My new office!!!! (before + afters)

I am SO crazy excited to share some before and after photos of my office today. It's a weird space because it's actually a walk-through that takes you from the landing at the top of the stairs, into our Upper Room (or rec room) over the garage.

I have no idea what the previous owners used it for, but here's what it looked like when we moved in...

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Did you know that there wasn't a stitch of white in this entire house when we moved in? Not even the doors, trim, and ceiling. I know these photos make it look white, but it was really more of a dingy-whiteish-peach color.

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Ok, ready for the after?! I know, me too...but you're gonna have to wait just a minute so I can show you the before-ish after. In other words, how I had it for three years after moving in.

As you'll see, it's certainly better, but I always felt it was missing something. It felt thrown together, it felt disjointed. For some reason, I was completely stumped on this space.

Better...but still far from the AFTER!

I spent most of my days working from the little table by the window. A friend gave me two of them when they were redoing their cabin (the rug was also a free treat from that friend). When I closed my eyes, I'd imagine it to be a bistro table on the sidewalk in Paris or something. Cheesy perhaps...but I really pretend like that. (I just ache to travel again. Sigh...someday)

I loved being next to the big window because the room gets the most glorious afternoon sun. The problem was though, it wasn't totally the right height for my chair and was too small to really spread out and work from (when I research, I have books strewn all over the place).

(photo from a Denver Style Magazine shoot last fall)

(photo from a Denver Style Magazine shoot last fall)

When my friend Leah (founder of The Light Filled Home) mentioned being willing to help me rework the space, this is what I texted her:

Basically, I want somewhere that just oozes creativity. I want clean and simple but with bold pops and a touch of boho.

I CANNOT figure out how to do boho. AT ALL. Anytime I attempt it, it looks stupid (eye roll).

BUT, I love when others pull it just feels cozy and lived in.

Words to describe the space:

Playful, Clean, White yet pops of color, Creative, Full of Story

So with that in mind, Leah told us to grab some Dove White at Home Depot and start painting while she grabbed her sharpie and started brainstorming ideas. Sweet Imani was happy to help (while we sang and danced to the Descendants soundtrack over-and-over-and-over...)


I've learned so much from Leah during this process...check out how she decides where to place frames! Painters tape?! Amazing.

Want to know how I decide where to hang things?! I put 500 nail holes in my wall and hope at some point, I'll get it in the right spot. hahaha (please tell me I'm not alone)


Because we have both had sick kids the past few weeks, the project took a little longer than we planned and it sat halfway done for a while. A week or so ago, I finally texted Leah this little video with some progress and thoughts (see video-text below).

Finally our kids were well again...and because Caleb from Unmutable was flying in to do video work for my upcoming book trailer, etc we knew we had to get going and finish. Mere days before Caleb arrived for the big shoot, the room was complete.

And I'm still freaking out over how beautiful it is (ignore the light wires though...still working on that part)!

Ok...ready?? Here we go!!!


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Ok so I forgot to tell you something important about the design... I told Leah I didn't really want to buy anything.

I wanted her to shop my house and use what I already have.

We pulled things in from other rooms, ransacked closets and the basement. The only items I purchased were plants, baskets, and the awesome light above my desk (which still needs to be connected).

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I really wanted a pop of something on a portion of the walls, but didn't feel wallpaper was the right look for this space. We were SO thrilled when Urban Walls told us they wanted to work with us because these amaaaaaaazing decals are THE perfect addition, don't you think?! 

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I love how some were placed up slightly onto the ceiling, too!

In case you're thinking this room cost lots of $$ to decorate, I want to share a little secret with you...most of it came from Goodwill, Target, garage sales, and clearanced/sale items from shops I have a feeling you totally frequent.

I'll chat about where the decor items and furniture are from in another post, but remember...this space is almost entirely designed with stuff I already had. It's just displayed differently!

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Do you see my book up there next to the Prayer Changes Everything sign?! Shhhh...I'm not officially sharing this yet, but you can preorder it on Amazon!

**I'm not really announcing it yet because we're waiting for the preorder goodies to be compiled and completed. Hold on to your digital receipt if you order it now so you can still get the goodies...they're really fun, you'll want them!!**

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I'm still pinching myself that Beautifully Interrupted is almost out! So surreal!!! But I digress...


How cute are these little guys?! I found the glass globes in Target's Dollar Section last year but the rocks and air plants are available there right now (near the seeds + summer furniture)! They're now hanging in the window.


I love using unexpected items around the home. This little glass pitcher is perfect for pens and my old palette full of paint I forgot to clean off 'till it was dry and too stuck to scrub off is a fun pop of texture for beneath and the easel that holds our family portrait from this shop. That gorgeous paper flower is from Katya Paperie (btw she's doing floral for my book's Launch Team gifts! more on that soon, too!)

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I'm in absolute love with how the bookcase is styled now! It's still organized according to subject like I'd wanted/needed for writing and researching, but Leah made is look so much better.

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I'm obviously in love with swans since Swanstrom is my maiden name and adore how my logo (painted by my dear friend Amy Kavs) is highlighted front and center! And those vintage brass swans are perfectly placed right below (next to that adorable succulent from our grocery store, of all places!).

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And how great is this idea to place a (faux) succulent into a teacup from my collection? I'm definitely going to copy this next time I need a gift!

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This Abide sign was gifted to me by a group of incredible ladies I had the honor of speaking to in Royal Oaks, MI last year. I don't know why I never thought of putting it on a shelf with a plate holder! I looooove it here!

And can you see off to the right-hand side how a little brass and gold colander is used to hold a faux plant? (I know it's just barely shown, but is too cute to ignore!) So creative.

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I found the live plants at Home Depot, Walmart, and our local grocery store...but admittedly, we mixed in a few faux plants as well! If you don't have a green thumb or can't find the right plant, why not mix fake ones in?!

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I'm so excited to share this calendar with you. I've really been trying to become more organized since the new year began. I'm going to be sharing more on my sweet friend Lindsay Letters' calendars in the next few weeks as I reveal organization tricks + tips for us ladies who aren't naturally that way.

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I cringe at telling you this but it's a struggle for me to be organized. Like REALLY struggle horribly with living organized. I don't mean a clean house...I mean an organized life in general. Schedules, intentionality, that sort of thing. These past several months though, I've realized how much less stress I feel because I'm consciously working on it.

That's a whole 'nother blog post so more on that coming soon!

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From dark and serious...bright and happy!

I'm definitely inspired here!

Can't wait to share more on Lindsay's calendar, organization, and how I made that cool paint brush art piece next to my easel! Stay tuned!

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My favorite part (other than now having space for my easel) is I still get to work in that big bright window!

It never occurred to me to carry my big desk and fit it in next to the window fits perfectly...and now the kids can sit facing me, snuggled in all the pillows and draw on opposite side of the desk while I'm working. I love it so much.

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What do you think? What's your favorite part of the redo?

Take Joy,