ABM Studio: The Office (Before)

General good office vibes!HI friends! I'm back to share more before photos and decorating ideas for our studio house. If you haven't been following along, so far I've shared the entrywaykitchen and living room. The office is a very important space, because it's where all the computer work and internal meetings will take place. In our current space (my home) the dining room has doubled as our office by day. I'm glad we had that transitional phase, because I feel like I had time to really figure out what we need and what from an office. 

The image above is via Lonny. I love the general look and feel of it. It's busy, but still relaxed and filled with inspiration! 

A big table is key. When we first moved into my house we created a desk for Trey in a spare bedroom. He used that desk for about six months, and then realized that he felt isolated in that room and has been working with us in the dining room ever since. Since writing blog content is so hands on we are constantly coming and going all day, but the big table has become the center of our working environment. We love a shared computer space. If someone needs to concentrate they might leave the room for an hour or two, but our shared table has been a great way to stay in synch with each other. Since we had such a positive experience building my dining room table we're planning to create a DIY table in the new office. I would love to find chairs that are both comfortable and beautiful! 

When we started shopping for a home to move our business into, we liked the idea of having an office with one big table that was centrally located on the main floor of the house.Office BEFORE 1This room is located just behind the living room (here's the view into the living room) and beside the dining room. You can see here there is a door in the corner that opens out to the wrap around front porch.Office BEFORE 2The bay windows in this room are my favorite feature. I think they will look so pretty and fresh filled with plants!Office BEFORE 3The first order of business in this room is paint! You can see here there is a shadow of a once-upon-a-time border that was removed. The beige walls are also damaged in many places.Office BEFORE 5This room has another metal cord cover going from the light switch to the light fixture (which is presently missing). Luckily our contractor is an excellent electrician soon that will be INSIDE of the wall where it belongs. :) 

Speaking of light fixtures… what do you think about this?Simple hanging light fixture(via a pair & a spare) I love it. I want something casual, but that actually is a good light source since it's a workspace. First and foremost, it needs to be functional. We're very open to suggestions!Workspace inspiration(via Imports From Marrakesh) An inspiration wall is another huge priority. I want something changeable and simple since we work on so many different projects throughout the year.Love this wood wall!(via The Design Files)You know how you get something stuck in your head? Well, since before we even started shopping I've always envisioned a wood wall in the office. I don't know why, but it's stuck in my head. And so I'm considering making it happen in this room. I think it adds so much!Office BEFORE 4First of all, you're probably wondering where that door came from. So are we. It's just, kind of, there. It doesn't fit in this room. We can't figure it out. We're considering using it for some sort of DIY project though. What would you do with a lonely spare door? 

This wall came with built in bookcases. I'm thinking it would be cool to expand this to the other side of the doorway, so it's one giant wall of books that wraps around the doorway. Right now it feels a little unbalanced to me. Plus, you already know we're obsessed with giant bookcases!Books forever!Books forever!(both images via The Design Files) Bookshelves are my favorite. Have any of you designed an office space before? I'd love to hear your tips. This is a first for us! xo. Elsie 

ps. For more obsessive daily studio inspiration, follow me on Pinterest

Credits // Author and Photography: Elsie Larson, Inspiration images are linked throughout.

  • Lovely office space! So, on the door, I once painted the eiffel tower on a door in art class (using a projector) and then drew a pretty hilarious portrait of myself gazing into the distance on a balcony in Paris, long before I ever actually had been there… ha. it’s still at my house at home, and now my mom has decided to use it for something practical by installing it onto the wall at the entryway and putting vintage knobs on it to turn it into a coat hanger. so there’s that! 😉

    Kristin at callhomedear.com

  • here’s an idea for that spare door – why not make it into a corner bookshelf?


  • I once had a bed that my dad made out of an old huge church door- maybe try a small scale version for Miss Penelope Bloom!

  • Make a desk out of the door! Put a pane of glass over it and place on top of two filing cabinets and voila! My boss did that with one of her old doors and it works great!

