belle home tour office before and after

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Belle Home Tour: Office Before and After

Remember a few weeks ago when I promised you all posts documenting the before, during, and after photos of my apartment makeover? Then I teased you with a great detailed account of my bathroom project and have done nothing but sporadic fashion posts since? Yeah. Sorry about that…

Today we are finally on to the second installment!

My office/bar/sitting area, which as you can see from the photo above, is near the back of the apartment just before the kitchen.

AUGUST/BEFORE MOVE-IN: Given the built-in hutch and proximity to the kitchen, this room was clearly meant to be a formal dining room. But I had no use for a formal dining room and absolutely loved the windows, natural light, beamed ceilings, and openness of the space.

AUGUST/POST-MOVE-IN: So upon moving in, I unloaded all of my office furniture in this room. I really liked this set-up since it was so open but facing the window wasn’t an option since it was TOO bright, especially with the afternoon sun.

SEPTEMBER: True story. This is how I lived for a while. I called that big piece of cardboard my window treatment. It was an eyesore but a necessity. Even though my large wooden dining table from Fashion for Home was ordered and due to arrive in December, I needed a place for my interns to work in the interim, so I picked up the extra white table from Ikea with the plan of eventually using it as my desk. (I had pretty much destroyed my Overstock parsons knock-off when I spilled nail polish remover on it. But I ended up getting a new West Elm parsons instead (yippy!).) The dining chairs were a Craigslist DIY project from my last apartment-they have since been thrown out. And note the two small Ikea lack coffee tables off to the right-those were from our Everygirl How to Style a Coffee Table feature.

OCTOBER: You all voted, and the new chairs arrived from Euro Style Lighting. Actually, most of you voted for the white plastic chairs, which I agree probably would look great with my dark wooden table (not shown here), but I’ve been obsessed with the wishbone style for as long as I can remember. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to get them. I clearly tidied up for their arrival.

NOVEMBER: The new table arrived. If I’m being honest, I don’t love it for this space at all. It needs a great colorful rug to go under it to break up all the wood. And I hated the row of rectangular tables splitting the room down the middle.

NOVEMBER CONTINUED: Here it is from the other angle, straightened up a bit and styled for fall.

DECEMBER: Truth be told, this room and I were at a stalemate. I had plans for every other room, but wasn’t quite sure how to tackle this. And one day, inspiration struck, and I decided I was going to do with it what I do best: recreate my office gallery wall and a splash of pink! This big mess was from shuffling everything around. See there are now two parsons desks in the photo above-my new one from West Elm arrived and I wasn’t quite sure what to do with the old one (it’s now sitting in my sunroom/storage room). Oh, and I had finally gotten around to hanging some curtains! The rod was $28 from Target and the West Elm cotton canvas curtains were in my living room at my old place.

DEC. CONTINUED: Clean up that mess, rearrange the large dining table so it’s more like a work table and less like a conference table in the center of the room, add in another area rug I’ve had for forever, and the space is finally starting to take shape…

DEC. CONTINUED: Well, almost. This is actually quite sad to look at. Starting with the color on the walls.

DEC. CONTINUED: So the next day I ran out to Home Depot, picked up what I thought would be a lovely shade of blush pink paint, and went to work.

DEC. CONTINUED: Unfortunately, you can barely tell it’s pink. See the two wall colors above the kitchen doorway where there’s a chunk that’s still beige? Yeah, I know. I can hardly see it either.

DEC. CONTINUED: In the soft iridescent glow of evening lamp light, it looked kind of pretty.

DEC. CONTINUED: But overall it was just sad sad sad. Not to mention I didn’t even have enough paint to finish the whole room.

FEBRUARY: Still-Behr’s Musical Mist was the color the room was for my first photo shoot for our Everygirl career feature! It actually looks kind of nice here, yes? I got that cool arc lamp from Joss and Main using my credits. It perfectly finishes the space, don’t you think?

FEBRUARY CONTINUED: But if you looked reeeeally carefully at my career feature, you might have noticed in some of the photos that not all the walls were pink! I told you,  the single gallon of Behr’s paint wasn’t enough to cover the entire room. Fortunately, it was only the small area behind my desk and bulletin board that were left beige. Hardly noticeable, I think.

MARCH: To my complete delight, Farrow and Ball came to my rescue, sending me a gallon of their Middleton Pink paint, which I do declare is the most perfect pink in the world. Here is my office restyled for my home tour which went live on The Everygirl. The large wooden table was technically there for the first photo shoot, but we moved it out of the way since I didn’t want to reveal too much. So when our photographers Maura and John Stoffer came back over to shoot, they stepped farther back, getting more details into the shot to show a better perspective. You can also see that a little Ikea ektorp loveseat was added in on the right below the gallery wall. My roommate, who many of you probably know, Caitlin Brown, moved in in January and brought it with her. It works perfectly against that wall, as you’ll see.

Here’s the intern station. The framed photo is a shot I took of my own feet at our Kate Spade event. The colors worked perfectly. The neon pink candles are from A New Leaf and the candleholders are from Ikea. I really like the two shades of wood, but like I said, I would prefer to see this combination on an area rug. Unfortunately, adding a THIRD rug would be just a bit too much.

