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One Desk, Three Styles With Kelly + Olive

Feb 16, 2011

by kellyandolive handmade and vintage goods

GC_olive_Icon.jpg Lauren Paradise and Courtney Davis started their decorating careers at age 14, when they painted a perfectly lovely bathroom an ungodly shade of orange. They then proceeded to get degrees in theatre, but design and creativity was never far away. As they skipped from apartment to apartment as actors in the Windy City, they developed not only their collective color sense, but noses for bargains and an obsession with crafting and decorating blogs. Working together came naturally, and soon kelly + olive was born. Lauren and Courtney reside in Chicago, designing and redesigning for customers around the world.

The ubiquitous Parsons desk. You can’t argue with the fact that it’s a great piece. It’s small enough to fit in a studio apartment, but classy enough to hold its own in an antique laden mansion. The problem is, everyone has one. We have one (ours is yellow), your mom has one, and so does pretty much everyone who ever read Domino magazine. So while we love Ms. Parsons, without the proper styling, she can be — well, a bit of a bore.

Not to worry. Today we’re outlining three ways to customize your Parsons desk to look like no other. We’re showcasing her sexy form and fierce function in a myriad of ways. In short, we are styling the heck out of her, thereby counteracting her mass-produced-ness with some handmade and vintage bling.


Episode 1: Modern Farmhouse Desk

Picture this: a cozy desk in the corner of a kitchen, where a sleepy food blogger clicks away at her morning post, the soft sounds of her chickens still clucking drowsily in the backyard.

Her desk is clean, simple. Just a laptop and a beloved vase, a lamp for early hours like these, and her trusty pens and recipe cards — because sometimes she’s old school like that.


She loops her apron over her head, pads across the soft felt rug to check on her flock. A new print reminds her of today’s experiment: bacon jam.

Episode 2: Retro Feminine Entryway

This girl’s got swagger. She’s a CPA by day, but tonight she sang smoky jazz standards at an open mic. She trips lightly through her front door (she’s had a sloe gin fizz or two this evening) and flops down on a powder blue knockout of a chair to pry her feet out of her heels.

The phone rings (yes, she’s the only one of her friends who still has a landline). She lets it, drops her earrings in a bowl and turns out the light. After all, she’s got work in the morning.

Episode 3: Bohemian Chic Vanity

When she moved into this studio after college, she didn’t know what to do with the desk. It floated from wall to wall for a while (a short while; there weren’t that many walls) and finally found its home between her bedside and the front door. It became part desk, part vanity, topped with her mirror and paired with a lovely chair where she could perch and primp.

It is also an altar for her tiny treasures: folk art that reminds her of the year she spent abroad, teacups (perfect for holding jewelry and spare change), and vintage perfume bottles carefully re-filled with Chanel no. 5. A classic is always a classic.

Three ladies, three Parsons desks, and three styles that are worlds apart. Frankly, dears, we could have done five more! So don’t feel bad if every piece of furniture in your home isn’t a storied family heirloom from some exotic locale, or one of a kind. You can give it a story. It’s all about the context.

For more information about kelly + olive and our unique styling services, check us out at

Past Guest Curators


  • TheVinylChalkboard

    TheVinylChalkboard said 6 years ago

    Great Story! I love the desk!

  • DecadesOfVintage

    DecadesOfVintage said 6 years ago

    i love the transformation into boho chic

  • Addy

    Addy said 6 years ago

    I love it! The modern farmhouse is perfect - all the tidiness and accessories work so well!

  • Banglespark

    Banglespark said 6 years ago

    I bought the West Elm Parsons desk and the finish began to chip and come off almost as soon as I started using it. I would not recommend buying this desk, poor quality, looks good but verrrrrrry poor quality. I suppose if you bought the white finish it wouldn't matter bc the material underneath the finish is a white chalky like material so, it wouldn't contrast with white. Buy something made of real wood, this west elm parsons desk is composite materials not built to last!

  • HomeStudio

    HomeStudio said 6 years ago

    Love classic parsons pieces. Timeless!

  • vKnit

    vKnit said 6 years ago

    loved this article! so well done! xox

  • chalkoholics

    chalkoholics said 6 years ago

    gorgeous designs, congrats!

  • WoodlandCottage

    WoodlandCottage said 6 years ago

    What a great assortment of items, such terrific design! Thanks for sharing!

  • KettleConfections

    KettleConfections said 6 years ago

    Beautiful elegant home decor - love this modern vintage look!

  • AZCreativeStudio

    AZCreativeStudio said 6 years ago

    How creative! Love it!!!!!

  • Pipkyn

    Pipkyn said 6 years ago

    I want to be all of these women! I love re-vamping old bits of furniture, you can get really creative with the item itself or its an excuse to hunt for beautiful accessories to brighten it up!

  • accentonvintage

    accentonvintage said 6 years ago

    I once had a white plastic one. Thanks for sharing!

  • rarebeasts

    rarebeasts said 6 years ago

    Nice desk, simple style, best style.

