How One Designer Turned a Dysfunctional Home Office Into a Family-Friendly Workspace

If there’s something we never get tired of seeing, it’s a great makeover. Whether it’s transforming a retro bathroom into a modern oasis or giving a lackluster bedroom a fresh look, pros perform these design miracles all the time.

To give designers a chance to showcase their favorite makeovers—and to bring you plenty of inspiration for your own home—we’re sharing the best before and afters we’ve seen in our series, Makeover of the Week. Take notes for your next renovation.

“My client is a lawyer and hired me to create a home office where she and her two young children could share a workspace,” designer Erika Bonnell says. “The goal was to create a functional space that would meet everyone’s needs while remaining aesthetically pleasing, as it’s the first room you see when you walk into the house.”  

Meet the Expert

Interior designer Erika Bonnell is the owner of Erika Bonnell Interiors in Washington, D.C. She is known for her bold use of color and her layered, comfortable, and one-of-a-kind designs. 

Before:
Courtesy of Erika Bonnell

“The original office contained a desk cluttered with work essentials along with cardboard boxes filled with files and paperwork,” Bonnell shares. “There was no game plan when it came to organizing and storing work and school supplies—it was a shell of a space that needed a total rethink.”

After:
Design: Erika Bonnell; Photo: Stacy Zarin Goldberg 

“We livened up the office by incorporating a blue and white color palette, then added tall wall cabinets, drawers, and under-cabinet storage to house the printer and paper shredder,” Bonnell notes. “A 42” round acacia wood table adds warmth to the mostly white space while giving its occupants a place to spread out.”  

What Changed:
Color theme: A neutral palette and blue accents merge to create a light and bright space.  
Cabinets: For a pop of color, blue lapis marbled wallpaper was lined on the back of the open shelving.  
Desk: The desks are topped with a Silestone quartz and follow the shape of the room, resulting in an L-shaped workstation. 
Chairs: Wipeable acrylic chairs are ideal for kids while an upholstered chair is used by the adults.  
Ceiling fixture: A whimsical pendant is made of circular glass discs that bounce light around the room.  
Backsplash: A custom cotton/linen memo board utilizes the area above the countertops and holds photos, invitations, and school art projects.  
Rug: The diamond patterned wool rug adds warmth and coziness to the red oak floors.  
Pouf: A white faux fur ottoman rests on casters and provides extra seating at the table.  
Walls: The walls were painted a soft neutral to give a slight contrast to the white trim and cabinetry.  
Doors: French doors replaced solid paneled doors to allow more light into the space.  
Table: A round acacia wood table provides an alternative spot to work. 
Curtains: Playful blue and white cotton panels add an element of whimsy to the space.
Wall art: A large painting hangs above the mirrored console to create a colorful moment.  
Sconce: A white metal and brass wall sconce provides functional lighting over the table.  
Accessories: A collection of vases, bowls and baskets are displayed on the open shelving.
Shop the Look:
Design: Erika Bonnell; Photo: Stacy Zarin Goldberg 

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West Elm
Glass Disk Chandelier
$499

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“This fun fixture has a cluster of modern glass discs and adds the perfect touch of glamour to any room,” Bonnell notes.  

Horchow
Faux Fur Ottoman Pouf
$275

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“The ottoman provides bonus seating and can be tucked under the table or console when not in use,” Bonnell says. 

Wayfair
Medora Dining Chair in Polish Gold
$220

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“The clear finish on these acrylic chairs provide a forgiving surface for young children,” Bonnell says.