In this post: Are you looking for home office ideas? Follow the evolution of our French-inspired office decor for home office design tips and creative solutions.⇒
The magic is often in the details.
While a great sofa can dominate a room, it’s rarely the thing that makes the room look special.
Likewise in any other room. We buy the key furniture pieces to ensure that a room functions, but the style is often defined by the accessories.
This is not to say I pay no attention to furniture. Quite the contrary. Selecting the right pieces establishes the foundation of the room.
But refining the space with the right accent pieces is where it truly comes alive.
I’ve approached all of my rooms this way and it’s always fascinating to look back and see how each room has evolved.
We’ve been in our home for several years now and, remarkably, nearly every room has changed in this short period of time. In almost every case, it’s not the majority of the furniture that has changed but instead I’ve fine tuned the supporting details.
In some rooms this refining has added up to a complete transformation, while in others the change is a lot more subtle.
But in every case, the result is a better defined expression of my current style. Today I’m sharing the evolution of our home office.
When we purchased our house, the first decision I made with respect to the office was that it would need a pretty desk to give it my signature French style. The room is relatively small and also quite dark, with only one single window that faces a covered porch.
The “before” shot, below, shows you how small and dark the room looked when we first saw it.
Since the office I used in our previous home had 3 full walls of windows that overlooked the surrounding gardens, I knew it was a tall order to turn this dark, dull room into something that could compare.
This is also the point where I determined the layout of the room, which has remained the same ever since. Unlike our old office, I would now be sharing this one with my hubby, who had started working from home a few days a week.
He was willing to work in a French-inspired room, as long as the desk would be facing a TV on the wall. This concession is what determined the furniture placement and we put a bookcase with casement windows behind the desk for some balance.
At this early stage I duplicated the wall hangings I’d had in my previous office, a little wall vignette that incorporated many of my favorite design elements, including gilding, vintage china, a chippy shelf and an embroidered linen hand towel.
The room was an experiment in harmony and calibration, with the feminine desk and wall hangings playing off the more masculine bookcase and file cabinets.
With the first pieces in place, I knew the room wasn’t done, but we lived with it for a while to get a sense of what refinements would be called for next.
There were a few things bugging me, which led to the next two changes. I wasn’t thrilled with the way the colors were working in the room. I was happy the walls had been lightened, but the contrast was harsh against the dark wood floor.
I was also looking for more cohesion in the space and a rug seemed the perfect answer. I added a patterned blue-grey rug which worked nicely with the desk and grounded the furniture for the connected look I was after.
The other update was a pair of new lamps with burlap shades and a patinated base which gave the room a note of warmth.
(The previous lamps, not seen in the photos above, were large iron globes with crystal drops that never worked with the soft decor.)
This small change in the lighting made a huge difference.
There were a few things I was still wrestling with at this point, so I knew that they were next on the list.
For one thing, the guest seating wasn’t really working. The TV wall has always been awkward and frankly, to some extent, I’m sure it always will be. I had chosen a tufted bench because I thought it would be odd to put a TV over a sofa. We needed some guest seating but there wasn’t enough room to put chairs in front of the desk.
So I went with the ottoman and then smothered it with pillows. The result was seating that wasn’t comfortable and still looked unfinished beneath the TV.
I finally decided to stop worrying about the TV and got a lovely sofa to replace the ottoman, which was moved to the living room to be used as a coffee table, where it can incidentally be much better appreciated.
The addition of this new seating was a marked improvement on that side of the office, which has a cleaner more welcoming look now.
I was happy with what I had done so far, but it was finally time to address the wall color. I had known for a while the pale yellow walls had to go but I wasn’t sure I could justify repainting so soon.
Yet I also knew the color was holding me back and, at the same time, was realizing this for several other rooms in the house. We painted the office, as well as the other rooms, my favorite neutral, a pale grey-beige color called Tapestry Beige.
THIS offered the most significant change yet! I was beginning to realize my vision and I was quite happy.
I also added, at the same time, a more neutral rug which lent the space a tranquil feeling.
Next, I replaced the dining chair behind the desk with a swiveling desk chair, choosing one that had the same look with a tufted back but was way more functional and super comfortable.
The last few pieces were just minor refinements, but they conformed to my vision of simplifying the decor with fewer well chosen items. The pillows on the sofa are a prime example, using just two pieces and leaving plenty of room to sit.
Recent additions include the petite file cabinet, above, and the shelf unit, below. Both are simple pieces with clean lines, and add storage where needed.
When you have a small dark room, every piece counts. I used file cabinets as end tables, a large bookcase for storage, a swivel chair for functionality and a loveseat for guest seating. The printer sits on another file cabinet and I’ve limited decorative items to a few chosen pieces that communicate the style I like. I’ve embraced the TV that’s so important to hubby and provided lamplight where needed, to aid in getting work done.
And still, my lovely french desk is the centerpiece of it all!
Home Office Ideas Source List
To get the look, click on the items below for direct links to the products. Where actual items were no longer available, I’ve provided similar options. If an item is out of stock but may be restocked, I left it on the list.
(This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience. Click here to read my full disclosure policy.)
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