Reader Q: Office Help Needed!

Reader Kimberly wrote in looking for some help with her office space. Here's the room needing a little love...


Kimberly recently installed gorgeous new hardwood floors, repainted the walls, and replaced all the trim in the home they purchased last year. As a successful >wedding photographer, she needs an office space that is more inviting to her clients. "I don't have a ton of room, but I want something where they can come, sit down, peruse my sample work, watch a slideshow on my computer, and chat about their wedding day with me," she says. Here are some current photos showing the space as it is today.

Currently seating area for clients with her portfolio on the small table.

Style: Her office is currently gray, red, and turquoise, all colors that she really enjoys so these colors are staying. She loves vintage and thrift store finds, mixing old with new, and loves anything mid-century.

Notes: The room has four closets, one holds photography equipment, another is a dedicated craft supply space, the third is random storage of office and business supplies, and the last is a clothes closet.

I've asked Vanessa De Vargas from Turquoise in LA, who recently launched her e-decorating service, to visit us today and share her decorating ideas with Kimberly. Here are some tips and products that Vanessa suggests for the space...

"First, remove your current client seating area -- both of the little chairs and mini table near the door. Replace with two more (or just one) comfortable chairs with matching upholstery. Place all storage currently under the white shelf into a closet. Wallpaper closet doors and place two upholstered chairs in front of them. You could also do a L shaped desk so clients can sit at the L to look at the monitor. If you go this route, instead of chairs already mentioned, find cute matching chairs to fit your taste and upholster the seats. Move red lamp to the lucite side table and install some art work on the wall where the chairs were (or your own photography, it's suggested you have your work on display somewhere in the room) and incorporate on small shelves in between some of your vintage cameras. To keep this budget-friendly, I've gone a little overboard with Urban Outfitters items but here are a few product suggestions along with a few examples of displaying photography that I've pulled together for you." - Vanessa De Vargas


Vanessa's suggestions: Chandelier in white $36, 2 chairs from overstock to reupholster in a fun print if you do not opt for the l-shaped desk idea $269 each, lucite table $88, pillows for the chairs if you do not reupholster them, floor rug $68, wallpaper for closet, a desk chair in white in case she wants something more comfortable,

Vanessa's framing ideas.

And to add some of my own advice (me, Holly). Kimberly: I also suggest an L shaped desk, in fact I like the idea more than two chairs near the double closet because clients should be seated at your desk to view your portfolio on your screen. For the desk my only suggestion is to avoid wood tones and/or glass (fingerprints!) and go with something light and airy vs. a solid heavy piece. You may want to check where you purchased your current desk to see if they sell additional pieces to create the L using your current desk. Another advantage in having this set up is that you can install a pendant light that hangs directly above the desk so you don't have to worry about anyone bumping their heads! I like Vanessa's overhead pendant suggestion, but also think a simple FADO globe from IKEA would be a nice look. You are currently limited so you use overhead lighting that is flush against the ceiling. I suggest keeping the wall paint as is, it is so lovely, and if you want to wallpaper on the closets as Vanessa suggested I would go with something crisp and graphic, like Ferm Living's Berry Black, Birdweed, or Kingflower. Another idea for your double closet is that you can turn both doors into a giant chalkboard with simple chalkboard paint. If you buy magnetic paint to coat the doors before the chalkboard paint, you can use the doors to organize your work and since they are not the focal point as clients enter the room, they are in the perfect spot. I think a rug below the L-shaped desk is important to avoid scuffing the floors, you may even want to look into FLOR carpet tiles. I'd go for some texture in the room, perhaps a jute boucle rug in platinum from West Elm. I think your current desk chair is fine, I'd just add a pretty cushion to the seat or slip the top of it to coordinate with your guest chairs. Also look for armless chairs for clients for extra space, and try to find chairs on wheels. Sew some pretty chair covers to spruce them up or seat cushions. If you opt for guest chairs and no L shaped desk, I would try to locate some armless, slim slip chairs because they will take up less room. Crisp white would be lovely. The IKEA Stockholm chairs may work. Add a pretty pillow on each chair, a bolster or rectangular one would be good, but square is also okay. Since you photograph mostly people, this K Studio pillow in black with white stitch is darling and fits the look of the room nicely. You can add your red and turquoise accents in the form of your current desk lamp, a new red leather portfolio (vs. current black one), and red frames on your shelf or a turquoise vase filled with fresh flowers on your desk. Flowers are an absolute must when clients visit, puts them in total wedding mood, just keep them out of the way of arms in case of accidental spills. And of course... specialty candy or fresh baked cookies (or cupcakes, again think wedding) never hurts. All the TLC you can give a client meeting in your home to make you and your work stand out, the better! If your work has received press attention, you may want to show that off in a single frame or post it neatly on the chalkboard. And by all means, show you work on the walls. Dedicate a space to showcasing your best photography. Whether it's near the door as Vanessa suggested, creatively displayed on the chalkboard (you could frame them using vinyl frame decals in white), or displayed in frames on the current long shelf you have, your work truly needs to be out and in view. Also, when it comes to lighting, you need some behind where your client will sit, so consider a floor lamp like the Adjustable Enamel light for $68 at Urbans. Or try to locate an industrial accordion style light (since you love vintage) with a clamp and attach it to the long shelf to provide some illumination in that area of the room. Here's a visual to give you some help...

Items shown here are linked in above paragraph.

If anyone reading would like to also chime in with suggestions, please do! I'm sure she'd would love to hear from everyone -- the more the merrier!

(images from kimberly hurst)