Here's What You Shouldn't DIY on Your Home Office Reno

·3 min read
Photo credit: Getty Images
Photo credit: Getty Images


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My recently refreshed home office may be my most rewarding home project to-date, but the decision-making, realizations about the space, and the work itself were not easy. After all, a home office is a specific space where you need to blend utility and inspiration, efficiency and, well, a desire to be there to achieve that productivity. But if you're reading this, it can be an easier ordeal for you! Here are the top four lessons I learned along the way to turning a home office into a den of productivity.

Lesson 1: When something should be installed by a professional, hire a professional

The most valuable lesson I learned? It's not always worth it to DIY. After considering various DIY options, I decided to hire California Closets to design a custom system that would include a built-in desk with a filing cabinet system, built-in cabinetry and an overhaul of my catchall office closet. As an eager DIYer, this outsourcing was new for me—but so worth it.

In addition to working with pros on the cabinets, we half-outsourced window treatments, which meant measuring and selecting shades ourselves online from Everhem but letting one of their recommended pros handle the install. Similarly, we purchased a new ceiling fan from Hunter on Amazon...and hired an electrician to properly install it.

What we did do ourselves:

Of course, there were plenty of things we could DIY, too: We painted the walls and refinished areas that had been damaged over the previous decades, selected affordable art prints from DTC online gallery Alpha’a, and performed demo work to prepare the areas California Closets would be installing.

Lesson 2: Built-in storage is game-changing

The biggest challenge for my home-office redesign was finding a storage solution for the various paper, books, and other office-related items that had been hastily stuffed into a closet or piled up on various surfaces.

Photo credit: Katie Hodges
Photo credit: Katie Hodges

The first-draft mockup from California Closets designer Angela Beardon was spot-on: alternately open and closed storage throughout the room styled in the brand’s ‘natural’ finish. Five weeks later, the California Closets team installed everything and for the first time my home workspace transformed into a clutter-free zone of focus and organization. Files were filed. Books were placed onto a built-in bookshelf. The printer was tucked away on its very own custom, sliding drawer beneath a desk. Built-in storage was by far the most significant upgrade to the space.

Photo credit: Laura Resen
Photo credit: Laura Resen

Lesson 3: The right wall color is the cheapest way to fine-tune the atmosphere of a work space

While the California Closet work was the most impactful in how our home office now functions, repainting the office from a dated Tuscan yellow to a calming, barely tinted gray called Silverpointe by Sherwin-Williams gave the space a whole new vibe—and better reflected the light coming in from outside. The new SuperPaint formulation we used is also supposed to contribute to cleaner indoor air quality. Having already painted the entire exterior of our home last summer, the office space felt like a breeze to paint (plaster-disaster and repaint aside) and made the space feel contemporary and focused.

Now, time to get to work.

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