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.
Daysun Perkins in His Newly Decorated Home

Daysun Perkins in His Newly Decorated Home

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.

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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.

Sophisticated Brown Office Remodel

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Graphic Ideas

Inspired by graphic wallpaper in his Sherman Oaks, Calif., home installed by the previous owners, TV development executive Daysun Perkins created a masculine home office by using shades of brown throughout the space.

A Color Catastrophe

Prior to its brown-on-brown update, the walls, trim, doors, casings and ceilings of Daysun's home office were painted beige, something which detracted from the dark brown of the wallpaper — the design element he wanted to be the room's focus.

Making Brown a Focal Point

Daysun had the trim, doors and casings painted in a brown semigloss paint that matched the wallpaper. The ceiling was painted the same color as the trim, but toned down by 75 percent.

A Dual Workstation

Daysun and his wife, Alison, both use the home office. To make room for both of them, a pedestal table with four orange chairs was brought in to serve as an extra space for laptops or meeting with clients. A custom workstation was made for housing the couple's desktop.

Front Door Update

To keep brown consistent throughout the entire entry, Daysun had the 8-foot-tall custom front doors painted the same brown as the rest of the home office.

Bringing in Color

Although Daysun loves the home's whitewashed hardwood floors, he wanted to keep the entire home office wrapped in brown, from the walls and ceiling to the floor. To do this and keep the space grounded, he brought in a plush, brown wool area rug with accents of one of Alison's favorite colors, orange.

Midcentury Modern Accents

In keeping with the home's midcentury modern architecture, Daysun incorporated a Danish modern 1950s pedestal table with a white steel base and walnut top. The combination of pedestal base and round top makes the seating area versatile; there is room for up to six chairs to be placed around the table.

Filing Cabinet

Daysun and Alison both needed file space. Instead of bringing in steel file cabinets, Daysun chose a wooden console table that doubles as file storage.

A Flea Market Find

For ample work surface, Daysun used an 8x3-foot midcentury modern conference table with integrated drawers. Alison found it at a flea market and the couple customized it by having their carpenter refinish the top with lacquer in one of Alison's favorite colors, turquoise.

Drawer Space

One of the reasons Daysun and Alison liked the conference table was its drawers, which can contain clutter. With notebooks and reading glasses stored away from the eye, the worktop surface stays neat.

Masculine Details

Daysun's home office is packed with masculine touches. Each arm of his armchair is adorned with the head of a ram.

Before a Brown Facelift

The home office's custom built-ins initially were given feminine appeal by painting the trim detail of the door fronts pink. Daysun decided to have them painted solid brown instead, making them more masculine.

A High-End Update

So the door fronts of the built-in storage system would fit the new decor, Daysun had them painted with three coats of dark brown semigloss paint. Instead of replacing the high-end, custom glass knobs original to the doors, which previously looked feminine when paired with the pink trim detail, Daysun had them reinstalled, resulting in the perfect balance between the dark brown and the clear, elegant glass knobs.

Aged Aesthetic

The office's entry table belonged to Alison prior to her life with Daysun; however, she'd silver-leafed the table to fit her previous home's decor. Over time, the silver leaf flaked off, resulting in a perfectly aged effect to the brown stain.

Charming Pocket Doors

Daysun's home office is surrounded by three bedrooms, two of which are for guests. To keep his workspace closed off from visitors who may sleep late, pocket doors were installed.

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

Turquoise Desk in Brown Midcentury Modern Home Office

Turquoise Desk in Brown Midcentury Modern Home Office

For ample work surface, Daysun used an 8x3-foot midcentury modern conference table with integrated drawers to house his desktop.

For ample work surface, Daysun used an 8x3-foot midcentury modern conference table with integrated drawers to house his desktop.

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.

Elegant Brown Office Chair

Elegant Brown Office Chair

Using the wallpaper as inspiration, Daysun had the same brown tone pulled from its pattern, then updated the trim, doors and casings using semigloss paint.

Using the wallpaper as inspiration, Daysun had the same brown tone pulled from its pattern, then updated the trim, doors and casings using semigloss paint.

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.

Red and White Built-in Storage Unit Before Update

Red and White Built-in Storage Unit Before Update

BEFORE

Brown and Aqua Office Space

Brown and Aqua Office Space

AFTER

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."

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