Like many others around the world, the pandemic forced Annette Vartanian and her family into a unique working situation. With offices closed, Vartanian suddenly found herself sharing a workspace with her husband and school-aged daughter. So they fast-tracked plans to convert a space on the second floor of their mid-century home

Instead of keeping the area above the carport a “weird cutout space that would go unused”, Vartanian set her sights on creating a “highly functional” home office. 

“Though I’ve always worked from home and moved around from spot to spot, I wanted a dedicated space I could leave behind at the end of the day,” she explained. Still, the goal was for the room to look just as aesthetically pleasing as the rest of the house. 

In-progress desk build

Long desk in a blue painted office

Making room for two

Rather than arrange two desks in the room, Vartanian chose to create one long desk divided into two dedicated workspaces, one for her and one for her husband. 

The desk unit is made with IKEA Sektion kitchen cabinet bases (selected because they’re wider and taller than dedicated office pieces) and topped with Semihandmade DIY Slab fronts

 

Creating hidden storage

Thanks to the wider, taller cabinets, Vartanian was able to create the large amount of hidden storage she was looking for. We didn’t want a lot of stuff on our desktop, creating a cluttered office-like vibe, she explained. 

Just about everything you see in the office is there for aesthetics—the more functional items are tucked out of sight. “The bottom drawer of the desk conceals my printer, there are important paperwork and files on my husband’s side, the top drawers hold daily essentials, and the tall cabinet houses photography equipment, crafting stuff, and more,” she says. 

Wall shelf planning

Blue bookshelves lining a staircase

Utilizing unique spaces

The staircase up to the office area has an eye-catching maze of bookshelves crafted out of Semihandmade DIY Slab Floating Shelves. “The idea of the floating shelves came out of necessity, because husband has thousands of books,” she says. 

 

Bringing it all together

To give the whole space a custom built-in vibe that looks more like a library than your typical office, Vartanian chose a moody dark blue (Deepest Sea by Dunn Edwards) that coats the walls, cabinetry, and shelves. 

She also swapped out traditional office furniture in favor of thrifted finds. Rather than mesh chairs, Vartanian and her husband sit in a pair of vintage dining chairs. And many of the tchotchkes hold significance. “Most of what you see are things I’ve collected over the years, whether from travel or local flea markets,” she says. 

Blue office with desk and shelves

Blue desk with built-in storage

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Renovation

We don’t believe that renovations should be daunting. The key is to arm yourself with the right knowledge, people, and products to achieve your goals. It also helps to ask the right questions: How much does it cost to renovate a kitchen? How do I find the right general contractor in my area? Where do I even start if I’ve never remodeled before? This is where we come in. Through hard-to-believe before and afters, first-person renovation accounts, and step-by-step DIY projects, we demystify every aspect of remodeling and give you a ton of full-house, bathroom, and kitchen renovation ideas. Semihandmade was built on a strong make-it-yourself spirit and we’re carrying that legacy beyond DIY kitchen cabinets (though we’ll certainly touch on those too) by bringing you a ton of weekend projects for novices (have you ever tried making your own planter?) and experts (try your hand at a full-wall media center). What do people really mean when they say a house has “good bones”? Before and after projects show first-hand what’s possible in a transformative remodel. How do you make the most of a narrow galley? Should you swap your upper cabinets for floating shelves? What would it look like if you opened up your small kitchen? Renovation ideas abound in our spotlighted projects. A lot goes into a kitchen renovation, but it’s usually hard to tell from a beautiful “after” shot. Our monthly series “Island Hopping” is about getting a behind-the-scenes account of what the process is like through honest conversations—you know, the kind that typically take place around a kitchen island. We’ll chat with designers, homeowners, and architects about their projects, hoping to peel back the curtain on picture-perfect spaces.
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