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How a Designer Turned a Messy Office into a Calm Workspace

Renovated home office with navy blue walls and white built ins.

Design: Mary Maloney; Photo: Kyle Caldwell

If there’s something we never get tired of seeing, it’s a great makeover. Whether it’s transforming a retro bathroom into a modern oasis or giving a lackluster bedroom a fresh look, pros perform these design miracles all the time.

To give designers a chance to showcase their favorite makeovers—and to bring you plenty of inspiration for your own home—we’re sharing the best before and afters we’ve seen in our series, Makeover of the Week. Take notes for your next renovation.

“My client is a lawyer and lives and works in a house with her husband, two boys, and a new puppy," interior designer Mary Maloney says. "She needed a more functional and attractive office to keep up with the demands of working from home.”

Meet the Expert

Mary Maloney is the founder of Boston-based Bee’s Knees Interior Design Studio. She loves to mix classic New England style with bright pops of color while blending new and vintage furnishings.


Cluttered home office.

Courtesy of Mary Maloney

“The office had a built-in along the back wall that wasn’t to scale with anything in the room and a doorway to a mudroom that was never used,” Maloney shares. “The walls were painted in a dull olive, and the desk and chair were dated and uninspiring. My client didn’t enjoy spending time in this room—it needed a refresh.”


Black and white sleek gallery wall.

Design: Mary Maloney; Photo: Kyle Caldwell

“I eliminated the door and expanded the built-ins across the back of the room to create more shelf and storage space," Maloney says. "A window seat and a hanging chandelier made the room feel even cozier. My client, not intimidated by color, encouraged me to be adventurous with the blue walls and pops of orange.”

What Changed:

  • Color Theme: Blue and orange create a fun and sophisticated-looking workspace.
  • Desk: A navy grasscloth desk adds color and texture with its nailhead detail. 
  • Chair: Upholstered in high-performance linen and finished with a nailhead trim, the base of this chair adjusts to different heights, and the wheels make movement between the built-ins and desk more efficient.
  • Built-ins: The expanded built-in provides additional work and storage space with its back walls covered in a dark blue woven grasscloth wallpaper. 
  • Window Seat: The cozy built-in, with its custom chevron blue cushion, doubles as extra seating and storage for office essentials.  
  • Light fixture: The quatrefoil ceiling pendant has four candlestick arms and provides functional lighting over the desk.
  • Gallery wall: A mix of black and white photos are framed in silver to complement the other metal finishes in the room.
  • Rug: A diamond-patterned rug adds color and texture to the space.
  • Window treatments: Classic and timeless blue and cream Roman shades block the sun and provide privacy. 
  • Wall color: The blue paint (Ben Moore Van Duesen Blue HC) plays nicely with both the cool and warm tones in the room. 
  • Accessories: A combination of books, family mementos, and photos are displayed on the shelves.

Shop the Look:

Close up of orange flowers on desk.

Design: Mary Maloney; Photo: Kyle Caldwell

Nina Campbell Enid Desk
oomph Nina Campbell Enid Desk $4,350.00

“The workmanship on this desk is quite stunning, from the mitered grasscloth top to the nail head trim,” Maloney says.

4-Light Candle Style Classic
Gabby 4-Light Candle Style Classic $1,051.00

“The light wood quatrefoil chandelier looks great in an office, bedroom, or even a kitchen,” Maloney shares.

Orange Lacquer Tray with Handles
Gleaming Renditions Orange Lacquer Tray with Handles $129.00

"This handcrafted serving tray is super functional, holding everything from drinks to paperwork,” Maloney says.