Before and After: An Underused Dining Room Becomes a Designer’s Chic Home Office

published Apr 16, 2023
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Credit: Amanda Jacobs
1 / 3

When Amanda Jacobs found her Louisville, Kentucky-based design business in transition late last year — with a rebrand to her own eponymous firm on the horizon — she needed an “office” to work from right away after moving out of a shared studio. So she set her sights on the one area in her home that wasn’t currently being used to its full potential: the family’s formal dining room. The space served as a backdrop for big celebrations and special occasions, but those gatherings would have to be relocated to give Jacobs and her small-but-mighty team a temporary headquarters for all their design work, from mood-boarding and sourcing to those ever-important client meetings. 

The dining space offered ample square footage, a few points of entry (which is great for coming, going, and closing the doors on work for the day) and plenty of natural light, thanks to a bank of large, beautiful bay windows. Nothing was wrong with the room, per se; the renovation would simply involve making a few functional tweaks and some cosmetic fixes (along with lots of decorating, of course).

To kick off the project, Jacobs began by decluttering some of her dishware, serving pieces, and furniture to make way for the things she and her staff would need. Once the room was emptied, a fresh coat of Farrow & Ball’s Whirlybird, a soft but ebullient green, went up on the walls, trim, and doors to set the tone for the eclectic, vintage-meets-modern workspace. Jacobs chose a reflective full-gloss finish for the paint, which bounces around the sunlight by day and softly glistens by candlelight at night. For some extra privacy when needed, she also had her contractor add French doors to the main entrance of the room from the hallway during this phase of the project. 

Credit: Amanda Jacobs
1 / 2

The construction and painting was done within about three weeks’ time. While Jacobs literally waited for the paint to try, she turned her attention to the rest of the design scheme. A master at space planning, Jacobs laid out the room in distinct zones. At the heart of the space, you’ll find a lounge-like area consisting of an older IKEA sofa, which she updated with a new brown striped linen slipcover from Bemz, plus a set of comfy swivel chairs and a Target ottoman. “The lounge area has been so amazing to have for times when we want to step away from our computers and work from a more comfortable area with our feet up,” says Jacobs. 

For those quintessential office staples, like desks and desk chairs, Jacobs worked the perimeter of the space. Her main desk sits in front of the large bank of windows, while another work area is just off to its side. There’s even a pretty bar cart moment tucked into the corner in between those desks. Opposite that wall, a large burl wood sideboard — scored for just $200 on Facebook Marketplace! — provides plenty of storage for design samples, printer paper, and other office supplies. Although many of her main furnishings are vintage, she sourced more modern pieces from popular home decor stores, like an Urban Outfitters upholstered chair and pleated table lamp as well as the Lamp Plus overhead flush mount fixture.

Planning out the more decorative details sparked a lot of joy, too. For something inspiring to look at beyond the view outside, Jacobs installed a gallery-style arrangement over the sideboard. “I included a lot of personal items, mementos from family members, and things from travel,” says Jacobs, who sourced the frames from both Amazon and vintage stores. “It’s a beautiful reminder to surround yourself with the things you love.” The setup also includes a Samsung The Frame TV, which the team uses during presentations — and for an extra dose of inspo from time to time, too. “We also love putting on our favorite Nancy Meyers films in the background on a rainy day,” says Jacobs. 

Although Jacobs will ultimately search for a more permanent spot that her business can grow into, for now, the commute couldn’t be easier, and being so close to family during the day certainly has its perks as well. Beyond that, as a designer, Jacobs has truly enjoyed the exercise of being her own client and seeing the finished room evolve into an unexpected hot spot in her home.

“What’s been amazing about the transformation is that it’s become such an inviting space, during the day we feel relaxed and inspired,” says Jacobs. “But in the evenings, it’s also become a hub for my family. The kids love sitting on the swivel chairs and watching TV. Or we’ll sit with guests in the evening — with chill music and a candle lit — and we could be there for hours. It’s a space that I didn’t anticipate we would use outside of work hours, and it’s now everyone’s favorite room.”