  • Parachute425

    Parachute425 said 6 years ago

    So versatile. Have huge one in storage waiting to be reborn.

  • maggiemaevintage

    maggiemaevintage said 6 years ago

    wish i still had mine...i love all kinds of tables!

  • ekra

    ekra said 6 years ago

    Awesome! I love all the different looks made around the one simple table!

  • NecessiTees

    NecessiTees said 6 years ago

    Love the simplicity of all the pieces!

  • 22ndandChatty

    22ndandChatty said 6 years ago

    I love all of the vintage pieces you put with this versatile piece of furniture! Great job!

  • JewelsbyJasmin

    JewelsbyJasmin said 6 years ago

    Great article! Love the retro idea! Absolutely love that yellow rotary phone too!

  • shopbobbi

    shopbobbi said 6 years ago

    timeless designs...

  • PlumeandPetals

    PlumeandPetals said 6 years ago

    I loved your article and the mix of boho chic, eclectic and retro pieces!

  • VintageEye

    VintageEye said 6 years ago

    Feeling very "Ladies Who Lunch" looking at that cup & saucer from WishingWellsGlass! Now where did I put my white gloves?

  • girltuesdayjewelry

    girltuesdayjewelry said 6 years ago

    Awesome decorating ideas!

  • AmberGypsySky

    AmberGypsySky said 6 years ago

    I've got one! We all do...well done

  • ThePolkadotMagpie

    ThePolkadotMagpie said 6 years ago

    Yay for Chicagoans with style....ahem. Evanston. Beauty!

  • OliveLongstocking

    OliveLongstocking said 6 years ago

    Timeless classic pieces....... LOVE them !!

  • LidiDesign

    LidiDesign said 6 years ago

    Gorgeous! Love the modern farmhouse.

  • theobscureabluvion

    theobscureabluvion said 6 years ago

    Great ideas!

  • coolstuffartgallery

    coolstuffartgallery said 6 years ago

    Love the mid century blue chairs.

  • ChrissiesRibbons

    ChrissiesRibbons said 6 years ago

    I love the different ways you have styled a simple classic. Lovely article

  • CoolStuffByDesign

    CoolStuffByDesign said 6 years ago

    Love the mid century blue chairs.

  • grandmamarievintage

    grandmamarievintage said 6 years ago

    I'm moving into a new home so, of course, everything looks so cute and amazing! I want it all!

  • HorizonDr

    HorizonDr said 6 years ago

    Awesome collection of things here! Thanks for the wonderful ideas! Puts me in the mood for spring cleaning. Out with the old and in with the new!

  • blueroompottery

    blueroompottery said 6 years ago

    Gorgeous post!! I love the table, such pure lines and simple classic design!! Thanks for sharing!!

  • theroyal

    theroyal said 6 years ago

    nice collection

  • frommylifetoyours

    frommylifetoyours said 6 years ago

    love everything about this .

  • poorjimsvintage

    poorjimsvintage said 6 years ago

    Everything in this article is very pleasing to the eye.

  • AustinModern

    AustinModern said 6 years ago

    Mine is a circa 70s Mastercraft with bronze legs and burl walnut case, I love it! Originally it was purchased by an interior decorator for Ann Richards, great design never goes out of style!

  • MegansMenagerie

    MegansMenagerie said 6 years ago

    Beautiful!!! =)

  • cherryrivers

    cherryrivers said 6 years ago

    All three collections were completely charming. I can't decide which one I like best, but now I know I must have the parsons desk for starters!

  • emwi

    emwi said 6 years ago

    This is a really great post. I have a desk similar to this, but I've fit in into my own bedroom (a combination of 2 and 3 I'd say) by pairing it with bold prints and other simple furniture designs. I also very often use my desk as a sewing space, and I've covered the walls around my desk with clippings from magazines and newspapers of images that inspire me. This simple desk has become my hub of creativity.

  • PaintedHorse

    PaintedHorse said 6 years ago

    What a delightful article. Thank you!

  • bezaleljewels

    bezaleljewels said 6 years ago


  • collectiblesatoz

    collectiblesatoz said 6 years ago

    Enjoyed! Great refurbished and vintage items.

  • breedingfancy

    breedingfancy said 6 years ago


  • PDXfabricdeli

    PDXfabricdeli said 6 years ago

    I adore the chair in blue. Thanks.

  • westbournegrove

    westbournegrove said 6 years ago

    oooh I just got the greatest ideas from reading this post! Thanks so much! Wonderful!

  • mylenefoster

    mylenefoster said 6 years ago

    I love parsons tables and desks! They're classic and the design is timeless. No need to recycle and reuse. Just keep what you have and modify.

  • wandersketch

    wandersketch said 6 years ago

    i love seeing collections like this composed of etsy sellers! love the furniture especially!

  • JunkBoutique

    JunkBoutique said 6 years ago

    Great lines , timeless !

