Inspo to Your Home...Office! (Segment 2 of the She-Shed Transformation)

Designing a Space that Inspires

Thank you to everyone who gave me feedback on my shed last week! In case you missed it, I’m contemplating transforming the old woodworking workshop/shed in our backyard into an office space for my interior design work. 

We heard from many of you. Some of you have similar type structures that you’d love to make more usable—to add some “real” real estate to your home. Others appreciated the fine craftsmanship evident in my shed’s construction. (Just a refresher—it was built by the talented previous home owner as a retreat where he could indulge in his woodworking craft). Readers also were pretty passionate about the interior wood walls, and how they should remain—in some way, shape or form. I knew that was coming, because several years ago when I first showed the shed to a very dear friend of mine (she loves architecture and the integrity and detail of old buildings and design), it was the first thing out of her mouth: “Oh, well you’ve got to keep the wood walls.” She didn’t bat an eye about that!

The final comment that gave me pause came from a different point of view entirely. This reader has raised her children and remembers those teen years all too well, when all kids really want is a place for themselves to hangout with friends, away from parental interference and helicoptering. She recommends I hold off on the office idea and instead make this a refuge for my girls as they get older. I mean, I guess if Scooby Doo and the gang have their Mystery Machine, my girls could have the She-Shed (cubed) ? What do you think?

So, lots to ponder….and I’m not sure what the outcome will be. Would love to hear your thoughts!

In the meantime, I thought I’d share some home office inspo with you, even if my office doesn’t actually materialize in this shed. Now, of course, keep in mind that if I do keep the natural wood paneling that’s out there, things could look very different, because the mood board I’m sharing today is decidedly NOT rustic. But since I have home office on the mind, I thought I’d at least share what I’m loving these days. 

First things first, though. I needed to accurately measure my space so I could begin thinking about furniture layout and scale and all that good stuff! So let’s look at how to get accurate room measurements.

Room Measurements 101 (nothing fancy going on here)

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  • Grab your tape measure and a pad of graph paper and do a quick sketch of the room (the ruler was just because I’m horrible at drawing straight lines—even with graph paper!). My room is a fairly neat rectangle so it was pretty easy to sketch. I indicated doors, windows and brick area where the potbelly stove is (because removing that will leave a bare wall that I’ll need to contend with down the road).

  • Now, you can start at any corner, and measure from there to the first thing indicated on your sketch. This might be a door, a window casing, or where the wall turns 90 degrees. Start from that next point and take your next measurement. Be sure to measure the OUTSIDE of all window and door casings. (In the pic below I just measured straight from one corner to the next, because I plan to remove the drafting table. 

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  • Continue on for the rest of the room, jotting down measurements as you go.

  • Now here is a super important part! Once you’re done measuring and jotting everything down, PLEASE check your work by adding up the total length of each wall! I’m not blessed with a math brain, and I will tell you, I get some funny math going on when I measure more than I’d like to admit. If two walls should measure the same and don’t, remeasure.

  • Once everything adds up, you’ve got one more type of measurement: Floor-to-ceiling height (you might also want to include the height of the windows. I will do this at a later date).  Start in a corner and measure the floor to ceiling height. Do that for each corner and also where you have a beams of other structures that might change the height. You’d be amazed that even a ceiling that appears the same height throughout may in fact vary quite a bit. That happened when we renovated our kitchen—I chalk it up to quirky, old New England Homes!


Below is a pretty basic birds-eye view of the space. There isn’t too much detail here because I’m still in the brainstorming phase, but it does give me some room to play around with furniture placement and scale (if it does become an office…or a teen lair

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Mood Board in the Making!

And now for the fun part: design inspiration! This home office mood board I’m sharing is completely inspired by a recent trip to a local antiques store: Mod Haus, in Peabody, MA. Now, my first pics will not do this desk justice, but I am telling you, it is fantastic! I saw it stacked sideways amidst a ton of other stuff, and still it called out to me:

Vintage Bielecky Brothers Rattan & Bamboo Desk

Vintage Bielecky Brothers Rattan & Bamboo Desk

Sorry for the terrible photo angle! It was stacked amongst a bunch of other furniture at the antique store.

Sorry for the terrible photo angle! It was stacked amongst a bunch of other furniture at the antique store.

It’s this beautiful, vintage rattan wrapped desk (and if you’ve been following me for awhile, you know I have an obsession with rattan, caning, faux bamboo…all of it!). What I love about this desk is that it doesn’t have any of that “Golden Girls”/ “Three’s Company” bamboo vibe going on. It’s sophisticated and elegant (check out the brass hardware!) and simple, but with all of that great rattan texture I love so much!

