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Monday, November 7, 2011

A Step By Step Inexpensive Office Makeover

First I must thank you my dear, dear friends for your sweets thoughts and prayers for my dear brother who continues on his road to recovery.

I am currently knee deep in redesigning my office/tv room. My goal is to keep it under $150. Yes, you read that right, $150.00. Given the very enthusiastic response that was received about my new (vintage) settee I thought you might be interested in a step by step breakdown on how to achieve a low cost room redesign.

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The gorgeous office of my friend Brooke.

It is best to begin with some inspiration. For me it came in the form of a settee. Next, I began looking through decorating magazines and online sources such as Pinterest  for complete room inspiration. After finding the image below I decided I would paint the woodwork of the settee and keep the original goldenrod upholstery. (In the summertime the look will be changed out with a white linen slipcover.)

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I do plan on creating a “wall of frame fame” which will include drawings by my children, other family members and friends. It is an inexpensive, yet meaningful, way of adding artwork to a room.

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Successful room design often incorporates modern pieces of furniture with vintage or antique pieces. The tricky part is achieving the right balance. My existing desk, bookcase and file cabinet are from the IKEA Liatorp line.  Eventually I would like to replace them with antique options, but for now I need to work with what I have. The settee is of course French in flavor and I have also brought in a Chinese chest. Talk about an office for the united nations! But it can be done.

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Armed with inspiration I then had to decide on furniture placement. I had already moved the two wings chairs to the master bedroom and the next item that was removed from the space was the hutch.

DIY tip: You can move large pieces of furniture by yourself with the help of furniture sliders.

So I tried placing the bookcase, desk and filing cabinet side by side on the largest wall of this very tiny room.

office 002

Now this is where it gets tricky for some people. I happen to have an internal radar that tell me “No, this layout does not work.” Not everyone possesses an inner design voice. We all have different gifts and that is what makes this world of ours beautiful. Remember, I have NO gardening skills whatsoever and Algebra will forever be my nemesis. One of my favorite lines from the movie Mulan is: "We can’t all be acupuncturists”. So if you don’t have “the voice” don’t be sad. Just be happy with your other gifts and seek out someone who does.

I am above all trying to create a good looking room. Sometimes when trying to achieve this it becomes a battle with the workability of a room. This is known as “Form over function”. But in this case the function of the room was more important than looks so I combined the bookcase and desk on a smaller wall. This way the computer screen will not receive glare from the window and the settee could be placed on the wall opposite of the bookcase. As the bookcase holds the tv this placement allowed for optimum viewing pleasure.

 office 018

On the opposite wall is the settee and the worlds ugliest ottoman that I found at TJ Maxx.

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But the price tag made it pretty. Remember, if a piece is solid you can always change the ugly.

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In between the space is a Chinese chest. It is a family heirloom. Mr. Décor’s grandfather helped build the Panama Canal and one of the ships that came through the canal in the 1920’s contained this piece which he bought for something like $20. It is beautifully carved and incredibly solid. I am not sure if it is staying but something of a similar size and scale is needed here.

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The wall opposite the Chinese chest contains a set of French doors and a very tiny wall. I placed the file cabinet there as that is what I had to work with.  In truth a slightly wider piece would look better, but I’ll beef it up with color and artwork.

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So, it looks like a hot mess right now. But in the next post I’ll talk about color selection. It is key to transforming any space into an attractively cohesive room.

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I have left the comments open but this reality shot of the contents of my office that have migrated into the adjoining front room wins in getting my full attention at the moment.

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Now where is that shovel?



spinningstars said...

Laura, I wish I had your eye for design!

My Cottage Charm said...

Hey girlfriend! :) I LOVE the challenge of doing a makeover with what I have and a limited makes you use your imagination instead of your wallet! lol I adore that little french inspired settee, but I also love the french chair at your desk. OH, and I love an ugly ottoman....the decorating potential is endless as long as it's solid~! :)
Can't wait to see how you bring it all together..and if I were closer, I'd bring my shovel over and help you dig out!
Love ya!

Julie Tucker-Wolek said...

Good luck!!! Can't wait to see what you do!! :):):):):):):):):):):)

April said...

It's going to look wonderful. I just adore the settee and that chest! :)

So my question is this: does your "voice" kick in before moving furniture, or do you have to place it first?

