Provide workable comfort. This gave us enough space for a desk along with a sofa and armchair in the relatively compact room. First, we were treating the ceiling as a wall, applying Benjamin Moore’s bold Peony to it. Bonus: Our hallway gets bathed in morning sunlight. Even during the gloom of winter, this study remains cheerful and fun. The room we had pegged for our office / den was on the northeast side of the house. Yes, this would be our home office. And at night, it offers a cozy retreat for curling up and watching Netflix. The fifth wall
We started by removing the useless closet. Because it’s at the north side of the house, the room can be very dark. He built it on the summer’s hottest day, resulting in a pretty fantastic sun burn. Our Ashley sofa’s modern lines and low-profile back cushions give it an understated presence, but it’s the bench cushion that maximizes the usefulness of this compact 81-inch sofa. Our Atticus armchair in bold Holstein hair-on-hide sits in a sunny corner. A leaky window had resulted in window trim in need of repair, while walls full of cracks and holes needed patching. Finishing details
Light control was a unique challenge in this room. At the same time, the morning sun does come in strong in the summer and, in winter, the bare trees don’t offer any privacy from the road behind the house. The floors — which, like those in the rest of our house, were too worn to survive another refinishing — received a coat of porch paint in pale gray. We started by designing a new sofa just for the room. A simple metal desk and file cabinet offer a more traditional work surface and storage space. Our solution was to create a board-and-batten effect using inexpensive lattice strips. We painted it before dark and brought it into the room a few hours later. Fix the walls. We arranged the bookshelf with art books, novels, our pottery, and some adorable porcelain bunny nightlights. Tailored furnishings
We wanted this to feel like a lounge more than an office. (Image credits: Chris Stout-Hazard) The effect serves to visually raise the ceilings and greatly enhances the feel of the room. No…not a real one. Because this room would be used as an office, we knew the door could always remain open. During the day, it is a functional workspace. This early twentieth century add-on was in rough condition and offered little usable storage space. Removing it would free floor space for a desk. We established a stopping point for the white paint and created an interesting graphic line. Because we have a big white dog and have been known to eat snacks on the sofa, we opted for stain-proof Sunbrella fabric. Oh, and a skull. Fitting a variety of seating choices into this small room required some creativity. Chris’ poster-sized black-and-white photographs depict one of our historic spa village’s abandoned hotels (which, coincidentally, is visible from the room). Because we didn’t intend on using this as a bedroom and the closet was too small to be of any other use, we opted to reclaim the square footage. The walls, trim, and baseboard heaters would all be painted in bright white paint. By dropping the ceiling color down to the upper walls, we were able to disguise this and improve the appearance of the room dramatically. We call the ceiling “the fifth wall” — it’s an opportunity for color and interest, particularly in smaller rooms that lack compelling details. Chris worked off of plans from Ana White’s terrific DIY blog to build a Rustic X Bookshelf. Yes, that’s five colors in a small room, none of which actually worked with one another. For more storage, we used two of our Takeout Tables. Because nothing in our house is level, painting the ceiling fuchsia and the walls white would have highlighted the wavy and sloping lines of the ceiling. While we occasionally work at a traditional desk, we’re far more likely to move around through the day. The wood floors were spotted with water stains and an add-on closet consumed more floor space than it provided in utility. This technique can be done in a day and costs at most a couple hundred dollars in supplies.