Before & After: No More Wasted Wall Space in This Home Office

I've been putting off designing my office since we moved into our house more than a year ago, despite the fact that I spend just about every day working in there. I had two major eyesores to contend with: a large metal dog crate and an industrial-looking black ballet barre. Both take up a lot of space and made arranging furniture a headache.

I thought that when our dog Quatchi was older, he'd grow out of his crate. Nope. He's nearly two and hangs out in there all the time, so getting rid of it was not an option. Originally, I had it crammed in the back corner of the room (not shown), where it didn't quite fit and made it difficult to open the closet door. The space above it was completely wasted, too. Then I finally figured out a simple solution.

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I removed the room's door, which I never closed anyway. Talk about a great space saver! Without the door swinging into the room, I could use the entire wall. I decided to put the crate where the dresser was and build everything above it. An added bonus? I can store all my stuff out of Quatchi's reach. Otherwise, that naughty pup gets into everything!

Because I was working with a tiny budget — around $200 for supplies and storage — I knew fancy shelving wasn't an option, so I had Home Depot cut up a sheet of thick plywood into matching shelves, which I lightly stained, and hung on studs using heavy-duty shelf standards and brackets. (I like the striped look of plywood, but iron-on veneer edging would be an option for a more finished look.)

After painting the rest of the room an energizing bright white, I treated this wall with chalkboard paint, which both minimizes the visual presence of the crate and shelving brackets and gives me a surface for writing notes. (I don't care if it's an overdone trend — I love it!) My office eventually will double as a sleeping space for visiting nieces and nephews, so the chalkboard wall will be fun for them too.

My desk, which I pushed out of the way for the "after" photo, is now in the center of the room, directly beneath the light. The barre is behind the desk, where the crate used to be, and I now have plenty of room for my daily stretching. The Ikea dresser and chair found new homes, and the art — which I bought a decade ago when my style was younger and punkier — is in storage for now.

The other side of the room is still in progress, but I promise to show a Before & After of the entire office when I'm done. (And someday, when we tear out the carpets and refinish the wood floors, I finally will have my dream office!)

Images: AnnaMaria Stephens

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