  • For the inspiration wall i would use magnetic paint. You can paint over that with any colour you want and have a colourful magnetic wall as a base for all your pictures, fabrics and other inspiring stuff. And it will still be easy to change whenever you want to.

  • I love the yellow pendant lamp! And I would definitely make the door into some kind of cool table or bench… 🙂 Such an awesome space you have!!

  • My thought for your design wall is using homosote (I think that’s the name, but I’m not sure). It’s a sort of partically material that you can get in large sheets at hardware stores. My college had it on the art studio walls painted white so we could stick inspiration up there or things we were working on when we needed to step back and take another look from a different perspective. They used large screws to attach it to the walls. If you get sick of it, you can always take it down and you’ll just have a few screw holes to spackle.

  • I would paint the door with magnetic paint and turn it into an inspiration board. It’s a great size and it could easily be moved around from room to room and used as a board for displaying menus or photos for parties when needed!

  • Love you ideas…. looking forward to the actualization 🙂


  • Use the door to hang Emma’s DIY wedding dress on display!! Do something cool with the door to make the dress truly pop. It would be great for that dress to be displayed somewhere and be admired everyday. That day was such a huge part of all of your lives and it’s a labor of love for everyone to enjoy 🙂

    Just a suggestion…


  • Use the door to hang Emma’s DIY wedding dress on display!! Do something cool with the door to make the dress truly pop. It would be great for that dress to be displayed somewhere and be admired everyday. That day was such a huge part of all of your lives and it’s a labor of love for everyone to enjoy 🙂

    Just a suggestion…

  • Turn that door into a table! Especially if it is a solid wood door! My husband and I found a solid wood door on the street and he turned it into an amazing kitchen table!

  • Hey there:) I think a Bookcase on both sides of the door would look awesome:)
    it would make it tie in better.

    I a obsessed with LIGHT fixtures:) here is a couple links to awesome ones that I think might work for the space. the Yellow is fantastic!!:) very simple bright and functional:) here is just a couple options if you feel like branching out:)




    Hope that helps:)Cant wait to see the end result!!

  • I would turn that door into a coffee table or a patio table, maybe with a piece of glass or plexi glass over it! It would also maybe be cool to add pieces of cork into a wood wall maybe strips or something ? And use the cork boards as inspiration boards ! I really like Mollie’s idea above too with the metal inspo boards!
    Can’t wait to see the end results!

  • I absolutely love the fact that you are turning a house into your studio. It sounds so cozy and fun! I thought I’d leave a suggestion for that lonely door…use it for your table!! Or part of your table by adding extensions on either end. I did that with an old salvaged door and it turned out great. I absolutely love it! Here’s a link to it in case you are curious!


  • Hi there ABM girls! I’ve been reading your blog for a few years and just love the way it (and your business) has transformed and continues to change in such exciting ways!

    Concerning the rogue door–what about some eye candy for your wraparound? You could turn it into a porch swing or hanging outdoor worktable (great for working outside in weather-permitting months) and then paint it some sassy color to make that space really pop! Here are a couple pins you might like:

    Swing- http://www.pinterest.com/pin/13933080070095035/
    Hanging table- http://www.pinterest.com/pin/5699937002339950/

    Good luck as you continue the studio design process!

  • Why not combine the wood wall with your inspiration wall and use cork flooring on the wall? You could stick push pins to it, it’s self healing, would give a little bit of sound proofing for anyone outside of the room needing quiet, and would look really cool!

  • a blank slate — so many possibilities! so eager to see what’s to come!

  • What about using the spare door for a foundation for a daybed? 🙂 That could be awesome!


  • I like the look of the modern industrial style lighting that is around quite a bit now! A big light feature would be very cool in here, plus lots of light is important especially if you are working in the evenings and need to keep alert! 🙂

    Ngaio xx

  • I am loving your design posts. I will be setting up an office at home and will be following this closely for ideas 🙂
    Mlle C. xx

  • Back in high school our class did a project for the community called “Doors to Our Past.” We took old doors put them on wheels and then decoupaged with photos. You could do something similar to commemorate history or great memories.


