If you have a small home office and love blue and white toile, this makeover is for you. It combines toile fabric with board and batten moldings and blue paint to create a stunning space you’ll want to work in.
One day I was looking at my home office with dissatisfaction and wondering what was bothering me about it.
The existing burgundy, ivory and gold room colors were well coordinated, modern, even sophisticated, but they did not make my heart sing.
And I firmly believe that you should find every room in your house thrilling and pleasing to be in.
Which lead me to the realization that I was ignoring our motto of “decorate with what you love.”
So I decided it needed a makeover.
I remembered how much I enjoyed the blue and white toile décor of the room I stayed in at the Hotel des Grandes Ecoles in Paris a few years ago.
The room was saturated with toile pattern – drapes, walls, doors.
I found it restful, classic and beautiful.
So it became the inspiration for redoing my small home office that also doubles as a guest room and a dining room. For more details, see how I use this small room as a multi-functional space.
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The first step to any renovation project is to empty the room and remove all electrical covers and light fixtures.
Next, I removed the old wallpaper. It was dry strippable and came off easily.
I wanted to keep the architecturally interesting ceiling moldings.
And I think the Craftsman style of board and batten on the walls enhances the ceiling design.
However, I didn’t like the way the the existing board and batten looked. The boards were too close together and too narrow.
So I carefully pried off the board and batten strips.
Since they were glued on, that caused some holes and rips in the drywall I had to fill with spackling compound. I like the Polyfilla that goes on pink and fades to white so you can tell when it is dry.
The existing paint was a high gloss finish. To paint over it successfully, the shine had to be removed from the walls, ceiling, and wood work. I used 120 grit sandpaper on a cordless sander and a sanding block for this.
Finally, I removed all grime, dried on glue, and dust by washing the walls, woodwork, and ceiling with a TSP and warm water solution. After rinsing with clear warm water and ensuring everything was dry, I was ready to proceed.
Find the right toile
I originally looked for a blue and white toile in wallpaper with matching fabric.
I found some beautiful designer toiles with coordinating fabrics and wallpaper on Kravet.com. But the cost was out of my price range.
Then, I found this beautiful blue and white toile fabric (Covington M Musee Toile) at a much better price, so decided to use it for the whole room.
I ordered enough to cover the ceiling, two thirds of the wall height, and the rocking chair plus make window and door blinds, .
I envisioned lots of toile pattern everywhere.
Before I installed the fabric, I primed and painted the top third of the walls in Farrow and Ball ‘Drawing Room Blue’ in estate emulsion finish.
I have used this color in my living room and love it. It also coordinates beautifully with the toile fabric.
The estate emulsion finish dries to a rich velvety texture that has depth and a matte finish. Which helps to hide all of the imperfections in my walls.
Then I primed and painted all of the trim on the ceiling, crown moldings, baseboards, and the board and batten boards in the same color but using an estate eggshell (or satin) finish. This makes the trim stand out a little from the walls without creating too much contrast.
Cover the walls and ceiling with fabric
It was easier to put the fabric on the wall before the board and batten was put up.
To do this, I drew a horizontal line the desired height of the board and batten around the circumference of the room.
Then measured, stapled, and glued the fabric to the walls and ceiling as described in our post on how to attach fabric to walls.
If you’re wondering what the cut lines in the wall are, that’s where the murphy bed is installed.
Install the board and batten moldings
After the fabric was installed, I started working on the horizontal board trim for the board and batten.
This trim goes around the circumference of the room and covers the top edge of the fabric at two-thirds up the wall, and the bottom edge just above the baseboards.
Then I put up the vertical boards, following these steps:
- Carefully measure the vertical boards for a snug fit between the horizontals.
- Use a plum line to make sure each one is straight up and down.
- Then nail and glue the vertical boards in place, on top of the fabric.
- Calk all spaces and nail holes.
- When the calk is dry, touch it up with trim paint.
For more details, read our step-by-step tutorial on installing board and batten.
All of the floors in this room are original hardwood so I didn’t change them.
But I did want a coordinating area rug.
A new contemporary low pile rug in royal blue and ivory* ties everything together.
Installing an under-pad makes the rug feel softer and more luxurious underfoot.
Once all of the wall and ceiling work has been finished, the light fixtures and wall plates can be put back on.
