The Home Office has become one of the most important rooms in the house in the last few months, hasn't it?
Secondly, Paul and I knew that this room was going to be really personal. For years we kept an apartment near our shop in NJ. It was for convenience, so we didn't always have to make the long drive back to our house in Pennsylvania.
When we moved out of the apartment in January, we sold several pieces of furniture and art but there were some things that we really loved. Some of them were used in our Guest Room makeover but most of these items were earmarked for the home office. They were things that we purchased together and they have sentimental value to us. Everything had been stored for months and we wanted to get our things out again so we could enjoy them!
The Walls and Floor
For 10 years I've loved the green walls in the office but it was definitely time to freshen things up. Besides that, the room is dark, with only one window in the corner and we thought something lighter and brighter would be a nice change.
We used a nice bright white on the ceiling and trim and the same color as the Guest Room and Bath - Benjamin Moore 'Pale Oak' - on the walls.
Paul pulled out the dark brown carpeting and over a long weekend we worked together to install the same flooring we installed in the Guest Room - Lifeproof Vinyl Plank Flooring from Home Depot in 'Trail Oak'.
Just like in the guest room and bath, Paul switched out the old light switches and electrical outlets with clean, new updated ones. It's a fantastic finishing touch that just makes everything feel clean and fresh.
As we work on each room of our house we've been focusing on what I call 'responsible redecorating'. To me that means making an effort not to purchase a lot of brand new items but instead, to look around our house, basement, and attic to identify things that can be repurposed, repainted, and reused in a new way. And if we need something, we buy used or vintage.
Paul and I like a mix of styles and we've never passed on something we love just because it didn't fit the style rule of the moment. We like mid-century living in harmony alongside antiques and contemporary pieces. We're most comfortable surrounding ourselves with things collected from our life together rather than things that we ran out and bought at Target or Home Goods just to fill a space.
For our office, we only purchased two brand new items...the trash can and the ceramic planter hanging in the window.
Our home office is a small room, so we needed to be thoughtful in deciding what to put into it. About 6 years ago we purchased this vintage nine drawer dresser. The plan was to refinish it and sell it in our shop but shortly after we brought it home, my son needed a larger dresser...so up to Ryan's room it went.
After Ryan moved out three years ago, we repurposed the dresser into office storage - a piece this size is really practical and perfect for an office.
Now, this dresser had been refinished and redesigned in our heads at least a half dozen times over the years, but when it came time to actually do it, we decided to keep it simple.
But simple doesn't have to be boring. We knew it would be the largest piece of furniture in a small room and Paul and I were in agreement, it needed to be a fantastic color. We batted some ideas around but at the end of the day it was unanimous...it had to be this beautiful green.
Obviously it's Chalk Paint® by Annie Sloan, this color is named Antibes Green and it's one of my absolute favorites. It's a bold, bright, statement color, but it's also organic and the green plays so beautifully off the warm, slightly orange wood tones in the floor.
Since we wanted this piece to feel modern, we chose to use Annie's Gloss Lacquer instead of sealing it with Annie Sloan's Chalk Paint® Wax as we typically do.
Every office needs a comfy chair and someplace to put your feet up to read, work on your laptop, maybe even to take a siesta :-), right? This Jacobean Revival oak armchair was in the living room of the apartment in NJ for years and we always loved it but we felt it was a little heavy for this small room.
Besides that, it's beautifully carved and the wood has a lot of open grain and imperfections that just couldn't be appreciated because the wood was so dark.
Again we turned to Chalk Paint® by Annie Sloan, this time we chose a warm, light neutral - Country Grey. The upholstery was fine, so we simply painted the wood, being careful not to get any paint on the fabric.
Once the chair was painted, we sealed it with Clear Chalk Paint® Wax and then added Dark Chalk Paint® Wax over the entire chair. the Dark Wax settles in the deep carvings and wood grain and adds of depth.
