Update Your Home Office

Give your workspace a stylish face-lift.
Alice Welsh Doyle
Many of today's home offices are more of a family affair than a place of business. Children do homework on the computer, while parents pay bills online, keep files, and organize everyone's schedules. For such a well-used room, however, it's often lacking in decorative appeal. So think about an update. You can redo the whole space or just spruce it up a little. The following tips will help you get started.

Wall decor
A fresh coat of paint can make a world of difference. If your office area is open to other rooms in the house, choose a wall color that complements the surrounding areas, perhaps using a shade lighter or darker within the same color range. A textured but neutral wallpaper, such as burlap or grass cloth, is also a great choice to give the office its own distinct look.

Add more visual appeal to the walls with inexpensive homemade art. Frame your children's creations or botanical prints from wall calendars. Hang them in a group for more impact. You may want to include a fabric-covered bulletin board to keep track of invitations and events or a chalkboard on which family members can leave messages.

Shelving
If your office isn't blessed with a lot of cabinets, consider adding some open shelves. They're less expensive, and you can buy them or make them yourself. These shelves are ideal for holding frequently used reference books and cookbooks, but they also work as a decorative feature. Consider painting them an interesting accent color and adding a few family treasures such as seashells, vacation souvenirs, trophies, and ribbons.

Furniture
Traditional office furniture is often utilitarian looking and can be expensive. Unless your office is included within another space, such as a kitchen or family room, it won't be on display to guests. So have a little fun, and add some character to your workplace--shop flea markets and "junktique" shops for unique bookcases, magazine racks, file cabinets, and tables. If you prefer an office chair for the comfort and swivel feature, then try covering it in a patterned fabric. Only a few yards are needed, so shop for remnants and seconds with minor flaws.