My Upstairs Office

Because I haven’t documented this entire project except for on Instagram stories, I’m going to start with a little intro and backstory. Don’t care about that part? No problem, skip ahead to the photos below! Also, second note, the links were originally set to open in a new window, but some aren’t working that way.

In the six and a half years we’ve lived here, this is the third place we’ve tried an office location for me.

I started in the room behind our barn. Sadly, it was cold, it required dish internet ($160 a month) and it had very little natural light. I was constantly walking back and forth 894 times per day (usually carrying my laptop, camera, all manner of charging cord and random props) from the house to my office because it turns out, when your job is taking photos of your home, it’s hard to do that in an office not attached to your home.

Then I tried a little room in the basement. But a few months in, once again, I realized I was carrying my laptop with a trail of cords upstairs to our dining room table every single day.

Simultaneously, after six years of fixing up this house, it was finally time for us to focus on the second floor (it needed heat and air, new ceilings, new trim, paint and we only had subfloor down after ripping out the carpet when we moved in). Working on the upstairs just happened to coincide with our middle son moving out. And that meant we had an extra room upstairs. Friends, it was time for me to plan my own office! I’m glad I’ve tried so many different offices because it taught me what was important for me.

Absolutely Must Have: Natural light, a comfy chair, a big surface, a door. These last six years have taught me that I could have a fold up table and sit on a pile of pillows–but lots of bright natural light was non-negotiable.

Really Needed: my own bookshelf, storage and a way to be organized with papers, seasonal supplies, camera gear, book outlines.

Wanted because why not reach for the stars: feminine but natural, cozy, textural, layered, neutral but with the ability to add any color whenever I want. Quirky with mostly hidden storage but also some open shelves. Two big chairs, one for me and one for Megan when we had meetings.

We began work on the upstairs starting in April with HVAC, then Sean redid the ceilings and trim (like he did on the first floor). Then, we had seven inch wide pine floors installed and stained to work with our 12 inch pine floors downstairs.

Lastly, since we were turning a bedroom into my office and because I finally understood that an office for me was pointless unless it had natural light–specifically a southern exposure, we added a 60 inch tall (yep!) skylight in the room that would become my office.

as a bedroom, you can see the blue tape where I marked off the skylight, this is after Sean added the ceiling and trim, but before they were painted
same view as above with the wall opened up and skylight added. and all the angels sang.

This large bedroom is so roomy, but only had a pair of east facing windows shadowed by a big beautiful tree. The skylight took this bedroom from the darkest room in the house, to the most glorious, brightest room in the house.

When it came time to decide on the furniture, I made an office Pinboard and a folder on Instagram for inspiration. After a month or so I opened up keynote on my computer (you could use canvas or photoshop or other programs) and looked back through all the images I saved. I mocked up all sorts of table and chair, chandelier and rug combinations.

And I ended up with this:

Which convinced me to order some things and it became this:

The first decision I made was to include a 60 inch round faux marble table. Once I committed to a huge, HUGE table, I wanted a pair of big wingbacks to anchor it. I decided on this pair of these extreme wingback chairs from Wisteria. And finally, to cozy it up and add a touch of femininity, this Mesa rug by Unique Loom from Amazon. And then I decided on this chandelier that feels like he would be best friends with my chairs and my house.

Normally, I keep one chair pulled over here in the corner. This is where I read every morning–I don’t do work in this chair, it’s for rest, renewal, reading, and relaxation and anything else I can come up with that begins with the letter R.

Fur throw from Arhaus, Moroccan Tassel blanket that I bought from Jeanne Oliver here’s something similar. Pink knot pillow available from Amazon in so many fun shapes and colors!

Under the window sits a narrow bench (similar to what I have in the family room) covered with a mint green faux fur rug with pillows on top. It’s how to fake a window seat. The drapes are Ikea. Pink knot pillow. Long pillow, square pillow is from Loloi years ago.

For hidden storage I ordered three small accent chests; two with doors, one with drawers. I knew I wanted to do somthing DIY-ish in the room, and the size and color of these cabinets were perfect, but I knew I wouldn’t like the original shiny nailheads. More on that in the next photo below. But as far as sources, my mom bought the flower art for me from HomeGoods, I found the lamp from HomeGoods a few years ago. Stuff in the cabinet is vintage or from nature. Pom pom wreath from Mercy House Global.

I couldn’t wait to get my hands on these cabinets and started mixing up craft paint colors into a quart of chalk paint (yes, this is what I do, I just risk it and mix it together and it works!~) within hours of them being delivered. At first I thought I’d do a contrast color (look at that crazy light blue down there!) but I ended up with pretty much an exact match to the cabinets and I love how it reads like a soft leather.

I added some quartz knobs from Hobby Lobby, I’m still deciding if the stark whiteness is throwing them off.

