Colorful Mid-Century Modern Office Tour: My Home Away from Home Where I WFH

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During the pandemic, I really felt the size of my home. I live in a 1940s row home, and while we did remodel it in 2008, almost to double its square footage, it's still under 1,500 square feet with an open-concept main floor. Two bedrooms and a weird L-shaped office/gym you walk through to get to the en suite on the top floor, and one big space downstairs. Two adults working from home, an easily startled dog, and a tween doing virtual school and then homeschooling made us all feel we were on top of one another, affecting our relationship.

Working from Home, Away from Home: My Rented Office Space

When a friend informed me that she, her husband, and two other couples purchased an abandoned building in our town center and revitalized it into a workspace with monthly rentals of private offices, I was excited. This building was within walking distance from my home and had the office perks of a kitchen, mail service, and conference rooms. I'd have my own space with a lock on the door and be in the same space with other small business owners and entrepreneurs in my community.

the granite building in roosevelt center greenbelt maryland
The Granite Building in early Spring

The Granite Building in Greenbelt, Maryland

The Granite Building had office spaces ranging in size with different features to cater to different types of small businesses. I knew I wanted a space large enough for a big mirror for “OOTD” shoots and filming content, but also to have a writing desk and a couch large enough for a nap. I wanted a mix of a “she shed” and workspace, where I could separate work from personal life, but also have a space that felt like me and gave me an escape.

alison gary of wardrobe oxygen in front of the granite building greenbelt
Me in 2021, tape measure in hand outside the Granite Building.

I am ashamed to admit that I secured office space in the Granite Building all the way back in 2021 but never featured it properly here on Wardrobe Oxygen. Sitting behind my desk in my office space, I realize how grateful I am for this “room of my own.” It helped my family and me get through the pandemic but continues to be a way to balance my life and find myself.

granite building greenbelt md roosevelt center

I chose to rent a 12′ by 12′ office. Keeping the style of the original MCM building that was originally a doctor's office, my office has a row of three windows about 5′ up from the floor facing outside, and two on the opposite wall facing the hallway. A support beam creates a bit of a divider 3′ into the room. The walls are white, the ceiling has six recessed lights, the outdoor windows have white mini blinds, the floor is wood laminate. The trim around the door, interior windows, and baseboards are a dark gray-black color. The office doors are yellow, orange, or blue; my space has a yellow door.

For those curious, the rent started in 2021 at $500/month and now is a bit over $500/month. This price includes use of the kitchen, having a mailbox, and the ability to reserve conference rooms. You enter the building to a lobby, which has been the backdrop of many a photo shoot like this one for M.M.LaFleur and this one for Universal Standard. The building entry is locked after standard weekday business hours, and at all hours the door to the office spaces and our private offices are locked and accessed with keypads. We each have our own unique keypad code and they are occasionally changed to keep the space secure.

Colorful Mid-Century Modern Office Tour

I began writing this post about my office space in September 2023, and then my mom passed. I started working on it again in January 2024, and then things got really busy. I am now finishing it at the end of March. Pictures are not all recent but through the time I have rented and decorated this space.

I apologize if it feels disjointed; I have added items since I started writing, rearranged the space, and it may actually give you more of a feel of how I am constantly modifying this space to make it my own for who I am today.

Alison Gary of Wardrobe Oxygen standing in her office on a multicolored shag rug. Behind her is a green velvet sofa; she is taking a selfie in a large gold framed mirror
Taking a mirror selfie on top of the coolest rug

It All Started with a Colorful Shag Rug

As soon as I got my space and measured it, I began thinking about how to decorate it. I had lusted after this colorful, shaggy rug for eons and had no place for it in my home. I decided I would center my decor around this rug. The rug is from Rugs USA, which always has sales; I got it for a bit over $300 for the 7.6′ x 9.6′ size. It is not for high-traffic areas, but I've had it for three years and found it sheds some but still looks great (and the print can hide many sins… hello, spilled foundation and coffee!).

I desired a colorful, eclectic, but clean concept. The crazy shaggy rug, the crisp white walls free of window treatments, a bit of a Mid Century Modern concept. I've always wanted a velvet sofa and thought one in green, blue, or orange would look great with the rug. Clean lines to balance the wacky rug and to tie the rug and plain walls together. Something long enough and comfortable enough for a mid-afternoon nap.

albany park sofa

MCM-inspired Velvet Sofa from Albany Park

Around this time, a rep for Albany Park reached out, inviting me to join their affiliate program. I looked at the furniture and liked what I saw. A Black-owned, reasonably priced company that focused on MCM-inspired sofas and chairs, the company was based in Brooklyn. When supply chains were causing sofa deliveries to take months, Albany Park had sofas in stock and available in just a couple of weeks. I got bold and asked if they would consider gifting me a sofa in exchange for inclusion on social media, and they agreed! I re-measured and found that this sofa, even with this matching ottoman, would fit in my office. I chose green velvet with walnut legs.