  • Many years ago I found an old wood door at a salvage store. I painted it and had a piece of glass custom cut to fit perfectly over it, then I mounted it onto two sawhorses and used it as a desk. It was big and not to mention a great conversation piece.

  • I have had a wood wall exactly like that in my living room ever since my parents bought over the house, the previous owner put it there.It’s really nice, and even after two redecorations, we just did everything around the wood panelling. But, if you do it, you must want to stick to it, it would be a waste if you wanted to change it in a year.

  • I love the yellow light. I decided that I wanted a big table versus a desk in our work space. I love it. I love the wood walls that are made of different pieces of reclaimed wood.

  • FYI you should relocate the AC/Heater sensor/programmer thing as the house will not be well regulated temperature wise if you box that into a bookcase :)(My dad remodels and I’ve taken on this disease 🙂

  • I’d make the door into the slide. For when things got boring in the studio:) If you need any other great DIY ideas you know where to come, girls.

  • I am so happy for you and your team. Sometimes I contemplate moving from my apartment to another just for the sake of getting to redecorate in a new space.

    Transforming a house into a studio is fabulous.

    Chic modern light fixtures in bold colors are a great idea.

    As for the door, like many people have already suggested – a table (desk, coffee, or dinner) would would great. You could lay over a piece of glass to balance it out and it would look really cool under there.

    I have also seen old doors used as partitions in dressing rooms – so if you have a special closet or room for costumes/dress up – you could add it to that space.

    Last idea – add it to a mudroom and put in some cool hooks for scarves and jackets

  • With the door I’d consider turning it into a table top – possibly the large work desk you are after? Would need a sheet of glass on top to make it practical but then you could insert an array of inspirational photos, fabrics, drawings and things under the glass – that could be interchangeable when you get sick of it or work on a new project.

    For the wall – I think painting it in a magnetic paint that’s also chalkboard – not sure if there is such a thing but wouldn’t it be ace? You could pick your colour, write on it, draw on it, and stick things to it with magnets.

    Loving following along the reno process of your new studio!

    In Peace Love & Harmony
    Little White Dove

  • Really full of posibilities…
    I imagine the door, easiest, as a low table either as it is or covered with a glass if you need a flatter surface.
    But, we have a spare closet door, same size as yours, and used it as a headboard for our bed. It gives a rustic and comfy vibe to the room…
    Other uses I can imagine are for your inspirational board, leaning against the wall with hanging planters on it, or -if you take more doors away in the house- align them as a fake wood wall? this last one makes me think Alice in wonderland could come out of any!

  • Giant book shelves are amazing!

    For the door: What about finding a few other doors, painting them and making a room divider or using them to make an outdoor “room” in a garden or back yard?

    I liked some of the other ideas too; who knew you could do so much with an abandoned door?!

  • Hey I’m Sydney 🙂

    Lonely door ideas: A DIY dining room table! (Probably inspired by your post about Elsie’s DIY dining room table)
    Or a cork board to post inspirations.
    Or an Ottoman as a comfy place in the corner of the room with pillows and little legs so you can place items underneath it. To read all those books that will be on the wall!

    I love ABM Congrats on your studio house I want one someday too.



  • I think loads of shelving (particularly those amazing bookshelves in those last pictures) is a must. My dad recently redesigned his personal office to include museum-style glass-fronted shelves with downlighting – best investment ever.

  • I’m a regular reader but rarely post (peek-a-boo!) I have a background in interior design and wanted to say I really love the look of clipboard artwork frames. They make so much sense in an office/studio space. Also, I grew up in a house with wood paneled walls – um, yikes! It will definitely darken the space (unless you chose a light colored wood, of course). Actually, check out the top of this table I happened upon: http://designsbystudioc.com/create-a-striped-panel-with-stain-and-plywood/

    Now a striped style, with variations of wood stains (maybe even a bright colored stain thrown in every few stripes) would give a wood wall a modern kick and be much more ABM style, from what I’ve seen 🙂

    I do think this space would look amazing with a painted ceiling, too. I remember seeing a post here with ceiling inspiration. I vote yes on that, for sure!

