Custom Office Design: A Hallway Home Office with a Glam Style

I was so delighted to do this office for reader Katherine both because I have a soft spot for tiny home offices, and also because I am not immune to flattery. Wonder what I’m talking about? Here’s what she wrote:

Jess, I loved the way you put together an office for an entry way for Denise and realized that would be the ideal solution for my house. My husband and I live in a tiny 1-bedroom apartment, but we have a big hall with a bit of an alcove space. So, I could tuck my office in there, and as long as I keep things tidy, it’ll be the perfect spot for me to work from home between now and when we move in about 8 months.

Because the office will be semi-temporary, I’d like furnishings that I can use in a different room later, or stuff that won’t cost much. You’ll be able to see the space from the living room, so I’d like the styles to coordinate. Right now, the walls are white, and we can’t paint, but maybe there’s something else we could do to warm the space up? The living room is pretty glitzy–I like all things metallic, shiny, and Hollywood glam.

Can’t wait to see what you do with the space!

Here’s what I put together for Katherine:

Custom mood board: glamorous home office

Here’s the plan:

  1. The Harlequin Accent Jute Rug from Linda Anderson has a clean, graphic look that’ll look great underfoot.
  2. A built-in desk will make the most of the space, and it’s really easy to do. What’s more, by attaching the work surface directly to the wall on three sides, you’ll keep things from falling behind it. Because Katherine’s husband is handy, and they’re allowed to hang things on the walls (they just can’t paint), this is a project that they’ll be able to complete in a few hours that’ll save them some money and maximize the space. They’ll use a piece of laminate counter (with plywood or MDF underneath), custom cut to the dimensions of the space and installed with the appropriate supports.
  3. The French Honeycomb Mirror from Wisteria is the perfect size for the space. The playful style brings a sense of freshness, yet it’s still got the glitzyness that the rest of Katherine’s home has.
  4. The CB2 Trig cabinet will slide under the desk to keep Katherine’s desk supplies and files handy. In Titanium, of course!
  5. A Patent Leather Ottoman from Brocade Home will be both comfy to sit on, and look great under the desk. Of course, ottomans are pretty easy to move around the house and this one will fit right in at the new house’s bedroom, living room, or office. There’d be room for two under the desk.
  6. A single-stem orchid from Pro Flowers–because fresh flowers make the office so much nicer ;-).
  7. The Gabrielle table lamp from Z Gallerie will shine plenty of light on the workspace, and will fit right in with the living room furnishings after the move.
  8. Organization accessories: the People+Places Set, Signature Three Ring Binder (with dry-erase board on the inside to make it extra useful) and Collator are all from Russel + Hazel. The Action Runner is from Behance.

If you, too, are squeezing a home office into a small space, what are some of your favorite tips? And, what do you think of the plan for Katherine’s hallway home office?

(Psst… Want to get your own custom mood board? If you happen to be in the mood for a board of your own, click here to score some home office decorating advice for yourself.)

{Custom Mood Board} {4 Comments} {March 12th, 2010}

Home Office Inspiration Board: Small Nook Office

Small home office ideasWhen I got an email from Denise about the hallway office she shares with her kids, my mind immediately started churning out small-office decor ideas. I know all too well about being productive in a super small space (my first home office was a teeny coat closet) and while it’s fun to design and decorate a large office, it’s also fun to squeeze every last bit of potential out of a smaller space.

Here’s how Denise describes the situation:

We need help! We have a wide entry hall and that’s the only space in our whole house that really works as an office. The kids and I work on the same laptop (Denise does part time bookkeeping, the kids do homework and play games) and I’d love a longer desk area so both kids can be working there together. Right now, we use my old college desk but it’s deeper than I’d like for the space, and a lot shorter than is ideal. One thing I do like is that the desk has a bit of storage–if you can’t find something long and narrow with storage, we’ll need another resting spot for pens and paper because I hate having that stuff out in the open.

My style is really modern, but the living room is currently furnished in a Pottery Barn style–if you can keep the office space clean but also homey, that’d be perfect. As you can see, we’ve partially stripped the 60-year-old wallpaper (grass cloth), so we need to finish that project and then we’ll need a wall color. I’d also like a new ceiling light fixture as the one that’s there currently is pretty darn ugly. The ceilings in the hall aren’t high, so it’ll need to be something close to the ceiling instead of something that dangles.

We have a budget of $1000. I’m happy to hunt for bargains at the thrift store, so feel free to suggest a piece or two that you think I should find something “similar to.”


So, what we need in this case is a long narrow workspace, plenty of accessible storage and seating for two. Also, because there’s no outlet in the entry hall, Denise plans to have an electrician come out and wire one. Here’s what I put together for Denise and her family.

Since Denise’s budget is important, I’ve included current prices on each item–notice, we bring the whole thing in under budget!

Organizing a small home office

  1. One of the best ways to make two (kid-friendly) workspaces in a tight space is to use a bench because it takes up less room than two chairs. Along with relatively modern lines and a low price tag, this piano bench also has the benefit of hidden storage under the seat making it a real asset in the space. $110
  2. This darling speech bubble message board brings a spot of playfulness to the space–it adheres to the wall and works as a chalkboard for sharing messages. $15
  3. The Pottery Barn Wall-Mounted Craft Organizer has plenty of nooks and crannies to store all the small school/work related stuff like paperclips and rubber bands. $229
  4. The Ikea sofa table has just the right dimensions for the space–it’s both a lot longer and a lot narrower than the current desk, and it also has that extra shelf for more storage. $199
  5. Instead of a ceiling fixture, I recommend Denise have the electrician install three of these wall sconces. They’ll provide both better task lighting and can function as mood lighting. Overhead fixtures tend to be a bit glaring for living rooms and the sleek lines and friendly price of the Turner Sconces are perfect for the space. Plus, this means we won’t need a desk lamp which would take up space we can’t spare. $49/each
  6. For the wall color, the current living room is a warm beige, and I suggest bringing the aqua that’s used heavily in the living room (as accents) into the entry as a light color on the walls. One with plenty of green, like Sherwin Williams’ Hazel will go nicely with the carpeting, though Denise plans to replace that with tile in the next year or two.
  7. And, of course, we need flowers! Though this is the entry way and something fresh would be especially lovely, since we’re mixing kids and computers, I recommend something that doesn’t require water like these coffee filter roses.

