Before and After: Bold Paint and Vintage Details Revive a Dingy Brown Home Office

published Apr 30, 2023
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Room before being converted into home office: Large bay windows, empty room with brown walls, gray floor
Credit: Leoma Harper

What’s more luxe than a grand home office? Imagine: Built-in bookshelves, a stately desk, maybe a rich and moody wall color, an antique lamp — don’t you feel smarter, more esteemed, and more productive already? 

This office, designed by Leoma Harper (@interiorsbyleomaharper) for a client who had just moved in, had “great bones,” Leoma says. It was spacious, plus it had a large bay window, built-in shelving, and nice trim to work with. Unfortunately, it also had old dingy carpeting, brown peeling paint, and an overall feeling of neglect.

Credit: Leoma Harper

“This room hadn’t been updated since the 1980s,” Leoma explains. “It was very tired, so it needed a complete makeover.”

Credit: Leoma Harper

Because Leoma’s client wanted the room to function as an office, Leoma decided to go for a nice “library-style green,” as she puts it. It’s Farrow & Ball’s Card Room Green, and it “made such an instant difference,” she says. “Simply painting a room a bold color can completely transform it,” she says. (For even more proof of that, see some of AT’s previously posted bold-hued office redos here, here, and here.) 

In the case of this space, taking away the wallpaper and the carpet made the biggest visual difference, Leoma says.

Credit: Leoma Harper

To give the room even more bibliophile vibes, Leoma and team also “put back period features that would have been there originally, such as the fireplace,” she describes, though she’s bummed that they weren’t able to save the room’s original ceiling rose and cornicing. The hardest part of the redo, she says, was “just the state of the ceiling, which had to be re-skimmed.” She replaced the ceiling features “with as close to the originals as possible.” 

Leoma sourced the fireplace from Chesney’s, which specializes in historic reproduction mantels, and it’s now a statement-making centerpiece. “I love the warm cozy feel of this room,” Leoma says. “It looks beautiful but is also super functional at the same time.”

Credit: Leoma Harper

The office also has a giant desk, a mirror for added brightness, an adjustable West Elm lamp, a piano, ample seating, and added bookshelves across the door for even more day-to-day functionality. Leoma says if she could change one thing about the after, she would continue the shelving all the way up to the ceiling, but it was in the budget’s best interest to keep the height of the old shelving and simply revive it with new trim.

Another budget-conscious decision: Because she splurged on some of the vintage or vintage-inspired details, Leoma decided to save money when it came to the lighting and chose a more modern, minimalistic fixture, which also helps to blend the room’s historic roots with more contemporary accessories.

Credit: Leoma Harper

Her upgrades create a cohesive, creative space that help preserve historic charm while adding some new character, too. And on top of all that, it’s still supremely practical.