Elsie’s Office (BEFORE)

Elsie's Office BEFOREJeremy and I both work at home. When people ask us if we like it, that’s a loaded question! We love it SO much. But it comes with its pros and cons. One of the biggest challenges I have to work on is cleaning up after my projects consistently daily. In the early years of this blog before we were married or lived together, I used the main living room of my apartment as a giant studio. It was a mess basically 100% of the time. I think the only times it was ever really presentable were for photos of the space. I thrive in and love a messy workspace. But that doesn’t always work for a peaceful home life.

Well, Jeremy married me anyway and we’ve both compromised a lot to find balance. He is very patient with my blog project messes and I am becoming much more mindful about cleaning up after a long day of creative mess.

Which brings me to my point! This office is much much more about the storage than it is about the actual workspace. For projects I tend to hop from room to room. But I need a well-organized place to store all my DIY supplies, props and random equipment. This room will be mostly functional (and hopefully as beautiful as possible!) storage as well as a place for a computer desk, my printers and a comfy office chair.

SmAR5A4827This room was previously a study. So it won’t need any remodeling. Just a little bit of paint and decorating to make it feel like me. The built in bookshelves are AMAZING. I need a lot of space for my bins of supplies, so this is perfect!

SmAR5A4828I’m not sure what kind of light fixture to choose! It’s a pretty dark room, so I’m thinking something with white balanced bulbs might feel nice?

Should I add wallpaper to the back of the bookshelves OR do an accent wall behind my desk?

SmAR5A4831Here’s where the accent wall and desk could go. I’ve been debating on whether to DIY a desk or improve an inexpensive one?

Any bright ideas for this space? It’s small, but I think it’s exactly what I need as far as storage and a spot to answer emails goes! xx. Elsie

  • The foam board idea sounds cool! I’d be afraid to paper for the same reasons

  • LOVE the idea of painting the built-ins white and adding some type of wallpaper or funky fabric to the back panel with an accent wall to coordinate!

  • Your ~really~ going to paint every wood feature in your home white like an ikea catalog? *tear*

  • I can’t wait to see what you d o with the shelves. They’re beautiful as they are, but painting them white could be really pretty too!


  • I would love another DIY accent wall tutorial! Your relationship with Jeremy sounds a lot like my husband’s and mine.

  • Lol! Love you disclaimer with painting the book shelves. Definitely love your own house. But just thought I would throw out another option. My husband wouldn’t let me paint our bookcases, so I backed them with some light funky wall paper (miss print, from the uk). And I love them! The high contrast was just what our room needed. But definitely go with what you like. 😉

  • I say paint the shelves a solid color and do an accent wall. If you have a lot of storage containers/organizational items it might take away from a wallpaper or just might not show that much! And I vote for you to DIY a fun desk 🙂

  • I just installed (well my husband did) the vega flush mount light from cb2 in my office. If you need light, check out that fixture! With 7 40w bulbs hubby says we need sunscreen in there!

  • I purchased a beautiful old pine wall unit and painted it creamy white and the back of the unit I painted the same color as the wall, and it looks like floating shelves, it is gorgeous. (my wall color is a light tiffany blue, but it will work with any color)

  • Ouh I can’t wait to see how those turn out. What if you painted everything white EXCEPT for the very backs of the shelves? A thought!


  • I can see why you fell in love with this house Elsie. There is just so much potential to it. Those built in bookshelves are the bomb! All your craft supplies would definitely look good in them. I can’t wait!


  • This is a blind room, no window, right ? So daylight bulbs I say!
    You are totally right to paint the shelves white, and I would say no to the wallpaper or painting for the back of the shelves, because with all your storage bins there will be so many colors already. At my work, they went a little crazy with a bold line of red paint going zig-zag through the shelves, very beautiful when the shelves are empty, but not that much with all the books in (it’s a library, you can see pictures here : http://www.ibosvitart.com/index.php/site/projet/institutionnel/strasbourg-andre-malraux-library).
    The accent wall is a brilliant idea, it can create the missing window!

  • You have so many built ins!! Really amazing. I don’t hate you for painting it white, it’s way too drak now. Makes the room look so full of it.

  • You’re right, those bookshelves are amazing, I would love to have such an extensive library! I think they would look marvelous in white!

  • When you first posted pictures of the house I knew those bookshelves had to be painted white – I definitely think it’s the right move and it will brighten up the whole space.

