The last time I showed my office was in the November House Tour post. It was really sad and messy looking then:


office 51

office shelf nook1

There was no mistaking that it had room for improvement. In my defense, these pictures were taken in the midst of my senior year of college, and this room was essential for working/studying/writing/painting, etc. and the decor was not the most important thing on my mind. Now that college is over, I’ve had a little bit of time to work on improving the space.

Honestly, I didn’t even really do a lot to it. I made some different curtains, added some DIY built-in shelving, and did some rearranging and organizing. That’s mostly it. Most of the pieces in the room are the same. It looks like this now:

view from hallway brighter 1

I feel like the curtains really made a big difference. Going with something soft and neutral (love this grey/white pattern) sets a better and more sophisticated tone for the room and hanging them high and wide makes the room feel so much bigger. The three curtain panels only cost $30 (total for all three!). I made them from a queen sheet set I found at TJ Maxx. I cut the flat sheet in half for two of the panels and then made a third panel from the middle section of the fitted sheet. A great deal for that much fabric! (and that length!)

bookshelf side brighter1

desk bookshelves brighter 1

My favorite part of the room is definitely those built-in bookshelves though! Drew and I put them in ourselves. We used two IKEA extra-deep Billy Bookcases and then just trimmed them out with wood boards and trim. I painted the trim Valspar (by Lowe’s) Dove White, which is a pretty good match for the IKEA white of the bookshelves. I still need to perfect the styling, but I LOVE the way they look and the storage they provide! (still need to get some baskets to put all my fabrics in so the sun doesn’t fade them)

desk view of shelves 2 brighter1

That little nook space of the room was just perfect for the size of the bookshelves + trim. I had wanted to do this project for a while, but it took a while to commit to it since we live in a rental. Its hard sometimes to put money into things like that in a house that you know you can’ t take with you when you leave. We debated for a while on whether it was worth it to spend the money, but in the end we were excited to tackle the project and we knew it would provide much needed function to the room (look at the top of the post at the before pic! This side of the room was a messy dumping grounds for stuff!). I’m okay with spending a little money (within reason of course) to make our current home, however impermanent it may be, perfect for us. No use waiting around dreaming about all of the some-day projects! I’m so happy we went for it with this! It looks so great! (Side note: If you live in a rental, you might want to check with your landlord before you tackle a project like this. Ours is really lenient and is all for any improvements to the property we want to make.)

corner of room brighter 1

This side of the room looks pretty similar to before, except for the larger painting (that fills out the space so much better than the previous one!) This is a painting I did as a final project in my Abstract Painting class at Tulane. You can’t really tell in this picture, but the canvas itself is a quilt top I made from a bunch of neutral patterned fabrics and then stretched and painted and embroidered on top. That back corner is a little bit of an eyesore, but it is the only place I have to store frames/art that need to be hung, some art supplies, in-progress projects, etc.

top of expedit brighter 1

expedit and painting area brighter 1

painting side of room light on brighter 1

This weekend, I finally found an easel (thanks, Craigslist!), so I turned this corner of the room into a painting area. The painting taboret is a kitchen cart from IKEA. So happy to have a dedicated spot to paint! It is such a pain to drag out all those supplies when I want to use them, so I can’t wait to make use of this space! (I relocated the chair and “reading nook” area that was previously there to our bedroom. Works much better there, so win-win!)

I know everyone loves before and afters, so here are side by side comparisons:

before after looking into room

before after bookshelf side

before after back corner side

before after painting area side

Feels so much bigger, brighter and cleaner!

Left to do in here: get baskets for built-ins to store fabric in, maybe hang nice wooden/bamboo blinds instead of the cheap white ones?, and I really, really want to paint this room a soft warm grey color instead of the yucky tan/skin color it is now. We’ll see though.

Here are sources for anyone interested (let me know if I missed something):

My desk is from IKEAdesk chair is from World Market, white bookcase is from IKEA, baskets are from Target, tufted pink chair is from World Market (in before pics), rug is from Target, curtains I made out of sheets from TJ Maxx, white pedestal side table is from TJ Maxx (in before pics), small easel is from Hobby Lobby (I stained it darker), big easel is from Craigslist, pink curvy glass lamp is from Home Goods (got it on vacation years ago in Charleston, SC), standing lamp is from Target, shelves DIY built-in out of IKEA Extra-Deep Billy Bookcases, Painting Taboret is IKEA kitchen cart, big white ornate frame is thrifted and turned into bulletin board, big ornate gold frame is thrifted, tiered cake stand was made out of thrifted vintage plates for our wedding, elephant print from this Etsy shop, Live Simply print from this Etsy shop, small purple/yellow print we got in Portland, OR but is Old School Stationeersgreen elephant piggy bank is from Urban Outfitters (in before pics), jewelry stand was a Christmas gift from my little sisters years ago (was from Urban Outfitters), glittery gold frames on wall are from Michaels, top print in those is from Katie Daisy (The Wheatfield), and the big hanging artwork is by me.


    1. Aww, thank you! I love your office too (especially those curtains!). I’m still trying to figure out where in my house I can put those same curtains. Love them! 🙂


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