Outfitting a Home Office in Brown
Inspired by vintage wallpaper, a TV executive created a masculine home office using smart storage solutions and shades of brown.
TV development executive Daysun Perkins and wife Alison, a lifestyle journalist, moved in 2011 from their modest home in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Hancock Park into a 3,300-square-foot two-story, midcentury modern house built in the 1960s.
With almost double the amount of space to fill, it became apparent that decorating the new abode would be quite the undertaking. "I wanted the home to have some darker, masculine characteristics," says Daysun. "Brown seemed like the perfect choice for the home office, not only because it's masculine, but also because it complements my wife's favorite colors perfectly: turquoise and orange."
When Daysun first looked at the house, he and Alison both fell in love with the 20x14-foot area just off the entrance, instantly deciding everything about the space was perfect for use as a home office.
The home's previous owners used the area as a reading and entertaining lounge that could accommodate up to four people at a time. Alison and Daysun knew there was enough square footage for the space to be used by more than one person at a time without feeling cramped. They just had to figure out the proper layout needed to fit their personal needs.
Luckily for Daysun, the previous homeowners started the footwork for his soon-to-be all-brown home office. "A well-known interior designer had designed the home, and his clients apparently had taste almost identical to ours," he says. "They installed brown-and-white David Hicks wallpaper in the office, something iconic to interiors of the 1960s and 1970s, which Alison and I both love."
Although the busy executive loved the existing wallpaper, he found the rest of the room too light and neutral for how he envisioned his home office. "The ceilings, baseboards, crown molding, door casing and doors were all painted beige, with accents of pink, which coordinated perfectly with the previous owner's decor," says Daysun. "But for us, we found it detracted from the brown."
The couple decided to paint everything the same brown as the wallpaper, with the exception of the ceiling. The ceiling was painted a shade 75 percent lighter than the wall color. This would allow the palette of the room to remain tight and cohesive without causing the ceiling to feel lower.
The Scope of This Brown Office Remodel
With the ceiling, trim, doors, casing and walls covered in brown, Daysun focused on finishing the project in two months with a budget of $5,000. The remaining design elements included the following:
- Incorporate a custom workstation
- Cover the windows with draperies
- Darken the whitewashed hardwoods with a plush area rug
- Add a second seating area that could be used for working on a laptop or for Alison to meet with clients
- Bring in concealed storage for files
A Furniture Focal Point
To find the perfect workstation, Daysun assumed he'd either have to go custom or vintage. After Alison took a trip to the Long Beach Flea Market, she returned home with an 8x3-foot midcentury conference table perfect for the scale and proportion of the room.
"Alison got the table for $75," says Daysun. "We'd planned to spend over $1,000 since it was such an integral part of the home office's design, but there was a catch." The conference table's top was made of laminate and covered with six decades' worth of dings and scratches. After showing the piece to his carpenter, he and Alison decided to have the wood legs and base oiled to enhance the table's well-preserved dark brown wood finish, then have the laminate top sanded, filled and lacquered in turquoise paint.
Not only would the turquoise break up the heavy tone-on-tone effect of the brown walls, trim and ceiling, but it would also add a touch of Alison's personality to the space.
Preserving the Wallpaper
As the project neared completion, both Daysun and Alison were thrilled with how it was shaping up. Although everything was coming together nicely, they did hit an obstacle. With contractors coming in and out, and furniture being moved around, the wallpaper became scratched and nicked in a few areas.
Since the wallpaper had been installed more than a decade earlier, the brown tones had faded, making it impossible to replace the damaged panels with matching browns. So Daysun hired a decorative painter to come in and touch up the damaged areas with paint techniques. The couple was then ready to move on to the final stage of their home office's new design.
Smart Storage Solutions
Next up was dealing with storage problems. Just a few feet from the workstation sits an entire wall of built-ins, something the previous homeowners had custom-made for linens.
After having the door fronts painted the same semigloss brown as the trim, door casings and doors, Daysun outfitted the floor-to-ceiling storage system with all of his office needs, from a printer, scanner and shredder to office supplies and binders. Since both Daysun and Alison work in the TV industry, he incorporated a small flat screen inside so that both could peek over at the TV while at work on their computers.
The final element was adding additional storage for hanging files. Instead of choosing a basic metal filing cabinet, Daysun went with a brown wooden console table complete with integrated hanging files. This was the perfect choice because the piece didn't look like a filing cabinet.
With the home office complete, Daysun couldn't be more pleased. Not only has the space become the hub of the home during business hours, but it's also the place of choice for the couple's dogs, Penny and Lucy.
"Our dogs love the room as much as we do, so much that it's quickly become their space," says Daysun. "If only I could teach them to use a Mac, then I'd get things done much more quickly."