Ask Kate

Brooke’s Office Basics

Monday, January 7th, 2013

Brooke wrote to me a few weeks ago asking for suggestions on what to do with her catchall office space and looking for a few tips on how to pull a look together in an affordable way.   Here’s Brooke’s summarized email: 

“The room is 11 x 10 with 8 foot ceilings and the only thing that has to stay is my grandmother’s desk, a family heirloom.  As far as my style, I prefer light colors, whites, creams, warm grays, some navy blue and punches of color.  I’m not a huge floral print person,  but I’m obsessed with stripes.  I love minimalistic, simple non cluttered, but you probably couldn’t tell from the photos.  LOL!  Oh, and I love texture.”

Here’s Brooke’s catchall space that she can’t wait to clean up and organize and turn into a functional and comfortable home office, once she has a style plan in place.  Ignore the mess she says! 

brooke office before

 

And here are a few of the images Brooke sent me for inspiration: 

plank ceiling athomeinarkansas

 

navy chevron wall

 

bookcases for storage

 

image sources: 1 / 2 / 3

She loves whites and texture and pops of navy, so here’s a basic plan for including all of those elements:

brookes basics office plan

sources: accent chair / chevron pillow / rope ottoman / billy bookcases / geometric panels / parson’s desk / rattan office chair / navy stripe indoor/outdoor rug

How fantastic would  white plank walls be in this space like the ceiling in the first image?  With Shelley’s DIY instructions, Brooke could install them herself.  I love the idea of an accent chair in a corner to plop into to read or have a conversation with someone else in the space. 

Texture is easy to add with accessories – any basic chandelier can be wrapped in rope , or consider Ashley’s jute wrapped pendant as an alternative to the ceiling fan.  A stool wrapped in rope can become perch too – or the Crate + Barrel Samar ottoman is another option for a textural accent.

Pottery Barn’s desk chair is a little pricey, but the idea is to keep an eye out for a nice wood desk to pair with the white desk for contrast, or continue to use the farmhouse version shown.  Billy bookcases are affordable, add necessary storage, and they’re easy to personalize – add fabric or paint to the back and crown molding to the top like we did in this playroom. The dark wood desk will stay in the space and be placed under the window or on the opposite wall next to the closet.

A pair of geometric window panels would add a welcome pattern and Brooke loves stripes so this Dash & Albert striped rug brings the look and since it’s indoor/outdoor, it cleans up easy.

With the basics in place, all Brooke needs to do is layer with more colorful and meaningful accessories like a cool lamp and some artwork.  Brooke wrote that she loves globes so I can see a collection of them up on top of the bookcases.  Add more textural accents and perhaps a few pieces in gold or antique brass for warmth and this would be one fine office! 

What say you readers?  Any ideas for Brooke you can think up to help her spruce up her space? 

 

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Favorite Gray Paint Colors

Tuesday, October 30th, 2012

I’ve been asked a few times to recommend a “perfect gray paint” to readers and I have difficulty doing so only because there are so so many of them, and it in truth it really comes down to the style of your home, your taste, which direction your room faces in your home, its amount natural light, how paint samples look on your wall, and undertones, always undertones!

I’m contemplating repainting the small studio above our garage so I am also in search of the “perfect gray” for that space.  Gray is the de rigueur neutral right now but rightfully so because it’s a perfect backdrop for the multiple palettes you can assemble with your layers of furniture, fabrics, and accessories.  Today, I rounded up my favorites (both swatches and real paint samples) to share with you.

In my eye, gray paints fall into three different families:  1)  ‘Cement Grays’ which to me are the truest gray with little to no undertones – I can think of no other analogy than the sidewalk!  Then there are 2) ‘Warmer Grays’ which lean a little closer to taupe and can have subtle red or brown undertones, and then there are 3)  Blue/Green Grays, with blue and green undertones which I’ve used time and again in my living room, master bedroom, master bathroom, etc.

Here’s a peek at eight favorite “Cement Grays” – ones where I see little to no color in the undertones in the swatches and samples.

cement gray paint colors

1.  ‘Nimbus Cloud’ by Martha Stewart;  2.  ‘Dolphin Fin’ by Behr; 3.  ‘Stonington Gray’ by Benjamin Moore; 4.  ‘Argos’ by Sherwin Williams;  5.  ‘Passive’ by Sherwin Williams; ‘Silverplate’ by Sherwin Williams; 6.  ‘Notre Dame’ by Valspar; 7.  ‘Granite Dust’ by Valspar.

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Upper Lower versus Inner Outer

Thursday, October 25th, 2012

I was chatting with a friend the other day about her kitchen.  She very much wants to paint most of the honey tone wood cabinets white to freshen the space, but wants a touch of charcoal too to go with her black and white granite countertops.  Her kitchen is a basic U shape design with three walls of wood cabinetry, open on one side to a family room, with an island in the middle. 

I’ve been watching kitchen trends for years and one that I’m noticing more and more is the two tone painted cabinet design where instead of the surround being one color and the island the second color, the current trend is to paint the upper cabinetry one color and the lower cabinetry another. 

u shape kitchen plan

And so my friend and I are having what I call the “upper lower versus inner outer” debate.  Should she paint just the island a charcoal color or the lower surround cabinets instead?

Here’s a look at the “Upper Lower” two color painted cabinet style:

blue lower white upper two tone cabinets

The Kitchn

 

green lower white upper cabinets bhg

Better Homes & Gardens

 

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