  • You should not only expand the bookcase to the other side of the door but put a shelf or two above the door as well.

  • The inspiration shots are incredible and I can’t wait to see your “After.” 🙂


  • What a gorgeous space you have to work with! I love the look of that wooden wall and hope you do decide to go with that, so I can see how it turns out 🙂

  • For the door, I’d make it into a corner shelf. That’s what I’m planning for our home.

  • I always have problems with the lights in my work space. I like to be able to both sit and stand and work at a large table. I am the kind of person who likes to see things spread out and standing over a table sprawled with things sometimes it is the only way. I am also relatively tall and so sometimes pretty hanging lights get in the way of my head when I am standing and working over a table. I like things that are pretty and hanging but also high enough that people will not bonk their heads when working over the table. I would look for something like this if you are the same way. Here are some cool things I found for inspiration for above your table…
    http://www.weheart.co.uk/2012/11/09/grandcafe-wennekerpand/. – you could use this ladder idea but hang it horizontally so you get a nice spread of light while taking up less vertical space. (you may even be able to incorporate your rogue door into this idea somehow.)
    http://www.pinterest.com/pin/113012271871360651/. – this could also be a fun DIY project with different types of found lights and lamps.

  • Wow! Beautiful space for your office!

    Lulu xx


  • I love these “before and after” posts! i find them so intresting and it shows that you can do loads with whatever you have!


  • Our house has a false door above the stairs (so you can’t reach it and it leads to nowhere) and I so badly want to paint a mural on it and make it look like it’s leading to Wonderland or Narnia! SO many possibilities!

  • I love the ideas, so pretty! Can’t wait to see what you guys do with the space. As for the door, I’ve seen walls and room dividers made of several doors. Maybe use the one as a small room divider if you need one for some reason?

  • You can use that lonely door as your inspiration board surface! That way you won’t damage the walls by hanging and rehanging pictures.


  • You have many things to do, but at the moment I think looks pretty nice, you have good ideas, the yellow ligth is ok, maybe 2 of them and another for focal point, depends what you are going to do there.


  • You could make an entry hall coat rack/seat with the old door

  • You guys read A Pair and a Spare too? Oooohhhh. YOu two are some of my fave DIY blogs! 🙂


  • Love the inspiration photos! I’m currently putting together a work space and creating an inspiring and functional space is so critical!

  • really looks like it will be a beautiful space! can’t wait to see it all come together

  • I absolutely love this, especially since I’m working on putting together my office in our house at the moment and am definitely looking for inspiration! Thanks for sharing!! Can’t wait to see more 🙂

    Jamie @
    The Growing Up Diaries

  • I will cover the door with glass, put some tripod under it and ta-da: a nice table/desk for your brand new studio 😀


  • I’ve always really wanted a floor to ceiling bookshelf with a ladder- I definitely think it’s an awesome idea to extend it across the whole wall. That door, though- there must be something fun to do with it.

  • Would you guys do a full post on the table when you make it? I would love it! I’m working on plans for a table for myself and I’m a little worried about the clamping and glueing process 😀

  • So exciting decorate all this space ! It’s must be crazy!
    I love your ideas, specially ideas from Marrakech et Design files!
    Anyway I think is gone be fantastic!!

  • Love your ideas! Have you considered where your power outlets are? This would be a big factor for plugging in laptops, printers, and crafty stuff like glue guns. Maybe have a way to plug in a power strip under the table? That’s always been and issue for me in setting up an office.

  • an idea is to transform the door in some kind of wardrobe with colour and some hooks. I know you will have enough space in your hallway, but it could be a wardrobe for little things also in your office space. It could be a steady place to hang on your bags, camera and stuff you’ll need every day close to your desk.

    When you find other things you don’t know where to belong to, you could create a room divider of these things, when some space should be partitioned.

    Have fun!

