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How to Style Office Built-Ins

If you are like me, you want EVERYTHING in your house to be aesthetically pleasing. For me, this includes my husband’s office. Which left to his own devices, would not be. I guess I wouldn’t care so much if his office was hidden away in the basement or something. But it’s not. If you ever come to my house and want to use the bathroom, you will see his office. So there you are, it needs to look good.

This has definitely been the most challenging room in our house. First, because Howard thinks he gets to have an opinion in this room. He couldn’t care less in the rest of the house, though, so that’s a good thing. Also, I tend to decorate a bit on the “girly” side. I did want Howard to feel like his office was his “own”. Well, actually, Howard told me he wanted his office to feel like his own.

To make this feel like Howard’s space, I added some vintage electrical code books and a vintage trade school book. To make it functional, I added our wood memo board ( and added some greenery)

Our house was built in 1988, and it still looks like 1988 in our house. Not in a good way. There is golden oak everywhere you look. This is one of many projects we have done/are doing during quarantine while the pandemic is sweeping the world. You will see that evidenced by my hair on the video. Since we are quarantined, this seemed like a good time to start getting rid of the golden oak. I painted the formally oak built in bookshelves gray. (look for my upcoming blog on HOW I painted them).

When it was time to put Howard’s books and such back, I had him arrange the books how he wanted them. Once that was done, I stepped in. Howard is an electrician. Which means he is very left -brained. Which also means he wants his world organized and functional. Aesthetically pleasing are not words that cross his lips too often.

While we have no income, I used what I have. Thankfully, I have a store full of stuff. I tried to keep the basics in mind while styling. I chose this simple, black and white metal clock. I put Howard’s paper trays on the bottom shelf for easy access. Plus, I wanted to keep that shelf less cluttered because the two middle shelves are more “heavy”.

I used our wood and metal shelves for bookends. I liked them because they have a different texture and a masculine feel. I chose our chippy, white corbel to use as a bookend again because it offered another texture. I liked it, too, because it is white. It coordinates with the white face of the clock. I laid it down so it was a different height then the other bookends. You want to make sure to vary your heights on each individual shelf. You also want to have taller things on a shelf that’s next to a shelf with smaller items. I added in one of our small landscapes. I wanted some black to play off of the clock. This was perfect, too, because of the simple lines and theme.

I repeated these same principles on the other shelves as well. I used our taller, chippy white corbels for bookends. I used our large office sign on the other side to balance out the paper trays. I added our library drawers. I love that they are black and white metal. I needed a little something else on that shelf, so I laid down another one of our faux greenery wrapped in burlap. To spread more black around, I incorporated 2 more of our landscapes. I think the distressed bird adds a touch of whimsy. I am surprised I slipped that one in without Howard objecting.

One request Howard had, was he wanted some family photos. I love the idea myself. Photos are always a great way to make any space “homey”. These distressed, wood frames fit in nicely. I like the one with the metal band, too. The small, zinc planter adds some warmth.. Which is kind of ironic since it’s metal. Anyway, one day, I will actually put pictures IN the frames.

Overall, I have to say, Howard and I were both pretty pleased when the bookcase was done. I did feel though, that I needed to add a little something, something. So I did. The wood trimmed, metal wall hanging next to it. I think it pulls everything together. I like it.

You can watch my process here:

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