Why I Turned My Home Office into a European Salon

I’ve had a home office for years, but I never got around to repainting it since it was the girls’ nursery. Not that it looked babyish, but the walls were off-white and uninspiring for a creative space where I spend a lot of time. There have been three renditions of my office, which you may have seen over the years, but none of them worked in the long run. I am not comfortable or inspired editing photos, blogging, writing articles, researching online, or doing online consultations for hours on end from behind a desk in an upright chair. And I also pile lots of things on my desk and then it’s hard to have space to work anyway.

designer office

my office in April 2014


So what always happens is: I get my home office pretty and organized, but then I end up working in other rooms of the house – either on a couch with my feet up on a coffee table, or (I’m embarrassed to say it out loud!) sitting up in my bed with a pile of pillows behind me. And I feel guilty! I should be sitting at a desk, right?

feminine office

my office in Aug 2012, photo by Melanie G Photography


I finally realized that I had been trying to force the typical home office set-up on myself,  but I still need my own separate space that DOES work for me. So here’s my solution (and it’s NOT a stand-up desk, I would hate that worse than regular chair sitting). A chaise lounge, where I can sit with my legs up and my computer on my lap, with several tabletops nearby to easily access things I am working on.

chaise lounge ebth


The word salon first appeared in France in 1664 (from the Italian word salone, itself from sala, the large reception hall of Italian mansions). Before the end of the 17th century, these gatherings were frequently held in the bedroom (treated as a more private form of drawing room): a lady, reclining on her bed, would receive close friends who would sit on chairs or stools drawn around. Hmmm . . .

A couple of weeks ago, I started following a really cute chaise lounge on Everything But the House (EBTH) that had exactly the color I was looking for. It did have some staining and wear, but my heart wanted it! I scored the chaise for . . . wait for it . . .

ebth chaise


$33!!! Yep, you heard me right.

Now, I know what you are thinking. It looks a little dingy. Well, you are right, but I thought it might be worth the risk if I could clean it up. Remember my secret for cleaning secondhand upholstery? It worked like a dream on this piece, and now the staining is completely gone.

Ok, so here’s the office pretty much emptied out before painting. Bye-bye light and sweet:



I’ve been wanting to paint it the same color as the upstairs bathroom we renovated in the winter, Benjamin Moore Steamed Spinach 643. I wanted it to be rich, cozy, and soothing. Like a private drawing room or European ladies’ salon. And here she is!

dark green salon office


So there’s my new chaise, with a nice round table to one side and a little bench on the other (I painted the legs of it the same color as the walls). The gorgeous mint green chest is actually a pair of campaign dressers that I bought at the Country Living Fair earlier this year. I bought them from Cari Cusksey, of HGTV’s Cash & Cari. They are vintage pieces painted out Hint of Mint in her signature Chroma-Color Paint. They provide great storage for paint fan decks, fabric samples, and all the tools of my trade.

cari cusksey campaign chests


I found the art above the chests at an estate sale down the road at a 1940s home where I used to stop and let my kids see the cows that grazed in the side yard. I think it’s gorgeously strange. This book is a biography of legendary actress-turned-decorator, Elsie deWolfe by Nina Campbell.

elsie dewolfe


I topped my desk with a tablecloth that I found last month at another estate sale and hung a trio of art that I love. I decided not to fight the inevitable and just piled it with the stuff I need easy access to. I’m sure the pegs and shelves above will get filled in with things soon enough.

skirted console table


Pushed against the wall, it’s like a console now – plus I can shove other less-pretty necessities underneath so that everything isn’t so chaotic-looking.




I added a couple of chairs so that Allison and I can work through scheduling and other things. And I can receive Mr. Man and the children as I recline on my chaise lounge . . .

benjamin moore spinach green designer office


There’s lots of gold and brass in here, and I think it is a perfect complement to the rich wall color. I obviously need a photo for that pretty photo frame! The green trunk beneath used to live in the attic of the house where I grew up, and is where my sisters and I stored our out-of-season clothes.

brass gold metallic


Over the years it has served as a coffee table, side table, and storage, and I’ve never had the heart to repaint it. The faded green works perfectly here, so I’m glad I didn’t.

gold lamp



Notice my business card holder? It’s a brass soap dish I found from an estate sale (no surprise).

gold business card holder


No more desk, just a relaxing (but supportive) place to write and research on a lovely chaise from EBTH. The green lamps are from HomeGoods, as are the gold trays beneath them. They used to be in my living room.

everything but the house auction


I think I’m going to do curtains in this fabric – what do you think?

curtain fabric


As proof of the success of my new office/salon, I’ve been working productively all afternoon on this blogpost. It’s getting dark outside, but the room positively glows in the lamp light. So this is how I office now – I think it suits me perfectly!

Thank you to EBTH for helping me find the perfect and most important piece for my new home office design and for sponsoring this before-and-after reveal!


