Brooke’s Office Basics

By Kate Riley January 7, 2013

Brooke wrote to me a few weeks ago asking for suggestions on what to do with her catchall office space and looking for a few tips on how to pull a look together in an affordable way.   Here’s Brooke’s summarized email: 

“The room is 11 x 10 with 8 foot ceilings and the only thing that has to stay is my grandmother’s desk, a family heirloom.  As far as my style, I prefer light colors, whites, creams, warm grays, some navy blue and punches of color.  I’m not a huge floral print person,  but I’m obsessed with stripes.  I love minimalistic, simple non cluttered, but you probably couldn’t tell from the photos.  LOL!  Oh, and I love texture.”

Here’s Brooke’s catchall space that she can’t wait to clean up and organize and turn into a functional and comfortable home office, once she has a style plan in place.  Ignore the mess she says! 

brooke office before


And here are a few of the images Brooke sent me for inspiration: 

plank ceiling athomeinarkansas


navy chevron wall


bookcases for storage


image sources: 1 / 2 / 3

She loves whites and texture and pops of navy, so here’s a basic plan for including all of those elements:

brookes basics office plan

sources: accent chair / chevron pillow / rope ottoman / billy bookcases / geometric panels / parson’s desk / rattan office chair / navy stripe indoor/outdoor rug

How fantastic would  white plank walls be in this space like the ceiling in the first image?  With Shelley’s DIY instructions, Brooke could install them herself.  I love the idea of an accent chair in a corner to plop into to read or have a conversation with someone else in the space. 

Texture is easy to add with accessories – any basic chandelier can be wrapped in rope , or consider Ashley’s jute wrapped pendant as an alternative to the ceiling fan.  A stool wrapped in rope can become perch too – or the Crate + Barrel Samar ottoman is another option for a textural accent.

Pottery Barn’s desk chair is a little pricey, but the idea is to keep an eye out for a nice wood desk to pair with the white desk for contrast, or continue to use the farmhouse version shown.  Billy bookcases are affordable, add necessary storage, and they’re easy to personalize – add fabric or paint to the back and crown molding to the top like we did in this playroom. The dark wood desk will stay in the space and be placed under the window or on the opposite wall next to the closet.

A pair of geometric window panels would add a welcome pattern and Brooke loves stripes so this Dash & Albert striped rug brings the look and since it’s indoor/outdoor, it cleans up easy.

With the basics in place, all Brooke needs to do is layer with more colorful and meaningful accessories like a cool lamp and some artwork.  Brooke wrote that she loves globes so I can see a collection of them up on top of the bookcases.  Add more textural accents and perhaps a few pieces in gold or antique brass for warmth and this would be one fine office! 

What say you readers?  Any ideas for Brooke you can think up to help her spruce up her space? 




  1. Love your plan! My office/guest room looks similar. :blush: I have bookshelves already, but lack a closet and enough file storage.

  2. Oh my gosh. I DIE!!!! It’s so me! Now I just need to get on this. Thank you so much for taking the time out of your days/weeks to help inspire me! I’ll keep you posted!

  3. I have an office that’s a similar size and we struggled for ages to make it functional. I ended up with a similar plan if you want to check it out.

  4. Love the design! It’s very similar to what I’m working on in our dining room and didn’t even realize it until now! Sometimes just pairing up the things you like make the best rooms! Great design and love all the elements! Good luck Brooke and I can’t wait to see some after pics! ;)

  5. doesn’t she mean she has to keep the ‘farmhouse desk?’ or are we assuming the white one is her grandmother’s?

  6. No the dark wood one is the desk that is staying Jen, I just didn’t include it in the collection of other accessories, but it will stay in the space.

  7. I love the design. I have a similarly sized office/den and I would also suggest the IKEA Expedit shelving as an alternative to the Billy bookcases if she needs a lot of storage. They offer so much storage, are very sturdy and quite versatile.

    I also agree with Casey – I think it may need another accent colour.

    I notice that she has a lot of wrapping paper, etc. – I bought a great wrapping paper organizer that hangs on the back of my office door. She might benefit from something like that.

  8. I got some wonderful navy and white chevron fabric online (on a great sale!) and recently had some drapes made for my guest room to update the room. I’ve become a huge fan of navy lately so I’m loving your color choices. I might add a pop of green as well in a plant or pillow.

  9. The navy is going to look stunning with the darker wood, but the white should keep it from being too masculine. Great vision!

  10. Agree with your design board Kate, other than paint, wall paper or fabric, gift wrap is a practical way too to enhance the book case backing. :-)

  11. loving your mood board Kate, for a cheaper alternative for book case backing, GIFT WRAP is a cheap and alternative material too! Good luck Brooke! your off to a good start though with Kate’s help. :-)

  12. Great idea! I need to something with my so-called office space in my bedroom. A tiny corner with a desk and bunch of junk. I be checking here for ideas.

  13. I love the plan so far! My two comments / additions are first, add a statement piece of art or mirror on the wall. Just somewhere nice for the eye to go to add a bit of life into the room. And second, perhaps painting the walls with paint in a satin finish (instead of eggshell or flat) would be nice to bounce the light around a little more in this room. Best of luck with the new room!

  14. Um, ok. So yeah…. how much do you charge for this kind of “room consultation?” You may have a 2nd career on top of your blogging! FUN!!! No, seriously… how much do you charge? :)

    • I don’t charge anything at this time Kathleen, I just try to tackle them for fun. Maybe in the future!

  15. This looks great! Functional, minimal, clean lines with a little color. Perfect for a small office space. Too much going on and the wrong set up will make it tough to get work done. I like her inspirational photos!

  16. Happy New Year Kate!

    Wishing you all good, creative things ahead in 2013.

    My 5 cent feedback for this room is…create a faux raised panel look. Use “lattice” wood from your local home supply store. Usually used to make lattice work for outside. The thin wood makes for budget-friendly style that can give you a higher end look in the end. Simply cut as needed, tack up with some nails or a nail gun if you have one! You can do a high chair rail on the wall with slats of wood below creating a “picture frame” effect or raised panel look. Paint the new wood white and the wall it is up against as well. Then, paint the walls a nice color. If there is no crown molding in the room – you could even paint the ceiling that color too. I’ve done that on a few makeovers and it makes the room seem larger magically in the end…

    All good…Best regards to all….

  17. Wonderful advice Stephen, so nice of you to pop in! Such great advice from everyone, thanks so much, can’t wait to see what Brooke does with her space!

  18. I love that, and thank you for posting the sources. I agree with another comment that says need a pop of color, the lamp maybe. I can’t wait to see the after. Now I am going to clean my office.

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