A few months ago I got a call from my sister, Ellen Dioguardi. Ellen is Assistant to the Publisher at Dan’s Papers. She called to tell me that she was moving her desk space at Dan’s to another area. We are all creatures of habit and change can be difficult. Moving to a new space is an adjustment and a disruption to our daily routine. Ellen works hard. I could tell she wasn’t thrilled.
Ellen: “They’re giving me my own office…it’s a supply closet.”
Me: “A supply closet? Does it have a window?”
I am an Interior Designer, I have a degree from Parsons, and I am a Home Stager. After years of staging homes, my specialty has evolved into making the most of what you’ve got. I’m trained to see possibility in a space where others do not. Besides, it was easy for me, I wasn’t the one moving my office and I wanted my sister to be happy so I replied: “Sounds like you got a promotion! Your own office with a window!”
Ellen: ” I always wanted my own office.”
Now I had to deliver!
Not to be deterred, I took a trip to Dan’s to inspect the “supply closet,” take some measurements and brainstorm our transformation for a very limited budget. We put our heads together and pooled our resources. A color scheme was decided on, dictated to some extent by Ellen’s personal preference, and partially by the “givens”: a black desk chair and what we could find in our respective homes to donate to the cause. We decided on a warm taupe for the walls, beach-glass green and black for accent colors and natural woven textures incorporated for interest. All very appropriate choices for a professional office in a “beach” town and the colors transitioned nicely with the other offices at Dan’s.
Right off the bat, we decided it was necessary to splurge on a fresh coat of paint. Something light and neutral but richer then the existing white paint. Benjamin Moore Cream Fleece, a fresh canvas that would define the white shelving (former storage), make it pop and create the feeling that it was an intentional design element built just for Ellen’s new office. The existing countertop (storage shelf), to be utilized as a desk space, would be painted black, giving it more authority as a workspace. To achieve that, we used a black spray paint made by Krylon, a great product called Fusion that adheres to plastic laminate, the material the counter is made of.
We then culled treasures from both our homes; a teal colored porcelain table lamp to add ambient light and make the space feel cozy, a decorative plate (with teal in it) designed by Ellen’s mother-in-law, artist Liz Gribin, and some graphic black and white photography of beach scenes by Ellen’s husband, David Gribin. Blue-green “Ball Jars” filled with seashells, a deep teal colored bowl and personal photos in frames to adorn the shelves. We added attractive textural baskets for additional storage function. A wayward ivy plant was bequeathed, a Bridgehampton poster of Ellen’s and a driftwood picture frame belonging to me were married and hung. My friends at Carpetman in Southampton came through by donating a sea grass rug remnant, which was installed wall to wall. The finishing touch was an inexpensive tortoise shell bamboo shade that would hide the window air conditioner that was being installed. Things were looking good!
Here is a breakdown of the total expenses:
1 gallon of Benjamin Moore paint – $38.00
2 cans of Krylon Fushion Black Spray Paint @$5.65 ea – $11.30
1 Tortoise Shell Bamboo Shade from Overstock.com – $29.00
Total Investment – $78.30
It’s amazing what you can do with some elbow grease and some creativity.
Ellen is now enjoying her very own private office space that she has always wanted, a lovely environment to foster her diligent work at Dan’s. I have “before” and “after” shots of an affordable office makeover and the venue to share it in.
A happy ending for all!
Allegra Dioguardi is owner of Styled and Sold Home Staging (www.styledandsold.com). She resides in Westhampton Beach where she also teaches a teleseminar program for those interested in a career as a Home Stager.