I have been working on my office makeover through late fall and into Christmas to freshen it up. I wanted a change from my dark, moody Benjamin Moore Terra Cotta to a much lighter shade of blue-green. I have been making changes to my business and I wanted to reflect the change in what was actually IN my office. I am focusing less on professional organizing and more on travel blogging and writing. So I began with a general purge of books and items that I was no longer using or referring to on a daily basis.
I also decided that there were a few things that I wanted to keep but I did not want to pay extra to buy a ‘newer’ version. In my second post of this series, I showed you how a little bit of paint can go a long way to re-purposing useful items. In that one I showed you how I had changed my black IKEA shelves and magazine holder to a softer off white. Although, I could have easily used Benjamin Moore’s Advance Paint that is very useful for furniture, cabinets and shelves, I knew that I wanted to do this quickly so I used spray paint instead.
In this segment, I wanted to walk you through how I decided that I did not want to damage any of the beautiful, natural wood in my office but I did want an update and I also wanted a contemporary accent. I was looking longingly at wallpaper options. I loved different graphic patterns that are so in vogue these days but I could not find one that would match the colour that I had committed to wholeheartedly – Benjamin Moore’s Forget Me Not 2049-60. It was a colour that I had chosen from a Martha Stewart binder that I had had for years. I loved that colour and wanted a pattern that would compliment it without being overly matchy-matchy. I did have to worry about a few things: I was not going to change the desk anytime soon (so I still had a terra cotta coloured table and metal black table legs, black printer, monitor, picture frames, and door pulls). I was mixing it up because I did not want to have to buy all new items – I’m on a budget!
This is the colour dilemma: (1) a soft pale blue – Benjamin Moore Forget me Not; (2) off white shelves and accessories (3) black desk, pulls and picture frames (accessories) and (4) natural oak shelving unit. As I knew I wanted to cover the wall behind the shelves but I did not want to adhere wallpaper to the wood, I had to think of a wallpaper alternative. I thought about Contact paper (yes, the one that you line drawers with). This was a great choice because although it does adhere well AND it is easy to remove, it was not cost effective because you needed quite a few rolls due to the width of the panels. I also considered wallpaper with simple double-sided carpet tape as an adhesive but once again: too pricey and I could not find a pattern that I liked. My small space still meant that I would be spending over $100. Another wallpaper alternative was to use fabric. I have often used fabric to complete the look of a room whether it is as curtains or as pillow accessories. Why not use it to put on the wall? Once again, the cost of the fabric added up quickly.
So I asked myself what could I used as an alternative that had a lot of fabric for a small price? On a trip to Toronto, I found myself at a home decorating store and realized that I would easily use a shower curtain to fit the bill. I found the pattern I wanted but I did not have the quantity that I needed. Low and behold, I figured out that the shower curtain had matching BEDDING…DING, DING, DING… winner…gagante! So that is exactly what I did: I bought a bedding set to complete my project. Here is how I did it.
Measure all surfaces that you need to cover. If you can remove any moveable shelving units that is the easiest option. I was able to remove some but not all.
Purchase enough fabric so that you can cover the area. I have a three-panel area. One was large and the other two were cut up as the shelves were fixed in place. Make sure that you buy enough fabric (or bedding ) to cover the area and ensure you account for matching patterns. This is a detail of the material which incorporated the accent colours and the main wall colour.
Buy very thin bristol board or foam board so that you can adhere the fabric to it. You need to do this so that the fabric stays in place and does not sag. In my case, I did not want to adhere the fabric directly onto the wood. Why? Because when I sell this house, I want to give the homeowners the ability to keep the wood pristine or if they want they can paint it with sticky glue or wallpaper. Lastly, by doing it this way, I have the option of changing the look quickly and easily in a few years. Below you will see that I needed to tape a few bristol boards together and then I used double sided CARPET tape. The carpet tape was useful because it was nice and wide and it adheres really well to the fabric and the paper – so no slippage!
Cut out any outlet holes that are needed or any notches that have to be cut out because of shelves. I simply cut out the rectangle then taped it back with duct tape to keep the edges crisp.
Plan out and make sure that the panels all work well together. You want the patterns to line up as much as possible because if you don’t it will look wrong. I realize that there will be books and picture frames on the shelves but not everything will be covered! Cut out the fabric and use either spray glue, double-sided carpet tape or duct tape (yes, the old standby) to adhere the fabric to the foam board.
Purchase accessories that will compliment the whole look of the vignette. I was lucky enough to find two different sets of magazine holders from IKEA that brought a few design ideas together (1) very similar colour to the walls; (2) natural colour of the wood and the other magazine holder and (3) the colours in the fabric. I was also able to repurpose some black magazine holders that I had from the previous office look.
Use different textures and colour accessories to layer the look. I brought in a few seagrass baskets that were previously elsewhere in my home. This lets me keep books without having a lot of them stacked together (been there, done that – see ‘before’ picture above). I also used the magazine holders as file holders, so I can turn them on their side and easily access the files during the day, at night when I want to call it a day, I just flip them back up – nice and neat! Keeping the black accessories, gave me permission to re-purpose the picture frames that I had before. Where I had a lot of books, I now had a few prized possessions (the milk glass candy holder, frames and keepsake boxes). I was able to move the large ‘M’ on the wall to the shelf. A signature of mine since I was a teen. I was also able to incorporate a very, very special keepsake: a print of my alma mater that belonged to my father-in-law. We both graduated from McGill and this makes me smile!
I also added a bit of colour with the books and experimented with different accessories to see what would work best. The binder on the shelf is the one that was an inspiration for the colour of the room. I also have a red/coral binder that was also from the (now defunct) Martha Stewart Office line. In the long run, the built-in unit had the most impact on the room, besides the colour. It helped me streamline what I really wanted in my office and kept the pattern interesting without being too busy. A nice touch was when my mother made a slip cover for the back support pillow that I have on my chair.