Adding Elegance to Your Desktop

By Kate Riley August 4, 2009

I moved into my new desk space in my home office/library last night, and it feels like a whole new world.  Throughout this remodel process, I was committed to the idea that I was not going to use anything industrial to hold my office supplies.  That aisle at Staples filled with black plastic letter holders and ugly paperclip dispensers makes me shudder. 

Months ago, I began collecting pretty little containers to hold my supplies because I wanted to surround myself with things that inspire me.  I pulled from thrift stores, antique stores, and discount stores to achieve a high end elegant look, without the cost. 

Here’s a peek at some of the non industrial containers at CG Central.

This beveled mirror jewelry box I found at Target, and it holds binder clips, Post it notes, and pencils. 

box and paperclips

black clips in jewelry chest

The patterned glass cup with a vintage silver top I found at an antique store.  It holds my colored paper clips. 


This white compote I found at a local thrift store for $3 dollars.  The white ceramic toothbrush holder on clearance at Target holds my pens.

compote and toothbrush holder

I am simply in love with this lamp, also from Target.  It sparkles like jewelry in my window and looks like those high end Lucite versions.  Mine is also acrylic, but it cost me less than $40 dollars. 

acrylic lamp

This letter holder was $10 dollars at Marshalls.  It holds coupons, notepads, and other daily essentials.

letter organizer

Who needs a drawer when this antique Ball jar will hold your scissors and letter opener?  I am a Francophile, so of course, I must display my Tour d’Eiffel. 

eiffel and ball jar

I use this silver champagne glass from an antique store to hold business cards.  It reminds me of what Bette Davis once said.  “There comes a time in every woman’s life when the only thing that helps is a glass of champagne.”

champagne glass business cards

And we’ve all got to pay bills, but somehow the fact that they’re waiting for me in this crystal vase makes that bitter pill easier to swallow.


The crème-de-la-crème is the dining room table I converted into my new desk, with a new coat of white paint, some hand painted detail, and a custom glass top.  That story coming soon.

painted table

I’ll show you where I keep all of my other office essentials, including files and technology, in the office/library reveal.  Am I the only one who’s ever considered making a slipcover for an infrequently used fax machine?  Call me crazy. 

So this is the new headquarters of CG Central. 

glamourous desktop

cg desktop crop

Here in this revamped space, it is quite easy to whistle while I work.


  1. It's beautiful–and probably makes you more productive. Much easier to concentrate when not distracted by ugly plastic office supplies. Also? I have that lamp and I love it too!

  2. This gives me great ideas on what to put on my new desk that I got off of Craigslist for free!

  3. Wow, that's beautiful! I love the painted desk with the glass top, and all your pretty containers. We recently moved our "office" to the unfinished basement to make room for the baby's imminent arrival, and it is completely uninspiring down there. So I usually use the laptop in the kitchen instead.

  4. I love love love your accessories! I have that same (or very similar) mirrored jewelry box and acrylic lamp and they are fabulous!! Great job, I can't wait to see the whole office!

  5. Can't wait to see the whole office! What I have seen of this space is so inpirational- I would never think to use jewlery boxes and champagne glasses as storage in my office…you have given me some great ideas for when i move and redo my office space…

  6. It looks absolutely gorgeous. I could work great there too. Love it all. You've really been creative with all the wonderful containers. Beautiful. Hugs, Marty

  7. You have proven functional doesn't have to be ugly! Love your new office space!

  8. I love it! Where did you get your glass top? We are converting an old door into a desk and need one ourselves.

  9. Oh, everything looks so lovely! You've had vision long before your set up your desk, didn't you? This is great!
    be a sweetie,
    Shelia ;)

  10. It looks fabulous! It's exactly what I would have done. I love Target, Marshalls (and TJ Maxx and Ross) and I'm a thrift shop junky! My goal by the fall is to get rid of the hideous desk I have and get a new one, as my laptop station is on my dining room table right now!

  11. Absolutely, positively LOVE every single thing. This simple elegance is exactly my vision for my master bedroom redo. Pure eye candy.


  12. Every square inch is simply stunning!

    For me, I adore my kitchen and my funky island is massive. I couldn't bare to be in a 'room' somewhere for my fun blogging. But after seeing your space, I may have to reconsider what I have going downstairs in my real work office…



  13. Wow! I love your space. You are such an inspiration! I love how you've found such clever uses for your lovely finds. All the unique little dishes for holding holdings are beautiful!

  14. Gorgeous and well-organized! I am with you on the plastic and industrial looking desk and office items. I just did {another} post on home office accessories. I would rather repurpose something else that's pretty for my use. You are certainly building us up! I can't wait to see the whole reveal, but I do like seeing the little details which might get lost in the big picture.

  15. I love it all. You're so creative. I must find myself one of those antique champagne glasses pronto! I'm also using your idea of the crystal vase for bills. That might make me feel a little bit better about seeing them on my desk. Thanks for sharing!

  16. Wow – methinks my whole house needs a make-over now! Absolutely beautiful, not to mention inspiring. Can't ask for more than that from a blog post eh? To inspire someone?! Thanks for sharing.

  17. Just stunning! You've created a beautiful place to work. I'm so jealous! I need to get myself in gear and clean up our office at home. Thanks for the inspiration (and the kick in the pants).

  18. Kate, that is the kind of area that any girl would love to have in her home! I LOVE the jewelry box for office supplies. Everything looks wonderful, and I can't wait to see it all together. :)

  19. wow…so pretty! makes the cave of an office I'm sitting in feel even worse! one day I'll have sunlight and I'll steal your good ideas for desk accessories that sparkle.

