Before + After // My DIY Office Makeover

Before + After // My DIY Office Makeover

My latest home makeover project was a true labour of love.

First things first. The BEFORE pic.

Courtesy of our real estate agent. (Keep in mind the major wide angle on this baby. Look at the size of that doorway. It's just a standard sized walk through and this pic makes it look like we need to get ourselves a set of french doors.)


OMG so boring. So so boring.

Another built in. For the love.

Here's what I've done with it over the past 12 months living here.


Just ever so slightly embarrassing. Between the laundry basket full of ill-fitting clothes I need to donate, to the stack of invoices on my desk, to the baby thermometer...the chaos is real folks.

It's all too real.

I have high expectations for this space.

It's located at the front of our house. It can be seen from our front foyer and often serves as a thoroughfare for guests heading to our dining room.

It has to look good, but also serve as a place I can organize all the "must save" crap like receipts, homework calendars, and utility bills that abound.

All while inspiring creativity.

Very important.

This entire project began when I was SO LUCKY to win a free Instagram contest for a 3-hour consult with Ashley Iszak of Pare + Edit. Ashley is an incredible organizer/home stylist that has a real knack for convincing you to get rid of stuff you don't need.

She came to my house, took one look at my out of control office space, and made light work of filling the recycling bin with garbage.

In some instances quite literally.

Here's a picture of her holding an empty paper roll that I felt compelled to keep for some reason.

Look at her face. She was having NONE of that.


After a good purge we talked about my style and some key pieces I felt it important to keep.

Basically an inherited chair I spent a mint reupholstering, and some artwork.

Handmade. Obviously.

office-45 IMG_4680

She made some suggestions of items to look for (ie: a more functional desk and chair) and we began to build a Pinterest board with all of our ideas.

The first order of business was to paint out the wooden built in.


I may be criticized for this, but I decided to keep it.

Maybe I'll change it someday, but it works for now and we don't have much of a budget.


I chose to use Para Paint Colour Whitewash White (P2089-00)

It's from their Heritage Collection, and it's kind of the perfect white if you ask me. I've used it a few times now.

(Side Note: Is there anything more challenging than picking the right shade of white? I don't think so. I mean, parenting, obviously. But you know what I mean.)

As you know if you've been reading my other makeovers (here + here), I'm a sucker for wallpaper.

But it felt like overkill doing it in this room since you can see the bright yellow floral walls in the adjoining dining room. Instead, I went for something a bit more subtle.

Inspired by this Apartment Therapy post featuring Dalmatian print wallpaper, I decided to DIY the poop outta the back of the shelving.

Armed with a stolen pencil (aren't they all) and some black acrylic paint, I proceeded to spend the next two (expletive) days adding spots to my freshly painted bookshelves.

Although I don't think I'll ever want to undertake such a tedious task again any time soon, I have to say the final result was worth it.

If you try this yourself, my best piece of advice would be to avoid overthinking it.

My spots aren't perfectly round or evenly spaced, and that's okay. Better even. I think you could really cause yourself some serious trauma if you were to plan something like this out too much.


SOURCES // Ceramic light: Urban Barn / Feather print on Wood: Unik Print Shop / 256: Tin Barn Market / Lady in Waiting: Isabel DiSclafani / Ceramic Pop Can: a gift from my sister / Paper Clay House by Laura Daub / Golden Hands books: a gift from Mississippi North, Deer Planter from Value Village


Ashley helped me style the shelves, encouraging me only to keep the items and books etc that I really love.

At this point almost everything in here means something to me.

Or, at the very least, makes me smile.


You can usually buy this cat planter at Cheerfully Made, but we're currently out of stock, so instead you can buy it here!

I did end up purchasing a new desk from Ikea, as well as a really comfortable desk chair (also Ikea) and, still a little wary about the mostly white space, gave the room splashes of personality with items like a blue sheepskin rug, and the abstract art piece I created with my pal Sarah.

Ashley went out of her way to find me this perfect rose gold pendant at HomeSense for practically a song, and to solve the solution of the oddly glassed in space behind the desk, I came up with the cockamamie idea of making a flock of flamingos using air dry clay, plasticine, styrofoam eggs and acrylic paint.


Now tell me they aren't adorable beyond adorable.

Practical? No.

Adorable? Heck yes.


I am SO in love with this room. It's comfortable and functional and still has loads of "Emily" in it.

Despite a self-proclaimed knack for home decor, this is a room I really couldn't have achieved without the help of Pare + Edit.


Checking out my dining room? You can read about that transformation HERE.


Kensington Market Print: Kid Icarus / Rug: Barbra Ignative via Society6

I hope if you ever need someone to help you pull a room together in a way that isn't just pretty, but also completely works (and gives you the peace of mind of being entirely organized) you'll consider hitting up Pare + Edit.

I know you won't regret it.

office-185 Look at me whistling while I work in my new office.

I'm downright jovial about the whole thing.

xo Em


Photo Credit: Sarah Evans, Shoebox Pics