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Thursday, January 3, 2013

Transforming The Office For Under $30 ~ Part I

Happy Friday! I am slowly but surely transforming my in home office.

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This was the office space when we moved into the house in July. Can you say dark and dreary?

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I wasn’t sure what color direction I wanted to go in so I just lightened the space with some leftover paint~Dover White SW 6385.

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What a difference! The dark rattan blind was replaced with a white plantation blind found at Goodwill.

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As the move was a major downsize I had created a map of the measurements of each room prior to moving in. I knew in advance that we would have to place our antique sideboard and china cabinet in the space because there was literally no where else for the pieces to go. I was determined to make the space work, but reality set in.
I worked on other areas of the house first and the office became a major dumping ground for everything I could not find a home for.

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Someone call Hoarders! Or Merry Maids.

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The truly scary part is that there is no door to close off this space. My shame was visible for all to see.

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I spent an entire day filing paperwork and found a new home for the over-sized chair. The dog stayed.

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It was time for the china cabinet to be transformed into a hutch. The dark interior needed to be lightened up a bit.

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As you may know I am a big proponent of all types of paint, but for this particular piece, given its age and intricacies, I did not want to pick up a paintbrush.

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To lighten things up the back of the hutch was papered with vintage atlas glossary pages. I used a crude method of taking my hand and pushing the paper against the wood to create a pattern and then cut out the creased area. I then just tacked the paper in place with double sided tape.

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Time to filler up! A good rule of thumb when decorating a hutch, shelf or bookcase is to use a ratio of 1/3 books, 1/3 treasures and 1/3 empty space. I could probably use a bit more empty space, but this collection is what makes me happy for the winter season.

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I have said before that the most meaningful homes tell a story.

The magnifying glass belonged to my Grandma Mary. The wee vintage bird once held tiny sugar tablets (there are still mini tongs inside). He was a gift from my dear friend Heidi. I adore his peridot eyes, my birthstone.

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A glass bowl from Grandma Jingles childhood doll dish set, Sweet Boy’s egg cup he received as a Christening gift and a china bird that was once a stopper on a child’s food warming dish. I found it in Jean Luc’s shop in Beaune, France.

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My great grandmother Emma kept her sewing pins in this pressed glass dish.

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Everyone needs a good bust. I found it at Goodwill for $1 and gave her brassy self a paint job.

The silver dishes were given to Mr. D├ęcor’s mother while she lived in Panama.

Now, for the books. The Readers Digest books sat on my grandparents bookshelves for over 40 years. Many a summer afternoon and school holiday was spent with my nose in one of those books. When I cleaned out their house I took my favorite titles with me. That is a feel good memory that cannot be bought at any store.

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Which leads me to another TIP: Decorate with what you love and deem precious even IF no one else gets it.

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Next, I worked on the sideboard. This baby is huge.

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My favorite design books are now color coordinated and waiting to be read. (You can click on the image to enlarge it to see the titles more clearly. :)

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The oil paintings are thrift store glamour bought a few years ago for around $8.

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The antique keys lock up the hutch and sideboard. I keep them handy on this Limoges plate I found for 50 cents. It is practically translucent. The “R” I decided is for Rudi the dachshunds monogram.

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Also in the space was a big white Ikea desk that seemed like a good idea at the time when we bought it eight years ago.

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First, the antique chair received a slipcover made from a vintage French dish towel.


Then the desk was removed and an old piece of laminate was transformed with a bit of spray paint. I wanted it to look like aluminum. A skirt was created with a painters drop cloth that was dyed with Rit aquamarine dye then sewn to fit. 

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I took a trip over to Home Fabrics and found “Anatine” by Covington for $2.00 a yard. I bought enough to also make a curtain for the window.

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“ Part II ” on how they were created is now available for viewing.

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Have a happy weekend!
Linking to:


Bloggymom said...

Love it!!

Excited to see the desk makeover.

Hope Filled Living said...

I love it! Can't wait for part II. I have been working on my home office for much junk to sort through...Love the fabric! Beautiful colors.

Kim@Chattafabulous said...

Wow, you've really jumped into the New Year in a big way! Love your china cabinet transformation and new fabric. Happy New Year!

Ceekay-THINKIN of HOME/Doublewide Decor said...

Well you ambitious soul!

I did sew...yes, I said sew a table runner. I think I may do a tute! It turned out really nice.

Talk to you soon!

Maple Lane said...