Use code ALISON10 for 10% off at Albany Park!

The Albany Park sofa and ottoman arrived in about two weeks and were super easy to assemble. In fact, a few months later, my mom bought an IKEA sofa and chair, and it made me wish I got her Albany Park because I found the IKEA furniture harder to put together, more chance for mistakes, and about the same quality (Albany Park's fabric was much more luxe).


Three years later, I still love my Albany Park sofa. It doesn't get a lot of wear and tear, but it has supported many a nap and been a seat with a rolling table as a makeshift desk, and several friends and clients have enjoyed it. I still feel confident recommending Albany Park.

MCM Orange Accents for an Office

Emboldened by the yes from Albany Park, when a rep for Interior Icons sent a similar email, I asked if they, too, would offer gifts in exchange for exposure on social. They agreed, and I picked out this Cicada floor lamp in orange, and an orange chair that is no longer available (but I found the same at Eternity Modern).

orange grasshopper lamp

The Cicada lamp is a height that is best for a lower sofa or a single armchair. It has the power button on the cord, which can be awkward, but I connected one of these remotes to it so I can turn it on and off even from the other side of the room. It's super cool looking, though, and really adds style and an eclectic and retro vibe to the room. I have it next to the sofa.

orange wool chair with wood legs behind a mid century modern office desk

The chair was supposed to be an accent chair, but I found the room too crowded, so it became my desk chair. I put a pillow behind my back for support. The chair is wool and has held up beautifully without pilling, but spills are a beast to try to remove. Also, the legs don't have pads on the bottom and were scraping the floor so I bought a pack of these on Amazon to protect the floor and the chair. If I did it again, I'd likely just get this chair which was in my virtual cart for a long while.

A Floor Mirror Made for an Influencer

I have always wanted a big gold-trimmed wall mirror but my small home isn't designed to accommodate such a piece. With my own office, I decided to splurge on this one from Urban Outfitters. I loved its simplicity and how the curves sort of fit the whole vibe that was happening with my office. The mirror is ginormous and very heavy, but gorgeous and sturdy. I love it, and a big mirror does wonders for brightening a space and making a room look far larger.

wardrobe oxygen office in granite building
Folks ask if it's weird looking at myself while working but as you see from this photo I can barely see myself at my desk even with all these mirrors!

Mirror on Mirror

When my mom passed, my sister and I were making room for furniture of hers we wanted in our homes. And to make room for pieces, my sister gave me back my “Venus” mirror I bought back in 2000.

Back in 2000, my sister and I lived together in an apartment in Annapolis. I was a visual merchandiser for the clothing store Express, based out of the Annapolis Mall location. And that location was being renovated from the old French concept to the new modern style we associate with Express to this day. And they were selling off old fixtures and decor, which included a swivel full-length mirror in the shape of Venus di Milo. I bought it for $25.

man who works for Potomac Movers with his arm around a mirror shaped like venus Di Milo
The folks from Potomac Moving Company had a kick over “Venus”

When I moved out of the apartment, I had no room in my new place with my now-husband. My sister kept the mirror, as she moved to D.C. and then back to Maryland. And I still didn't have room for “Venus” but couldn't give her up so I brought her to my office, where she sits in front of my other big mirror. A mirror on mirror may be weird but it really looks quite cool.

mid century modern wood desk five drawers shelves
$99 on Craigslist!

Searching for a Vintage MCM Desk

For a desk, I really wanted wood, and I really wanted a Mid-Century Modern piece. In 2021, everyone from Wayfair to World Market had MCM-inspired desks, but they all looked small and chintzy. I wanted something more substantial and began visiting local thrift and vintage shops, not concerned if the desk had some scuffs and damage as long as it functioned and fit the vibe. In fact, a bit of wear would nicely balance the crisp, colorful rug and furniture.

mid century modern rolling reading tray

Finding a Rolling Reading Tray at Peg Leg Vintage in Maryland

I visited Peg Leg Vintage, my favorite vintage furniture store in the area. No desks, but I did find a Mid Century adjustable reading tray. It can be angled to hold books or flat and used as a table. It was cool and functional with a removable side piece to hold one's coffee while reading. I bought it and used it as a desk until I found what I really wanted. I think I paid $250 for it. I found the same exact one for $1,200 on 1stDibs!

It has continued to prove useful, being a second desk when my sister or daughter works with me in my office, and makes a good counter for content or a desk for Zooms, having a choice of backdrops and the ability to put a big ring light right behind it. The height is adjustable, so it can slide over the ottoman to save space or have a flat place for snacks while lounging on the sofa.