Bulletin board which I DIYed years ago and still love atop my Ikea expedit shelves (everyone asks where I got the peg legs it sits atop-they are also from Ikea but I had to drill holes into the shelves). I switched my mint and white lamps around so the white one is now here and the mint one is against the gallery wall wall.

Got a new rug from Lulu and Georgia which I layered on top of my pink geometric rug from RugsUSA. You might remember seeing it in our How to Style a Parsons Desk feature! I regularly use most of my belongings for my styling projects.

I didn’t want to overstyle my bookshelves w/ perfectly matched everythings. There’s usually a bit more clutter on the top, but for the most part this is what they look like. So this is what you get. Wooden storage bins are from Ikea. Magazine files are from Container Store. Binders are from Russell and Hazel.

My pinboard. Or Pinterest in 3D, as I like to call it. Makes me feel 16 again, complete with a photo booth reel of Danielle and me. Most of the items on this board are actually letters from Everygirl readers or women we’ve worked with. Still, it inspires me.

The office bar.

Wish it had a great rug in front of it, but I own enough rugs as it is.

And there’s the gallery wall. Amazing how the Caitlin Wilson Textile pillows transformed this shot, bringing all the colors together. Again, the rug is the Sabine from Lulu and Georgia.

One last shot of my gallery wall. Let’s see if I can name all this stuff starting with the Vogue print and going clockwise…

1. Vogue print on canvas from Bed, Bath and Beyond

2. Rue Royale street sign bought in New Orleans

3. print of Paris buildings I bought on Etsy

4. oil painting purchased for $40 in a thrift store in Richmond, VA

5. LIVE WHAT YOU LOVE letterpress print from Heartfish Press

6. photo of Danielle and me at our Kate Spade event

7. the grey ballet flats in the black frame is a tearout from a J.Crew catalogue

8. I FEEL YOU print on canvas from Birdaria

9. yellow flowers is an Alicia Bock photograph that I received as a gift

10. the little photo in the grey frame is also a tearout from a J.Crew catalogue

11. the oil painting in the top left I purchased from an artist in Montmartre in Paris

12. wall clock from Joss and Main

13. wooden A I bought at JoAnn Fabrics and painted gold

14. letterpress print of Sears Tower from West Elm

15. random photo someone emailed me of a spool of pink thread-I actually meant to change that out for the shoot but forgot.

And because everyone always asks where that fabulous seafoam green lamp is from… I purchased it when I was 19. The lighting department at the local Macy’s Home store was closing and all lighting was 90% off. So I bought a $270 lamp for $27. I had absolutely no use for it since I was in college, but I loved it and knew I had to have it, so I stored it at my mom’s for years until I graduated.

This room is definitely an homage to younger Alaina, full of pastels, pinboards, and pictures. And I love it.

WALL PAINT COLOR: Middleton Pink by Farrow and Ball

Any questions? Ask ’em in the comments!

See the BEFORE/AFTER of my bathroom here!

all the pretty photos are by Stoffer Photography for The Everygirl



ah! I love your space. Awesome wooden table and I love the built in! love the process of transformation.

Molly Rasmussen

I am lov-ing this post! I so appreciate blogs that show progress and process over just the perfect final product. You give just the perfect amount of transparency! Also… obviously love the way this room turned out and the pink walls turned out perfect in the end. Brava woman! xx


What an amazing transformation! If you can do it I'm totally inspired to tackle my space.

Chelsea & The City

Ashley Rizzardo

Great transformation. I envy your office space.


So gorgeous, Alaina! I love the road to transformation. it turned out beautiful and I adore our L&G sabine rug in there 🙂


You couldn't tell at all about the pink/non-pink walls until you pointed it out! Thanks for sharing!

lauren | eyes/ears/mouth+lens

Loving all of this so, so much!


Really enjoyed seeing this space transform over time. Thanks for sharing! (Also always nice to get a reminder that behind all beautiful photo shoots are normal looking spaces too).

Lulu and Georgia

Love seeing the transformation and of course, our rug! Job well done Alaina!


Love what you've done. And that rug by lulu and georgia is stunning… love the color scheme. Great work pulling everything together and creating a cohesive and beautiful work space!


beautiful space! loved all the in-progress shots. i've been in my new apartment in lincoln park for a month and i'm still struggling with what to do with 1 room so i get it! thanks for sharing.


Thank you for showing all of the 'in progress' photos. I get so bummed out sometimes that my space is not yet matching my vision – it's good to remember that it's a long process!

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I love this post because it is very very interesting.Thanks you very much for shearing this article

Miss Margarita

love that space!!

Danielle / Breakfast at Toast + TEG

You're so good. I can't wait to see your next place. Love youuuuu! xo

Lauren Jade

Really pretty space! Love your site.

Ali of Dressing Ken

Stunning just stunning, you and Danielle are so inspiring. Saving to buy a condo and this space truly inspires me. I do not think I am following you yet. I am now! : )

Ali of

Dressing Ken

Brandi@ Flights of Whimsy

It's so great to see the evolution and the struggles you had with this room. I think in the perfect world of blogging its easy to forget how much time and thought goes into each image/post and I can get discouraged that my own home, which I've lived in for four years, is not quite “finished”! Thanks for sharing the whole thing with us!


Hello! Just found your blog through BHG 🙂 I am wanting that same white office chair that you have at your desk. I am wondering if it has worn well over time seeing as it is white! Would you still recommend it? Thanks!!