Alright people, I’m back. For those of you who are just tuning in: My name is Sara and I work here at EHD. My boyfriend and I recently moved in together for the first time, and we started from scratch in this cute little LA apartment. Last week I shared our living room, and today I’m gonna give you guys the tour of our dining-room-turned-office.
Let’s take it from the top – Here’s a shot from last week’s living room post:
From here you can see that the living room opens directly into a middle room, which then opens directly into the kitchen. We’re pretty sure the middle room is supposed to function as a dining room, but we knew that we would rarely be sitting down to eat at a dining table.
I know, I know. You might be that person who is religious about stopping everything, putting away phones, turning off TVs, and sitting down to eat dinner at the table as a ‘family.’ And I’m 100% supportive of that, especially families with young children. But since we don’t yet have the responsibility of molding impressionable tadpoles into functioning humans, we just want to drag our bodies through the front door at 8pm, cuddle on the couch, eat the Thai food Steve the Door Dash guy delivers, and watch Tom Hardy not wear any pants (side note: did anybody else watch Taboo?? He only wore pants like .1% of that entire show, and it was wonderful). Judge us if you will, but we really didn’t need a whole room dedicated to an activity we don’t really do (for now).
On the other hand, Mac did need some place to set up a desk, and location-wise our options were pretty limited. Above is what the room looked like a few weeks after move-in. We had an Ikea sleeper sofa that we bought out of desperation (we’d been sitting on the floor for two weeks), but ultimately it was too large and bulky for the space so we sold it to a few college kids. We also had cords running all over the ground because out apartment was built in the dark-ages and only has 4 outlets to share between 9 walls. Plus, Mac had a much larger housing case for his computer which had to sit on the floor.
With the permission of our landlord we had a little re-wiring done, swapped out the sofa for something better scaled to the room, hung some art up on the walls, and got Mac’s computer off the ground. Magically, it became a real office. I would say that Mac spends about 40-60% of his home time in here, so it aaaaall feels worth it.
It’s such a simple room, but there’s so much in here to talk about.
Let’s start with that loveseat. It’s another awesome Article piece, and just like our living room sofa it’s totally comfortable, but smaller and perfectly nap-sized for me. Lady tried her claws on it once, but I think my reaction scared her so much she hasn’t tried again since. To quickly answer a few readers questions on last week’s posts about how we keep our cat from destroying everything we love, brace yourselves – we don’t. I think we just got lucky on the cat spectrum, because she seems perfectly happy to sink her tiny yet destructive claws into a $6 Trader Joe’s cat scratcher. She also enjoy using the rugs, but so far they’ve held up to it and I’m too lazy to fight that battle.
Speaking of rugs, that one there is a beautiful vintage Beni Ourain from the Pink Rug Co. based in Morocco. Amber has an awesome selection of vintage rugs (plus a super dreamy Pinterest page), and I knew this was the perfect neutral rug to bring a little bit of character into the space. Up on that loveseat we threw a soft navy, linen pillow from Cultiver, a fun printed pillow from Local & Lejos, and a nice big pillow from Jillian Rene Decor. Those nesting side tables to the side are a perfect matte black powder coat, and made by local LA designer Patrick Cain. Both Mac and I really liked the simple modern look they have and how it contrasted with the vintage rug and mid-century coffee table.
Last but not least our roman shade was custom made by Country Curtains, and looks 100% better than the clunky vertical blinds that came installed on the windows. Here’s what I’ve learned about roman shades – sometimes they go inside your window, sometimes they go directly on top of your window, sometimes they go several inches above your window (ours is installed 9″ above our window), sometimes they are the exact width, and sometimes they’re wider. In short, I’m still very confused about the whole situation and just happy Ginny and Mel were able to help me out.
One of my absolute favorite pieces in this room is that coffee table. Ladies and gents, I found that guy on Craigslist for $200. REALITY IS NOT REAL. I almost pee’d myself when I found it and contacted the seller immediately, telling him that if he sold it to anyone else my life wouldn’t be worth living anymore. It’s a perfect, mid-century, walnut table with 4 tiny brass x’s inlaid on the top. When I picked it up he told me that he and his girlfriend had bought it from a vintage store in Los Feliz, but they’d recently broken up and he needed it out of his apartment, and out of his life. I was more than happy to relieve him of it, and when I looked up similar pieces online I couldn’t find anything for less than $400 (and usually much higher). His grief sale was my lucky day.
But he had a really great dog, so I’m sure he’s doing fine.