  20. Seriously…I never thought of making my office space beautiful! And I wonder why nothing creative gets done there…..

  21. every thing is so pretty! Your accessories makes me thing of my mom's Coiffeuse. (english for that is .. eh, vanity?)

    It makes me think that you should add the label "Boudoir" to your home office/library. Chic and féminin!

    oh, just to say… usually, La Tour Effeil does not need a 'd' Adding a D makes it someone's tower, but Effeil is really the name of the tower. Sorry I hang on so little details.

  22. I am right there with you! I have glasses and cups from the thrift store, so much fun to look at!

  23. le sigh!! what a wonderful room! its so "you". If you have a sec. I have a min wax gel stain question. You inspired me to makeover my staircase-but I am too chicken to tackle all those little spindles & such- so I started with the fireplace mantle- I sanded w/ my handy dandy sander then used MinWax Gel stain & applied it with a sponge brush-the can said to apply heavy and wipe off excess-well when I wiped- it took most of it off & looked bad- so I just applied a nice thick coat all around and LOVED the color but now 14 hrs later it is still sticky to the touch-and I need a 2nd coat in some places-do I wait till perfectly dry-and also do I light sand before 2nd coat? Im so afraid to sand incase I screw it all up. thoughts? here is my email:
    [email protected]

  24. I do believe that I would have no problem heading to work everyday if THAT was the place I would be landing. WOW! I am "borrowing" just about everything you've shown here … and then I'm going to go find all of your other ideas to borrow for the rest of my space.

    Oh, I how I heart this blog!!!

  25. Everything looks great. I too am collecting beautiful accessories for my office remodel, so I am all ready when that day comes! I used a collection of drinking glasses to organize jewelry on my dresser, kind of the same idea, and so glamorous!

  26. Looks lovely – you were clever to start collecting these things in advance (I would tend to rush round all at once and get frustrated not finding nice items).
    And since I'm currently using our old dining table as my desk, and feeling annoyed at lack of drawers (and the fact it's so big it collects junk), I'll be interested to see what you did with yours.

  27. As I am just getting ready to transform my office space I am eagerly looking forward to each and every post. This is exspensive and amazing. Well done.

    I just finished decorating my little boys room so swing on by.

  28. I have to ask. Do you ever sleep?!

    So lovely! It makes me want to come and be your assistant.


  29. You have GOT to be kidding me. That is the most elegent and chic office space ever. You have inspired me. I need to move out of this 1 bedroom apartment, stat! I NEED an office!

  30. So freakin chic. I love it! It reminds me of the 1940s or something, when people were so much more stylish. I love putting the bills in the crystal bowl, and I also adore your Tour d'Eiffel. Where did you acquire that? I minored in French in college.

  31. Great tip! It can cost about the same as the standard office look, but makes so much of a difference!

  32. Stunning office. I love the pretty objects and it most definitely would make those daunting daily tasks easier to do. I think I will have to try this too. If you don't mind I would like to share your beautiful office on my blog.

  33. Its absolutely beautiful! I also hate the ugly plastic utility containers, and love the idea of using beautiful things to house everyday objects. Very lovely! Great ideas…thanks so much for sharing!

  34. I love everything!!! I too try to find beautiful items to store my stuff in, but I do it in my office at work (I don't have a home office, boo hoo). Can't wait to see the rest of the room & get a better looksie at your desk.

  35. i just started reading your blog, i love it! i don't have too much time [or space] right now for projects, but i've been storing quite a few of your ideas in my head for later :)

  36. Wow. Everytime I see another fabulous glimpse of that office I fall in LOVE a little more. Simply beautiful.

  37. What a beautiful desk! I love that mirrored jewelry box. What a great idea for to use it for that.

  38. Whistle while you work? My friend…I'd be singing at the very top of my lungs if that was my workspace. :)

  39. Gorgeous!! I love how lady-like and almost like a vanity! Simply exquisite!

  40. BEAUTIFUL!!! I just finished my beautiful new office space – I love some of the unique things I used, and now you've given me even more ideas!!
    I LOVE it!!! – I'm going to have to do my mouse pad too!!


  41. Such a great post! Your desk is lovely and I think I would work at it all day and night. Can't wait for the tutorial on how you painted the top. Looks AMAZING!

  42. CG, you are a friggin' creative genius! You're like the Michelangelo of decorating and on a budget no less! Thanks for sharing your talent; it always inspires me!

  43. Hi CG.
    I am searching your blog for inspiration (it’s everywhere, BTW!) to make my newly claimed home-office area into feminine and fabulous. I have three young boys (ages 4, 3, and 1) so I have to work with what I’ve got for now!!
    Thanks for the tip on buying a modern white desk and accenting with colors from my rug. For now, I am going to utilize a beautiful, tall, old Oak “Zinc Sink” hutch, (probably from the 1900’s?), which has been sitting in the back of the family room just waiting for something special. It has loads of drawers, shelves and secret compartments, but has been used as a liquor cabinet, diaper-changing table, toy chest and catch-call since we acquired it five years ago.
    Several of the blog archives have blacked-out spaces where your beautiful photos should be. Any idea how I can make the proper photos appear?
    Many thanks

  44. Man oh man I would really love to see these photos! I am in the midst of transforming my old oak Hutch and its surroundings into a home office…and it looks sooooo pretty! I’ve opened this page in both Firefox and Google chrome but to no avail.. pictures are just blacked out hazard signs :(

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