Create an Office Niche

While we don’t all have the luxury of a dedicated office in our homes, it’s possible to fashion a functional workspace within a small footprint in a living room, den, dining room, hallway, or even kitchen.


Office niche with file cabinet

All you need to set up a workstation is a few linear feet of wall space to place a desk and a bit of storage, topped by a shelf and memo board. Color-coordinate the pieces with other furnishings in your room and you’ve got a home office that operates seamlessly within its environment.


Office niche with metal boxes

If you prefer paper and file storage that doesn’t scream “office,” replace the filing cabinet with a couple of large vintage metal boxes. You could also use stacked crates or a small bookshelf organized with fabric-covered file holders.


Floating shelf with gomphrena

A small floating shelf holds a few colorful accents and fresh flowers. Globe amaranth (gomphrena) in a vase adds a little bit of life to the grouping without a lot of visual weight.


Floating shelf with orchid

For a longer-lasting floral accent, opt for a dainty planted orchid. Glam up your plant’s vessel with gold: Using painter’s tape, mask off the top two-thirds of your vase. Then, you can brush, spray, or dip gold paint onto the lower third. Let the vase dry thoroughly before filling it.


Desk before painting


Our desk (found at a local antique mall) had pretty lines but it also had some surface and finish damage. A decorative paint treatment gave it a fresh face. To get this look, follow these instructions:

Gather your materials



Desk after painting

Remove desk drawers and all hardware. Sand all outside surfaces of the desk as well as the drawer fronts. Wipe all sanded surfaces thoroughly with a tack cloth. Spray the desk and drawer fronts with White primer; let dry. Spray the desk and drawer fronts with Candy Pink; let dry.

Use a ruler and pencil to mark a series of five 5/8-inch-wide stripes on the center of each drawer front. Starting with the center stripe on each drawer, tape off and apply the paint color desired; let dry. Tape off and paint the remaining stripes working from the center stripe outward; let each stripe dry before painting the next.

Apply two or three coats of finish sealer, letting dry between coats.


Flower knobs on painted desk

The original knobs were tiny and uninspiring so we replaced them with these dramatic and flirty blossoms on both sides of the desk. In the center we opted for a simpler but still sensational pink glass knob.


Painted lamp

Bring an old lamp into your new color scheme with a fresh coat of paint. Mask off all the working parts with painter’s tape and spray a new hue onto the lamp base in just a few minutes. Top it with a plain white shade to put the focus on the design of the base.


Painted and upholstered chair

An orphan chair ($5 at a tag sale) takes on a new look with a reupholstered seat and a coat of paint that matches the wall color.


Curtain panel and window shade

The curtain fabric was the inspiration for our color scheme and the source from which we matched our paints for the decorative treatment on the desk. A Roman shade in burgundy provides a deep backdrop for the lively print.


Vintage frame memo board

Jazz up an old frame and put it to work as a memo board. Remove the backing and lay it over a piece of cork. Using an X-acto knife, cut out the cork. Coat the backing with spray adhesive. Place the cork on the backing and smooth the cork over it. Paint the frame in a vivid hue that works with your color scheme. When dry, put a dab of gold paint onto a paper plate. Dip a brush lightly into the paint and remove excess by brushing on a paper towel. Dry brush the gold paint onto the frame and work a bit into the edges and crevices of any carving. Let dry and replace the backing. Hang it on the wall over or next to your desk.


Thanks to Duralee for providing our inspiration fabric: pattern #42150-149 in Rosedust from the Holtstad Collection,


Photography by Chris Hennessey
Desk painted by Pat Garrington


© Caruth Studio

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  1. Very pretty! I just replaced my nightstand with a tiny desk a couple of months ago, and after having my own dedicated space (even if its extra-cozy-small) has made me SO much more productive!

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