So, there you have it, a tiny workspace for just $700. To save additional money, Denise could scour Craig’s List for the sofa table–you’ll usually save about 40% that way and can often find the furniture in good condition. A second hand piano bench is also a good option.

That’s how we’d bring modern yet warm style to Denise’s tiny office space. If you happen to be in the mood for a board of your own, click here to score some home office decorating advice for yourself.

Custom Mood Board: Old World Office

Bethany needed a custom mood board for her home office. She writes:

Jessica, I just got permission from my boss to work from home three days a week (yay!) and now need to set up a great space to work from home in. I’ll be using our FROG [Finished Room Over the Garage] which has no closet, slanted ceilings, and is about 20×30. There’s one window on either end and we’ll be installing skylights so the space will get more natural light.

My style is classic/traditional, and I’d love something old world–you know, old libraries, leather chesterfields, rich wood tones. My husband and I have also just started a business, so he’ll be using the space as well, and we’ll be meeting with clients here. So, we’ve decided to spend whatever it takes to get the space perfect–we know that having a great office, in looks and function, will pay off.

Since my husband will be working here, too, it can’t be *too* girly, but I do want it to be feminine and warm.

The activities we’ll be doing in the space mean include a lot of computer work (we’ll need room for three workstations and two laptops), and we’ll need lots of product storage, file storage, and book storage.

I can’t wait to see what you come up with! Thanks.

How delicious does that sound–a giant room with plenty of natural light, decorated like an old English Library. Yum!

Since Bethany and her husband will be meeting with clients and providing a high-end service, I wanted to bring in a tiny bit of glam to the space as well (in the form of that gorgeous chandelier). And, she definitely doesn’t want anything modern, preferring warm wood tones and cozy furniture. Also, they already have two guest seating chairs and two desk chairs (so, that’s why there are no individual chairs on the board). Bethany also specifically asked for no area rugs, but if you’d like something perfect for your office space, I’m digging the idea of a wool felt rug like this one.

So, here’s what the office will look like:

home office decor

  1. This gorgeous bubble chandelier brings a touch of playfulness into the space, plus it’s not girly like a traditional chandelier but is far more interesting than a ceiling fan.
  2. The trestle table does double duty–it’s a great place to spread out with a project, or meet with clients, plus it’ll serve as our occassional laptop work station. In my own office, I have a big dining room table like this and it’s perfect for everything from lunch meetings with my assistant to a space to storyboard ideas (or cover with materials for these mood boards!).
  3. These lovely library prints come in six options and are 16×12″. I’d buy all six and hang them in 24×20 (white) frames. They’ll be unique and smart-looking. Another option is purchasing one (or more) of the calendars from the same site and framing those photos as prints. (Since the 2005 calendar includes a photo of the Hereford Cathedral Chained Library, that’d be my pick.)
  4. This enormous library will give them plenty of storage space, especially as their office has room for four (tho I think two will be more than enough). At 16″ wide, and with the cupboards below, they won’t run out of space to stow stuff any time soon.
  5. This antique kidney-shaped desk has just the right dose of feminine for the space, plus it’s got all the drawers Bethany craves.
  6. This 1780 desk is nice and big, providing Bethany’s husband with room to stretch out. Again, plenty of drawers will help keep those office supplies stowed away.
  7. Hand scraped teak flooring will give the room gravitas and elegance, and for the wall color, I love Morning Fog from Sherwin Williams in Matte. White accessories and trim will bring a brightness into the space, and a darker gray for accessories like a throw for the Chesterfield or a rug will pull everything together while keeping the space serene.
  8. The owl clock has a wonderful sense of whimsy and an owl is the perfect choice for “old world” style because of their prim and proper image.
  9. Fabric roman shades in ivory are an elegant touch. In many offices, I’d suggest something darker, but Bethany only wants to filter the light, not block it, and because of the office’s location, privacy isn’t a concern at all. Plus, if Bethany takes my recommendation and puts the large storage units on either side of the windows, there won’t be room for curtains, so this gives the windows a tidy look.
  10. The Edward from is more than just a great-looking, traditional piece. It’ll give them a place for office naps, or an additional spot to work with a laptop. Plus, the hand rubbed leather finish definitely says old world library.
  11. This pair of steampunk table lamps will bring the desks together and shed plenty of light on the workspace.
  12. And, it wouldn’t be a GirlyPC office makeover without a touch of green. In Bethany’s case, these easy-to-care-for succulents are perfect, plus the urn they come with has a vintage patina.

That’s how we’d bring an Old World Style to Bethany’s gigantic office space. The new room will be bursting with elegance and storage space. And if you happen to be in the mood for a board of your own, click here to score some home office decorating advice for yourself.

{Custom Mood Board, Featured} {4 Comments} {October 5th, 2009}

Hi! I’m Jessica Zee, editor of GirlyPC.

I’ve been working from a home office for nearly five years and in that time, home organization products have gotten a lot more attractive. But, unfortunately, the technology we're using... Hasn't.

I’ve set out to change that in my own home office and wanted a place to talk all things pretty-home-office.

Welcome to GirlyPC! Enjoy your visit.