DIY HOME DECORATING TIPS
My Shared Home Office Makeover: How I Mixed Modern and Traditional Decor Styles To Create A Space For My Whole Family To Love
Today on the blog, I’m revealing our new home office and showing you exactly how I’ve updated this space to reflect the varying tastes and needs of each member of our family.
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Confession: A Home Office No One Loved
My home office has been a disaster for the past year. Every single week, I’d tell myself I was going to get it under control and every single Friday, I felt like a failure for not reaching that goal.
Too many months of reactively running my business had led to piles of paperwork, inventory overflowing off the shelves, and a desk configuration that made absolutely no sense. This photo was taken on a good day, last Spring, before I left my corporate job to pursue my design business:
I’m not exaggerating at all. It was so bad that I’d taken to working in our unheated garage! I didn’t even want to look at it but I also couldn’t avoid it because it sits at the very front of our home, just off the foyer. I can see it from the kitchen, dining room, front door, my bedroom door, and front yard.
It’s unavoidable and, considering we have a two month deadline to get this home ready to list, it’s also a main priority. First impressions are everything and my office was telling people that this home is a hot mess. And it wasn’t just affecting this room:
This office, and its lack of cohesion, was also speaking to our buyers via other spaces too: Because my stuff had completely taken over the workspace, Christine was forced to work elsewhere. Her solution? A small desk carved out in the corner of our bonus room. Then I was working at another desk in the garage.
The subconscious message to buyers? Yes, this home has a home office but it’s not spacious enough for you to work there. Oh no! Considering how important a dedicated workspace is for buyers these days (read: Top 5 Trends Real Estate Buyers Want To See In 2019), this was a major issue for staging the home.
Since I needed to make this space friendlier for my entire family, I knew I’d need to cut back on not just the amount of stuff in this space, but also my style. I am a huge fan of antiques and I love lots of layering of items and vignettes and as I’m typing this I’m realizing I’m a hoarder.
But Christine is not. She loves modern decor and neutral colors with clean, crisp edges. This wallpaper choice was her least favorite decision I’ve made in this house. So if I planned to incorporate her into the space, I knew I’d need to take it out.
It’s also not a great choice for showing our home because our suburban buyers tend to prefer more neutral style, too. I know this because I’ve studied our market, using this Real Estate Market Evaluation Guide, to help me determine which changes we need to implement before we list.
Mixing Modern + Traditional: Start with a plan
The secret to mixing two decor styles is to balance everything out perfectly. Now this doesn’t mean you should add one modern piece for every antique. This actually means you should figure out the IMPACT of each piece on the space and counterbalance it with an equally impactful piece of the opposite style.
To ensure that I didn’t go overboard with any one style, I mocked up a design concept before I even began painting.
Since the built-ins are a fixed element in the room and they reflect a traditional style, I decided the majority of the items I added in should be more modern to offset them. I also added in a lot of neutral colors to reflect Christine’s taste but used more traditional fabrics - like linen - to tie the space together.
To do that, I brought Christine’s favorite piece of art - this Keith Haring oversized kid’s poster that we had framed - back into the space. Like the look? I can’t find the poster online but here’s a very similar wall mural.
Then I also grabbed this chair, which has just been floating from room to room for almost a year, and gave it an official home.
To add a fun mix of traditional and modern, I brought in the curtains from our dining room, which we had to replace when we moved the hardware to a higher location. These were custom (I sewed them myself for our ORC Spring 2018 Dining Room Makeover) but here’s the really gorgeous Art Deco style linen fabric I used.
Office Organization For Two: Consider the actual needs of everyone
At first glance, it may look like I still didn’t carve out much space for Christine in this office but let’s look a little closer. The built-ins house a lot of my inventory and supplies for my artwork while the desk functions as a main storage unit for Christine’s paperwork.
Her job is very different from mine so naturally, her storage needs differ greatly too. While I require some storage for paperwork, I mostly work online. But then my shop requires lots of storage for 3D items - like vases - that I keep in my inventory. I also make a lot of what I sell and those tools and supplies require more storage as well.
One Desk Works For Two: Different work schedules means less furniture
Christine works mostly outside the home. While she typically does have an hour or so of paperwork to complete every night, she’s usually not burning the midnight oil.
I, on the other hand, have been known to work best from around 7:30 pm until the wee hours of the morning. These are the times that I’d like to be spending with her but she’s usually off in another room, watching TV or playing video games.
The solution? This chair serves as a place for her to cozy up beside me and watch TV while I work on client designs or administrative duties at the desk.
Home Office For Three: Incorporating our daughter into the space
While our daughter doesn’t have a job, she does have a lot of paperwork!
She’s constantly drawing, painting, and creating. While we don’t keep everything, we do keep a lot of her artwork. Instead of storing everything on the fridge, we place most of it in one of these white boxes on our shelves until we’re ready to part with it, send it to a grandparent, or put it in an album.
She also knows exactly where she can find her favorite art supplies, easily within reach. She’s been home sick with me this week and this office has been perfect because she can watch TV in here, color on the floor, and play in the open floor space while I work.
It’s also just generally nicer to look at than it ever has been! I no longer have anxiety every time I glance in the direction of this space! YAY!!
And Christine loves it too!! It’s like the cool study we never had before! I want to pour a glass of scotch and settle in with a book.
After we finished the project, we spent a couple of hours in here this weekend - just the two of us. I wrapped up some client designs and sorted receipts while she played video games and chatted with her best friend on the phone.
We were both doing completely different things but just being in the same place felt like we were actually spending time together.
I’ll be back next week with a full tutorial to show you how I got this awesome antique burl wood desk for just $20!
(Hint: I DIYed it)
Make sure you check back tomorrow when I count down my five favorite DIY blog posts of February. Til then,
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