Design Challenge: Office/Studio, Part II


(Check out the first blogpost of this series here!)


Hi, Rebekah here! Now that we’re in the thick of the design process with my Stuido/Office space, we’re going to talk about Defining Function and Design Choices.

There are two questions related to the function of a space that I always ask myself at the beginning of a project.

  • Needs: What are the unmet space, lifestyle, and storage needs in my home? Focus on improvement, not perfection. Ask yourself what rhythms of life can be supported by the spaces you occupy. Think hobbies, the needs of kids in your space, and work environment.

  • Essential items: What are the essential items you need to or want to place in the room? Many of the design shows we watch stage the rooms from start to finish and may occasionally include an heirloom piece or two. The ability to completely furnish a room from start to finish with all new items is rare. This presents a unique challenge. Knowing what you need to include gives space to make key purchases that push the room in the desired style direction. More on that in a bit.

I use these two questions to hone in on the overarching purpose of the room. Once I’ve determined how I want a room to function and feel, and what key items I need to include in the room design, the challenge begins. My focus then shifts to creating an interesting look that is cohesive with the rest of the home.

Design moodboards are a great tool for keeping my decisions and shopping purchases on track! Create a moodboard that reflects the spaces already in your home as a way of working to achieve cohesion in your designs.


Rooms in your home do not need to match, but they should flow, especially when they are visibly connected, i.e. you can see one room while standing in another room.

When it comes to these design choices, I ask myself the following questions:


  • Tone: Do I have a range of tones in the space? A simple rule of thumb is to go from “black to white”. In the case of this room revamp, my darkest tones will show up in the deep chocolate background of the wallpaper and deep brown wood tones in the furniture. The bright “whites” are creamy tones on repeat in the woodwork, wallpaper, curtains, and rugs.

  • Texture: What textures can I see or feel? Texture adds dimension to any room and keeps the space from looking flat. Adding texture to a room can be as simple as tossing a throw blanket across the arm of a sofa or adding a dimensional piece of art to the wall.

  • Depth: What elements are going to catch the light and create visual depth in any light? I often look to metals and glass for simple ways to achieve this in a room. Adding a glass vase or brass candlesticks to a room is a simple and affordable enhancement to any design.

A few design tips:

  • Pick a design launching point: For this specific design I knew that the key piece I needed to work around was a vintage drafting table with a dominant green surface. I love wallpaper, but want to use it strategically in my home. I knew this space was the perfect room for the added interest and dimension.

  • Moodboards can be a helpful tool for keeping your vision on track and anchoring your preferences as you sort through the sea of options. I make my boards in Adobe InDesign, but you can easily just add images to a word document or use an online photo collage builder.

Because my current project is on my main floor and flows off several other rooms, I wanted to be sure in the design stage that the room plan was cohesive with the rest of my main floor spaces without losing the interest I was hoping to achieve. The main floor mood board is an assortment of iPhone shots I captured of objects that I thought were representative of the style in my home, product images of items I’ve purchased, and color blocks of all the paints used on the main floor. If you are building your own mood board, include items that are special to you (I included a favorite Jamie Beck photograph from my fireplace mantle) and represent not only the colors and textures in your space, but give a sense of the design details that make a room special to you.


Remember, moodboards do not have to be digital. Think about collecting items and arranging them on a flat surface and snapping a quick photo on your phone. Check out this great article on Neptune for more on building moodboards and lovely examples of collected inspiration.

Office/Studio moodboard

Main Living Room moodboard

A few organization tips:


  • Measure: Take all room measurements and record them on a note on your phone or a piece of paper you can easily ccess. Include floor dimensions, ceiling height, window sizes, and measurements of existing or purchased furniture.

  • Paint Cards: paint swatches directly from the vendor are great but they are small. Create your own larger paint swatches using a thick stock paper and making your own and jot down where you used the paint.

  • Keep a sample box: An expandable folio box is a great place to keep all of your samples and inspiration. Consider organizing samples by room or divide by sample type. My box includes paint samples labeled with their location, fabric swatches, sample bathroom tiles, and wallpaper samples all used in my home. I’ve also designated a few slots to hold magazine inspiration images, textiles, and colors. Collected inspiration is always a great launching point when planning a new project. Starting a project with a cache of inspiration you’ve collected over time is a great way to help stay true to your style and not get lost in all the enticing trends of the day that might not fit your style.


P.S. Stay tuned for the final installment and photos of the finished space on March 10th! Thank you for follow along this fun project and don't hesitate to comment below any questions you might have!


P.P.S. I'm co-hosting an interior design class with Diane, florist & owner of the Mill, and registration opens March 3rd. You won't want to miss it!


Meet Rebekah — She resides in southern Michigan, working professionally in higher education. With her background in art and design, she has found herself designing interior spaces for her institution, tinkering with her own space, and on constant consult for friends and family who are eagerly tackling their own design challenges. She uses her keen eye and astounding sense of color to transform spaces. Rebekah is inspired by her travels around the world, art, and flowers.