I also wanted to have some open shelving above the cabinets, so I looked for a small bookshelf or hutch second hand. I found this wood shelf at The Depot and painted it the same color as the cabinet insets so now all four pieces are married together in holy matrimony and 99 cent craft paint mixed with chalk paint.

This back shelf looks different every day.

Also, this table looks different every day. Sometimes it’s piled with books (favorite!) or clipboards or big statement vases. Or cats.

I found this bookshelf last spring for $49 at the Salvation Army. It was originally green and I painted it white. It is an EXACT perfect fit just inside the door trim and the corner. And now I have a perfect place for my rainbow books. My poor black and white books are all in a shelf in the closet.

My writing desk (two of these and a top) sits right inside the new cutout under the skylight. There’s a pulldown shade if the sun gets too bright. But I only sit here to write and do computer work, and I usually do that in the early morning and oh my gosh I can watch the sunrise from my desk! That’s it, I’m officially a spoiled brat!

I bought this vintage cabinet from Ashley’s shop, The Bluest Willow at The Nest Fest this year. It holds all my little trinkets and treasures and sits right at eye level next to my writing desk.

My desk is so deep that there’s plenty of room for a disco ball,

And a teapot.

Vases, teapot and clip: vintage, candle, light.

Oh, and you know how I am about sharing paint colors–I usually am against it just because what you see on your particular screen after I take a photo and edit it isn’t usually a true representation of how the colors look. But, I will share these colors here today, and I feel like this image (at least on my monitor) is very true to life:

Walls: Sherwin Williams Extra White SW7006

Trim: Sherwin Williams Gossamer Veil SW9165

I really love this warm combination with reverse trim contrast and I’m considering doing it on the first floor as well.

How about all those sources one more time::

wingback chairs, faux marble table, desk, desk chair (Joss & main years ago) rug, fur throw, Moroccan Tassel Blanket, vintage cabinet, accent chest with drawers, accent chest with doors, vintage hutch, bookshelf (Salvation Army), desk lamp, disco ball, window bench, green fur rug, drapes, pink tassel pillow, pink knot pillow, Pom Pom wreath, fringe pillow, chandelier,

Skylight: Velux 60″ x 30″ we used Natural Home Lite in Charlotte and no leaks yet!

Floors: 7 inch wide heart of pine with a custom mix of stain to work with our downstairs (I like our pine floors to turn a dark leathery orange). We used Floor Coverings International out of Matthews and I’m thrilled with our floors.

Timing: We started saving for this project (we just knew in general we were saving for the next house project) in January of 2018. We paid cash for everything, some things in the room I’ve had for years, some I bought just for this space. We started the process in April–starting with the HVAC, and the guys came and finished up the painting the day before The Nest Fest on October 21. Then I had the furniture delivered. I feel like it was done-is, three weeks ago. Living in a fixer-upper is for SURE a process, especially if you take your time and don’t go into debt. But it’s SO rewarding!

PS, today is the last day to save 50% on the season pass! You’ll get ALL FOUR Cozy Minimalist Seasonal classes for half price when you use the code: getcozy. Join the thousands of women who have changed the way they decorate and host all year around.

Favorite Books of 2019

Below are the Amazon links to each book–if you want to hear why I liked them, check out my highlights on Instagram stories here.

1. Forest Feast Mediterranean: Simple Vegetarian Recipes Inspired by My Travels by Erin Gleeson.

2. Classic Style: Hand It Down, Dress It Up, Wear It Out by Kate Schelter.

3. Summer of ’69 by Elin Hilderbrand.

4. Joyful: The Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness by Ingrid Fetell Lee.

5. Restoration House: Creating a Space That Gives Life and Connection to All Who Enter by Kennesha Buycks

6. The Next Right Thing: A Simple, Soulful Practice for Making Life Decisions by Emily P. Freeman

7. Adorning the Dark: Thoughts on Community, Calling, and the Mystery of Making by Andrew Peterson

8. Beholding and Becoming: The Art of Everyday Worship by Ruth Chou Simons

9. Placemaker: Cultivating Places of Comfort, Beauty, and Peace by Christie Purifoy

10. To Hell With the Hustle: Reclaiming Your Life in an Overworked, Overspent, and Overconnected World by Jefferson Bethke

11. Terrain: Ideas and Inspiration for Decorating the Home and Garden by Greg Lehmkuhl 

Check out the gift guide for homebodies here

If you don’t have my latest book Cozy Minimalist Home: More Style, Less Stuff, grab your copy now–it’s a full color hardback book for just $12 plus it’s included in the buy 3 for the price of 2 on Amazon.

Gift Guide for Homebodies

1. Grecian Bust Pot: Inspired by tradtional Grecco-Roman sculptures, this handpainted pot adds an artful touch to any space. I use mine in my kitchen to hold wooden spoons. 2. The Next Right Thing: A Simple, Soulful Practice for Making Life Decisions. By Emily P. Freeman. One of my favorite books of the year–a great […]

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