My cheery (and frugal) Office Makeover

I mentioned in the tour of my homeschool spaces that I’d soon be brightening up my office space. And I did! Wanna see?!? I am inspired by color and beauty but I’m also easily overwhelmed visually, so I did things a bit at a time to make sure I didn’t go too far with it all.

This was my “before.” Okay, but bland. {yawn}

I already knew I wanted to add color but not on the walls themselves, so this was after I’d painted the formerly yellow walls a light cream color.
office before

I adore my colorful new office makeover. Here’s why:

1 – Cheery color scheme

I perused for color inspiration and decided on teal, spring green, and yellow. The site’s nifty “design wall” feature is great because you can put fabrics together to see how they look!

office fabric

2 – Made-over lampshade

I recovered a drab old lampshade, and moved it behind me to sit on top of the piano. With it up high, it lights my space well without having to sit on my desk. Now my lamp is completely one of a kind and only cost a few dollars worth of fabric to re-do.

3 – Map art

Maps are cool. I found this one online for about $8 and it was just the colors I wanted. The oceans are more turquoise than on most maps. Perfect. I planned to frame it but it’s not a traditional size, so that turned out to be cost prohibitive. Instead, I asked Ken to mount it on foam board with spray adhesive, and I hung it with stick-on/removable hangers. It looks great and cost nearly nothing.

lamp and map

4 – Botanical pillow (and my antique chair!)

I needed to tie in my red 1940’s velvet chair so I chose a botanical fabric with teal and spring green, as well as a bit of rich red. It has birds and butterflies, which I love. I didn’t realize until it arrived here that it also has sheet music mixed into the design so it’s completely fitting to have it in here with the piano that sits directly behind me.

red velvet chair

5- Clean and bright china cabinet storage

This china cabinet is a well worn antique, too. I considered painting it a funky color but decided to keep it black and give it a good coat of wax. I painted the inside the same light cream as my walls, and lined it with beadboard wallpaper to add character and texture. A good clean-out was in order as well. Now it houses a few books, some office supplies, usually the kindle, and a rustic vase I bought years ago on a fun little trip with my cousin Jonnia.

china cabinet storage

6 – The happiest desk EVER

My desk is a nice size and has feminine curves and proportions. But it wasn’t show-stopping.

I painted it with Annie Sloan’s “Florence” chalk paint. I completely adore it!!!! I think the color should be renamed “Happiness.” (I plan to have a piece of glass cut for the desk top to protect the finish, but that can come later.) Annie Sloan paint is on the expensive side, but I managed to paint this entire desk with just a sample-sized jar of paint — and not a drop left over!

Florence teal desk

7 – Sparkly glass knobs

Even more happy on my desk: glass knobs! I ordered a few too many when I redid our kitchen cabinets years ago so these were sitting around unused. The new teal desk begged to have them and I said yes.

8 – Yellow pillow

The same fabric that recovered my old lampshade made a lovely pillow for my desk chair!

9 – Unique desk accessories

My pen cup is an antique creamer. A retro napkin holder corrals my bills. A woven (by Kathryn) pot holder serves as a coaster. A decorative box holds my SD (camera) card reader. I like finding things that have more character than ordinary desk accessories. Plus, they’re often cheaper: I think I only paid $3 for that creamer and it’s so much cuter than a pen cup from Target.


10 – Cheery green shelf over my desk

The main reason I chose this shelf was not for functionality but because it’s the perfect width to define the wall space where my desk lives so it doesn’t feel like the desk is aimlessly floating on the wall.

My best senior-year friend Robin gave me this shelf for my 18th birthday. It’s followed me around many houses and has had at least one previous makeover. This time around, I removed a rod intended to hang a quilt, and used the last of the green spray paint left over from painting one of my schoolroom chairs. It took me a couple of days to decide whether the green was too intense, but now I love the cheeriness it brings.

green shelf

11 – More yellow accents

A metal Norman Rockwell print, a yellow teapot, and a Brownie camera box bring in more yellow accents on my green shelf. I’ll add one or two more things to the shelf eventually (and not all yellow) but I’m being particular about what earns a place up there.

12 – Memo board

An old memo board was the size I needed but in an old grape patterned fabric. New fabric tied the green shelf in with the teal desk and livened up the old memo board. I don’t like the plain white elastic I used (nor the pattern in which I attached it), though, and I’ll be changing that as soon as I find colorful elastic I like.

{Even with a memo board right in front of me, my laptop is still bedecked with sticky notes for the things I’ll forget otherwise.}

13 – Dick and Jane book prints

Once I had the shelf hanging over the desk, I started shopping my other rooms looking for things to put on the shelf.

It was then I realized I’d unintentionally decorated my office with a color scheme that totally matched the Dick and Jane book I bought when I first decided what I’d name my blog!

So I ran with it and made enlarged color copies of a few pages from the book to hang in my office. Now they hang over my printer shelf.


14 – Fabric covered file box

The same fabric I used on the memo board covers my main plastic file box to make it look a little more upscale. I have two more under the china cabinet, but I haven’t covered those yet. They aren’t as noticeable so I may save the extra fabric for another project.

15 – Organized drawer

I do love organization (see my pinboard devoted to it!) — and notepads!

organized drawer

16 – Budget friendly

This has been a super-frugal office makeover because I merely re-used what I already had and “shopped” from other parts of the house.

My total cost was about $85:
$60 for fabric and two pillow forms from;
$3 for a desk drawer organizer at TJ Maxx;
$10 for the map and foam board;
$12 for the Annie Sloan sample-size paint.

17 – A few more things I love (because this list has gotten long!):

  • My mom’s pen-and-ink rendering of our home hangs on the wall. (She’s so talented!)
  • The indirect sunlight streaming in from the back porch.
  • I can watch the kids play in the backyard while sitting at my desk.
  • The dog that often lies by my feet, sometimes napping, sometimes watching for squirrels to chase.
  • A houseplant to add more color and life, and clean the air, too!

This is the best I can do for a whole-room shot because it’s a small room. The dimensions are a bit different in real life but a camera lens can only accommodate so much!

Colorful office

And yes, I’m a neat freak; my office has to stay at least this neat to keep my brain from turning to mush in the midst of clutter! {Ever watch the show Monk? My family says I’m a bit Monk-ish!}

I’m linking up with Kris and Angie for List-It Tuesday!