Before and after pic

When we first moved into our house, the only purpose our office served was storing our ad hoc “we can’t deal with this right now” kind of junk as well as all of our wedding decorations.  (Imagine wine barrels, glass vases, chalkboard frames, etc. EVERYWHERE!)  Once the wedding was over, I sold all of my DIY wedding decorations and decided to make the office into a useable space.  [I will apologize in advance that most of these pictures were taken with my iPhone before Becky & I decided to do this blog so they aren’t the highest quality but hopefully it’ll get the point across.]

Here is a before picture of the office (it was taken after the wedding decorations were gone so you can actually see the carpet)…

office before 1

The oak bookshelves in the picture came with the house and that mocha desk was one that I’d had since sophomore year of college.  Needless to say, the room needed a little pick-me-up!  (Also we couldn’t really use the desk because it barely had enough room for one computer.)

Step #1 – Picking our Paint color

My best advice when picking paint is to buy small $2.50 samples of the colors you are interested in and paint them on the wall.  This was actually Becky’s advice and now I swear by it.  Paint swatch colors change dramatically sometimes when painted in your specific room due to flooring color and lighting.

paint samples 2

Initially I thought I might do the room grey so I’m SO glad I tried it in small doses before wasting money on a gallon of blue-looking paint (#3 below)!  Another good tip is to # your samples and write the # of sample on the wall if you are using multiple colors so that you can keep them all straight!

paint samples number

Once we decided on the burnt orange color for the walls (Behr Cinnamon Cake), we also decided to paint the oak bookshelf white (Behr Ultra White) to give it a dramatic pop. My goal was to make the room feel more modern. (PS did I mention Shawn went to the University of Texas in Austin so he was more than thrilled we chose orange!)

We cleared the room out and Shawn went to town on removing the bookshelves (he is such a great sport when it comes to these wild ideas of mine).  We initially thought we would take the bookshelves to the garage in order to prime & paint them easily but we quickly learned that they were screwed into the wall with stripped bolts that would have left huge holes had we tried to remove them.

Shawn drilling

So we decided to leave the bookshelves in the room and figured the next owners could remove them eventually if they wanted to!  We removed the other outlet covers and taped off the room.

shawn prepping

Step #2 – Painting the Walls

While I wont go into detail on how to paint walls because most people probably know, I will give you a few hints on my favorite products to make the job easier:

  • Frog Tape (green painters tape) is my favorite by far.  It really seals and makes doing trim easy.
  • Use plastic drop cloths so that you don’t ruin your flooring.
  • Make sure to use rollers to get an even coat. Paint brushes are useful for corners and trim though!
  • Have patience when doing the trim. It is the worst part of the job no doubt but is the detail that can make your job look either sloppy or professional.
  • And last but not least, enlist some good helpers, like the ones below, to make the job even more fun!  (By now you probably recognize the kiddos but that is Ashlyne and Jackson – my adorable niece and nephew.)

helpers wall paint

Paint on walls – check!  We ended up doing 3 of the 4 walls in the orange color and then kept one wall in ivory to soften the room and not make it feel so enclosed in dark colors. (The picture below makes it look red but it really is orange…silly iphone lighting…)

paint done

Step #3 – Prime & Paint the Bookshelves

While some suggest always sanding wood furniture, we decided to take a short cut and use what Becky and I call “liquid sandpaper” which is really liquid deglosser.  Deglossers normally have very potent chemicals so make sure to wear a face mask if you are going to use it.  We used foam rollers to get the deglosser on the bookshelves.  Make sure to follow the instructions on the can depending on your brand but we did 2 coats just to be safe.  (side note: If I had more time I would suggest sanding the wood in addition to the deglosser. We had a few chips afterwards that would have been stopped by sanding.)

Next came the primer…we used a Killz interior white primer.  After having now completed the guest bath upstairs though, I would suggest using the Gripper primer.  It works like a charm and the results are unbeatable.  (It can cover ceramic tile even!)

Here are our little helpers at it again with the primer coat…

ash and jax helping

After 1st coat of primer…

office primer

We ended up doing 2 coats of deglosser, 2 coats of primer, and then 3 coats of paint.  Those oak bookshelves just would not cover very easily!  We moved the actual shelves into the garage and primed/painted them out there.

bookshelf paint

Step #4 – Put everything back together! 

(Disclaimer: These pictures were taken with a good camera so that you can finally see the walls are an orange color! Not RED!)

I ended up finding a Crate & Barrel desk on Craigslist for half the retail price that was STILL selling in the stores! Score! So we went and bought the matching filing cabinet (left wall below) and also found the orange chair on clearance. The chair was a floor model and had a tiny scratch  (which I don’t even notice ever!) so we were able to get it over half off.  For the bookshelf, I tried to add orange accessories as well as more modern silver pieces (thanks to TJ Maxx Home Goods) to bring in the wall color.


The zebra rug was probably my favorite find of all time…it is super durable and you can still vacuum it.  Plus Jordan loves to sleep on it when I’m working in the office :)  He is a great foot warmer!

Office rug

I also like to make sure I’m mixing home decor items with personal/meaningful items. It is more fun when each piece of your home has a story and doesn’t feel so hotel-like.  The football and basketball below are autographed from both sides of Shawn’s family….Sparks Reunion 2013 and Mamaw’s 95th birthday party!





Overall, we were very happy with our office remodel.  A little bit of paint and some office furniture can go a long way!

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