Alison in a gray plaid coat and pink pants looking excited and taking a selfie in the mirror of her office
In my office with glued and drying pieces from my desk.

Finding a Danish Modern Desk on Craigslist

My friend Carolyn is a bit of an MCM picker and began searching resale sites for me. On Craigslist, she found a person selling a slightly damaged teak desk for $90. My husband and I went to check out the desk, and while it had some water damage, the handle of a drawer partially broken off, and part of a drawer held together with packing tape, it was exactly what I wanted. My husband used some wood glue, clamps, and teak oil and got the desk looking great. And when Googling the stamps on the bottom of the desk, I found good condition versions of this desk retailing for up to $8K!

A view of the front of an MCM dsk full of colorful books, in front of a gallery wall
How the desk looks in March 2024, full of books (and of course a box of Girl Scout cookies!)

With a full-sized sofa and desk, there wasn't room for an accent chair or a glass and gold bookcase I dreamed of filling with my extensive fashion and style books. But the desk had shelving, so I could add a few from my collection.

The Coolest Bamboo Bookcase

When my mom passed, I inherited some of her books. Not having enough room at home for them, I decided to bring all my books about fashion, style, color, writing, and being an entrepreneur to the office. While the desk has two shelves for books, I needed more space.

a bamboo tiered bookcase full of colorful books about fashion and writing. It is in front of a colorful shag rug and next to a large gold framed mirror.
I have added a few more books since this photo; I am impressed by its sturdiness!

I found this cool bamboo bookcase on Amazon and chose the 8-tier version. It was very easy to put together and so streamlined it fits between in a snug space between the mirror and the sofa. It's currently holding almost 50 books and has room to hold even more and is a conversation starter!

a large ring light in front of a mid century modern desk and orange chair set up for a Zoom
A typical workday, my ring light ready for a video meeting.

A Gallery Wall for Stylish Zoom Sessions

To temper the newness and boldness of the emerald green velvet sofa and the carnival shag rug, I created a gallery wall with a mix of paintings done by my maternal grandfather and random pieces of art I had collected over the years.

 framed picture of big bird with diane von furstenberg
Big Bird and DVF

On Instagram, when I share my daily outfits in Stories, many comment on the Big Bird photo; it is actually of Big Bird and Diane von Furstenberg and was from a 2009 Bazaar shoot (I found the issue on eBay just to have a fresh, unwrinkled version of the page).

a gallery wall of art behind a mid century modern desk
My desk, the first time it was in this place, before I killed my plant (I actually didn't kill it, but was going to so I got it a new parent through my neighborhood Buy Nothing group)

The woman with the parasol was art my Great Aunt had; she worked for Women's Wear Daily in the early 1900s, and it may have been from that. The black graphic with white matting is the constellation Orion, which has special significance related to my daughter.

a black, white, and blue graphic painting sitting on Alison's green velvet sofa
“Untitled” by J.H.Henig of Washington D.C., 1983. Acrylic with marker (per the back of the art I scored through a Buy Nothing group)

Additional Art in my Office

I have a graphic blue and black painting I scored from my local Buy Nothing group. A terracotta Medusa face I bought from a street vendor in Italy. On the windowsill between my office and the hallway I have little figurines my dad owned, and some miniature shoes my sister gave me many decades ago.

coloful books on the shelf of a mid century modern desk

Adding Personal Touches

Since then, I have done a bit more decorating and adding creature comforts. I find adding randomness that doesn't really fit but makes a space more homey actually increases the style quotient. With decor and with apparel, you never want everything to match exactly or all be the same color, style, or theme. Variety is the spice of life and the unexpected something is what takes a space from showroom to stylish home.

Stylish Appliances for Comfort

I needed a desk lamp and felt a brass one would look MCM-inspired and tie in the trim of the floor mirror. I am not a fan of overhead lighting, and the orange floor lamp wasn't the right shape for my desk. I wanted to keep it under $100 and found a really cool two-bulb one from Globe Electric at Wayfair. It was around $85 but no longer available there. However, I did a quick Google search and found the SAME EXACT LAMP for less than $50 on Amazon, and it comes in a range of colors and variations of the style.

top of my desk with an orange heater, brass lamp, and a zebra pitcher as a cord catcher
How cute is that little orange space heater?

I found this cute little orange space heater, which has worked great for three winters, and I appreciate it auto-shutting off if tipped over. It's so small you can prop it on the desk or hide it underneath. I love these desk fans and have one next to my Peloton bike, one for my bedroom, and a white one for the office. I bought this clean-looking power cord that snaps along the wall above the baseboard to extend the distance of outlets. It extends behind my sofa, where I have plugged in Macbook and iPhone charging cords for working while relaxing. This cheap and simple brass trash can from Umbra gets the job done and can be washed out if necessary.

wardrobe oxygen bulletin board
My overflowing bulletin board. I love it.