    Erin | http://beingerin.com/

  • As it is an office, I would paint the walls white and paint the bookshelf a fun colour like yellow… not too busy for an office but still fun. I definitely wouldn’t leave the bookshelf as it is, it is way too dark. I look forward to seeing what you would do as the end result.

  • Painting those bookshelves seems like a daunting task! I would probably just leave them as is and add some fabric or wall paper panels to the backs. Can’t wait to see how you everything looks in the end!

  • An inexpensive way to add some light to the room is to get some recessed lights (pretty cheap online and come fully enclosed ready to stuff into the ceiling). We had a dark guest room in the finished part of our basement and spent $25 for a four pack and lit up all the area around the bed (and they’re LED so no changing hassle). This would be handy if you specifically wanted separate lights over the desk area for projects and then can still keep a pretty fixture in the middle of the room.

  • Maybe paint the back of each shelf with colour and ombre it, so darkest in the bottom shelf all the way upto lightest in the top. You could even do rainbow colours for the four different bookcases! Love it! Cant wait to see more progress posts! xx

  • Definitely paint those shelves, it will make the room appear bigger. Endless possibilities, good luck!

  • Well.. If that would be my room I hade painted the bookshelf in a white/grayish color. Like white but a little grey to keep it warm 🙂
    I had Left the other walls white with framed posters. Dark Wood floor. But then again Im from sweden and we like to keep it white and empty haha. Check out House doctor design, It’s a danish company!

  • I ended up leaving it at the studio house (our moving truck was VERY full) and Hope is using it in her bedroom now! :))
    xx- Elsie

  • Haha! Yes! I agree. I know they are beautiful as is. But sometimes you just gotta go with your instincts! Thanks so much for your comment. :))

    xx- Elsie

  • It’s always so much fun to see other people’s Before and Afters. I love missing all the hard work that goes in between.

    Anyway, about the desk. I have a diy desk I’m about to redo. However, there is one fantastic thing that I love about it. I built it shelves which run the whole length but underneath it, at the back of the desk. There’s still plenty of room for my legs at the front, but at the back there are magazine boxes and bins which hold stuff I need to access every couple of months – such as travel cases for my technology, international plugs and all those extra chargers and cords that everyone has, etc.

    But the other thing that works soooooo well is that I have a huge surge protector thingie on the top shelf just under the desk. I have everything plugged into it through a hole in the top of the desk and one in the side of the shelving. To hide the mess, I just built a really simple 3 sided wooden screen that fits on the shelf in front of it. It just slides in place an pulls out easily when I need to access the cords. Everything is painted white so it’s kind of invisible. Bye bye wires and cords.

    I can’t wait to see what you do, not just to your office, but everything else, too.

  • I don’t know if it’s more work than you’re wanting to do, but I think recessed canned lighting throughout the room would be a great natural light solution! I’m in love with this house, and am having so much fun watching your progress to bring it new life!

  • Since it is a dark room, have you thought about putting in a skylight tube (not sure what is above the room). Depending on the size the let in an amazing amount of natural light. Since you will be probably using the room mostly during the day. Then just some accent lamps for evening.

  • I love the bookshelves, you should definitely incorporate them in this room!
    I can see what you mean by the lighting… I can imagine those jar lights you can find from Urban outfitters would go with the bookshelves and would light up the room more.

    enough with the before pictures!! i cant wait to see al done!!!

    (its true, but also true that i love to see the process!, but… anxiety!!! but love the process, but anxiety….!!!)

  • Do the accent wall, I say. With all your bins and supplies it could end up cluttered looking to have more going on in those shelves. Plus you want as much storage as possible,so you should be able to fill it up completely if needed without worrying about covering up something cute. It’s a very cute room! Can’t wait to see what you decide

  • No way would I wallpaper the back of those bookcases. It’s great going up, but it’s a pain in the butt to get all the glue off when it comes down. If you want color there, use foam board with amazing fabric for color. I just use tape or straight pins on the back, and when you are tired of the color/choice you made, changing it is just so easy 🙂 An accent wall to play off of or blend in with your bookshelf backs would be really pretty!

  • Haha – I love the little disclaimer on the bookshelves “Painting white (don’t hate me!)” Definitely knew you were gonna get a lot of comments about that change in colour.

    Definitely white built ins will make the room look more together and MUCH more “you.” Can’t wait to see what you do to this room. Studies are some of my favourite rooms to get ideas for as you can go so many different ways!

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