Take an outdated, cluttered home office and transform it into a work-from-home sanctuary for a busy mom.
Re-use several key pieces that have sentimental value.
Do it on a budget, with room for a few necessary splurges, including new custom blinds and some reupholstery.
Keep the major elements neutral enough to endure over the long-term, with colour and spark added via accessories, paint and fabric– all easily changeable in a few years if the client tires of the colour scheme.
Make it a haven of peace and tranquility that “looks like” the client; it needed to be an oasis of femininity in a house full of boys.
The “Before” Situation:
The room had become a catch-all for the bits and bobs of a family on the go. Two boys and all the school files, mail, craft supplies, musical instruments, “where-else-am-I-gonna-put-this?” piles of detritus had gotten the better of the space. The client works from home and needed a place that reflected her personality and allowed her to focus on her work, rather than on the stress-inducing piles of stuff that had slowly taken over the space.
The client was ready for a change and was willing to weed out all the unnecessary junk that had drifted into the room over the years. She worked diligently to purge, keeping only things of sentimental value, things necessary to her work, and important household files.
I was thrilled when she liked the fabric I had seen months before and thought would be perfect for her space; after compiling three different palettes, the lilac & creme linen scheme won out and helped us to determine the wall colour and ceiling colour, both by Martha Stewart.
With the help of the homeowner’s brother, who painted the whole room and the enormous wall of overpowering oak book shelves, the room got a new lease on life; just lightening up the colours made a huge difference!
The Big Stuff reupholstered the client’s mother’s wing-back chairs in a pale oyster-coloured velvet, their legs lacquered in high-gloss lilac, and also made a new seat cushion in a pretty awning stripe for the window seat. The chair legs can easily be repainted in the future if the homeowner decides she wants to change her colour scheme; the velvet is neutral enough to work into a wide range of colour palettes.
I made the throw cushions from a range of coordinating fabrics and we pulled a lovely lavender shade from the palette to use on the cove ceiling, drawing attention to the architectural detail.
The desk had been the client’s mother’s during her career; she took it with her when she retired and it has great sentimental value. It is a large, mid-century modern teak piece, and dominates the room. Painting the teak was (obviously!) not an option, but since the top of the desk is melamine, we decided to cover it with a length of the damask-printed linen under a sheet of glass. The homeowner moved her desktop computer to the kitchen, where she can keep an eye on her boys as they do their homework, and replaced it with her laptop. The result is that the focus is on the colour and pattern on the desk’s surface, rather than on the enormous computer screen.
We replaced the utilitarian printer table with a pretty wrought-iron garden table and the office chair will be replaced in the future, as budget allows.
Ample storage is provided by a large dresser, donated by a friend, and spray-lacquered in high-gloss lilac. Files live in the desk filing drawers and daily office supplies are housed in pretty boxes and baskets on the bookshelves. Books were covered in kraft paper and fancy washi tape to create a soothing, uniform look to the book cases. An inexpensive, neutral-coloured area rug from Ikea adds softness and baffles sound to create intimacy.
The final touches? A few bits of mercury glass, some curvy white bookends and candle sticks, lanterns and a repeated bird motif. I made a whimsical banner of bunting to hang in the window in lieu of a valence or curtains, hand-printed with inspiring words like “moxie,” “pluck” and “strength” to remind the client of who she is and why she is special. Add to these the homeowner’s personal collections of matryoshka dolls and British royal family souvenirs, a few family photos and the room is clean & crisp, yet still personal.
The homeowner loves her new office! Her boys have dubbed it ‘Mommy Land’ and I take that as the best compliment of all– it means the room looks and feels like the client, which makes it a place she enjoys spending time.
You can see more here, if you like.