I love the existing wall sconces and chandelier so I didn’t make any changes there.
Just polished them up and re-installed them.
This window has an ugly view of my neighbors brick wall, which is prominent when the roman shade is up.
I needed a camouflage that allowed light into the room but blocked the view.
So I put up an easy-to-install, vinyl faux stained glass window film (similar to this one*) that looks terrific and totally fixed the problem.
Then I made a simple roman shade in the toile fabric and trimmed it with a pretty coordinating 3½” tasseled trim.
Refer to our post on how to make roman shades to see how I sewed and installed the shade.
Next I needed a covering for the door.
Because this room is so small (8′ x 9′), I had removed the old wooden door for space considerations.
But it doubles as a guest room so I have to provide a privacy screen for those times when I have an overnight guest.
A roller shade made from the same toile fabric and blue tasseled trim as the window treatment was just the ticket.
It takes up no space when it is rolled up (which is most of the time).
Yet it is simple for a guest to roll down when needed.
Because of the small size of the room and its many functions, a traditional desk doesn’t work in my office.
The silver library table that I had been using was also too large for the room.
So I decided to swap it for a lovely, ornate, antique, drop leaf table that I found for a fantastic price on Marketplace.
I had it painted the same shade of navy as the wood-work.
The painter added gold to highlight the carvings on the claw feet which really brings out the details.
Opened, I can use the table as an office desk and for dining.
If I need a little more floor space, I can fold down one half.
But if a guest is staying over, both sides close to a width of 5 inches, leaving room for movement around the murphy bed.
Chairs and other furniture
My previous desk chair was not that comfortable so I decided to replace it.
A search on Marketplace scored an upholstered adjustable office chair. Its fabric happened to be dark blue in color, so it was perfect.
I also have an antique oak rocker that I enjoy sitting in when I talk on the phone.
To make it fit in with my new color scheme, I re-covered it in the same fabric and trimmed it with the same blue tasseled gimp that I used on the shades.
Then I found a wonderful shag blue pillow at HomeGoods that is the exact blue of the pattern in the toile and adds some texture to the décor.
Beside this chair, there is a small antique tiered accent table that I re-painted white with gold legs to make it go with the color scheme.
Read how to update a tiered side table for all the details.
There are also three silver metal chairs with upholstered seats, which are used as dining room chairs on occasion (another function of this space).
To add a little contrast, I re-upholstered these seats in a navy and white stripe fabric*
The last step of the project is to add art and accessories.
Shopping my house turned up many of the accessories I used, and kept the costs down.
The watercolor painting is a favorite that came from another room.
I did add a new acrylic painting that I brought back from a recent trip to Nova Scotia.
An existing vinyl print and 4 photographs were all framed in identical narrow silver metal frames and hung above the wainscoting on one wall.
This helps to hide the hardware for the murphy bed.
Style the shelves
But styled the shelves in groups of threes, using framed pictures, books, small sculptures, and ginger jars.
Ginger jars go well with the toile and carry the theme from my living room.
See our post on how to decorate a bookshelf for more tips on arranging a bookcase.
Cover storage boxes and books
I own several storage boxes in a variety of sizes that fit perfectly on the shelves.
To make them compliment the décor, I painted the tops and bottoms in ‘drawing room blue’ eggshell.
Then covered the sides of the boxes with toile fabric using fabric glue to adhere the fabric.
Finally, to identify the contents, I labeled the boxes with white ink on black labels.
I also covered a couple of books with coordinating blue and gold wrapping paper to keep the shelves looking cohesive.
I added to my apple and pear collection and put them in a dark blue salad bowl for display.
Grouping a few “like things” together makes more of an impact than having them displayed individually.
Similarly, a small blue and white tray holds part of my owl collection.
Since they are small, the tray makes them stand out more.
Add a focal point
A large eye-catching lady sculpture in white and gold is a stunning focal point.
The finished room
I am very happy to work (and eat) in this room.
For comparison, this is what it looked like before.
It seems so much brighter now.
It always makes me smile when I walk by.
I hope you enjoyed the renovation journey with me.
Other home office ideas you might like
- Dark blue and white home office makeover
- Small home office layouts
- How to set up a home office
- Blue home office ideas
Or browse all of our home office ideas.