Last January, my husband G and I got this great idea to renovate our mess of an office as our 2013 New Year’s resolution. Then I got an even better idea to document our progress on our old Sawdust Blog leading up to our Big Reveal when we finished the room.

Here is a “before” shot of the office (I’m cringing just looking at it again) and a link to the story I wrote to kick off this series.


Well, that documentation part seemed like a great idea last year when we were gung-ho on picking out colors, painting, installing recessed lighting and replacing the worn carpet with new hardwood flooring.

Then the project—and my writing—stalled the rest of the year. We made great strides on the big stuff. It’s the little stuff we are still working on. We want this space to have a “collected over time” feeling, but that look takes, well, it takes some time to create. We also have “little things” like touch-up paint, outlets and trim to complete.

While this isn’t the Big Reveal we were shooting for last January, here is what our office looks like today!


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We achieved our #1 goal of cleaning up the junk. Hooray! We also created a functional workspace and we made the room safe for our 2-year-old son Joey to enter. No more baby gates to climb over! That alone is worth celebrating!

We had an old set of Ikea bookcases and a matching table that were kind of rickety and kind of boring, but they fit the space along our focal wall perfectly—like the exact same number of inches as the wall perfectly. We measured–a few times–just to be sure.

G reinforced everything so these babies are sturdy again and I painted them a gray color slightly lighter than the color of our walls.

Then we FREAKED OUT when we went to install the bookshelves and they didn’t fit—by about an inch. It turns out the length from wall to wall is increased by about an inch when you account for the baseboards. Doh! Lesson learned!

office_bookshelvesandtableLuckily, G is handy and he cut the baseboards around the bottom of the bookshelves so everything fits perfectly. Whew!

We topped the table with the fabric we used for our color palette inspiration. Then we spent about $100 to have a piece of glass cut for the tabletop to hold the fabric in place. I like this little splash of pretty in the middle of all of that grey.

We are still debating whether to upcycle two wooden chairs to place at the table or buy another comfy rolling office chair. In the meantime, we roll our chair over when we work at this space. A new vintage-inspired desktop lamp from Ikea provides task lighting.

After everything was in place, we realized we had an issue. We did not plan for office supplies. Our file cabinet fit perfectly under the table to hold important documents, but where would we put little things like pens and paper clips? We found our solution when we were at Ikea buying the lamp.

The little white cabinet on the left cost about $40. It is small enough to fit under the table, but useful enough to hold all of our office supplies. Well, it HELD all of our supplies until we realized Joey could open the drawers, draw all over the freshly painted walls with our pens and possibly choke on a paper clip. Everything went back into the box placed high up on the bookshelf, but we kept the little cabinet because we like it so much.

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For our computer workspace, I painted a vintage corner desk I bought years ago to match the bookshelves and table. All of our existing furniture came together in this room so nicely. The one thing we bought new was the desk chair, which we got at Costco for about $100. It was worth it!

office_desk2This chair is much more comfortable than the kitchen chair where I used to sit! I am so grateful to have a nice space now where I can just sit down and start writing without having to clear a bunch of junk out of the way first.

We made one other mistake in our room design. We forgot all about the printer until we set up the computer and realized we didn’t have a spot for it. It did not fit comfortably beneath the desk and looked funny on the floor.

We brought in a cabinet from the garage and painted it for now. Ignore the grubby handprints on it! Joey got to it before I could wax the piece to protect it. I haven’t re-painted it yet because we haven’t decided if we are keeping this cabinet. We might come up with something better or we might stick with this cabinet and do something creative on the door. That’s another 2014 mini-project.

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Here is one last before/today angle. We ditched the outdated curtains and replaced the paper shades with new blinds. We still need to come up with new window treatments.


As you can see, the room is still a pretty bare and needs the finishing touches. It’s one of those things where we don’t know exactly what we are looking for, but we will know it when we see it. We did acquire two awesome items that you can see in this picture.

Vintage Typewriter and Table

The first is the vintage typerwriter table.

Isn’t it cool?

Our neighbors tried to donate it to a non-profit organization before they moved, but were told it was “too old”. They gave it to us instead. We love it—even if it looks a little lonely all by itself over there between the windows that still need curtains.

We would like to add a comfy upholstered chair and a lamp to create a nice space to curl up with a good book. We have my father-in-law’s typewriter and a few vintage cameras that all go with the “vintage/industrial office vibe” we would like to create. Before we can display these things on the wall, we need the chair in place to gauge where to hang the shelves. That’s another 2014 project—once we find the perfect chair. No luck with that so far, but we know it is out there.

My Favorite Find of All of 2013!

These lockers aren’t vintage, but they are My Favorite Find of All of 2013. My Dad and I found them on a treasure hunting trip in Richmond. I didn’t know what I would use them for, but I knew I had to have them. G suggested we tuck the lockers right here behind the office door. Another perfect fit!

The top locker is home for G’s wallet and work badge. Our keys hang right inside the door on a little hook. Our punctuality increased by like 90% last year thanks to that little hook because we don’t waste time running around the house frantically searching for our keys anymore. We also moved all of our pens and paper clips to one of the high lockers, behind closed doors and out of Joey’s reach.

With our storage problem solved, the next big thing we need to figure out is what to do with this wide open space above the table. Here is the photo again.


This is the focal point of the room so we want it to be spectacular. If you have any ideas, please let us know in the comments. We would love to hear from you!

~ Courtney

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