Mac and I met at art school and while I couldn’t (and still can’t) draw an apple to save my life, he already had some good ‘ole talent up his sleeve. He still has a whole portfolio of pieces left over from those years, which I think are amazing, but he is super reluctant to display many of them. That mixed media piece there on the left is one of his few favorites, so I was excited to get it framed and up on the wall. We also framed and hung 3 of his life drawing gestures in our hallway, and I love having those personal touches throughout the apartment.
The bookshelf is from Target, and is the perfect place to display 1/8 of our most aesthetic books. Other notable items – the vintage mannequin hand I bought in Round Top (duh), Mac’s encyclopedias of Russian prison tattoos, a very cool photo of my grandpa on the Ellis Island Ferry in the 60s, our collection of vintage matchbooks, my favorite photo booth strip of my mom, little brother, and I from 1997, and one of the worlds best smelling candles (seriously, PLTNC’s “Forest Floor” is what I want everything to smell like all the time. Brady even got one for Christmas last year and wouldn’t stop talking about how good it smelled).
Let’s talk a little more about art, because we’re about to get into it…
This is our gallery wall. Let’s also address how good at styling drawer labels I am! So good.
It’s possibly the hardest thing I’ve ever worked on (the gallery wall, not the labels). We had to 1.) pick art we both liked that, 2.) all felt cohesive together and, 3.) would all fit on the wall (some pieces only came in certain sizes) all while, 4.) staying within out tiny budget. If you can think of quicker way to torture or test a happy couple, that doesn’t involve children, I’d love to hear it. Because by the end of this process I felt like we had really gone through something together.
To try out different arrangements we mocked-up each version of the wall to scale in photoshop. This was a two week process at least.
Then we finally, FINALLY settled on an arrangement. The fog lifted, the clouds cleared, and angels were heard on high. The Thursday before the shoot, we had all our pieces framed and sitting in our living room waiting to be unboxed and hung. I must have scaled something wrong in photoshop, because as we laid each piece out on the floor to double check our arrangement we quickly realized that some of the pieces were bigger than planned and weren’t going to fit together. Cue my 11pm meltdown. But Mac re-worked it all while I hyperventilated next to him, and proceeded to stay up until 3am with me carefully measuring, leveling, hanging, and then re-hanging every piece (sorry neighbors).
So what’s the key to easily hanging the perfect gallery wall? Don’t ask me, because I might burst into spontaneous tears. BUT LOOK AT IT NOW! (I’ve gone ahead and re-inserted the image here so you don’t have to scroll back up)
I’ll run through some of the pieces quickly, because so much effort went into picking each one.
Top left is a screen print poster for my favorite band, STARS, that I’d been holding onto for a few years (I also framed two other STARS screen prints in my childhood bedroom). The ceramic piece is a very cool Totem from The Great Escape Studio, who I found on Instagram. We picked up that black and white photo print of 1920s Los Angeles and the original ‘Angels Flight’ at the Long Beach flea market and saved it from moldy, water logged doom. The piece in the center of the wall is an amazing oil painting by fellow Otis graduate and fine artist Kohshin Finley, which Mac had been wanting for several years. When we finally had a place to hang it he decided it was time to pull the trigger and buy it. Right above it is a huge 20 x 32 Gia Coppola print from Tappan Collective. I picked up that vintage Danish flag in Round Top. And finally, the bottom right piece is our third piece from artist Anna Ullman (we have two others in our living room).
A huge shout-out to Framebridge, who framed every single photo or piece of art in our entire apartment. We use them pretty often here at EHD (because it takes practically zero effort on our part – we fill everything out online, they send us the packaging and labels, we mail it off, and then it comes back to use perfectly framed), and we’ve never had a bad experience.
The desk needed to actually be functional but we wanted it to look good, too. Luckily Mac has a rolling drawer tower, where we hide most of the office supplies that would be visually assaulting to style-savy eyeballs such as yours. But up top we did keep a tray with easy to access writing utensils, a little mail organizer, and my vintage hunter green and brass desk lamp from Round Top (sitting on Mac’s copy of ‘William Shakespeare’s The Complete Works’ obviously).
Funnily enough this little tray encompasses two of Mac’s biggest pet-peeves about me. First, notice the lack of scissors. We own 4 pairs of scissors. Where are they? I DON’T KNOW (that’s a lie), but I do know that there is a pair of kitchen scissors in the kitchen that work just as well as normal scissors for just about everything. But Mac hates it when I use the kitchen scissors for non-kitchen related tasks, and so I’ve taken to using them as quickly as possible and preferably out of Mac’s eye-line. It also turns out I’m really REALLY bad at opening mail, so the mail organizer is often filled with mail addressed to me, which Mac will eventually just put on top of my computer/pillow/dinner plate so I’m forced to go through it. Ignorance is bliss.