Adding Decor That Shows My Personality

I added a small bulletin board where I pin random things and treat it almost like a scrapbook. I scored a large modern painting of blue and white cubes via my city's Buy Nothing group and framed a Georgia O'Keeffe poster I found on Etsy (no longer available and seller on hiatus but this is similar).

office alison gary wardrobe oxygen
I love how in the afternoon the sun hits the crystal in my window and shoots rainbows all over my office.

One of the building circuit breaker boxes is in my office, and I use it to show off magnets I love. I bought a set of these plant hangers but one was too heavy for my hook and fell and smashed to the floor. The other is up, but I am a terrible plant mom and it's almost dead. I added this big crystal prism to one of the windows and around 4pm in the summer my office is full of rainbows. Back in 2018 on a brand trip with Chico's, I received a big floppy sunhat with “@wardrobe_oxygen” embroidered on it. I adore it, but I never wear it so I pinned it to my office wall!

a green sofa with a ring light in front of it. Multiple pillows on the sofa
Using the rolling table to set up for a Zoom

Decorative Pillows for Pizaaz

I love decorative pillows, but they don't really fit the vibe of my home. With a plain green sofa, I decided to load up on pillows. I have one from artist Zander Schlacter (FKA Zoe Schlacter), who I featured on Wardrobe Oxygen many years ago when they were a teen. I bought this yellow knot pillow on Amazon and it's super cool. I got a colorful pillow on clearance at Target, and was so inspired by the pillows I got a punch needle kit to start making my own textured pillow covers!

small pitcher in the shape of a zebra head
How cute is this? I treasure it!

My Favorite Decor Item for My Office

My favorite decorative piece in my office is from Paula, a reader. She mailed me a small pitcher that looks like the head of a zebra, knowing I love animal prints. I use it as a cord catcher on my desk. The cords for my laptop and phone go through the pitcher and out the mouth and it keeps them from sliding back behind the desk. I love it so much; it's smiling at me as I type this!

art and fashion books in the shelf of a vintage mid century modern desk
How my office looked last week.

Switching up the Design and the Vibe

I keep switching up the layout of the room. The desk across from the mirror, the desk on the wall with the door and the sofa across from the mirror, the desk facing the door, the sofa catty-corner to the desk on the door wall. In fact, when I began writing this the sofa was under the gallery wall, but now it's on the same wall at the door and the desk under the gallery wall.

 alison gary office
How my desk looked back in 2022 when the desk was in this same spot.

Seasons change, and with it, the lighting in my office. With the desk facing the windows, I was being blinded at 3:30pm. Now with the furniture flipped, I do get sun in my left eye around 4:30pm, but it's easy to pull down the blinds until the sun moves a bit more.

Years later, this office continues to be a work in progress. But honestly, that's part of the fun! It's enjoyable to have “a room of one's own” where I can be creative, be alone, and be myself. And now you know where I am when crafting content for Wardrobe Oxygen and replying to comments! And if you wish to see more, do follow me on Instagram as I share often in my Stories!

A woman with curly hair wearing a plaid blazer holds a green fur coat over her shoulder on a city street.

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  1. Amazing as usual! 😉
    You put in a lot of work to make it your own, and it certainly shows. Love the mirror-on-mirror idea, the details of your desk purchase and so much more. Great, great job Alison.

  2. My gosh, I love everything! Your office is so pleasing to the eye on all levels. And the couch with your signature green is perfect.

  3. Hi Alison- this post is so timely for me. My job just moved me into a 10×10? shoebox (but with a window lol). I have to purge a lot as I’ve been here a while and had no idea where to start. Love your colorful MCM style and now have some great ideas. Was wondering if you have certain file folders, holders and notebooks that you use? Thanks for the post!

  4. What a wonderful room! It seems perfectly symbiotic … creative, because you are, while also inspiring greater creativity. Thanks for sharing it 🙂

  5. Such a cool office! I thoroughly enjoyed this tour. And I also think it’s a good idea to separate work from home and this is a much more concrete separation than having a room in your home or using your basement.

  6. Your office has such warmth and cheer. I’ve loved it since the first moment you showed it to us (maybe in conjunction with getting the sofa?). Having this beautiful space to work in, and the quiet in which to really think and create, is priceless!

  7. Your office is wonderful, as is your explanation of its early and continuing development. You are so creative and the choice of furnishings and decor reflect that. Thanks for sharing it with us.

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