My Home Office: Before and After
December 10, 2009
I’ve never had a problem with brown. I love brown, especially chocolate brown. I think it looks amazing when paired with crisp white or warm cream and a really hot color. But I was totally over brown in my home office. Everything in there was brown, the walls, the furniture, the curtains. Blah blah blah brown.
The home office is the first door just off the entry way, and was always closed whenever visitors came over. Quite frankly it was more of a storage space and less of an office for many years. The first thing I ever did when I heard the doorbell was close the office door.
When I spied some bookcases on clearance for $20 dollars each at a local outlet that was closing its doors, something clicked in my brain. “I spy with my little eye a home office remodel.”
It took me five months to finally get around to completing the entire space since I’ve been busy with other things (ahem, life) but it got a complete overhaul from floor to ceiling and now I can say it is finally finished.
Here the After:
Here’s the Before – these are the ‘uncluttered’ pics:
Here’s the story.
We’ve owned this dark furniture for almost ten years but this space was way too dark and way too masculine for me. Mr. CG has his own office off campus so I was reclaiming this space as my own. A space for me to keep one foot in the legal field, and one foot in the DIY blog world. I wanted it to be light and bright, sophisticated and feminine. In other words, the complete opposite of the way it was.
It’s hard to tell in photographs, but this room is rather narrow. It is less than 10 feet wide and only 12 feet deep. The back of the space was a wall of white closet doors. The challenge was to maximize both form and function. So it was out with the dark wood, and in with the fresh white cabinetry and furniture.
Here’s the window side ‘Before’ in a suprisingly organized state:
The first thing I did was sell the desk on Craigslist and then I built a media center for my guest space with the smaller wood bookcases. I replaced the bottom heavy dark wood desk with this fresh new writer’s desk I transformed from a table. I spray painted the table, stenciled and hand painted the surface, then I had a glass top made for it. You’ll recognize my Cinderella chair from way back in April when I transformed this $3 dollar thrift store chair with some paint, fabric, and nailhead trim.
The table gives me a huge work surface but don’t be fooled by its clean surface. As I write, it is already cluttered with my laptop and mounting files, bills, and To Do lists.
I confess I do love sitting at this window. I watch squirrels play in the trees and hummingbirds come into my front garden. I also watch preschool children come and go from their school across the street, the same school my children attended.
You can’t even see it – it is so washed out – but hello, LOVE my Lucite-look acrylic lamp. Tar-jay people !
How kind of my narcissus bulbs to bloom just in time for the big reveal. It’s fate, I tell ya.
I like to keep my pens and business cards in pretty containers.
Fixing up and installing this pair of gigantic bookcases took a ton of work, and were the final hurdle to completing the space. I picked them up from an outlet that was closing its doors for $20 dollars each. They were butter yellow, but not anymore ! They have tempered glass shelves and built in lighting so they were a complete steal – but I still had to refurbish and repaint them. They help to maximize every inch of space from floor to ceiling, at least where they stand. They also make the room appear a whole lot bigger than it is.
Finding these bookcases was the motivation to overhaul this space from the very beginning but ironically they were the very last thing I finished !
One sits behind the door.
Up on the wall are those memo boards I made from recycled cabinet doors.
On the other side, the bookcase holds an additional work space for sewing, crafting, or most likely, the piles of paperwork, bills and other clutter that amass quickly around here.
They do provide a ton of storage space and display space – that I love.
The other side of the room used to hold file cabinets and boxes.
Here it is Before:
Now the space has a fabulous conversation area ! This is where I love to have coffee in the morning with my hub or a glass of wine at night. Also a great place for any future clients !
I repainted the closet doors to provide a more interesting backdrop. The walls were all recovered in spa blue grasscloth wallpaper that I hung all by myself back in August. That was a huge chore ! Then I took some pictures from my garden this past summer, converted them to black and white, enlarged them and framed them to create an inexpensive backdrop in silver frames.
Grasscloth texture = yum.
The Drexel Heritage sofa was a thrift store find – I took the skirt off by hand (a million staples…) and had it professionally cleaned. The circular rug is from Tar-jay and really completes the space with its dark contrast and blue swirl design. The thrift store ottoman I also recovered myself.
I also repainted and recovered this thrift store chair earlier this year and then finished it with some hand painted silver detail. I made the pillow out of suit material and finished it off with a dark brown suit button.
The cordless phone and fax machine are hidden behind the sofa.
This mirrored tray is from Tar-jay (love it!) and the silver pitcher is a flea market find. Chenille throw is from Tar-jay too.
On the other side of the sofa is the second tower that I revamped earlier this year, thanks to my favorite spray paint: Rustoleum’s ‘Heirloom White’ !!
What would the world be like without Rustoleum’s ‘Heirloom White’ ?
Above the conversation area sits the Montserrat chandy from Ballard Designs.
I went back and forth on the window treatments for this room. I originally wanted very tall panels, then I thought I’d install a shelf above the window, so I made this no-sew swag valance. After I installed the huge bookcases, the valance looked way too small in proportion, so I went back to tall window treatments. I chose these 96” Seville curtains from Overstocks – they were a total steal, and you can pick them up in various colors right here.
I found these brass scales in an antique store a few months ago, and I’ve been waiting for the perfect place to display them. They remind me to (try to) keep my life in balance – my constant daily struggle.
You might be wondering where I keep my office supplies if I plan to do any real work. The printer/scanner is behind closed doors, and the rest of my office supplies I keep in the thrift store highboy I restained earlier this year. That handy piece stores all my staplers, scissors, hole punches, envelopes, and paper right outside my office door, and also keeps those supplies accessible to the family.
Believe it or not, overhauling this space from top to bottom cost me less than a thousand dollars ! No joke. A huge chunk of savings came from the lucky find with the bookcases, writer’s desk, towers, and thrift store sofa. Surprisingly, the most expensive thing in this room was the wallpaper at $240 dollars, but I saved a ton installing it myself.
Cost breakdown: Cabinets $80 dollars; writer’s desk (table) $40; glass top $80; thrift store sofa $150; rug $60; chandelier $140; refinished side chair $25; refinished thrift store chair $20; recovered ottoman $20; grasscloth wallpaper $240; curtains $75; paint and supplies $65.
Total, not including accessories: $995
So that’s the story behind this space – it took me five months from start to finish between all my other projects, but it is finally finished !
Of all the spaces that I’ve revamped this year, this one makes me the most happy. It’s proof that with a lot of elbow grease and patience, a sense of frugality, and a little bit of luck, one can transform something from the completely drab into the totally fab. When I look around this space I can say that I am most proud of the fact that I transformed it from top to bottom, detail by detail, in a cost conscious way, and without sacrificing style.
Finally, after all these years, the office door will remain eternally open . . .
Tags: home office