So, there you go. An office that we actually use. And we DO use it. I’m chilling in it right now as I write this. It’s awesome. If you’re into it, here’s the ‘get the look’ below and stay tuned for ONE more post next week – the bedroom (which is possibly my favorite).
1. Black Cast Letter Holder | 2. Brass Photo Stands | 3. Brass Wire Cube | 4. File Cabinet | 5. Desk | 6. Desk Chair | 7. Brass Trash Bin | 8. Ceramic Wall Hanging | 9. “Untitled VI” Print | 10. Clock | 11. Black Tray | 12. “Kid, You’ll Move Mountains” Painting | 13. Cream and Gray Striped Pillow | 14. Navy Pillow | 15. Roman Shade | 16. Candle | 17. Matches | 18. Polaroid Double Frame | 19. Loveseat | 20. Table Lamp | 21. Nesting Side Tables | 22. Wood Bench | 23. Rug | 24. “Black and Tan Abstract” Print | 25. Desert Oil Painting | 26. Leaning Bookcase | 27. “Criterion Designs” Book | 28. “Type Player II” Book | 29. The Polaroid Book | 30. Fringe Woven Basket
**Photos by Tessa Neustadt
For more of Sara’s Makeover Takeover : Living Room | Childhood Bedroom | Living Room Update | Bedroom
Such a cute office! And, I love your gallery wall!!
Fantastic job Sara, loving how your apartment has come together!
Looks beautiful Sara! I really enjoy your writing and love seeing how your house is coming along and how you and your boyfriend are making it all work together…. my husband and I had many, many arguments about how to style our place when we moved in together. It’s not easy!
this is so good!!! nothing wrong with only having a small area for a dining table & chairs. that gallery wall has me all jealous!
the artwork is everything. especially the large red and yellow one by your boyfriend. i want it!
Finally…an office reveal which doesn’t include a sleek, sexy Mac! I hate my big clunky Dell, but sometimes you’ve got to work with what you have–and you made it look great. These spaces are stunning, Sara!
Gotta admit – your comment made me pause…I thought, “wait! That’s an odd thing to say about someone’s boyfriend!” Ha!
A few comments:
(1) I love your writing style, Sara — funny and kind of self-deprecating. Keep it up.
(2) I LOVE Mac’s mixed media piece. Dude, you could print copies and sell them. (How? I don’t know how that works.)
(3) The left side of the room was nice, but that gallery wall (+ the leather chair) is AMAZING. Good job.
Thank you for having cords! ??
Ha! I even wanted to minimize them a bit (like getting rid of the speakers) for the shoot, but Mac must have known I was going to try and mess with his set up because he had ziptied all the cords together…sneaky
No seriously thank you for NOT doing that. We have two “ugly” desktop computers (black towers, black monitors, the works) and they just don’t look pretty no matter how much we try to disguise it. The desk is against a window, so no gallery wall, but at least there’s a view. And some plants/curtains and a lamp, and it’s not so bad. 🙂
It’s always discouraging when 99% of “office” photos are, like… a cute little desk and a MacBook (or Mac desktop). I mean those are cute and all but they just aren’t practical for what many of us need a home office for!
Yes! This was my exact thought too.
I love how your office came together and I LOVE your writing style. Such a fun read! You’re making me want to actually tackle my “office” which is actually just a non-functional room filled with junk. Can’t wait to see how your bedroom turned out too!
Fantastic space, love the coffee table!
Grammar police here: should be-chilling in it right now as I write this not right this…
Tiny correction but I’m sure you’d want to know.
Enjoy your awesome office! The gallery wall is quite the accomplishment:)
there are actually two other misspellings in this post–something I notice a lot on this site
Whoops, thank you!
I loved your living room reveal and I love this room as well (no need to apologize for using your dining room as an office — it is your house!)
Your amazing art collection and brilliant way it is hung is what makes this house sing. The trouble on the gallery wall was all worth it! It makes your home personal, colorful, interesting and full of personality. Enjoy your beautiful space!
Love all of the neat little details. The office looks fantastic!
