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Before + After :: My Affordable Home Office Makeover Using Upcycled, Vintage + Eco Finds

In the middle of the month where winter never seems to end, I'm reminded exactly why I felt the need to bring some cheeriness to a space I spend a lot of time in.  Previously, my office was painted a cool gray and at the time I picked the color I thought it was chic and calming.  Boy was I wrong!  Instead in the middle of a gloomy winter, it felt depressing and lifeless. It probably didn't help that the room felt like a mishmash of dorm furniture meets I-don't-know-where-else-to-put-this.  After we moved in to our cozy 1939 home five years ago there was really no thought put into the office space and I wasn't working out of it so it didn't seem to matter as much; it just haphazardly fell together and too much furniture made it cramped and it was not a space I enjoyed spending time in.  The only things I liked were the lamps, some accessories and the funky white, brown and orange drawers (now the cat lounging/bird watching area) I found for $15 in a thrift shop in Huntington Beach, California, where we moved from...

The space felt really cramped which made me feel stressed
I was going for chic and calm but I also wanted a happy and feminine wall color, so I picked a great shade of lavender after much trial, error and contemplation.

Six lavender paint samples later - I found the one
As with most things, I don't do anything with major contemplation first, which is why I had to immediately get to work creating my Inspiration Board for my new happy space.

I collected images for my makeover inspiration on a poster board
I was on a tight budget for the makeover so I used a lot of what I had along with some new IKEA additions.  My requirement for my new workspace was that it must be large, sturdy and look good.  After trying to figure out what I could find with this criteria for minimal amount of money, I remembered something that had been collecting dust in our basement for several years. 

Discarded door from hardware store renovation
A few years earlier my sweet father-in-law dropped off this very heavy, large door with a nice wood grain and said that his office was in the process of a remodel and this door was going to be thrown away unless he took it.  He suggested we keep it in our basement until we found a use for it.  It is a perfectly good door and after a visit to the dungeon basement, I decided it was perfect for my new space. 

Desk used since college. Now waaay too ugly small for my needs.
After painting the room with No-VOC paint I was off to IKEA for shelves, desk legs, lamps and file folder holders. Then I recruited my guy to help me install it all.  {See that schoolhouse chair?  It's a $5 thrift shop find!} First, the shelves went up...

Transformation in progress. 
And then the desk was built...

In the meantime, I set up a small workstation on the other side of the room so I could still function and continue working during the makeover...

My mini-office in the midst of the chaos. 
Check out those two Parsons desks that I scored for fifteen bucks each!!!  I've had my eye on the West Elm Parsons desks for some time now, but they're $200+ each.  I was thrilled when I found them at a local warehouse that sells furniture and all sorts of home improvement randomness - leftovers and discarded items from construction sites and business moves and closures.  Apparently these tables came from our local Outlet Mall and were used as clothing display tables but the store had closed down and they were going to be thrown in the dumpster (oh the horror!).  My eyeballs popped out of my head slightly like a cartoon character when I saw them sititng in the big, dirty warehouse and when I asked how much I tried not to let my jaw hit the floor - instead I just nodded slowly as if to convey "that's reasonable" and then made a mad dash to checkout! 

I could only last so long crammed in that tiny corner, so it was time to gather items around the house to decorate those shelves with (I didn't buy one single new thing for the shelves - I was so proud of myself for showing major restraint), get the futon out (finally) and move over to my new and improved workspace.  I can't believe how much bigger the room feels and the way I look forward to opening the door each morning instead of dreading it.  And finally, my new space...

A place I look forward to working in now
And again...

I still have more work to do like add wood trim to the edge of the desk to cover up where the door hinges used to be, get control of my cords, frame & hang the art prints for the walls and work on completing the other side of the room where those Parsons desks are.  It's still a work in progress, but I love the space even now, partially complete. 

+ + + + + + +


Paint: Olympic Premium No-VOC Environmentally-Friendly paint bought at HomeDepot colored matched to Benjamin Moore's Iced Lavender.  $22

Desktop: Old door in my basement was free!

White Parsons desks: Local discount home improvement center for $15 each (can you even believe it?!?!)

Modern white chair: Local discount home improvement center for $15

Shelves: IKEA LACK shelves (color: white) $29.99 each

Desk legs: IKEA VIKA BYSKE (chrome): $30 each

File holder: IKEA SPONTAN (white) $9.99

Lamps: IKEA FORSA (chrome) $29.99 each (with IKEA's energy efficient light bulbs)

Fuschia flower pot: made from mixed plastic waste (Terracycle sent to me a few years ago as part of a product test when I was named their first Green Maven Expert). 

Bamboo CD holders: Purchased at Target 10+ years ago (this is where I keep many of the products I'm currently testing)

Orange bamboo frame: Purchased at West Elm a few years ago. 

Wooden Chinese fisherman: From my Grandma (it was always on her mantle and I got it when she passed away - it's so special to me)

Handmade clay bowl: Gift from a friend

Woven ratan/bamoo box/baskets: gifts

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