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Before and After: A Luxe-Looking Office Furnished with Mostly Secondhand Finds

published Nov 21, 2020
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Before: Cluttered office with dark gray walls
Credit: Alisa Bovino

Just because a home office is meant for work doesn’t mean it shouldn’t also be beautiful. But the office space that Alisa Bovino of A Glass of Bovino called her own wasn’t exactly inspiring at the start. While it had pretty dark gray-blue paint on the walls, Alisa describes it otherwise as pretty bland. “It just didn’t feel put together,” she says. “I never finished the room because I couldn’t figure out how to do it.”

So when time for the makeover series One Room Challenge rolled around, Alisa thought this space was the perfect candidate for a redo. She wanted to challenge herself to create a luxe, traditional office space using at least 75 percent secondhand finds. “I still wanted to find really high end items, but just at a much lower price point than you’d get if you bought them new,” Alisa says.

Credit: Alisa Bovino

It seemed like a tall order, but Alisa managed to completely transform the office while also meeting her secondhand goal. To score her pieces, Alisa says, she started by making a long list of everything she was hunting for. Multiple times per day, she’d pop her keywords into the Facebook Marketplace search bar to see what was new. “Because I live in a very densely populated area, there are always things popping up,” Alisa says. “Not everyone knows how to properly describe items selling, so I had to get creative with keywords to find what I was looking for.

Her first get was an Ethan Allen desk, which she bought for just $200 and painted glossy black (Farrow & Ball’s Pitch Black). “I used brand names in my searches to help find the exact style I wanted,” Alisa says. She paired it with a cane dining chair that she got for just $55.

Credit: Alisa Bovino

Alisa wanted to add a place to sit other than her desk, so she added a cushy linen-covered armchair that she scored for just $60 and a leather ottoman she got for $80. Both were resales that were originally custom pieces—a technique Alisa recommends for searching for quality furniture. “I have found that custom items are often better quality,” Alisa says. “I don’t have to sort through a lot of junk if I add the word ‘custom’ to my search.”

An antique marble-topped dresser adds a bit of storage and a regal look to the room. “The dresser is originally from Paris, so it traveled across ocean to get here,” Alisa says. “It’s the most beautiful thing in my house.” Above it, she added a gilded mirror that complements the new light fixture overhead.

Credit: Alisa Bovino

For the walls, Alisa chose a traditional ivory-and-gold patterned paper that’s framed by truly luxurious-looking picture frame moulding painted in a mossy green (Benjamin Moore’s Trailing Vines). “I started off with white walls. I thought it would look nice if wallpaper and walls were same color,” Alisa says. “But later it didn’t feel right. It felt very plain and boring.” The new green is just the right amount of bold.

The rest of the room is filled with high-end accessories, many of which were also sourced from Facebook Marketplace. In the end, Alisa was able to meet her goal, purchasing about 75 percent of the room’s new furniture and furnishings secondhand. Those buys totaled less than $2,000—pretty impressive, since Alisa estimates they would have cost about $8,000 if she’d bought all of them new.

Alisa’s office space is now a high-end retreat where she can work and also unwind. “I actually use the armchair to read and wind down after work,” she says. “I turn on the lamp, sit in the chair, and it’s a super comfy spot.”

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