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She Works Hard for the Money

Monday, July 23

This week for Dream Design, rather than designing three different rooms around a piece of furniture or a particular style, I'm going to be designing the same type of room three ways: The Office.

Regardless of the type of job you have, you want your office to help convey that you are competent at what you do. But competent doesn't have to mean boring. I think with work spaces, more so than any other room, people have trouble thinking outside the box. Way too often people get caught up in thinking that office spaces should have traditional office furniture - a corner desk with a slide-out keyboard (yuck!), a rolling chair that's as ugly as it is ergonomic, a basic bland filing cabinet, etc. The problem with traditional office furniture? It's usually hideous and it's almost always boring and expected. If you put a little imagination into it, you can end up with a work space that inspires you, regardless of the type of work you hope to accomplish there and the amount of money you have to spend. A workspace that both inspires you and looks professional? Totally doable. So this week's challenge was to come up with three different work spaces. The first, for someone with a more traditional office job; the second, for someone who works in a more creative field; and the third for a full-time student, who I can assure you spends more time in a work space than anyone without an income should have to!

First up is the more traditional office job. I've taken a few liberties here and I realize that not all office spaces would allow wallpaper - but I think that employees would be much more productive if they did! 

Often in offices we see a lot of dark colours. For some reason, I always associate burgundy, forest green, and cherry wood with office spaces  In other words, colours that saw their heyday in the late 80s, early 90s... and most DEFINITELY are outdated today. In this space, I tried to steer clear of a traditional office palate but still keep it muted and professional.

There aren't a ton of places you can incorporate pattern and colour in a more serious office, so I chose to use wallpaper here. Although the colours in the Taisho wallpaper (greys & creams) are fairly conservative, the pattern is definitely bold. As such, I would never want to use it from floor to ceiling in this kind of room. Instead, I'd paper just the top third of the wall and use a beadboard-type paneling on the lower two-thirds. Although the beadboard in the photo is white, in this case it should be painted a cream or light grey to coordinate with the wallpaper and additional fabrics, including a black, creme, and pale yellow stripe for the drapes.

The Hendrix desk and Warner cabinet, both from Crate & Barrel, add an element of class to the room that a traditional cherry wood hutch desk lacks, yet they're classic enough to last you for years. For chairs, I chose a grey leather wingback chair for everyday use, and a pair of spindle armchairs on the opposite side of the desk for clients to use. These upholstered chairs provide another opportunity to add some interest; this time by recovering them in the black and cream Ooti fabric. To finish things off, I added a sisal rug (which will stand up to the test of clients' dirty shoes), a table lamp, a few accessories, and a stack of gorgeous business cards to display.

Let me know what you think! Would you feel inspired to work in a space like this? I'll be back tomorrow with a work space designed for a creative professional - also known as 'fun with colour!'

Traditional Office Space - 23Jul12

Striped top
47 CAD -

Taisho Wallpaper
66 CAD -

Warner 2-Door Cabinet
1,815 CAD -

Hendrix Desk
1,510 CAD -

Dylan Leather Wingback Chair
2,215 CAD -

Sabine Spindle Armchair

Cleo Table Lamp
320 CAD -

iron circle wall clock 30"
4.99 CAD -

Dotted Paper Vase
50 CAD -


  1. So since you just described my office (as the "traditional" right down to the sliding keyboard :), you should just come redo it all FOR ME! ;) I mean, I can't even get out of this ergonomic chair. haha.

    1. Hahaha, well that could certainly be arranged ;)


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