How I Turned A Junky Home Office Into A Chic Workspace

By Cynthia Billhartz Gregorian
The Kansas City Star

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr)  If you are one of the many women in business who work from home and can’t stand your “home office” or in this case, your partner’s home office; a Kansas City woman has a little inspiration.  With a little creativity and plan of action your mess could soon be your masterpiece. 


I finished organizing and redecorating my husband, Vahe’s, junky home office and he loves it … or at least he says he does.

What’s most important is I love it, which means we’ll spend more time together.

Vahe, a sports columnist for The Star, often asked me to sit in his third-floor office while he worked on weekends and evenings.

I often refused because the room was cluttered and, well, ugly.

The perimeter of the room was littered with stuff on the floor and leaning against the walls. Vintage board games, piles of media passes, movie posters, CDs, vinyl albums and 45s, a record player and a CD player that didn’t work,  the list went on and on.

Hundreds of sports event media passes were hanging haphazardly on a cork board on one wall, while 47 Bruce Springsteen tickets and a concert set list were sloppily thumb-tacked to another board on a nearby wall. A pingpong table was covered with more of the same. As I said in a previous column, the room looked like a garage sale.

Not anymore. Now it’s crisp, clean and colorful. It has new light sources, interesting gallery walls and a happy, modern vibe. I can easily see myself reading a book, listening to music and napping up there on a Saturday afternoon.

I spent less than 40 hours (spread over two weeks) and just more than $600 to make it that way, and it will improve our lives.

Here’s how I did it, and if you’re looking to refresh a room, any of these ideas will help.

-Cull the stuff: Per my instructions, Vahe chose what he needed to do his job and wanted to see on display, then stored everything else in the basement.

-Sort display items into themes: Themes included Bruce Springsteen, comic books, Olympics coverage, journalism awards and his high school/college football days. Grouping similar items for a display makes a bigger impact than scattering them around a room.

For the walls, I first placed frames on the floor in an appealing pattern that made sense. I measured the wall before arranging to make sure everything would fit.

Tips: If you’re hanging pictures or shelves on plaster walls, drill a pilot hole and tap a wall anchor into it for a screw. Another tip: place a piece of tape over the spot where you intend to drill to prevent plaster from cracking and crumbling.

-Divide the room into zones: Vahe now has a workspace, lounging area and pingpong area.

-Pick a color scheme: I chose dark gray as a backdrop for a lime green accent wall and red, orange and white furnishings. The gray grounds the bright colors, allowing them to be cheerful, rather than garish or overwhelming.

Tip: Use a color wheel, which helps identify complementary pairings. has a color wheel and explains how to use it.

-Buy furnishings: This included a white futon sofa/bed, two glossy red end tables, and an orange-and-white rug for the lounge area. The rug is made of woven plastic, and the white sofa is made of faux leather, which makes it easier to clean paw prints from our dogs, Ralph and Frankie. I also bought black-and-white picture frames, shelves and new lighting fixtures.

-Move stuff away from the walls: Vahe removed the hundreds of books and tchotchkes from the long shelves lining a wall inside the room’s entrance and sorted it so I could quickly put it all back in a similar way.

-Prep and paint: I taped around the ceiling, baseboards, shelf brackets, door and window frames to prevent drips and splatters, then filled in the unpainted parts after rolling on paint. You can skip taping if you have a steady hand (I do not) to cut in the edge with a high-quality brush. But beware: Picky people (like me) cringe when we walk into rooms with paint in places it shouldn’t be. It’s like food stains on a shirt or lipstick on teeth.
Even though it costs a bit more upfront, I used a primer/paint combination that meant I needed to apply only one coat of paint, saving time and the cost of a second can of paint for a second coat.

-Add lighting: I moved an existing Medusa-style floor lamp from a corner of the room to the middle. I hung a plug-in ceiling light with a black lampshade over his desk and hung a wall lamp so it shines on the pingpong table. Wall anchors and screws were vital for hanging both of these.

I also found two idle lamps in another room and rewired one to sit atop the shelves by the Springsteen gallery wall and placed the other, a black work lamp, on his desk. He now has five sources of light (there used to be one) in addition to the recessed ceiling lighting.
Behr Premium primer/paint: (one gallon gray, one quart lime green, $50, Home Depot)
Ikea lighting: ($19.99, Ranarp wall spotlight; Nymo lamp shade, $24.99; two sets of Sattra cord decorations, $6.99 each; $5, Hemma light cord)
Futon sofa bed: ($235,
Orange-and-white rug: ($80,
Red tables: ($13.99 each, Ikea)
Picture frames: ($50, Ikea)
Turntable and CD player: ($90,

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