Darcy Lewis Design

Adventures in "Good Enough" Design

A Return to Subject – My Office!

FINALLY, we are getting back to the original point of this – my adventures in art!

Here’s the Before and After if you just want the summary without my long-winded exposition…

If you are still reading, the exposition:

One of the HUGE frustrations with the house has been my business offices and warehousing rooms.  When we first bought the house, I decided my main office MUST have a color change and a mural (hand-painted by me of course – because I have SO much free time and energy….NOT!), and my sewing studio was so hideously painted I really had no choice but to redo it.  My space for my Beautiful Textiles business had a mocked-up cutting table which was less than ideal and was slowly killing me.

After a YEAR of being mostly sick and not working on anything, the mural in the office is finally officially half done!  Hope to have the other half done this week… Husband helped me put up trim last weekend.  Originally, I’d planned on painting faux wainscotting panels on the wall, but now we are undecided so I think I will just leave the bottom half of the wall plain for now, and live with it a little and see what I want to do.

So, here is my project story:

I started with this:


Removed the floating shelves (which were incorrectly installed and so took a chunk of wall with them, which required patching…) and also took down the valance (not sure if it will go back up ever – probably not).  This room was WAY too beige for me (I’m a color girl!), and I envisioned a room in deep eggplant – something more like this:

dark purple wall

I wanted a deep aubergine color that SANG – nothing too dark, and I liked the contrast of the white to brighten it.  Then I saw this and decided to do wainscotting and bottom panels:


Only, the bottom wainscotting panels should look (I decided) like those hand-drawn frames…  (This was an especially insane idea because I’m too OCD for this unevenness…)



and decided to do that on the bottom outlined in the purple instead of real white panels.  Oh, and of course, they should have a complicated Chinese knot in the corners to tie in with the top part of the walls….Which I had suddenly decided should have a beautiful Chinoiserie stenciled design – kinda like this:


First, this is a little too busy for me, second, the stencils I was seeing cost hundredof dollars.  One hundred wasn’t really my budget, but several?  Forget it!!  So I figured I’d hand-paint it, how hard could THAT be?!   Because I’m insane  picky an artist, I auditioned the whole look and paint colors first by buying some white posterboard at the dollar store, and some 3oz tester cans of the colors I wanted, and painted a very rough idea of what I wanted on the posterboard:

office mockup

Isn’t it fabulous?!  I can’t paint birds, or butterflies, or anything live, so this was going to be SO. MUCH. FUN. (Not at all crazy-making… no, no,… why would you even think that…)

I was planning out my sparser version, when I stumbled on this FABULOUS hand-painted De Gournay silk wallpaper….

de gournay plum blossom

That was it.  I was SO in love!  It was sparse, but not cold, elegant and beautiful, and…. so unbelievably expensive it wasn’t even in the realm of my reality.  So I found the best photo of the design I could (which wasn’t much back then – a blurry, rough design sketch.  Looking things up to write this, I find there are now MUCH better pictures now available!  Oh well…), and used that as my reference to do my painting (Bonus – very few birds or other creatures!).  I decided on a fairly monochromatic color scheme to enhance the elegant simplicity I was going for, and went with metallic silver branches, with white blossoms (the same white as the bottom part of the wall), and purple centers (the same as the top part).


Our walls repeatedly rejected paint, so we finally hired someone to do the base coat.  I think they were VERY sorry for the low price they’d quoted for such a “simple job”.  It took him about 6 coats of paint, 2 different brands, before we ended up with our base coat!  I drew a line around the wall where the chair rail trim would go, and told him not to worry about getting it neat there, just paint the top part purple and the bottom white.


Then we dithered about white chair rail or dark wood that almost exactly matched the existing trim….

And finally, almost a year later, we have this (note, it’s not quite done!!)


Oh, and of course, you need a terrible photo of my adorable husband putting up my trim:


I’ve been asked to include close-ups of my flowers and some details:

So, there you have it… I’m not going to put De Gournay out of business, but I like it (well mostly… Like most artists, I hate a lot of my work and critique it endlessly. I should probably go to therapy about this, but then I wouldn’t have any hobbies…But remember, this is about GOOD ENOUGH…), and I can’t wait for it to be finished and then to start unpacking and furnishing the room….




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2 thoughts on “A Return to Subject – My Office!

  1. Darcy, I am so favorably impressed for some very good reasons. A) You showed us your design inspiration, and your process, B) I love the colors, chinoiserie, and wainscoting in the dark wood, C) Only someone truly fearless can go to this much work and still know that it is GOOD ENOUGH. (Of course, it is way beyond good enough, and that’s a high bar.) Bravo.

  2. Thank you so much for your kind words!!! I really appreciate it.

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