Exploring my beachy home office makeover in this blog post. I’ll share before pics, after pics and the messy work between.
First off, why should you makeover your home office?
If you’ve spent any time in this pandemic working from your kitchen table, your laundry room (raises hand, 18 months!) or some other tucked away corner, you need to get planning on a home office revamp, stat. I love the beach – summer beach, winter beach – I’ll take it all. I just love the water, the sand, the expanse of sky and the colors of the beach at all seasons. When I set out to makeover my beach-inspired home office, I turned to a decorator friend to help, Stephanie Murray from Stephanie Murray Makeovers.
Our front room/playroom had been just that for the last 13 years. My children are almost 12 and almost 15 and they don’t play in here much (they do watch the big TV, and they do occasionally use Legos and games, so those are still here.) At first, I was reluctant to turn this into MY space (to sew and to work) but then I realized that I spent the last 18 months working in my laundry room while my hubby took over our home office – and he’s not leaving. The gorgeous live edge oak desk he built for me was just covered with junk upstairs in his office after I moved my stuff out of the office in March 2020 at the start of the pandemic. It was getting no love and no appreciation at all.
The before pics show it all – my son’s desk (gorgeous 70-year old mahogany, built during the pandemic by my husband from family boards that sat in my in-laws attic for 40 years), my sewing cabinet, a futon I bought for my former corporate office when I was pregnant with my daughter (and needed to rest during the day) – a MESS, really. Legos, HotWheels cars, the whole lot.
Furniture to start with:
I had three pieces of furniture I knew had to be in here. You’ll likely have similar requirements for your home office, too.
- Live edge oak slab desk (built by my husband). We added metal pin legs. It used to sit on a printer stand and a filing cabinet.
- Sewing cabinet that folds out into a sewing workstation (also built by my husband)
- Tall bookcase with wooden crates (also all built by my husband)
At this point, I’m nearly teary with emotion at how much my husband loves me! Get yourself a spouse that supports you, your business, and your life.
I chose Stephanie Murray from Stephanie Murray Makeovers to do redesign my home office and create a beachy home office makeover!
Beyond the furniture, I gave my designer, the following: I wanted it to feel serene and beachy. I wanted to keep (or even add) plants to my office. Like many of you, I took on expanding my plant collection through plant trade groups online during the pandemic. It’s a jungle in here!
I also wanted to move my printer (and its cabinet, which is a small 3-drawer chest with office supplies in it) downstairs to my office.
Curate items from your house!
Stephanie curates design elements from around the house, it’s one of her trademark design tools, so she grabbed framed posters, pictures, and other items from around my home that I already had. I had a rattan in-basket, and a small rattan covered box on my desk for remotes and cords, plus a beachy tin for my earbuds, power packs and a stash of lip balm for Zoom calls. I had wooden desk accessories, tropical coasters, and candles
We kept the big screen TV on the wall. There’s no other place it goes, and bonus, since it’s across from my desk now, I have been listening to Anjunadeep live deep house DJ music or beach bonfires and surf scenes on YouTube. My kids bring down their beanbags or sit on floor pillows on the carpet to watch Netflix or Disney.
Stephanie repurposed the pictures used in my office from around the house (and my basement!), and she hung up a desk organizer for the vinyl graphics envelopes, stamps, and labels that the kids use to send out orders.
Beachy touches added to my home office/studio makeover
Stephanie bought glass vessels for my large collection of seashells. She cut up a piece of linen fabric I provided (a scrap) for a runner, to add texture to the top of the tall kid toy bookcase.
My husband cut oak live edge shelves and Stephanie mounted them and added plants, framed watercolor cards of St. John, US Virgin Islands (I purchased these at the National Park store with the intention of framing.) I will add a few more cards from the Cayman Islands, also framed. Back in the early to late 1990s we had several large clients based in the Cayman Islands.
We added a photo of an Italian seaside town we took on a trip to the Cinque Terre in 2003. But I am planning to replace this with one with one I took on a trip to Delray Beach, FL.
The sewing side of the room becomes a neat credenza cabinet upon which has two hand-turned wood bowls filled with rocks I’ve collected all over the world. I’ve had more than one customs agent say “this is a heavy bag! Whatddaya have, rocks in here?” and I’ve just shrugged and said, “I pack heavy.” I use these rocks regularly as sewing pattern weights.
In the sewing studio corner, Stephanie hung up a picture I bought in Key West, a picture of friends on our Florida Keys sailing charter in 1995, and a magazine clipping. The magazine clipping is from a lifestyle magazine, featuring a sailboat gliding over the aqua waters near Tortola (near Cane Garden Bay) in the British Virgin Islands. I clipped this and hung it up on my closet door in my former upstairs office in 2015 as a goal. Every day, I could see this, and finally, when I was 49, in 2019, I said, “we’re doing it!” and booked a charter for my 50th birthday. There is power in a vision board – and seeing your goals.
I envisioned the very same thing with a Pinterest board called “inspiring spaces to work in” – which became this beach-themed office.
The serenity of the room is delightful. The ambiance of the space, the delightfulness of the pieces that are uniquely mine, repurposed, given new life and new focus.
Add decor details that reflect your personality
My husband cut shelves from live edge solid white oak boards, did not sand, but did finish them (so I could have plants here) and spray-painted metal brackets with a “hammered silver” finish spray paint that I bought at Michaels.
Stephanie added the décor: framed watercolor cards I purchased at the National Park store in St. John, USVI, a small model sailboat from my living room, some rope balls and other décor items she got on clearance, and a giant weathered rosary that, as she describes it “looks like it’s been at the bottom of the sea for a while.” I love the religious touch (I might have had to hide a secret statue of Mary in here otherwise.) I sewed the plant pot linen cover out of scraps (also used for the raw edge runner on the toy bookshelf). Stephanie also added a spider plant (my own collection) in a weathered birch-look pot.
I water these plants, by the way, weekly, and I use a stepstool and plastic jug. So even though they are on high shelves or hanging, the stepstool helps me take care of the plants. I save this for Friday afternoon, it’s a weekend kind of vibe for me.
I have just a few business goals for 2022, and this beach-themed home office was one of them. Crafting your own space, whether it’s a closet, a nook, an alcove, a laundry room – a guest room, whatever – is crucial. Having your own (well-designed) space gives you a chance to focus on your work. I can’t express fully how I’ve felt present and purposeful in this space. It’s perfect for me.
I was worried the kids would feel put out, but they brought their beanbag chairs down, they moved my office chair and they have felt at home with the TV in here. They have spent more time in here than when there was a futon to sit on!
The futon is relocated to my hubby’s new solo office/guest room upstairs. I’ll share his home office makeover in a future blog post.
The last step is to move around plants
Because I love plants (and they need certain kinds of light), I am doing this slowly, as I see how the plants react to their new surroundings. I have repotted several to fill in some thin spots, and I’ve trimmed a few and propagated new ones, shown in the images, a Yucca, and two spider plants. The pots they are in are silver, stone mosaic and white plastic (looks like stone.)
The result of my beachy home office sewing studio makeover? Transformational!
The experience was a huge change – physically moving things around changes how you feel about a space and yourself. Making it my own, my own design, not only ties this room in with the rest of our house (which I describe lovingly as “modern yacht club”), but gives me a separate spot to work, and to escape.
I am able to separate work from creative fun (sewing), because they are on opposite sides of the room, in their own zones, AND that they have their own design elements. It feels separate enough that I enjoyed sewing in here. In fact, the sewing cabinet is still open as I write this, inviting me to create after work today.