Everything is looking wonderful. I love the fabric you purchased. God bless you in the new year.

Julie Tucker-Wolek said...

Looks AMAZING Laura!!! WOW!!!!

Redhead Sadie said...

I remember that sweet little bird. :-)

Yvonne @ StoneGable said...

I can't wait for part II! LOVE the fabric!!! YOu certainly did a whole lot of work!!! I can't wait to see how it looks when you are finished!

Shenita @ Embellishments by SLR said...

Wow, Laura, you really transformed the office space! It is absolutely beautiful! And I love fabric, too! Gorgeous!

jeanetteann said...

Oh Laura,it's all just so lovely. I can't believe how rude some people are. I have my dads Readers digest and think they look really nice. They are bound nicely so who cares what the titles are. I am looking forward to seeing the rest of the decor. xx

the language of design said...

Great post Laura, can't wait for part II. You are so talented. Happy New Year!

Lillibeth said...

I Really like the paper-in-the-hutch idea. It gives the dark hutch a "lift" without taking the plunge and painting it!
My parents had a few Readers' Digest books. I enjoyed reading them. My mother uses them to prop up lamps now:)

The Comfort of a Safe Place said...

I love what you've done with that dark and drab room!! Everything is very comfy - and obviously very YOU, which is a good thing, after all, YOU are the reason I come here just about every day to see what you've been up to!

Jan ♥

Myna Kay said...

I can't wait for part II! I enjoy the things you come up with. Good job!

What I Did Today said...

Putting paper in the hutch was absolutely brilliant! I love that everything you have comes with a story. Pretty neat. And I have no plans for the weekend. Boring, I know. Probably attempting to get the cigarette smoke out of an armoire I picked up off craigslist and if I'm successful, painting it.

Maureen said...

I promise never to send you a 'do yourself a favour' comment. I may even have a few of those on my bookshelves. Love the paper on the cabinet back and all the wonderful orderliness of your office!

Kelley Dibble said...

I'm sighing a dreamy sigh. I love your changes/improvements. Your office looks great, Laura.

Mine? Right now there are book pages, glue, feathers, string and lots of other fussies going on. I'm preparing six book page wedding "cake" centerpieces to take to Guam with me in about a week. Wish you'd been here to help me. They've been SOOO much fun to create! I'll be sharing later.

Thanks for reminding me to get back into the office... Wish mine looked right now like yours does!


Julia C. said...

I love what you e done with the room, but the rule of tumba when decorating a library is perfect, thank you. Julia

Cindy (Applestone Cottage) said...

Great job Laura, an amazing transformation on just a wee bit of money.
Hugs friend,

Debbie said...

I love every square inch of this! The paper on the back of hutch is inspired. The fact that the room tells a story is even better. I couldn't agree with that sentiment more. I am anxious for part two.

Kathy @ Creative Home Expressions said...

Those are beautiful pieces, Laura! I love the way you decorated the hutch. Good idea using the paper in the back to lighten it up a bit. Looking forward to seeing your window treatments.

The French Bear said...

Love the pieces Laura, I am excited to see the rest!
I had plans for the weekend but now you have inspired me to do some rearranging!!!

Ms. Redo said...

I am in love with what you did to lighten the background of your hutch! What a fabulous idea, and I went right over and voted for you, hope you win. Also hope you find just the right desk to fit your fancy, meanwhile can't wait to see what you do with the fabric. Thanks for sharing with us, and tsk tsk to anyone who would dare speak a negative word, as my 13-y-o son would say, "meanie!" Love ya, Mary

hsmominmo said...

Beautiful office space! Love treatment on the back of the hutch, and I, too, spent many a summer with my nose in RD books. I'm glad you kept them!

marty (A Stroll Thru Life) said...

I love your office space. It is wonderful and your hutch and sideboard are such beautiful pieces. Hugs, marty

Pat@Life At Lydias House said...

I'm all for painting furniture too but I am SO glad you didn't paint that hutch! It is beautiful! You have done a fantastic job, as usual!

Craftymoose Crafts said...

Of course, I voted for your awesome makeover! Running over to see part 2 now!

Denise said...

I LOVE your office, Laura! It makes me want to fix one for myself. I adore the French blue desk, but I think your skirt will be just lovely. I like to display my books, too; and about the RD books, my husband's grandmother and grandfather had a set of those, and we all wanted them to decorate with when their things were divided up. :)

Have a wonderful weekend!

