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The Find

Infusing an Office with Personality and Charm

by Karen Parr-Moody 21 May 2022

The office is the nerve center of any enterprise, whether in a high-rise or spare bedroom. That’s why its décor should inspire the worker bee to do his or her best while advertising the business. Visitors should instantly “get” the office’s personality when they walk through the door.


At GasLamp, the array of vintage furniture and knickknacks spans the decades, creating an enormous selection of office furniture and desktop adornments. Many discoveries on the secondary market will infuse an office with flair. Bonus: Vintage office furniture typically offers more value than the mass-produced wares of IKEA or Office Depot.

For example, I recently replaced my home office’s letter opener, whose crystal handle broke, with a vintage French letter opener from the 1950s. It features Napoleon’s hawkish face, molded from silver, on the front of the handle with etchings of famous Parisian landmarks on the back. Tres chic! Even though it is a small item, it brims with charm from its perch in a pencil cup, announcing that this office’s worker bee is a card-carrying Francophile.

Choose a Chic Desk

Start with a fashionable desk as the office’s foundation; it is the anchor and sets the tone. For a practical-yet-luxurious desk, choose a chic rolltop style like this one. It features an abundance of drawers, cubby holes, letter compartments, inlaid wood details, and the original key (Booth B210). Measuring 35 inches wide and 39 inches tall, this antique desk is small enough to fit into any office but features enough surface area for laptops, notes, files, and cell phones. Only in the antique world does a desk perform double duty by being glamorous yet functional at the bargain price of $495. You would not find such a high-quality piece for $495 at any big box store.

Add Stylish Lamps

To adopt a sleek, sophisticated personality for the office, place classic silhouettes, like these French-style bouillotte desk lamps, on a desk or end tables (sold individually for $185 each; two available; Booth W-405). These brass lamps are based on the designs seen in the Grand Trianon palace that was built by Louis XIV in 1670. Characterizing features include three scrolling arms that extend from a central stem and terminate in lights. Complete with black-and-gold tole shades, these lamps represent Neoclassical style at its height when the Sun King enjoyed unrestrained opulence in his décor.

Artistically Announce Your Profession

Don’t be timid about adorning your office with art that announces your personality. For example, this cast stone sculpture of the female form was designed by artist Attila Tivadar from Attila’s Bay shore Art Studio in San Francisco ($395; Booth B-210). It is a curvaceous female form featuring a rough bronze finish reminiscent of French sculptor Auguste Rodin’s work. This sculpture would look gorgeous in the office of an aesthetician, gynecologist, plastic surgeon or personal trainer.

Amp Up the Glamour

Decades ago, some savvy framer made the excellent choice to frame this pair of Asian prints in gilt bamboo, ensuring this art duo retains a heaping dose of Hollywood Regency style ($125; Booth T-187). In one image, a butterfly alights on a fluffy white peony. In the other, a bird sings on its perch, a flower-dotted branch. In mint condition, each print measures 21 by 11 inches.

Seek Some Nashville Style

This signed-and-framed print of artist Elaine Speed Neely’s painting of Nashville’s Union Station is one of her best-known works. Neeley, famous for her watercolor images of Nashville and Memphis, loved to depict historic structures, such as the Hermitage, Belle Meade Mansion, and the Delta Queen. Established as a train station in 1900, Union Station is now a luxury hotel where local luminaries, like Karen Elson, send their out-of-town friends to stay ($80; Booth B-210; measures 25 by 30 inches).

Designing the décor for your office with antique and vintage finds is like being a kid in a candy store. The selection on the secondary market, especially in filled-to-the-brim stores like GasLamp and GasLamp Too, is far more interesting than what one finds in brand-new office supplies. Whether your office needs a refresh or an overhaul, you’ll find the right items at GasLamp and GasLamp Too to recreate exactly what you want.

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