In front of the chair is an antique Moroccan camel saddle. We've bought and sold quite a few of these over the years. We're always on the lookout for them because they're exotic and cool and totally practical as a footstool.
The design on the little vintage bookcase was a bit of an afterthought. We knew we'd paint it but we didn't have an idea of what it should look like until the rest of the room was done. Paul had the idea of an allover stencil inspired by Matisse's La Gerbe .
We used Amsterdam Green outside and the back was painted in Antibes Green (the color of the dresser). The leaves are actually eight different stencils that we painted randomly in a palette of Chalk Paint® colors: Provence, Florence, Antibes, Duck Egg Blue, Tilton, and Country Grey.
What would an office be without a desk? This is another repurposed piece of furniture from the apartment in NJ.
We purchased it at a consignment shop several years ago and it was used in our little dining nook. I like that it isn't heavy or dense. In this small room it was important to us to keep things light and airy.
We sold the dining chairs that we used in NJ but recently we picked up another pair of chairs from a model home buyout to sell in the store. Only one chair sold, so we grabbed the other one for the desk.
Accessories & Art
Plants are more than an accessory in our house...they're really a hobby for both of us. Most weekends Paul and I spend time repotting, fertilizing, and tending to the plants. One day I realized that 2 hours had passed so I went through the house and counted the number of houseplants.
As it turns out, we're just shy of sixty! I had no idea we had that many! We currently have a half dozen in the office now but I know that'll change.
Things Paul and I collect (in addition to plants!) is art. We buy what we like. It doesn't matter if it's a print or an original work. If an image speaks to us...then we add it to the collection.
The art wall has a few of our favorites: a contemporary Klimt print, a photo from of the 40th infantry Training Battalion from Camp Croft, SC from 1941, a museum print of Marc Chagall's 'The First Encounter', a black and white print of Emmanuel Benner's 'At the Water's Edge', a colorful and abstract of wild horses, 'Cupid Unveiling Venus' is an engraving by A. Cardon from the original painting by F. Wheatley.
The pen and ink on the top left has sentimental value for me. A couple of years ago I saw this on the wall in a local consignment shop. I recognized it right away. My parents were given a set of pen and inks by this artist as a wedding present in 1963. The artist is my father's oldest brother Joseph Kelly. Uncle Joe was a working artist his entire life. He passed away in 2009 and I was thrilled to have the opportunity to own one of his pieces.
Aside from the art wall behind the desk, we have this large Andrew Wyeth print 'Trodden Weed' Paul is a fan of Andrew Wyeth and there's something about this image in particular that makes me think of Paul every time I see it
Over the dresser is a large vintage print of the Sutro Baths in San San Francisco. This image is from a postcard by an unknown artist, the print is from 1977 but the image is the bath house circa 1896. This is one of those things that we purchased at a consignment shop with every intention of offering it for sale in our shop but we both love it so much that we just couldn't part with it.
A Little Bit of Quirkiness
There are also a few oddball pieces in the room that give me a chuckle when I look at them. There's an antique harpoon hanging beside the print of of a man we've never met and this vintage brass kangaroo makes me happy every time I look at it.
The other is a small trumeau mirror. Having a mirror in the office is essential for checking your hair before a video call, right? This one appears traditional enough but if you look closely...it's actually a little bit of vintage erotica.
The image is titled 'A Letter from You' and it's a nude lounging woman holding a letter very strategically to cover her lady parts. What I get a chuckle out of, though are the holes through the frame on the top and bottom as if it had been bolted to the wall in a bar, seedy motel, or a brothel!
So, there you have it, a tour of our home office. As I said, it's a really personal room that feels cozy because it's filled with things that Paul and I have collected together. I like the idea of a room that's designed for work but doesn't feel cold and bland.
It can be a place that you want to spend time.
Thanks for reading!
We're Paul and Johanna and we write about our life in the furniture business. The things we love, the places we go, and the treasures we find along the way.