  1. Elizabeth Scruggs

    My, my, my!! You have been BUSY!! It is simply scrumptious!!! and I can’t wait to be “received” in your salon!! It is uniquely YOU, and that is exactly what a creative space should be! well done my friend!

  2. Dolores

    Just beautiful! So glad to see lovely color.. I found just such a gorgeous, down filled chaise through ebay, and I love mine too., wasn’t quite as cheap as yours, but at $125 ( including 20 yrds of the same fabric) it too was a deal 🙂

    • Kristie Barnett

      20 yards of fabric, too? That’s an awesome deal, Dolores! Will you make curtains with the fabric?

      • Dolores

        Unfortunately- the fabric( gorgeous chintz) didn’t work in my bedroom, because I already have multi patterned Le Lac fabric curtains up- but my mother made beautiful drapes for her house.Win win 🙂

  3. Christy

    I love what you’ve done with your space! I, on the other hand, am working to furnish a nursery for my daughter who will be here in January and I received lots of inspiration from your bscore pics as well! I especially loved the rug-if you still have it, I’d love to buy it from you. If not, can you tell me where you found it? Thanks!!!

  4. Ruth

    You Go Girl! Long hours require comfort and a refreshed mind, great set up! I wonder where do you stash the Bon-Bons or does Mr Man and the children bring in a fresh tray when you receive them? Gotta run and get to work on my Salon…….purple…….silver……

  5. A different Holly

    I am the fabric princess (you already held the queen title) and really love your curtain fabric choice. What kind of curtains are you considering?

  6. Amanda Carlson | The Interior Maven

    I love this post so much!!! We have a 5th bedroom that is visible right as you first walk into our front door. So either the door stays closed, which I hate, or I have to keep it totally organized always. I have been using it as my office, even though I usually end up with my laptop in a huge chair with feet propped up in our basement. I have recently been toying with the idea of putting my childhood daybed in there. Hmmmmm….now you have inspired me to get more comfy when I work in my actual office!! ?

  7. Denise C. Ryan

    The decor is beautiful….you are known for this…but I wanted to compliment you on your business cards and the overall branding of your business. You are proof that the “boring business” stuff can also be beautiful. So. Very. Cool.

    • Kristie Barnett

      Wow, thank you so much for that complement, Denise! 🙂

  8. Kelly

    Love it! I love using pieces I found that are special like you have shown here. I love your paint color you chose also. Great job Kristie!

  9. Sandy

    Oh how I wish you were closer to Atlanta!

  10. Paula Van Hoogen

    Kristie, I love the chaise where….you can “receive Mr. Man and the children.” LOL. :))
    And the deeper, richer green—the color reflects how YOU are changing too!
    I think you got the recipe for your own way of working productively—
    not what everyone else does….looks inviting to me.
    Happy working!
    Love, Paula

  11. Beth

    I’m with you – I despise sitting at my desk. My husband plans to sell it before our move to Texas in a year or two. I told him it’s a good place to set things on, but he isn’t impressed! ha.

    Enjoy your luxurious space!

  12. Michelle Burke

    Look! There’s the severed white arm! It looks so graceful. 🙂

  13. LibbyP

    Thanks so much for showing the chaos beneath your console. I work as a professional organizer but always have a few “in progress” items that I don’t want to put all the way away nor do I want to leave them out. Perfect solution! Hidden but contained and limited to the available space!

    And I don’t ever work at my desk either (it is for holding things). My sorority big sis made me a study board in 1986 that I still use!

    • Kristie Barnett

      It makes me feel better to hear that a pro organizer also has things “in progress!” Organization is a constant struggle – a weakness – of mine. I’d love to see a photo of your study board – is it like a lap board?

  14. Susan

    Welcome to the Dark Side, Kristie!!! Your room is utterly gorgeous and I love how the deep colour provides such a counterpoint to the rest of your home. I have chaise in my office too, but I have never been bold enough to eliminate the desk – oh wait! Yes I did – for about a week. I got so scattered I couldn’t function. I think it might be a necessary evil for me?

  15. Peggy Wilcox

    I love the new paint color! My desk is always crowded too, so I tend to have lots of piles! I love all the shades of green, they are gorgeous, can’t wait to see the curtains!!!

    • Kristie Barnett

      Thank you, Peggy! That reminds me that I need to get those curtains ordered 🙂

  16. Mary CC from CA

    I’m just catching up on my “Decorologist” reading, and wanted to comment on your beautiful office. As always your work and choice of colors is spectacular, but I do have to say I also loved the old office too. I can imagine you or your “little ladies” curling up and reading a book in the chaise. It looks like a wonderful quiet space to spend an hour or two and room enough for a little dog or cat to curl up against you in the winter. Your placement of the chaise by the window is perfect. Glad that you made the time to do something for yourself !


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