Sometimes I just KNOW it's going to work, then it doesn't. MUCH to my hubby's chagrin. lol. We finally purchased an inexpensive piano dolly...(but not for the piano.
Have a happy day!

Kathy @ Creative Home Expressions said...

I'm looking forward to seeing it all together, Laura! I've been working on our home office in between. The first goal was a desk for my hubby so I could get him off the dining table! I did that and now we are going through our books and papers. We will be sharing this office. I'm looking forward to seeing your floating shelves, because that might work over the hubby's desk.

jeanette from everton terrace said...

First, just getting back to blogland - hope your brother is healing.
I've been in this hot mess place so many times, I'm forever moving things around. I also have the "this isn't right" thing and know my living room needs to rearrange but not sure how just yet.
Love that settee!
I still have my daughter's artwork framed (she's 25)- it hangs in my laundry room - makes me smile :)

Kelley said...

The shovel's over here at my place, across the sea, in Manila.


Teresa said...

So this will be a very short comment: I hate your friend Brooke and I'm going to be like her when I grow up.... and I hate you because you're really going to pull it in time to the Holidays and wonderfully so.

When you asked for the shovel I thought "Think, instead, of Fairies" but then there's you!

Looking forward to have a look and your settee really grows in a person.

Wishing you a busy and fun filled week. RUDI RUUUUNNNNNNN ;)

Karena said...

Laura I have had your brother in my thoughts and prayers.

My hip replacement recovery in rehab is going well; slight setback due to gettng a 48 her fever/infection/) better now!

I have little access to email and internet wanted to thank you for sending so many well wishes!!


Art by Karena

Karena said...

Excited to see your office finale'!


Art by Karena

Shannah @ Just Us Four said...

Thanks for sharing the backstory your office planning! I can't wait to see the finished product.

French said...

Can't wait to see how the sofa comes you need any washed burlap for uph...?

bettyann said...

Laura, looking forward to seeing what changes you bring to your space...I love, love that you do the changes with a very limited budget...take care..

Kristina said...

For some reason I've had the Reflections song from Mulan in my head all day (I don't know why,I haven't seen the movie in a long time). And then I read what you said about "voice" and it rings true.

The Quintessential Magpie said...

Can't wait to see the finished product! I like to see how your mind works in the process, too, Laura. Good job so far! :-)



Miss Sandy said...


I know that whatever you do it will utterly charming! Happy shoveling!

martinealison said...

Je suis persuadée que le résultat sera un véritable succès... j'ai hâte de voir le résultat...
Gros bisous à vous et une pensée particulière pour votre frère.

JennyLynn said...

Great post! We are getting ready to do an office make over at our house. So, thanks for the great examples and inspiration.

The Boston Lady said...

First off I love your November header! I hope your brother is improving, I love the fact that he braided his beard! Shows his wonderful spirit. How fun to see Mr. Decor's chest from his grandfather. I well remember Mr. G and what an interesting character he was. How nice that Mr. D has that piece of his history. I think your changes are going to look wonderful and look forward to seeing them unfold. Ann

The Polka Dot Closet said...

An $800 settee...I say it's gorgeous at that price! Can't wait to see what you do, I don't like messes either...get busy and don't worry about getting back to me!


laxsupermom said...

I just read about your brother. My prayers are with him for a speedy recovery.

Can't wait to see your office transformation progress. I have that on my to do list for this winter and could use the inspiration.

Pat@Life At Lydias House said...

I can't wait to see the "reveal"!It sounds exciting and you have some great pieces to work with.

Savvy Seasons said...

You've got a great plan in place and I can't wait to see the finished product, I just know it will be spectacular! xoxo Liz

Linda said...

A wonderful plan for sure! Now that last photo - I can relate to -it doesn't look like that "on the surface" in my house, but open any cabinet or closet and there you have it. ;)

Continuing in prayer for your brother.

Love, Linda

Chrissy said...

Hi Laura, just get back to blogland. It is so great to visit your blog and once again you pulling out those great inspirational posts. I love your settee and I want that same bookcase at IKEA for my office.
Have a great week.

Julie Taylor and Danni Greenwalt said...

You have some great ideas. Cant wait to see your room when your done.

Kellie Collis said...

Beautiful inspirations! I cannot wait to see it when you're done. Have a delightful day, Kellie xx

Auntie Em said...

I can't wait to see your renovation. You always seem to find awesome bargains. Thanks for sharing your decorating process! You are right up there with Christopher Lowell! :)