After losing his job, one entrepreneur gets a dramatic home office makeover—and his reaction is priceless. 

By Katie Holdefehr
February 20, 2020
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When beer engineer Kyle Smith lost his job, he tapped into his entrepreneurial spirit to start his own beverage equipment company, called Gorman & Smith. And suddenly, he found himself working out of the dark, cluttered den in his condo. In desperate need of a revamped workspace for this fresh start, Kyle reached out to home decor expert and YouTuber Alexandra Gater. As part of her new series, Make My Space Work, produced by Shopify Studios and Kin Community, Alexandra took on the challenge of transforming this bleak, makeshift workspace into a bright, organized home office—for less than $800.

Despite the tight budget, Alexandra got creative and was able to completely make over the room from top to bottom, including ripping up the old carpeting and replacing the outdated light fixtures. Watch the entire process in the video here (trust me, you won't want to miss Kyle's reaction!). Then, check out Alexandra's wallet-friendly recommendations for updating your own home office, below. 

RELATED: 10 Home Office Ideas That Will Make You Want to Work All Day

The Office Before:

Home Office Before

Before the budget reno, Kyle's office had textured red walls and ancient carpeting (see the evidence, above). Alexandra's brilliant plan? Lighten the space with white paint, install an affordable fix for the floor, and add personalized decor that fits Kyle's industrial-inspired aesthetic. No matter if your own home decor style is modern farmhouse, urban, or bohemian, here are five low-cost, high-impact ways to create your dream home office. 

The Office After:

Home Office After

Let Paint Expand the Space

Before the transformation, the room felt dark and cramped, despite having a relatively large window with an amazing view. Alexandra's solution: grab some white paint to lighten up the room and make it feel larger. Her go-to white paint color? Simply White, by Benjamin Moore. "It's a crisp white without feeling too stark." For $50 or less, a gallon of paint will give the impression that your office gained square footage (and an extra window). 

Make It Personal 

It's your home office, so let it reflect your work, style, and interests. To match Kyle's company, Alexandra introduced brewery-inspired details, like DIY industry shelving and on-theme artwork. In your own office, try pulling in decorative accents that will remind you of your mission to help keep you motivated. 

Rethink the Flooring

Perhaps the biggest eyesore in Kyle's old office (besides the mountain of clutter) was the outdated carpet. Alexandra knew that ripping up the old carpet had to be on the top of her to-do list. "Sounds like a major reno is involved, right? Wrong! I used renter-friendly 'hardwood' flooring to replace the old, beat-up carpet in Kyle’s home office," she explains. A perfect solution for renters, she used a faux-wood vinyl sheet from Home Depot, which can be trimmed to size and is heavy enough to stay in place, even without adhesive. 

If you're willing to invest a little more time to the DIY process, opt for vinyl click flooring. It looks a little more realistic than the sheet version, but will require laying down individual planks and cutting them to size. 

Give It Life 

While we often think to add plants to our living room or kitchen, many of us forget to add greenery to the spaces only we see (and don't typically show off to guests), like the home office. But adding plants to this space gives it life and energy, making it feel like a more creative space. In Kyle's office, Alexandra added one big standing plant, as well as a clever wall-hanging succulent garden. 

Depending upon where you have room in your own home office, you can suspend a hanging plant from the ceiling, set one on an elevated plant stand, or place smaller plants along the windowsill. 

Upgrade the Standard Office Essentials 

"This is where it gets fun! Now it’s time to add in all those finishing touches that will keep your space looking stylish and you productive," Alexandra says. The key: skip the standard desk chairs and filing cabinets and look for more elevated alternatives. In Kyle's office, Alexandra opted for a forest green velvet chair, rather than a standard black desk chair. This is also an easy way to introduce splashes of color into the room, especially if you went with white walls. 

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