Denise at Forest Manor

Decorating Lady's Humble Abode said...

The china hutch and buffet is very nice love the details in the wood. I paint a lot of wood furniture, but I would not even think of painting these two lovely pieces. The inside of the hutch papered in print looks beautiful and lightens it up. The desk draped in material changes the whole look of the desk. Great job. Humble Abode

Jill Flory of Sew a Fine Seam said...

Laura it's lovely! And no there isn't too much empty space in the china hutch!! I always think I want to simplify and have more empty space - especially after the Christmas decor gets put away - but I just can't leave it that way - I'm really not a minimalist at heart! I love how your hutch looks just like it is. and that was a great way to lighten up the back without painting it.

Mary Ann at classic•casual•home said...

This is so charming. Great job.

Dana JustDana said...


sweet violets said...

Thank you for not painting that beautiful wood!!! The paper idea is wonderful and looks great!!! I also try to leave empty space, but somehow it never works for the fabric you choose and can't wait for part 2....some fabric on the buffet would be nice or on a shelf in the cabinet......just saying......

Linda (Nina's Nest) said...

You office is looking great! I like the R.D. books - like their color and their aunt always had them and I would read them in the summer! Linda

Our Learning Collection said...

What a beautiful office space! I, too, have great memories of reading Reader's Digest books as a child. Thanks for emphasizing the importance of our homes telling our stories.

Auntie Em said...

Great ideas on your office space. I have a similar problem with a large china cabinet that is a large hulking lump in my room but every time I go to paint it I chicken out. Maybe layering some paper in the back would help.
Thanks for your clever ideas! :)

Sarah said...

This is great! I love what you did with your antique hutch! Great way to entice more light without doing anything permanent to such a beautiful antique! Anther great way would be to use a printed contact paper!

Laura Turner said...

I cast a vote for you, Laura and just became a member of your blog. Great ideas! Good luck!

--Laura from Sunday View

Carol said...

I think your office is going to be beautiful, Laura. I love that you've used some older pieces that hold meaning to you, and especially like that you didn't feel the need to paint them. There is an awful lot of that going on! I really like the idea of adding the skirt to the IKEA desk. I'm going to have to check out that fabric store.

Patty said...

Lovely post. Your place is coming along nicely.

Zuni, Chickadee Home Nest said...

This was quite the project, Laura, but aren't you ever so glad you got to it?! All your pieces look great, and though I feared the worst--painting the interior of that fabulous china cabinet, yea! You didn't! But your solution sure was clever and worked so well to lighten it! I'm so glad I stopped by! I bet you're going to enjoy this space immensely! ~Zuni

Rick said...

The hutch and sideboard are beatiful. I admit that I was afraid to scroll thinking you probably painted them. I'm soooo glad that you didn't. Looks great and thanks for sharing the details.

Sherry said...

This looks great.
I love the china cabinet.

~Amy~ said...

I LOVE those curtains!! What is the name of that fabric?!

Rain on a Tin Roof said...

Such a beautiful home office! I want to work there everyday!! The hutch turned out great! Love the vintage backing and you decorated it so nicely! That is one thing I struggle with! Thanks so much for sharing!

Jenna @

Samantha Conner said...

Visiting from the 36th Avenue- I love your hutch. Such a clever idea to line the back in book pages!
:) Samantha
Crafty Texas Girls

Kim @ Savvy Southern Style said...

Love your pretty furniture pieces. Your mess/hoarding is nothing compared to my bonus room. Every year I say I am going to clean it up, but I just add more. I have to get some shelves and get with it. Thanks for sharing at Wow.

Angela ~ Call Her Blessed said...

What's been on my heart lately: decorate with & only with what moves me, what I love. Thank you for sharing the same thoughts & advice. Your decor is beautiful, right down to the RD books =)

Athena at Minervas Garden said...

I love the way you've changed out and decorated your office area, and I really like the way you styled your hutch shelves--very pretty, and I like your style tip that you shared. Also, great minds must think alike, because just yesterday I was out thrifting and purchased what looks like an exact replica of your great grandmother's pressed glass dish--I thought it was so pretty I had to have it!

Jeanette@Creating A Life said...

I'm visiting from StoneGable to see your office transformation, and WOW! So many pretty and creative details, and I love your neutral/whites and blues.

Jeanette @ Creating A Life

Sarah said...

Laura, just now noticed this post and popped over. Your office space is so pretty. Love the beautiful pieces of furniture.