Sarah’s Design Dilemma

Sarah’s law office is full of potential for a polished and professional space. Here’s her letter:

Yay! I am so excited to have a “Young House Love” law office makeover. My office is a place where I would like clients to come and be impressed, and not say “this is obviously a young girl just out of law school.” I’m looking for a traditional, sophisticated, elegant yet feminine office, that has a “library feeling” – one which I would be proud to bring a client into. The big desk, burgundy chairs, flooring and curtains must stay where they are, unfortunately. The white blinds can be taken out, the diplomas can be moved, and the printer stand can be relocated as well. While the chairs are a burgundy/wine color and the curtains have the burgundy/wine color and dark blue (to match some of the matting on the diplomas) I don’t mind pops of color to bring some interest to the room. Three design issues I have been having are: (1) there is a window behind the hutch of the desk, the top of which sticks out – something I’d like to cover, (2) the big empty corner to the left of the desk needs something and (3) the walls to the left and to the right as you enter the room are bare. As for paint ideas, yes please. Oh and I’ve been considering adding crown molding and a fireplace. Thanks so much for all of your help! – Sarah




This office is primed for a major makeover. Here’s the plan:


And now for the mood board breakdown.

1.  The new color palette for this room will really take it from cold and stark to warm and welcoming. For the walls we’d love to see a buttery squash color (much like the wall color pictured behind the red storage cabinet next to our swatches) – try Benjamin Moore’s Boardwalk. Then we’d love to see the window trim and the baseboards painted a crisp white tone to keep this room full of formal furniture feeling current and fresh instead of old-fashioned. With the crisp new trim, that warm wall color will really sing, and a few pops of red and tan will lighten up all the deep-toned furniture for a layered and lovely effect that feels established and inviting.

2. Popping a potted plant in each corner of the room on either side of the large hutch will add balance and a bit of life to a room that’s full of heavy furnishings (the splash of green will really liven things up). Of course that means the small table with the printer can’t live there anymore, but we actually have a plan…

3. We’d love to see this rich ruby colored cabinet (on sale!) on the empty wall across from the hutch instead of the existing printer table (by breaking up the set of heavy dark wood furnishings and bringing in something elegant in an antique red tone, the entire room will instantly feel collected over time and layered instead of purchased all at once). And look how amazing that color will look with our new wall tone – plus the red undertones in the leather chairs will help them fit seamlessly into our new palette.

4. Instead of an assortment of frames in different sizes and finishes, this framing system (on sale!) hangs on a handsome metal rod and will keep all of the diplomas and art (and anything else Sarah would like to display) looking cohesive and streamlined, just like the rest of her space. We’d love to see it hung on the blank wall behind the chairs (centered above the new printer table).

5. We know Sarah wanted the existing window treatments to stay, but we couldn’t resist suggesting these amazing open weave curtains which would look airy, textural, and sophisticated if they were hung high and wide on those two windows. The floor to ceiling length will immediately add height and elegance to the space, and the breezy free-flowing panels will feel more inviting and less formal than the shorter tied back curtains and valances in the room. Plus since we think she can do without a fireplace and can even achieve a seriously dramatic transformation without coughing up moolah for crown molding, we’re hoping that a curtain upgrade could still be in the cards…

6. We love the little pop of red that this seriously affordable table lamp can bring to the space, so we’d love to see one on Sarah’s desk and maybe even one across the room on her new showstopping printer table.

7. Sarah mentioned that she’d love some organizational systems for her space, so we dug up this handsome leather desk organizer for the form and function it will lend to the room.

8. Two of these handsome dark wood floating shelves will look lovely hung about 20″ apart on the wall between those two windows. Paired with the new breezy curtains they’ll be the perfect mix of dark and light textures and materials that will add to a dimensional and polished look that doesn’t go unnoticed. As for what Sarah can put on her shelves, anything from a few hardcover books (perhaps snagged at a book sale or even on ebay if she doesn’t have many) to some paperweights and cool pewter or wooden vases and bowls will add texture and interest to the space.

9. We couldn’t get over the idea of a gorgeous globe atop Sarah’s big L shaped desk to break up all that wood and add interest and shape to the space (not to mention the fuel for some amazing globe-trotting daydreams). This one’s a beaut, but Sarah could also find one at a thrift store or on ebay for mere pennies.

10. A natural weave 8 x 10 rug underfoot will ground the floating desk and add even more layered warmth and texture to the space. Especially with the new open weave curtains, this room will have tons of tan materials that feel elegant and interesting on every plane including the floor.

11. Since Sarah explained that the furniture must remain where it is in the room, we agree that covering that sliver of a window that peeks out from behind the hutch is the way to go. This long and lovely landscape print (for a major steal!) will do just that while working with the tones and the natural elements in the room.

12. And last but not least, even more function and style can be injected in the form of these woven baskets. They’ll look great interspersed among the books on her hutch to break up all that dark wood with a few lighter tan pops and store anything that she’d like to keep hidden out of sight. And you know they’ll look amazing with the new rug and those curtains, right?

So there you have it. A law office full of warm and welcoming style that still feels oh-so-pro. We can’t wait to see what you guys think!

Update: We sadly can no longer find the time to take on client commissioned mood boards (we now whip up general inspiration boards instead) but if we ever reinstate them we’ll make a big announcement!






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