It is quickly becoming winter here in Minnesota which means renovation season is soon to be underway in my home. The few things on the list are a new bathroom, starting on a master suite, a new guest room, refinished wood floors in the kitchen and fresh coats of paint in a few rooms. Lofty, I know.
To get things kicked-off I decided to switch my office to a smaller room to make way for a bigger guest room. After cleaning out a few boxes, putting a fresh coat of paint on the walls/trim/ceiling, the fun could begin. It took me several months to accumulate a few new pieces of furniture but my patience paid off. I love a cozy room and am a believer that the incorporation of eclectic pieces is the key to creating a lived-in space. And while, yes, each home office should have the essentials to make it functional (filing system, desk, computer, printer, etc.) I need my space to also be inspiring. Below a list of what I would consider to be must-haves for making any space beautiful.
When we first moved into our house every wall was painted a buttercream. Every. Single. Wall. So my first line of defense against the nausea-inducing color was to paint as many walls as I could. I made some dreadful color choices over the years. We painted our foyer a dark red, a bold color choice I was proud of…for a while. But over time the room began to look like a cave and I grew to loathe it. It took me four coats of paint to cover it (a delicate light gray I absolutely adore) but it was the best decision I ever made.
A light, bright room is classic so it’s no wonder Benjamin Moore declared white the “color of the year”. Many scoff at white because they think of it as a “default” for people who can’t make up their minds, and while this may be true for some, for me, my mind was made up and I wanted white. My new office is north facing with one window but it shines bright all day long. I am very pleased with the results. What I have come to learn is that I can’t go wrong thinking of my walls as a canvas. I add color with art, accessories or pillows (things that are easy and inexpensive to change out and do not require me to pick up a paintbrush).
An Antique Desk
I may be biased because I absolutely love my new desk, but nothing adds more style and charm to a room than an antique piece. Wood pieces add a kind of warmth that plastic and metal furniture can’t. Antique pieces add character. I bought my desk from a friend who told me it is over 100 years old and was the ticket desk in a train station (ink pad included). You can’t buy that kind of history from Target or Ikea.
Antique pieces require a little bit more maintenance but it is totally worth it. When I got the desk home I gave it a thorough cleaning with warm soapy water, gently scraped off some dried paint splatters and rubbed a fresh coat of lemon oil on it. It brought the wood back to life and accentuated all the marks and scratches it acquired over the years. The wood is not in “pristine” shape, but that’s what I love about it.
A Reading Nook
It’s no secret I am a fan of reading. I am also a fan of cozy reading nooks. I went back and forth on whether or not I wanted a window bench or a chair but in the end the idea of a chair sounded much more comfy. It is also no secret that I am a collector of furniture so I had to go no further than my very own attic to find a chair. This chair was given to me a few years ago and was patiently awaiting a recover. I decided to leave the wood in its natural state and saved money by recovering the cushions with a canvas drop cloth I picked up at the hardware store for $9. The hardest part was stripping off the old fabric.
There are a few other essentials every book nook needs: a good reading light, an ottoman, a comfy pillow, a cozy blanket and a small side table. Travis and I made a table from a pre-cut top and pre-turned legs we found at Menards in about six minutes, then I stained the legs and painted the top. There you have it, a cozy reading nook with a few found pieces, a few new pieces, a little sweat equity and about $30.
A Gallery Wall
Art can really change the feel of a room and nothing makes a bigger statement than an entire wall of it. However, I’m hard pressed to want to shell out big bucks for art so I decided I would improvise. I used a great service called Social Print Studio to print off a bunch of my pictures from Instagram and taped them to the wall. I also printed out some quotes I designed on the computer, added some paint to one and stained another with red wine vinegar for a little bit of color and hung them in frames I bought from Ikea for about $10.
I am notoriously bad at putting up art. It involves hammers, nails and making sure everything is level. Ugh. After about three hours of trying to get everything lined up on the wall I decided it would be better for my walls (and my sanity) that nothing lined up and went for an asymmetrical motif instead. I’m very happy with it.
As much as I love the the all-white walls/trim/ceiling I felt something was missing. I decided to give the room a bit of drama by painting the doors a dark teal. I was a little unsure at first but once it was finished I was ecstatic about the decision. The dark color not only contrasts well with the white walls and trim but it compliments the dark wood of the desk.
A Few Other Essentials
- airy window coverings
- a picture or two of someone you love
- a snuggly kitty
In no way would I consider myself a designer but with a little bit of thought it is possible to make a space beautiful. No matter what your personal style or design experience, if you go with your intuition and create a space that feels good to you, you can’t lose. Happy decorating.