Before & After: Creating The Ultimate Home Office With DIY Built-In Bookshelves
An interior designer shares her step-by-step process.
In 2018, Erica Deputy and her husband bought a small piece of land in Northern Virginia. Set on building their “little dream home,” they spent a year designing the modern farmhouse down to every detail. Today, their visions for the home are quickly coming to life, but as their needs change — Erica recently began growing her interiors business – one empty room was in need of a major upgrade. Her newest design project? To create the ultimate home office and studio space with DIY built-in bookshelves.
Hiding clutter, organizing and displaying her work supplies and inspiring creativity were all non-negotiables to make the space feel truly functional. So Erica and her husband rolled up their sleeves and got to work on installing custom shelving and adding the perfect light pink paint and wallpaper combo. Learn more about the project, including tips for taking on your own DIY built-in bookshelf project ahead.
Name: Erica Deputy
Location: Northern Virginia
Type of Space: Office/Studio
Clare Colors Used: Wing It Wall Paint & Trim Paint
How would you describe your decor aesthetic?
The closest single aesthetic I can describe as my own is ‘Modern Country’. Think reclaimed materials and sentimental pieces mixed with modern and functional furnishings. I believe function and affordability can still be stylish and sentimental pieces have a place in a home with modern comforts.
Tell us about the space before:
My office/studio space was really a blank space when we set out to make it a more functional and inspired room. Since we just built our home, the bones are good — large black frame windows on three walls, reclaimed oak flooring and white walls. What this space did lack was any sort of function. There wasn’t a closet or any storage within the room so that was the driving force behind the project. Adding the DIY built-in bookshelves made the most logical sense for storage instead of bulky pieces of furniture.
Walk us through the process of adding DIY built-in bookshelves:
Once we decided we were adding built-ins, we ordered custom individual units from a local cabinet maker. We knew the units might be delayed due to quarantine restrictions, so we moved on to wall paint and custom trim installation. I was set on using a pale peachy pink wall color early in the design process and Wing It was the perfect shade to pair with the dark green abstract wallpaper that I already had on my mood board. I debated staining the built-ins but didn’t want the stain to detract from a family heirloom dining table that I planned to make into a worktable. Since Wing It is also available in a trim paint, I said let’s just go for it and paint the cabinetry pink, too.
Although we thought our measurements were precise, we did run into a few problems fitting the pieces together, most notably the bridge piece over the window was too long and my husband had to rebuild it. Lessons learned when assembling built-in shelving around a window: err on the side of shorter measurements.
How did the paint color help transform the space?
White walls and cabinetry would have been the safe choice but safe isn’t fun or inspiring. Choosing a pink shade that wasn’t too bubblegum was key to creating a space that didn’t read juvenile. Wing It is sophisticated and feels neutral to me when paired with the dark green abstract wallpaper. And with the walls painted the same color as the built-ins, the room appears larger. My office/studio gets the most gorgeous natural light and I love how the shade appears to change as the sun moves throughout the day.
How does the completed space make you feel?
My office/studio is now my happy place. I feel completely inspired and relaxed when I am working, creating and hanging out with my daughters. I like to be organized and feel my best and most productive when ‘things’ and ‘stuff’ have a specific space to live. The DIY built-in bookshelves give me a workspace free of clutter — or at least the clutter is hidden — and my books, reference materials, samples are on display or closeby. This helps me keep my focus on client work and not the daydreams about what this room could be.
What is your favorite element in the room?
Attaching a rolling library ladder to the built-in wall was a splurge and feels like a bit of a luxury but I must say, I can’t imagine the space without it. The ladder adds another wood element to the space and is like the crowning jewel of the project.
Any decor tips you’d like to share?
If you have existing traditional furnishings, make more modern choices with your wall coverings, hardware, and light fixtures. Pairing my Great Grandmother’s table with an unexpected paint color and bold wallpaper feels like the best kind of modern mixing.
Erica Deputy, interior designer and blogger behind New Home Old Soul.
Related: Looking for more decor projects like these DIY built-in bookshelves? Read 8 DIY Projects You Can Tackle in a Weekend — Just Add Paint!.