A Man's Surprise Office: Before & After


I've had some of the most fun putting projects together that are gifts or surprises...  A super-sweet client of mine decided to surprise her husband with a new office for his birthday.  He works from home, but since they've moved in, the office hasn't really gotten much attention.  I was thrilled when my client called me to discuss the project after helping her & her husband with their family room. 
  

The existing white office had everything the husband/my client needs to get work done, but it didn't feel like he'd really moved in yet.  My client knew that her husband would love a formal "masculine" study feeling- one that was traditional, warm, and classic... so we got to work.  Here's the view of the office when we started from the French Doors:



We knew the biggest change would be painting.  The masculine room we were envisioning was dark and moody.  (He works on computer screens and so the darker walls help with that too since the room is really sunny.)

The biggest challenge in designing this space for us was creating an office our client's husband would love, yet one that didn't feel over-the-top, too boring or kitschy...  I've noticed that there's something about men & these "man rooms."....  you know, dark paneled libraries with the big presidential desk...  They love them!!  When they see them in someone else's home or in photos, they want them!!  So even though as soon as our client said "masculine study" we knew exactly the sort of room he wanted, I wanted to make sure that we made his office extremely personal and include a couple of unexpected elements so that we weren't just recreating a movie set.  

We put together a design for my client & she approved everything without showing or mentioning any of it to her husband.  We set the project in motion and on his birthday, she surprised him with a rendering -done by Michelle Morelan- of his office in progress:  
{The rendering done by Michelle Morelan, who is always wonderful to work with...  the colors are a bit more saturated in this image than in the actual painting but this gives you the idea.}  


I was able to take a few quick pics of the finished space on installation day with my phone, but will definitely have to go back with my photographer, because with the dark walls, it was almost impossible for me to get a good pic.  (But I thought you'd enjoy a peek anyway ;)

So, again, here's the 'before'---

And here's the 'after'--

{We used three different paint colors which I'll share in just a bit}

My client went to Yale so his wife & I thought it would be special to hang a massive vintage photograph of Yale (blown up to almost 7 feet high) on the main wall.  I love it because not only is it sentimental, but it feels almost like a window in the now-dark space.

{The photo is on a linen paper and is backed with a reusable adhesive.}

I think my client said her husband's dorm is actually in this photograph!! How crazy is that?!!

We're still waiting on the custom leather chair to be finished so in the pics you can see my clients' old black leather chair.  Here's what the new one looks like, except ours will be in a warm brown leather:


The main desk was one of the first pieces of furniture we selected.  We knew our client's husband would love its masculine, traditional lines.  We call it the "Presidential" desk.  ;) ;)  We pared it with a more modern leather parsons desk with a glass top.  Using such a traditional centerpiece allowed us a little more freedom to be able to mix things up a bit while the feeling of the room remained traditional.

Since it was so tough for me to get a good photo, here's a pic with the lights off too:


The "Morris Lantern" from Visual Comfort- hanging in the center of the room- is one of my favorites and, although I rarely repeat pieces in clients' projects, this one's an exception.

I used some more modern pieces in the traditional space to add a little bit of juxtapostion:  The modern task lamp on the desk, the small folding table next to the chair...


One of my favorite pieces was the antique Civil War painting we found:


Photos just don't do it justice but the patina & colors in it are incredible... 



It's purposefully too small between the windows, which is another tiny element that defies the tradition of the room:


The plaid curtains warm up the dark navy room and we used lots of caramel browns that are a bit on the orange side to liven up the palette a bit.  

On the right wall - and not pictured- we are working in a group of framed meaningful art...  family photos, paintings and pictures.

Here's a photo of the built-ins (before the books) and it really shows how we used different paint colors to get the feeling we were after:

{The chair's getting swapped out with a tufted brown leather one.}

Here's the paint breakdown (all Benjamin Moore)...
The walls are "Gentleman's Gray" which is a very dark traditional navy. 
The woodwork is all in a semi-gloss so dark navy that it's almost black- "Polo Blue," and
The ceiling is in a navy with the tiniest hint of peacock blue... "Blue Danube" (The bit of green/peacock added to the ceiling paint makes the room feel a tad less serious and also sets off the blue-green in the rug.) 

This pic really exaggerates the subtle color differences so you can get an idea:



 I'm off for the day but will be sure to share better photos of the fully finished space when I have them.  (Looking at my photos is just sad haha)  Thank you so much to my wonderful clients who really trusted me with this one!! Going this dark takes guts and I think it really paid off!!!


If you'd like help creating a home you absolutely love, contact me about our design services.

ps- I'm always going to treasure all of the comments you all left in the last post... Thank you so much. Huge hug to everyone!!

29 comments:

Janna McCalley said...