    Greetings from Austria

  • How exciting! LOVE those windows. You’re so right about how amazing they look. And those floor length bookshelves are an awesome idea! My inner Belle from Beauty and the Beast is LOVING that addition to the room! 😉


  • I love the built-ins. The more books the better! Some bright white paint would definitely liven up the room 🙂
    xo Allison

  • Giant table and giant book shelves… Dream office!

    P.S. I LOVE that old door. I currently have 3 in my home now that I have found in junk yards, old barns and in the construction trash from a victorian remodel. 2 are now the guest room headboard and the other got saw horse legs and a glass top and is now my desk… Keep it for a DIY. I’m sure you will come up with something fantasitc.

  • love this post

    twitter & instagram : @fashionrlounge
    Fashion room lounge

    A chic kiss 😉

  • Okay, so this is just an idea but talking about a mood board got me thinking. How AMAZING would it look to cover one wall (or just part of a wall) with a sheet of corrugated metal and add magnets to make the biggest evolving mood board ever? If you did two on either side of the room then walking into your office would feel like stepping into a giant inspiration station. The metal would also look fabulous against an all wood wall…just saying. 🙂

    As for the door, I think it would be so fun to paint it a bright color and then hang it from the ceiling along with 2 other doors as an airy and quirky room divider. Or take it a step further, build door frames around the 3 doors and attach them to the floor for a room divider that you could still walk through!

    Haha, that’s all I have for now. So stoked to see whatever you two end up doing. 🙂

  • So pretty- I especially love the giant table and bookshelf ideas! Those are both things we are incorporating into the office we are building. Shared workspaces are the best! 🙂

  • I love, love, love the bookshelf with the ladder- so classy/ beautiful/inspiring…makes me happy to be a literature student!

    Love from Germany and a little weekend review:


  • I’d make the door into a table and then chalk paint it. Chalk painting is a really cool.

  • You could transform the door into a low, mobile coffee table by sanding it, painting it a bold colour and adding wheels?

  • That door would be perfect as a wooden wall art / notice board / photo display once stripped off :). Just an idea 😉

  • I am so excited how your studio finally will look like, your ideas are awesome. We do have a wood ceiling and love it! Much greetings

  • it really looks like it will be a beautiful space! can’t wait to see it all come together

  • lovely space girls!
    love the idea of a wood wall, although it may in some cases darken a space- proceed with caution! Perhaps this is where you could use your loney door? If you could find a few more doors/windows/shutters it may be a fun way of ‘dressing’ a wall. painted in fun colours or au naturel.
    alternatively how about using it as a table-top or a pinboard or a frame for some artwork on a wall or something?
    keep up the goodwork!

  • Looks wonderful!We have that yellow lamp in our kitchen and love it!The rest of our kitchen is white. Have fun! Love the clear table and the wood wall.

  • I’m so excited to see what you’ll do with this office space! We seem to have similar taste in interior but I’m not good at thinking outside of the box (yet), so any of your ideas I could write down for future reference is welcome! I love the idea of a huge wall of bookcases around the doorway, sounds very Narnia-esque to me. I’m way too excited for this, seriously.

  • when my mom and i redid her office, we took her closet doors off and made them into a huge desk! maybe you could incorporate the door in that way.

  • You can make a desk using the abandoned door.

    I can see a couch type thing just below those windows. Like a reading nook, you can lie down there with your computer and write while looking outside the windows. Cozy. You can put plants somewhere else, I guess 🙂

  • Oh what a lovely space. I’ be tempted to make a huge coffee table out of the door if it’s sturdy enough! 🙂

  • That yellow light is perfect. I love the idea of the wood wall. I have several of them in my home, it was built by a local architect (Bob Schaefer) that studied under Frank Lloyd Wright and in 1970 and he built our house to live in and he lived in it until he passed away in 2006 so it’s pretty mod and cool. The wood walls are really nice with light painted walls to contrast. My slanted ceiling in my living room is also wooden and it’s lovely. We have wool off-white shag original carpet in the living room that’s in excellent shape. I was going to replace it but decided to keep it and I’m so glad we did. I just love stopping by and seeing all of your creative ideas!

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