Home Office Filled with Personality

Stephen photo 2009
When a reader called for help, Better Homes and Gardens contributing editor Stephen Saint-Onge answered. A slipshod room became a put-together home office with personality.

One Reader's Plea

Kristin Halpin had one room she avoided. After trips, she dropped off boxes of souvenirs and then quickly closed the door. Fed up with shunning this room, she reached out for help. She asked Stephen Saint-Onge for a room where she'd want to spend time. He answered with a home office makeover that features an exciting paint treatment, tons of storage, and a modular desk unit.

Before: Tangled Web

The room was tangled with wires and piled with paper. A lonely desk was the room's only piece of furniture. Other than the soothing deep vanilla wall color, the space was uninviting.

After: Open-Door Policy

Saint-Onge's remedy was to turn the room into a home office where Kristin could display her travel mementos. The revamped office features a decorative paint treatment, lots of storage, and a modular desk unit that can grow as needed. Kristin can reconfigure the separate base cabinets, corner desk piece, and hutch -- or add to it later. An area rug adds a cozy touch to this formerly uninviting room. Saint-Onge untangled the room by choosing all wireless electronics.

Striped Right

Saint-Onge's first step was to add pizzazz to the walls. An easy stripe treatment did the trick. Saint-Onge used painter's tape to mark out stripes, then he painted each one with zero-VOC paint. From Mythic Paint, he used Clover Honey 091-3 for the dark stripe and Vanilla Frost 085-1 for the light stripe.

After: Simple but Stunning

The stripes add interest to the walls. Vanilla shades create a space that's soothing yet inspiring.

Before: Basic Picture Frames

For tailored bulletin boards, Saint-Onge removed the glass and backing from picture frames and cut foam core to fit. He wrapped the foam core with fabric and replaced the frames.

After: Thrifty Bulletin Boards

The custom bulletin boards provide plenty of display space for Kristin's souvenirs. The striped fabric features creamy shades that mimic the new wall colors. They add color to the room without distracting from the memorabilia.

Colorful Supplies

A repainted tray and metal cups neatly contain binder clips, sticky notes, and other desktop essentials. A trip to the local office supply store yielded colorful folders, note pads, and document boxes.

Before: Empty Closet

The closet was wasted space before Saint-Onge got his hands on it. The doors swung into valuable floor space, and the shelves limited function.

After: Work-In Closet

To give the office a bonus workstation, Saint-Onge removed the doors from the closet and installed an inexpensive MDF counter at standing height (42 inches). Paint transforms an unfinished stool, and a seat cushion wrap tops it off. Wicker baskets store items and add texture to the room.

Global Collage

Magnetic primer beneath sage green paint turns the back wall of the closet into a tribute to Kristin's travels. Peel-and-stick magnets (found at crafts stores) attached to foreign coins hold up train tickets, maps of Europe, postcards, and currency from almost every continent. Drawers hold souvenirs not on display, and labels keep Kristin organized.

Resting Spot

Saint-Onge wanted this room to also be a space where Kristin could relax. He added a chaise longue in a neutral color. "The chaise gives Kristin a place to kick back with her laptop," Saint-Onge says.

Pretty Filing System

Labeled storage is the key to keeping things tidy and organized. Now instead of tossing travel receipts and documents on her desk, Kristin can just open a labeled file drawer and drop then in place. Empty walls are the perfect place for extra storage. These drawers not only hold papers, they also act as shelves to display knickknacks. The clocks echo the travel theme by displaying the times in different countries.

Before: Thrift Store Treasures

Spray paint is an easy and inexpensive way to give old accessories a new life. In Kristin's home office, it rescued a pair of lamp bases, a side table, and a set of basic metal desk supplies.

After: Color Savvy

The warm vanilla and green are colors pulled from the fabric on the bulletin boards. Using colors found in fabrics around the room is a good way to ensure that all the colors in the room will work together.

Meet Stephen Saint-Onge

Stephen Saint-Onge's keen understanding of the homeowner has moved him into the spotlight in recent years through his work on television and in magazines. This understanding, accompanied by his friendly, approachable, and creative style, is making design accessible to everyone -- no matter who they are, where they are, or what their budget may be.

As a husband, father, and homeowner, Saint-Onge understands the needs of the family-focused lifestyle. "I have the same to-do list on my refrigerator that everyone has," he says. " There is always something to be done with our homes, and hopefully what I bring to the table will help everyone see the best in their homes." He draws on his background in film and design to help owners create a home that truly captures who they are, but at the same time captures a mood they are looking to bring to life that represents their home in the right light. Good home design has the power to change lives.

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