ,ay be perfect for a shower curtain fo my. Mom?

    Thank!

    • Kathryn on February 12, 2015 at 9:58 am

      I just linked it at the bottom – forgot! They sometimes runs sales on the site, and shipping is always free.

      • Andrea on February 12, 2015 at 12:07 pm

        Thanks so much! I’ll send a photo if she gets this!

  3. Ann-Marie on February 12, 2015 at 6:45 am

    I am amazed by this. I admire how brave you are with having this area as one of the first things that you see when you go in the front door. Are you finding it easy to keep it neat and clean? You’re so organized with the everything having a place, I’d imagine it is a quick clean up area.

    I also love the little pretty touches. Sometimes I get trapped into thinking that if something is going to be very functional, that means it can’t be pretty. You blew that away.

    • Kathryn on February 12, 2015 at 9:59 am

      That’s what I was most nervous about, Ann-Marie, was putting this room at the very front of our house. But, I think now that we have a bigger space and a better organization plan we’ll be able to keep it (mostly) clean. It’s meant to be used, so I’m guessing this is the cleanest it will ever look! The pretty was my favorite, my light at the end of the tunnel!

  4. Beth (A Mom's Life) on February 12, 2015 at 6:58 am

    WOW!!!!!! This is fabulous! I love how everyone has a workspace and it is so organized! It’s also so very pretty. You guys did a great job!!

    • Kathryn on February 12, 2015 at 10:00 am

      Thank you, so much, Beth!

  5. Lauren on February 12, 2015 at 8:19 am

    This is SO gorgeous!! It is very well done – I would suggest you start contracting out work to remodel others’ homes. :-p

  6. Ellen That Chic Mom on February 12, 2015 at 8:32 am

    I am soooooooo jealous of this space and so happy for you. I desperately need a space like this!

  7. Shandra on February 12, 2015 at 8:42 am

    Fabulous! I totally want to be you when I grow up…….but I’m pretty sure I’m already older than you. 😉

  8. Lisa on February 12, 2015 at 8:59 am

    I LOVE IT!!! Did Cloud 9 make you curtains and provide the fabric? I would love to know where the fabric is from! I am going to “borrow” a few of your ideas for our home!

    • Kathryn on February 12, 2015 at 10:01 am

      I chose the fabric and Carol made the drapes. Thanks for reminding me to link the fabric, it’s now at the bottom of the post! They sometimes run sales on the site and shipping is always free. Borrow the ideas away!

  9. Angie on February 12, 2015 at 9:01 am

    please come do my house. 🙂 it looks amazing!

  10. Nicole on February 12, 2015 at 10:17 am

    LOVE – just plain love it. I so wish I had something equally as organized and put together in my house. Your space is an inspiration to me. And if you can get this done with 6 kids, I certainly can at least organize one small drawer closet, right? Yes, I believe I can…

    • Kathryn on February 12, 2015 at 10:35 am

      Every project starts with a drawer – at least that’s my motto!

  11. Elise on February 12, 2015 at 10:19 am

    This is amazing, Kathryn!! You are an organizing rockstar! So my style. And all the beauty + function = love. Thanks for sharing it with us!

  12. Laurel on February 12, 2015 at 10:27 am

    Great redo! Can I ask you where you got your cup dividers? Thanks!

    • Kathryn on February 12, 2015 at 10:34 am

      That was a find at the PB Outlet in San Marcos. I’m not sure if they make it anymore, but if you have a handy husband, it wouldn’t be a difficult piece to make. Those holders are just regular glasses from Target.

  13. Gina on February 12, 2015 at 10:58 am

    WOW! That’s all I have to say about that! 🙂 You and Scott are AMAZING, in SOOOO many ways! Great job!

  14. Elizabeth on February 12, 2015 at 11:18 am

    Gorgeous! You blew this one out of the water. You guys ROCK! 🙂

  15. Chris on February 12, 2015 at 1:20 pm

    WOW! I am speechless!!! That is a thing of beauty.

  16. Deme @ House For Five on February 12, 2015 at 1:59 pm

    GAH!!! SO worth the wait!! This is frickin’ amazing! Painting out those insets to bring the ceiling down was genious. It feels very inviting and yet even with more furniture feels more open. All the personal touches make this such a special space. I’m in love with the kid quotes! And I can completely understand the love affair with that fabric. It’s amazing and completely makes the space. The tones are perfect – lighter shades of your favorite jewel tones so it feels light and bright but completely works with the rest of your house. And I’ll stop now but could go on and on – ENJOY!!

    • Kathryn on February 13, 2015 at 10:20 pm

      Oh, I hadn’t thought about the colors being lighter versions of my jewel tones. YES! Next time you’re in the ATX, we’ll enjoy a glass of sweet tea 😉

  17. Kati on February 12, 2015 at 4:00 pm

    Kathryn, this is just so incredibly lovely and makes my PCD heart go pitter-patter. Even more than the organization and the beautiful decor, though, I am inspired by your decision to use your house in a way that works for your family! Sometimes I get caught up in how I think a space *should* look instead of how I want (or need!) to use it! I am rethinking every room in my house now. “They” might call it the dining room but my family might need an office!! Thank you. And enjoy that beautiful room!

    • Kathryn on February 13, 2015 at 10:22 pm

      Oh, thank you Kati! I was worried about moving the office into such a public space, but it is turning out to be our second most-used room, right behind the kitchen. Just loving it all. Thank you!

  18. Meggan on February 12, 2015 at 9:19 pm

    This post was totally worth the wait. It looks wonderful!

  19. […] OFFICE IS FINISHED!!!!!! Sorry, I felt that needed all caps and many exclamation points. I gave the full 411 in yesterday’s post, but if you want a sneak peek at the pretty, I’ll go ahead and […]

  20. Susan on February 13, 2015 at 12:01 pm

    Can you tell us where you put your piano?

    • Kathryn on February 13, 2015 at 12:29 pm

      I forgot to mention that, Susan! Yes, we moved it to our entryway. There was a wall that fit it perfectly. The bench that previously occupied that space got moved under an art niche we have and it’s a perfect fit. Figuring out where that piano was going to move was my biggest concern. The whole room depended upon it!

  21. […] After we completely revamped our homework area, we decided the high schooler needed a desk to call his own. This one we scored at Ikea. That really deserves its own post because, hey, we survived Ikea! It’s got drawers, a file folder area and a notebook slot. […]

  22. […] got so sleep deprived to care, we figured she needed her own space to sleep. Thus, the great office renovation of 2015. It turned out beautifully and we adore every square […]

  23. Sydne on November 16, 2017 at 12:14 pm

    Hi! I love this! I just did a google search for “pretty family office” and your was only a couple of scrolls down and definitely caught my eye.

    I am in the beginning stages of planning a similar project. And I would love a little guidance! Mine is like yours in that I want all of those awesome work spaces (we have 4 kids) AND it is technically the formal dining room so it is the first thing people will see when they come to our home.

    Can you tell me the length(s) of the L-shaped desk?? I’m trying to figure out if the space we have is big enough to accommodate my dreams. HA! TIA!

  24. Master Bath: The Reveal - Team Whitaker on January 15, 2018 at 2:47 am

    […] made our way through the house. The kids’ bathrooms, the laundry room, the family room, the office, the garage, the closets (oh yes, those too) – always putting our master bath dreams on the […]

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