before and after

before & after: colorful modern office redo

by Kate Pruitt

Be prepared for all the yummy candy and sherbert colors you’re about to see in this office/workspace makeover from Sharlene — you may want to grab a snack beforehand to stave off any cravings. I’m usually a dark, moody neutrals kind of gal, but this colorful office is making me feel a bit boring in my tastes. Even if this “before” office had been tidied up, I doubt it would have come close to providing the same jolt of energy and inspiration that this new office does. Sharlene worked with interior designer Elle Uy to make use of some pieces she already had and expanded the little bits of color scattered around into several distinct areas exploding with bright, bold hues. Great work, ladies! — Kate

Time: 4 weeks

Cost: $4–5k

Basic Steps: I have always wanted an industrial, raw, chic space but could not live without color, so we decided to create a white space because I had a lot of stuff purchased prior to the renovation that was all so colorful. Because of the nature of my work as a food stylist, writer and entrepreneur, and my love of collecting all things, my designer, Elle Uy, and I decided on creating an open shelf, which would be the anchor of the entire room. I have always loved and pegged open shelves in magazines. To add the industrial feel, we decided to install a faux brick wall and made lighting fixtures with water pipes and fake exposed it on the ceiling. For my cork and white board, my designer decided on covering the corners with wood edging painted with white to blend in with the design of the room. To add a homey feel, we reupholstered an old sofa I had at home and made a seating area by the door. I also hung my works and made a gallery out of it to add color to the room.

There are many things you can do when renovating. It is like starting with a blank canvas. Knowing what look you want with matching pegs downloaded to your computer or iPad will make the entire process easier to start with. Edit before you start. Second, be ready and be patient. Sometimes things don’t turn out the way you planned and there will be slight delays in the project. Don’t rush things, as they will not make you happy in the end.

Also, think of how you can make use of old pieces to lessen your expenses. For this project, I had a 20-year-old chair reupholstered with a shocking pink fabric and a 10-year-old sofa from my mom. The cork and white boards on the walls were also bought 3 years ago, and we just fixed it up to match the feel of the room. Some of the “art” I had framed was from a catalog I received in the mail with beautiful pictures and printing, and I just thought they would look really nice when framed. Lastly, when shopping for accessories, never go to one place, and don’t think you can buy it all in one day or afternoon. Decorating is an evolving process. You can find lots of nice stuff to add to your room even years after the renovation, so don’t get excited to buy everything right away. — Sharlene

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  • Oooo can I work here? This space is an amazing make over. I don’t know what that couch looked like before but it looks like a really expensive antique piece in your office now. It looks great with that light blue table next to it.

  • wow the befores look like every boring office i’ve ever worked in! i can’t imagine transforming those places into something as beautiful as this!

  • So cute! I’m kinda confused of the new vs. old layout, It looks like they took out all the closets? But it looks great, not even like the same room!

  • Wow! absolutely love it!!!! I’ve been working so hard on renovating my studio space! I love how light and clean this one looks. I hope mine ends up looking somewhat like it!

  • Stunning transformation!! The brightness makes the space seem so large and appealing.

    I have a question, though: how is it on the eyes? Mine tend to hurt when I’m looking at bright/white spaces for long periods of time. Plus I find that I focus better when I’m in a darker space and only my screen or my immediate work surface is illuminated… which totally contradicts my desires for a future office space! Sigh.

  • That is beautiful! It hardly looks like the same space. The colourful accents add so much warmth to the room and make it look like a fun place to work. I love the olive couch in the white frame!

  • I just keep looking at the before and then the after OVER and OVER. It’s unreal. I think this is one of the best before and afters. It just shows you how much you can do and have fun with especially in a workspace. My wheels are turnin…

  • No WAY that’s the same space! Absolutely stunning. The only thing that doesn’t work for me is having all the framed magazine covers slightly askew. That would make me nuts. But otherwise lovely.

  • OMG! I have a very similar desk. Did you paint your old desk white or did you buy a new one? Was it difficult?

  • Love the transformation! I am currently working on my own office space redesign (though on a much smaller scale since it’s actually in my living room). I have a gigantic printer for 11×14 scanning and I don’t know where to put (read: hide) it. Whenever I see these types of pics I never see printers. Where do they go?!

