My friend Susan has always loomed larger than life in my head. She's a Leo and when I met her she had a platinum blonde mane and a sweet, feminine voice. She was like a lioness. Except cuter. With a hint of Marilyn Monroe sexiness. That's Susan. Or at least how she is in my head.
We were very close my freshman year of college. Both trying to navigate the theatre department and hoping we were making the right decisions. We had Acting 1 and costume construction and stagecraft together. The latter in which we discovered our uncanny ability to get away with a lot simply by being blonde at the same time. No one expected much from us and we used it to our advantage. But in a cute way.
Susan has since received three(!) bachelor's degrees: Theatre, Art Education and Studio Art with an emphasis in ceramics. And she is now a super fancy Gallery Director!
But Susan has a problem. She needs help decorating her office. Her office which used to be a jail cell...
See the bars?
Susan's style is mid-century and India and bright gorgeous colors; a woman after my own heart! She is also a thrifter and has a good eye for vintage and antique pieces. So I decided to go bold and out there and let Susan be the one to pull it back. The design serves as inspiration for Susan to find her own great pieces and make the room her own. Although, I have a feeling if we could knock this out in a weekend, we'd be a lot happier. But creative people need to make it their own so...
When staring at the photos the first thing I wanted to do was paint the cabinetry on the back wall. But as I kept staring, I fell in love! And it became an inspiration for the room. The bookcase looks sort of mid-century and leans Danish Modern, so I started looking for authentic mid century color palettes.
Frank Lloyd Wright color palette?! Yes, please! Susan and I are both from Scottsdale, so Frank Lloyd Wright was an ever looming specter in our lives!
The inspiration is expanding!
From that impressive array of colors, I chose an olive and an aqua. Because I love them. But also because they are fresh and gorgeous and natural. Grass and Sky! Earth from above!
I wanted to paint the wall behind the bookcase the dark olive and the other three walls the aqua. This helps make the back display bookcase more of a focal point and let's the lighter walls serve as a backdrop for the incredible art a gallery director gets to hang on her walls.
And the beauty of aqua is that the back focal wall could be changed to a red-orange, or a rich yellow or a deep brown and still look great and fresh.
One of Susan's issues with her office is that there is too much furniture. Which is true. But also, all the furniture looks really heavy. Because everything is a giant blocky rectangle. To lighten up the space we could add a more open desk:
The beauty of this type of desk is that a dining table could serve the same purpose! Which are easy to find in thrift stores. And it's great for an artist to have a giant table to work on, if she needs it.
The other issue is the filing cabinet. It's sort of a necessary evil. But maybe a smaller one could be used and some of the files could be moved to cute file boxes that sit on a console table that runs perpendicular to the desk.
I did try to change the layout, but it puts Susan either looking into the hallway, which isn't very private, or it puts her back to the door, which isn't feng shui. So I kept the desk where it is with a console placed up against the wall creating an "L" shape with the desk.
Above the console, was an empty wall. It is most likely used for displaying art, but I wanted to give Susan an idea of how to incorporate her office life into her art life. (If that makes any sense).
I found these metal wall mount magazine holders, that could also hold files! And because they're metal, cute magnets!
Mix these magazine files with some small square cork boards, and you have an office art piece! One could pin postcards or small drawings to the boards, or memos and phone numbers!
Now, onto chairs. This was a tough one, because, really it's a matter of personal preference. But, right now, I'm the boss and I picked these gorgeous Wishbone chairs from World Market as the guest chairs for the office. Curvy and interesting without being obvious about it.
And for Susan's desk chair? A classic Chinese Chippendale chair. That's somehow modern and vintage at the same time. Because we are mixing styles like a boss.
Under the chairs, to kind of pull the office together, I added a rug. It will warm up the space and make it homier. I found this one that could work, but really, any great rug will add the warmth that will make an office feel less office-ie. I liked the oranges and the olive in this rug.
(world market but now it's gone. bummer.)
For other wall accessories, I added another cute plant to her plant ledge. A succulent that hangs down, the green looking pretty against the blue. And a chalkboard. I thought the chalkboard could hang next to the door so fellow artists could leave their marks.
On Susan's desk, a sweet yellow lamp adds a kick of color that contrasts nicely but still blends in. I love a lamp on a desk. The light is prettier and it feels less institutional.
Susan also asked for a mirror for her office. I thought hanging it either on the back of the door or behind the door would leave room for art work on the walls, but she'd still be able to make sure she looks her best. But the mirror could also hang on the wall beneath the bars. Bouncing light around and still in a great place to glance at yourself before you head out the door.
The only thing left to explain are the task lamps from the design. Here is a better picture of the placement.
I found a similar bookcase to show the paint color and the function of the lamps. I wanted to use them to light the display case and let their shape add some fun lines to the wall. Since this wall will house ceramics and art pieces, I thought it would be fun to make it more like a mini gallery in her office!
Here's the full design one more time:
I had the best time with this design! I hope it inspires Susan as much as she inspired me!