  • aburfield

    aburfield said 6 years ago

    Love this blog and mix of mid-century items! Pops of color made me smile :)

  • WellCriated

    WellCriated said 6 years ago

    Very cool, thanks for sharing. :)

  • TacynotTracy

    TacynotTracy said 6 years ago

    Amazing writing! And to put it all together like this...wonderful.

  • styleforlife

    styleforlife said 6 years ago

    I have a custom parsons table in teak and granite rocks!!! :-) Great post! xxxx to you- Emily from EL Vintage

  • opendoorstudio

    opendoorstudio said 6 years ago

    congrats to VestiesTeam members featured here! love your choices!

  • thepapermoonstudio

    thepapermoonstudio said 6 years ago

    Thanks so much for sharing. Great furniture!

  • evesimone

    evesimone said 6 years ago

    Mmmm, love so many of these!

  • ChristinaThomasArt

    ChristinaThomasArt said 6 years ago

    This was fun, thanks!

  • GoddessFindings

    GoddessFindings said 6 years ago

    so enjoyable-very creative ~many thanks!

  • artworksbycarol

    artworksbycarol said 6 years ago

    I love finding old pieces of furniture and giving them new life. It's so much fun and very satisfying! You can get pretty creative with it.I've done a few, my favorite one is (ZEBRA NIGHTSTAND)

  • SugarCubeVintage

    SugarCubeVintage said 6 years ago

    luv the styling...

  • jewellerytreasures

    jewellerytreasures said 6 years ago

    so many lovely items, love the style, my faves were the zigzag yellow patterned pillow cover and the yellow retro telephone

  • isewcute

    isewcute said 6 years ago

    I have a desk like this in my craft room which I've created a slipcover of sorts to go over it. Lovely finds!

  • CuffandCollar

    CuffandCollar said 6 years ago

    what great finds!

  • StitchingInCircles

    StitchingInCircles said 6 years ago

    Heh -- I think I'd like to live all of these lives! I'd have to sub poetry for jazz though, and a ramos fizz for the sloe gin fizz ;) Have to say, I think I'll skip buying the table and just do the activities that make these wonderful, imaginary women who they are -- write, dream, laugh, eat, and appreciate life.

  • lessandmore

    lessandmore said 6 years ago

    inspiring post, thanks!

  • LittleWrenPottery

    LittleWrenPottery said 6 years ago

    Great post, I can't decide which style I like most! Amazing how versatile one piece of furniture can be.

  • AliceCouture

    AliceCouture said 6 years ago

    Great and lovely post!! Thanks for sharing :) I love Retro yellow funny! ^_^

  • percivalroad

    percivalroad said 6 years ago

    love this!!!

  • MissHildebrandt

    MissHildebrandt said 6 years ago

    Oh that mirror is so perfect. I want it! Great name and great disigns. And yes, that table is very nice.

  • WormeWoole

    WormeWoole said 6 years ago

    Love redesign, and though we don't actually see a finished product, your words make it appear in my mind's eye. Wonderful.

  • jjaneymo

    jjaneymo said 6 years ago

    Those chairs, those beautiful blue chairs. Luv,Luv,Luv

  • bmused

    bmused said 6 years ago

    Great post! I love that phone!

  • filofashion

    filofashion said 6 years ago

    Congratulations :) I love it !!

  • terrihvaught

    terrihvaught said 6 years ago

    Great post from these windy city girls."im one too!". Love the bird of paradise. When i was little our basement flooded and all christmas decorations were ruined. My mom and gran spent all the months till christmas making ornaments for the tree. They made birds,horses, mice, ect. These birds of paradise were the feature. I still have one i put on my tree every year. Thank you for a lovely trip down memory lane.

  • kjgrigoriadis

    kjgrigoriadis said 6 years ago

    Oh Wow, I love the forks. I make ACEO easels out of old forks.

  • lauraprentice

    lauraprentice said 6 years ago

    That retro yellow phone is so rad!

  • ohbabydotcom

    ohbabydotcom said 6 years ago


  • lindaketelhut

    lindaketelhut said 6 years ago

    I must admit to being an owner of one of these beauties myself. I seriously love it's glossy whiteness everytime I look at it. Your customizations are terrific - especially like the retro feminine. Thanks for a fun post!

  • HouseOfMoss

    HouseOfMoss said 6 years ago

    I have one of those too! Your stylings are great, and very live-able.

  • karmahjean

    karmahjean said 6 years ago

    Love the rug! What a creative Treasury.

  • julessabjewelry

    julessabjewelry said 6 years ago

    I love the forks made into coat hooks! They're fabulous.

  • CityChicCountryMouse

    CityChicCountryMouse said 6 years ago

    Awesome article! Thanks for the inspiration, I'm working on my new sewing space/office and am slowly getting it set up to how I wish it to be :)

  • girliepains

    girliepains said 6 years ago

    Beautiful textures!

  • amyfine

    amyfine said 6 years ago


  • felicitycrew

    felicitycrew said 6 years ago

    Very inspiring!

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