For many families, the dining room becomes the home office by accident. It’s where parents park a briefcases or flip open laptops. It’s where kids dump book bags and do homework.
As more people work from home, they’re looking to maximize every inch of space in their homes. Crystal Clark works from home for Bank of America. “I’m in front of the computer eight hours a day,” she said. An accidental home office just wouldn’t work.
So Clark turned seldom-used space in her home into a space she and her husband use every day. She converted her formal dining room into an organized, efficient – and stylish – home office for two.
Clark jumped on another trend: She “shopped” for the perfect accent pieces in her own home. New office. Big savings.
Clark did such a good job that her project was featured in the July edition of Better Homes and Gardens. She submitted her information last fall; the magazine contacted her early this year. She and her new office are pictured inside the back cover in a feature called “I did it!”
The dining room in the Clarks’ 1960s ranch in Beverly Woods in southeast Charlotte is right off the “formal” living room. She and husband, Chad, shared a desk in the living room, sitting amid the kids’ toys and all the other stuff families accumulate.
The Clarks have an eat-in kitchen and didn’t use the dining room very often.
“We said, ‘You know, in the last year we’ve eaten in that dining room one time.’ ” It became the perfect place for the office.
Because the office would be so visible, décor would be important. “You can see from the living room directly into the office,” Crystal Clark said, “so I wanted to make sure it looked good.”
Here’s how she pulled it off:
The Clarks sold the dining room chairs and stored an heirloom antique table. They sold the old desk and desk chair that had been in the living room. They sold some bookcases that just didn’t work in the new space.
Then, they set the early budget for the conversion.
Crystal Clark said they decided early on that they needed two desks. Chad Clark works at home, too – and they have what you’d call different desk-top styles. “I’m a little more tidy,” she said with a laugh.
The new desks came from IKEA. In the store, the two work surfaces were on display as a single unit. She realized that she could separate them and place both against a wall.
She and her husband would each have personal work surfaces, which provided extra privacy. Placing the desks against the wall also helped conceal all the cords and wires from electronic gear.
The desks are more contemporary and slightly smaller than the old desk, but they offer enough storage and legroom. “You need plenty of legroom if you’re going to be there all day,” she said.
Chad Clark had to give up a big, cushy leather executive chair he loved, but the new chairs are sleeker – and they match. They were purchased online from www.lampsplus.com, on sale for $99. “I was lucky enough to get two for the price of one,” Crystal Clark said.
The Clarks bought a two-drawer Crate and Barrel filing cabinet online on Craigslist. White shelving, like the white desks, came from Ikea.
The overhead light, which replaced the old polished brass dining room chandelier, cost $49.99 on Overstock.com.
Crystal Clark shopped for bulletin boards at office supply stores, but couldn’t find a bargain. Then she spotted two at Wal-Mart for $8 apiece. “Score!” she said.
In the end, the makeover cost Crystal Clark $105 more than she got for the items she sold – the desk, office chair, dining room chairs and bookcase.
She chose the wall color – with some help – to complement a fabric she discovered at Mary Jo’s Cloth Store in Gastonia. The Robert Allen fabric is a blend of blue, aqua, green and yellow – boldly eye-catching.
She created no-sew window curtains.
To get the perfect paint hue, she turned to Frank Harrelson, legendary color guru at Eastway Paint. “It’s (Benjamin Moore) Palladian blue,” she said. “I get questions about that.”
Ever since Clark and her home office appeared in the Better Homes and Gardens, she also gets questions about the berry tart recipe in the same issue. Alas, she can’t answer those.
“That’s another department!” she said with another laugh.