I love it when people make a place work for them vs. doing what’s expected. I would guess more than half of U.S. formal dining rooms would get used more often as offices, TV rooms, play rooms, etc. We have a four bedroom house and at 100 years old, was built before the concept of a master bedroom. We immediately took the smallest room b/c we didn’t need room for anything besides our bed. The biggest room went to our sons’ shared bedroom and later, when they wanted their own rooms, we turned that room into a sitting room with a hidden TV. I hope you’ve encouraged everyone reading this to look at their space in a new way and reconfigure what you have to make the most out of each room! Thanks, Sara…it’s beautiful.
I love Stars!
I used to have that coffee table. I refinished it and resold it. It’s a really nice solid piece.
The office is great, but the Tom Hardy comments were what I want to talk about 🙂 Have you seen Peaky Blinders yet? If not, you’ll probably love it. I had no idea T. Hardy was such a genius until I saw Peaky and Taboo back to back. And he and his dad wrote Taboo I think. Just here to gush on my new crush.
I’m seriously in LOVE. I’ve been recommended Peaky Blinders over and over and now I absolutely need to watch it.
Haha your space is great but I mostly enjoyed reading your writing =D you’re funny. My husband has the same mail problem and I’ve tried to put it places he can’t ignore it but he very cooly moves it off and continues with his task. Its very frustrating.
You and Mac could start a support group, because I do the same thing as your husband haha.
Nice job! The office and gallery wall look great. Where did you get the rabbit bookends?
They’re from West Elm, but no longer available 🙁
Sara, I love your home and your writing! Can’t wait to see the bedroom! (Ehh, that sounded weird. But you get it.)
Fabulous office! And i’m with you about the pet peeves– i too continue with what annoys my husband, i just do it out of his sight 🙂
Very nice. And I now know that I have to watch Taboo and listen to STARS. Done and done!
Hi-do you mind sharing the cost of the totem? Seems like they’re only on IG.
Hi Lindsay, it was actually very kindly gifted to me so I’m not sure about costs. But I would send Sofia a direct message through the Instagram account if you’re interested in a piece! She’s super sweet and fast to respond 🙂
Try hanging wallpaper with a partner to test the relationship!!!! (If you’re ready for another challenge!)
Love your design and writing styles.
We actually hung wallpaper in our bedroom vanity nook (which you’ll see next week), but I drew the line at trying to do that ourselves and hired someone (since it was such a small space we could afford to hire a guy we use here at the office for a few hours). Best decision ever. I can’t even imagine all the ways that could have gone wrong otherwise, haha.
Love the great escape wall hanging. how do you actually purchase from them?
Sofia sells all her work directly through Instagram for the moment, so just send her a direct message or email about a piece you’re interested in and she’ll get you pricing! She’s SF based and super, super sweet.
Thanks! I love your style. For the Roman shades, what color is the linen?
I believe it was called ‘Moonlight’ from Country Curtains
What style of fold is the shade? I just browsed Country Curtains’ website and saw that they have several styles.
It’s a classic pleat fabric roman shade.
I tried to read this post, but I got too distracted at the idea of pantsless Tom Hardy 😉
Don’t be ashamed
Now I’m trying to find photos of Tom Hardy pantless. No luck, but did find some pretty hot shirtless photos…
HAHA! I too, LOVED watching pantless Tom Hardy all season long 🙂 He’s such a dreamboat. Would you mind sharing the white paint color for your walls? I love it! Such a fresh clean space!
It’s ‘swiss coffee’ by Dunn Edwards!
Lord knows I love your posts! I watched Taboo, as strange as it was and not only did I love his physique but the long black coat that he wore was amazing! I wished I could tailor one for myself, of course I wouldn’t have the same swag but….
Love what you’ve done so far and looking forward to seeing the bedroom. But….I’d also really like to see your mint green tile kitchen and purple tile bathroom!
Yes please, I vote for that too!
(Btw there’s a “pairs” of scissors typo spelled “paris”, no judgment. Paris of scissors sound much more glamorous)
I third that!
And love the paris scissors, I want some! 😀
We lived 32 years in a big house with a formal dining room that got used … maybe 10 times a year? I often wished I’d set it up as a library with wall to wall shelves and a round table in the middle we could use multiple ways (but I spent a boat load on a giant table and then there was that china cabinet and maybe I was channeling my mother … I don’t know!). So judge you? Yes! For being a heck of a lot smarter than I was.
Since we moved, the designated “dining room” is now my dream book nook with a huge bookshelf and wall to wall sectional surrounded by windows and we fight over who gets the best corner first. Sunlight streams in the window and it’s the best spot for a nap. And we have a round table floating between the book nook and the living area we use as our dinner table as needed. It’s a refinished table from Goodwill for $33.