The other thing I love about it is its size. I’m a spreader: I like to have all my clutter spread out everywhere. If you’re on the hunt for a desk, think about how you work and the space you require. I loathe a cramped desk area! Many desks are 48” in length, this one is 60”. Many desks are only 24” deep—this one is 30”. Just the size I really need.

So of course I forgot to ask the dealer who made the desk, which sent me on a wild goose chase down the ‘ole Google hole, BUT don’t worry, I figured it out. It’s made by Bielecky Brothers, circa 1970’s. I was able to track down some better images on 1st Dibs so you can appreciate all the bamboo-rattan goodness going on here! (Unfortunately this 1st Dibs desk has sold, but at least the pictures are good).

Photos here and below via  1st Dibs

Photos here and below via 1st Dibs

So with this beauty of a desk as my inspiration springboard, I continued building out my ideas


The other part I thought about was flooring. When we renovated our family room/kitchen, I overcompensated for how much Brazilian slate I’d need for the entry. So we have quite a bit leftover. I’m thinking I’d like to use this in the She-Shed because it’s durable and since I’d be traipsing out there through plenty of icky New England weather, I don’t want anything too precious for flooring. I’d like to do the same square herringbone pattern I’ve got going on in my entry:


Next comes the rug:

I love vintage rugs and would like something beautiful, yet fairly durable. If you remember my wishlist from the first post, I also want a light, airy feel to this room. And I’d like it to be a little feminine as well. Here is one I really like. I think it ties in both the slate flooring and the desk, and I love the touch of blush pink going on because it’s a color I don’t use much in the rest of the house!

Photo via  Kit & Loom  . Rug size: 7.5’ L x 4.2’ W

Photo via Kit & Loom . Rug size: 7.5’ L x 4.2’ W

I found it on Etsy at Kit & Loom. This Etsy store had many beautiful rug examples. Here is an excerpt of the rug’s description on the site:

“This hand-knotted vintage Turkish rug in shades of earthy taupe, grey-brown and blush was made in the 1930s and is in mint vintage condition.”

Love it! If it’s held up this well since the 1930’s, it’ll hold up in my She-Shed!

If you’re on the hunt for a vintage rug, there are so many great places online to look: New England Loom and June and Blue are two that immediately come to mind (but there are so many vendors that we love!).  

This rug size may be a bit too small for my space. I’ll have a better idea once I put it into the floor plan. If that is the case, it’s not a problem. I could layer it over a larger seagrass or sisal rug. Something like this:

If you find a rug you love, but it’s not quite large enough for your space, consider layering it over a larger seagrass or sisal area rug. These rugs can be relatively inexpensive and provide a nice “frame” for that one-of-a-kind rug you love.

If you find a rug you love, but it’s not quite large enough for your space, consider layering it over a larger seagrass or sisal area rug. These rugs can be relatively inexpensive and provide a nice “frame” for that one-of-a-kind rug you love.

Other Furnishings and Decorative Objects:

For my desk chair, I wanted something a little feminine and curvy to offset the straight, angular lines of the desk. I found this chair on Candelabra Home . It’s also covered in Sunbrella performance fabric—always a plus!

Candelabra Home  Parissa Dining Chair in Sunbrella Fabric

Candelabra Home Parissa Dining Chair in Sunbrella Fabric

Now for art!

How about these gorgeous ceramic sculptures!

I love the delicate—and again feminine—lines of these beautiful ceramic sculptures by artist Karen Swyler. The beauty of her art is best captured by the words on her web site:

“All of Swyler's forms are high-fire porcelain, and are either wheel-thrown or slip-cast.  The results are unique undulating shapes, frequently paired, that speak to relationships both of form and emotion.”

Be sure to look through her work on her site—you’ll see some absolutely stunning pieces.

I also included other art inspiration I’ve found, including one oil painting by Nancy Colello entitled “Yellow Hat” that has sold, but it still inspires me to seek out something similar.

For a desk lamp I love the lamp I saw with the desk at the antique store. If still available, I’d consider getting that.

The Mood Board (so far):

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Things Still to Consider:

Other furnishings:

  • I’d like a small settee or perhaps an armchair (depending on space) for somewhere more comfortable to sit. 

  • Overhead lighting

  • File cabinet and/or built-in storage

And I’m sure the list will continue to morph and evolve if the plan moves forward, but for now I wanted to share some mood board ideas in case you might be considering a home office for yourself and are looking for ideas. I hope it inspires you!

As always, thanks for stopping by. We’d love to hear from you!