  • LOVE LOVE LOVE!!! The Lucite chairs are so darn cute! I love the green. Typically, I loathe track lighting, but this is done so well, that I LOVE it! The little couch is so fun for an office. And the pillows are adorable!

    The whole thing is so fantastically well done, I just can’t believe it’s the same space!

  • Wow I am so impressed, definitely a BIG inspiration for my new office home office. I absolutely love the green tea colour ghost chairs.

  • Fabulous! Could you tell us where you purchased the cabinetry and counter tops? Thanks!

  • Wow I didn’t realized this project was featured here on Design Sponge. :)

    Thank you everyone! :)

    You can also see the working progress of this project here

    Before pictures of the chair and sofa here

    Thanks again!

  • Hey Sharlene, if you ever need a financial controller with a sunny disposition and a creative side, I’m your gal because I would love to work in this space! So beautiful and happy, for such a nice price too.

    Well done Elle..


  • Seriously awesome and soooo inspiring! I love it – you’ve fueled my desire to create my own work space. I love how you have the different & smart workable areas! Thanks for sharing! Love it.

  • beautiful!!!!!!! love the olive green sofa and the pretty pink and white chair…..nice transformation… love the combination of all the colors and the light above the desk. if you don’t mind i want to suggest for the computers wire maybe you can hide it by inserting the wires in a plastic tube or in a white plastic molder for computer connector in that way you can’t see the wires..just suggesting :)

  • This clever use of white space in an office with bright jolts of color is something that so many can do…but can it done on less than $5K? That would be the ultimate challenge. My guess it can…

  • Thanks everyone!!

    Kat Randall – we took down all the cabinets to make some space and that allowed us to put a sofa and the gallery wall above it.
    Kristan – Too white is not really an issue. It’s actually very comfortable. We mixed both white and warm white lights in the room so we can choose which to turn on depending on our mood.
    Nik – well, I wouldn’t really know because the printer on the photo (the one beside the green boxes) is what I actually use. Elle can answer this!
    Rae – will think of what we can do with the cords.
    Tania – will give you a call Tania, thanks!
    Kellij – As you can see from the before and after, we used the same desk which was given to me by my Dad. It used to be brown and we wanted it to look like a vintage desk so we made a light blue shade of paint and used a brush to achieve the strokes. We also intentionally added distressed parts in the table to make it look shabby chic.
    Jennifer – The cabinets and counter tops were all made by the carpenters who worked during the renovation.
    Kay – The flooring is from Pergo.

  • Wow! This is gorgeous! I love how it feels so light and airy, clean and modern! I am constantly rearranging my narrow space and can’t seem to get it right. LOVE this.

  • Hi Anne! As with the shelves, the cabinets were all custom made by the carpenters to our specifications.

    Claire – it is the same room! With better lighting, a fresh new coat of paint and some layout changes, we turned it into a relaxing space.

    Teresa — the green acrylic chairs were from a furniture store here in the Philippines

  • I run a startup company and i have a small office.I redesigned the whole place using the one of pic in our post.This redo changed the look and atmosphere of my office space.

  • I would love to know where that yellow leather briefcase came from?
    Amazing renovation!

  • Hey, this was featured at Real Living magazine’s Oct. 2011 issue. The pictures are exactly the same… Great space, btw.

  • This office is absolutely amazing! It has given me some new ideas for how to approach my home office/craft room redesign. Can’t wait to tacklet it!!

    Sigh…have been waiting forever for my copy of Design*Sponge at Home – I hope Canada Post has not lost my long-awaited treasure. :)

  • Thank you for all the compliments :) I’m so happy with how this space turned out. I agree the wiring should be addressed. We’ll tackle that next.

    Thanks Shar for answering all their questions, and it’s been fun doing this space for you. :)

  • Hi Prec! Yes, it was featured on the cover of Real Living Philippines for October. The pictures aren’t exactly the same as different photographers took the photo here and the one on the cover of the magazine. Thanks for liking!

  • I love that orange/red wire paper rack! Where is it from, I would like one for me office. Any ideas about where to find it?

  • I got so inspired from this! I just renovated my workspace, heavily inspired from this. Mine is a small office in Mumbai, India, and I had very low budgets. I studied this project an commissioned my carpenters to create a space similar to this.

    Thank You!