That overscale photo is definately my favorite thing in the room-ok that and the colors! My hubby would be jealous! Nice work :)

Dana Frieling said...

It's gorgeous! And, the photo...amazing.

Carolyn@Sweet Chaos said...

Love it! Do you mind sharing more detail about how the photo was done? Thanks!!

Jessica said...

This is STUNNING! I love it so much! I dream of a dark navy or charcoal nursery one day and this totally doesn't help my cause! :)

Tammy@InStitches said...

Wow, so dramatic. I love how masculine the draperies are.

Laurie said...

Fabulous surprise! Love how dark & cozy it is.

katie gavigan said...

beautifully done! i just finished an office surprise for a friend this weekend, and they are definitely one of the most fun kind of projects :) so many perfect details here - love it!!

Elizabeth@ Pine Cones and Acorns said...

I LOVE this room!!! Beautiful! The color, the style, and that huge piece of art of Yale it a beautiful and personal statement piece!

I think this may be my favorite room that you have designed.

Have a great week, Elizabeth

Melissa said...

Love this and want to show my husband (who also works from home and is in desperate need of an office re-do), but I know what he'll ask: "Where's the computer?"

As such, would love to see another shot of the room showing all computer equipment in place to get a sense of how you handle cord-wrangling and concealment.

Nancy said...

Fabulous! I love it!
xo Nancy
Powellbrowerhome.com

Loretta Fontaine (APPLESandRUBIES) said...

Lauren- Wow, this has to be one the most dramatic Lauren Liess before and afters. There is some magic when your talented ideas and dark, deep blues collide.

(I am remembering Justin's nursery in your old house, too!)

Loretta

Kristen said...

Wow! I'd love to have a space like this in my house for the hubby! So masculine and moody! Can't wait to see the pro pictures.

Anne Hardock said...

Perfect! What a treat to be able to see the before and afters!!!!! Thanks for sharing. I love all of the details that you included. Really special and personal yet tweaking some of the expected choices for a man's study. Has your signature all over it which is GREAT!!!

Sassy Stylista said...

Hi Lauren! I'm a big fan of your work and your blog! My husband and I recently purchased a home and are slowly building up our furniture collection. We LOVE the custom leather chair you have ordered for this office space - can you share information on the manufacturer or design company that makes it?

LindsB said...

I just sent this to my husband, he is going to be green with envy when he sees this amazing office!

How did you blog up that photo? Did you have a high res photo to being with, or did you blow up an old photo?

Kira Amolsch Mayrides said...

FANTASTIC!!! This is definitely "dark done right". Thanks so much for being so great about sharing your work and your process with us!

Carla @ Inside Home Living said...

What a difference, it's so moody and masculine. I'm sure he will feel so much more comfortable and cosy working in here!

Windlost said...

Lauren, it looks stunning. This is how I know you have truly arrived as a kick-butt designer, that you can approach a sterotypical 'man' office without freaking out!!! I would be so afraid of doing a space like that!!

I love love love the Yale picture. I would love to know where you got it printed - such a great idea. I also love the light fixture!!!

David is a huge civil war junkie, so I adore the painting you found. Is it from a local gallery where they might have more? We are collecting landscape paintings now and have paid up to $2600 for a small painting, but I know David would DIE if I found a civil war painting (unless it is truly a fortune). If you can share the source, I would be indebted!!!

You did such a great job. Cannot wait to see finished photos with all your wonderful styling. Amazing!

xo Terri

Holly said...

Fantastic Lauren! My two favorite elements are the lantern and the blown up Yale photo - how special. Great work.

The Buzz Blog @ Diane James Home said...

Swoon - what a fabulous office! You are inspiring me to get my husband's office cleaned up and redecorated. His idea of organizing is have neat piles of everything, everywhere! What till he sees these great pictures...

Vel Criste said...

wow!!! Love the navy and espresso together! looks really manly and regal too! The lighting too is my fave. Another great job Lauren!

Jenny said...

How did you blow up the picture to that size and how did you hang it? Would love to get the details on that!

John McGill said...

Really amazing great blog i love your blog!!! so well said and great blog you have here. Good luck to you
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Anne said...

Lauren, I love it! I really love it all, but I think my two favorites (in addition to the dark walls) are the picture of Yale and those curtains! I need some neutral plaid in my life now :)

Annie Vincent said...

I love it! The perfect man office!

Michelle said...

it's a fantastic space Lauren!

Contemporary Lounge said...

The antique civil wall painting really transforms the space! What a perfect gentlemans office. We think our
classic office chair
replica would look perfect in here - in white or black leather.

Adela Farina said...

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cocoonhomedecor said...

Love this!! It's quite hard designing something for a man but you did it well.
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