Love your office + art gallery. It suits the vibe of the rest of your apartment… And it’s a brilliant use of space.
Your book nook sounds dreamy!
Your book nook = goals.
Sarah G. and Bethany, thanks! It’s my happy place … I pinned ideas for this for years and went for it when I finally had my ideal spot.
Your posts give me life. I’ve been married for two years, and have since lived in three tiny rental apartments. EHD needs to start doing charity-case budget apartment renos in between all the big client makeovers, because your home project is my favorite thing I’ve seen on here in a long time. (Sorry-not-sorry, rest of EHD gang!) You and Mac give me hope that one day Caleb and my home could be as beautiful as our dreams.
In the meantime, any suggestions on styling a salvaged desk hutch as a bar cart? Because that’s where I’m at right now.
It’s super cute. I think my most favourite thing is the ceramic hanging though – it’s adorable. I love the whole gallery wall. And you know what? It’s SO good to see an office that looks good even with visible (tidy) cords. Yay real life!
Also need to chime in with support for Mac to keep making art! That piece with the man and the red & yellow is fantastic. Also would love for him to make a print of it and sell it. It caught my eye immediately – really really good. Let him know?
Looks like that coffee table is an American of Martinsville. I’m also a big fan—we have a dining table, chairs (that I reupholstered in Knoll), credenza, tallboy and bar cart from the line.
love the dining room reveal! Especially that steal of a coffee table! Quick question about your custom roman shades, how did you decide on the width? Did your designer colleagues decide the shade would look best if the edges lined up perfectly with the skinny white trim or did they add some width to either side ? (Say a 1″ or so) It’s hard to tell from the photo. Also, why did you hang the roman shade 9″ above the window trim? I ask because I have some window like yours and would hate to cover the view/decrease the light the room receives. On the other hand , I like the clean look of the roman shades inside the window frame…… Please help shed some light (no pun intended)!
really love this, but super bummed….i scrolled through as fast as i could to get the source on your coffee table. 🙁 🙁 🙁 you scored big time. and your rug from pink rug co. is gorgeous. love them. can you tell me the size of your frame for your photo booth photos? i have a photo booth print from kikiandpoly that i thought i wanted to frame a bit closer in, but i like your dimensions. thanks!
Amazing gallery wall! You can tell that the both of you went to art school, your taste in art is impeccable. I’ve seen so much generic art in otherwise well designed spaces, so it’s impressive to see what you achieved, especially on a budget.
My only negative is the jungle of cords under the desk … as I carefully avoid noticing the rat’s nest below mine…
We both need some cord management. Anybody with ideas?
Patricia: I love hiding cords and shared some tips in my home office post: https://projectpalermo.com/2016/10/09/two-person-desk-and-gallery-wall/
But I agree with the other commenters that it’s also nice to see real, functional offices – cords and all! This house is beautiful and I’m loving all of the detailed posts.
Love the ribbon wrapped cord so it disappears! Thanks for the tips.
The roman blinds in the first photo looks elegant and decent…i love it…!!
I had many, many arguments about how to style our place when we moved in together. It’s not easy! help me
But up top we did keep a tray with easy to access writing utensils, a little mail organizer, and my vintage hunter green and brass desk lamp from Round Top (sitting on Mac’s copy of ‘William Shakespeare’s The Complete Works’ obviously).
I’m also curious about the photo booth framing! I love it!
very nice sara!
I am so glad to hear that I’m not the only one who hates opening mail.
First off, love your office! Looks like a perfect place to spend 50% of one’s home time.
Secondly, I LOVE your writing Sara. Write as many (many) blog posts as works in that magical thing ya’ll call “the blog calendar”. Such a delight.
It’s so cute and cozy! I might even like it more than the living room… ?
Super cute office!
Ha! That sleeper sofa!! We also bought that exact same one out of desperation. I have been trying to integrate it in to my home ever since – I swear its been in every room and corner – trying to find a home – but alas, it just can’t find a happy place. It is so gal-darn heavy too. I gotta offload that sucker, thanks for the final push!
Loove that desk!
Characters & Carry-ons
This space turned out great. I love how many personalized touches there are and your office chair is to die for. It is modern yet timeless.
If I missed it, apologies, but can you tell me the paint color used? Thank you!
I LOVE seeing a real, functional office desk, cords and all. And I’m glad it all worked out with the art. The space looks awesome!