You may remember that I decided to turn my spare bedroom into a home office approximately seven million years ago. Slowly but surely, I've finally got it how I want it, and I'd love to show you how it all turned out. (If you're just catching up on The Great Home Makeover That Will Forever Consume Our Lives, you can see before and afters of our kitchen here, and before and afters of our stairwell here. And there is so much more to come!)
For the first year that we lived in this house, the spare bedroom—which is on the main floor of the house, facing out into the backyard, right next to our bedroom—functioned mainly as just that: a spare room. I don't have the greatest before pictures of it, unfortunately, but when we moved in, it looked basically like this:
And then, over the space of a year, it became a repository for all the stuff we couldn't figure out what else to do with. Simply put, it ended up as the graveyard where all our other furniture came to die. I had my desk in there, sure, but I hated sitting at it to write; the room just felt empty and messy and cold and unfinished. When guests came to stay, we did our best to make it all look neat and cozy and welcoming, but most of the time, if I'm honest, it kind of looked like this:
It's not awful, it's just......eh. Boring and messy and full of crap. Note the artful placing of the printer on the floor! The mostly useless guest bed that isn't made up! The paint samples I'd been toying with on the walls! (To be fair, we gussied it up a lot better than this when people came over. You seeing this picture is basically me letting you in to my own personal shame, kind of like that part on Hoarders when the homeowner shamefacedly opens the door to three feet of garbage on the floor, much of it dessicated cat carcasses.) (I have no dessicated cat carcasses. I don't think.)
And then, in June, I started a new job with a company in Austin, requiring me to work from home full-time. I did the first few weeks with the room looking like it did above, and then I cracked: if I was going to be spending forty straight hours a week looking at those walls, those walls needed to look pretty awesome. The entire room needed to look pretty awesome. I decided I wanted a home office that made me happy when I walked into it every day, even if my commute was only two steps from my bedroom.
And so I created it.
First of all, I painted the walls with Behr's "Peaceful Night." There was much trial and error involved in trying to find the perfect navy blue (I think I tried every sample offered by Benjamin Moore, Valspar, and Olympus), but I had this weird obsessive need to paint a room navy blue and fill it with crisp white furniture and turquoise accents, and so I persevered. I'm really happy with how the color came out; it's a true navy—not too grey or purple or black—and it looks pretty consistent at all hours of the day.
With my walls painted, I set to work on my desk. My old one was a cheapie Target special that I'd had since my days in Charleston and painted a zillion times; it was on its last legs, so I put it out on the sidewalk one night—after whispering it a teary goodbye; we'd been through thick and thin together!—and it was gone by the time I woke up. Then I bought a VIKA FURUSKOG pine tabletop, the VIKA MOLIDEN chrome legs, and two HELMER file cabinets from IKEA (like you couldn't have guessed from the names) to make my own custom desk.
I took one of the drawers from the HELMER file cabinet to the hardware store and found a creamy-white paint that matched it almost exactly; with this, I painted the pine tabletop, along with the two EKBY JARPEN shelves (those came in white, but it wasn't the right white to match the HELMERS, which is why I painted everything. Are you still following me? I feel like I've switched over to Swedish at this point.) My desk chair was a Christmas present from my parents a few years ago and it's the most comfortable desk chair I've ever sat in. I bought the magazine racks at IKEA, the storage boxes on sale at the Container Store, and the gold bust of George Washington for $1 at an estate sale. I've had the globes and typewriter forever. (You may remember their cameo appearances in my wedding!)
I made pretty much all the art on the walls: the Paris prints are from the calendar my mother bought us for our first wedding anniversary (because it's traditional to give paper!) and I made my Great Wall o' States from a pack of kids' place mats, if you can believe it, that I found in TJ Maxx for six bucks, then framed in cheap frames that I spraypainted white. You've seen the DIY turquoise whiteboard before, of course, and I got the vintage math flash cards on ebay and framed them too. I kind of like how it looks like they're some super creepy numbers that mean something to me—like the numbers on LOST, perhaps—but basically I just chose all the ones with sevens in them (plus a 415, since that's our area code) because I like the number seven.
I made the "You mustn't be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling" print from sticker letters I found at Michaels one day when I was feeling crafty. It's a quote from Inception, much to my chagrin, as I should have far preferred it to be Philip Larkin or something, but what can you do. The huge black and white picture is a blown-up photograph of my grandmother on vacation in the late 1950s or early 1960s, and it is pretty much my favorite thing in the room. I made it all by myself for super cheap and I'm pretty proud of it, so I'll be back in a few days with a tutorial for how you can make your own.
We took down the boob-light that used to be on the ceiling (come on, you know what I'm talking about) and Sean replaced it with a simple paper globe from IKEA. In a stunning move of lazy genius, he wondered aloud whether it wouldn't be easier just to put a ceiling medallion over the mess he'd created, rather than spackle and paint the whole thing, and was caught off guard, I think, at how excited I got about the prospect of a ceiling medallion, which is one of those things I've always, always wanted in a house (and I don't even care that it's not an original.)
The rug is this one from Overstock, which I stalked forever before it finally went on sale, and the striped pillow is something I picked up at Marshalls orginally for outside but loved even more in this room. The other pillows are Kelly Wearstler knock-offs and they're from the garden department at Target, randomly enough. The little wicker ottomans are from Target too, and we have had them for about seven hundred million years. They're really useful to have in my office, because when I want to show Sean something on the computer, he can just pull one up to my desk and sit right next to me. They're also great for putting your feet up on the couch.
And man, did we get lucky with that couch. Our friends were getting rid of it, and wouldn't take any money from us for it, despite our protestations. It's the EKTORP sleeper sofa from IKEA, which means it has already done double duty as a guest bed several times (though we have a sleeper sofa down in Sean's study too, so this is just for emergencies!) When we got it, the sofa was tan, so we bought a white slipcover on the black market—by which I mean ebay, since IKEA seems not to sell slipcovers for the EKTORP sleeper sofa anymore, WE KNOW BECAUSE WE BOUGHT THE WRONG ONE—and gave it new life. White might not be the best choice for a sofa, I realize, but it's not in a highly-trafficked area, and the slipcovers mean we can just throw it in the wash whenever we need to.
Whew! Is that everything? I think that's everything. There are a ton more pictures here, if you're interested, and I'm happy to answer any questions if there's anything I've forgotten to mention. (There don't seem to be any photos of the wall under the Paris prints, by the way, which is where I keep my printer, in case you were fretting that I didn't have one; it sits on top of the painted white dresser with the white ring pulls, pictured somewhere above, which also doubles as storage for craft supplies. Apparently, I have now crossed over into the type of person who needs dedicated storage for her craft supplies.)
All in all, I am supremely happy with what I created and how it turned out. I know it sounds corny, but walking into an office I love at the beginning of every work day helps to keep me organized, motivated, and inspired. And it sure beats the hell out of beige-paneled cubicle walls, I can tell you that.