This homeowner turned an unused space into a special place.
Make It Yours
This spacious computer cabinet has a spot for everything. Office chairs are updated with fresh fabric.
| Credit: Jean Allsopp / Styling: Lisa Powell

Something had to be done. Virginia Hendrick knew it was time to renovate her dilapidated garage, and as a designer, she had several ideas to incorporate when she built the new structure. But when she learned that the city required rebuilding on the existing foundation that measured 44 x 12 feet, she wondered how she could ever add character and charm to this lengthy structure. Take a look.

Dividing the Space
The original building was split into two different areas: a garage and a small living space. Virginia decided to keep the same footprint but turned the living area into a home office for her business. The front portion is available for storage. "For those who work at home, the garage can be a great getaway," she says.

Originally, the structure lacked details, but the new one is quite the opposite. Windows, an updated door, and shutters transform the plain building, while a new landscape blends nicely with the surroundings. Virginia used many of the existing boxwoods, but she also added fragrant gardenias. A stone path leading to the door adds to the cottage charm.

Interior Details
Step inside to see how this space combines great style with organization. Using everyday office furniture and a few special additions, Virginia pulled together a look that makes working at home a pleasure.

She bumped up the ceilings from 7 feet to a soaring 11 feet to visually enlarge the space. She also paired a cheery yellow wall color with apple green fabrics and pink accents. At one end of the room, custom bookcases provide a spot to store books, magazines, and collectibles. A window seat filled with pillows adds a decorative touch. The panel below the seat pulls out to reveal a clever and convenient file drawer.

Double-duty Furniture
An antique drop-leaf table makes a perfect desk. Pulling the table out from the wall creates a conference table with ample space for a meeting.

A bulletin board, covered with fabric swatches, wallpaper samples, and magazine clippings, hangs above Virginia's desk. The collection adds a splash of color to the wall.

The custom computer cabinet, crafted by a family friend, anchors the room. The hand-painted finish was patterned after a favorite wallpaper.

Alternative Solutions
Virginia uses white baskets with cloth liners to keep her fabric samples organized. Inexpensive containers can be purchased at import and discount stores and spray-painted to coordinate with a room's decor.

A basic wire drawer unit was enhanced with a fabric skirt. Virginia attached panels to the unit with self-fastening strips. The panels can be easily removed to access items below.

Drab office chairs, while comfortable, didn't fit into the color scheme. New fabric solved the problem, taking utilitarian seating to a decorative level as well.

Virginia proves that just because a space is functional doesn't mean it can't be attractive too.

Jazz Up Your Office Space

  • Give a basic table a makeover with fabric. Use self-fastening strips to attach panels that conceal storage space below.
  • Cover office chairs with coordinating fabric for a pulled-together look.
  • Organize papers, samples, and other loose items in baskets.
  • Invest in a piece with doors, such as an armoire, that can hide clutter.
  • Incorporate color. Cheery hues can brighten your mood while you work.