Running our own business from home for the last year has meant the line between work and home life has become somewhat blurred. The dining table has been our home office throughout that time. And although it’s served us well, the constant clearing of the table of laptops, paperwork and stationery whenever it was family mealtime and finding Edith’s scribbles all over the work ‘to do’ lists had become a bit much.
We’d always known that the small box bedroom on the first floor would eventually become a study/home office, but it had always been put aside as a non-urgent part of the house. However, with the business doing well it became clear that this project was going to need to move up the priority list.
This blog talks you through the design process and how we ended up with the finished product.
The small box bedroom had been used as a nursery by the previous house owners. It had been decorated fairly neutrally with an off white painted onto an inoffensive but dated textured wallpaper. There was then a kids’ border added all around and a beige/brown carpet.
We’d known from the moment we moved in that Arthur and Edith would have the two larger bedrooms on the first floor so this room had always been used as storage/dumping ground for things that didn’t have a home yet during the renovation.
The Design Stage
We don’t always end up creating electronic mood boards for our own work. We tend to create them physically and use our imagination for the rest. Even though this is the smallest room in our home, we thought it would be a good idea to generate one. And it means we can share it as part of what we do as well!
Two core elements were at the heart of the design: The ‘How the leopard got his spots’ velvet fabric from The Monkey Puzzle Tree and Dulux Heritage Mallard Green on the walls. We’ve met Charlotte, the founder of The Monkey Puzzle Tree a few times at various interiors events and we’ve been fans of this fabric since Charlotte popped over with a sample a few months back. It was going to have to make an appearance somewhere in our home and this space seemed perfect for a bit of pattern and fun! It also went really well with the deep dark green colour that we kept being drawn to, so that we a real bonus.
We’re big lovers of natural surfaces so a wooden floor and desk were a natural go to. The idea of keeping the costs down by putting OSB on the floor is all down to Jon, but raw plywood is a look that we both love and Jon is a wannabe joiner so it all made sense.
The next thing was a bit of practicality. We’re both visual people by nature and usually end up with lots of paper strewn across the desk. This can be anything from floorplans, painted bits of card, sketches etc. We’d seen cork walls in a few places and thought we could have one wall covered in cork which would allow us somewhere to pin all the paperwork out of the way and look ‘creative’ at the same time!
The last thing key thing was storage. The key being to maximise it. The office has to house all our household paperwork as well as anything related to the business including various samples and brochures so we needed to utilise the walls given the floorspace is limited.
There were two key shops to visit for this project: Made.com and IKEA. We’re lucky in Leeds that both are stones’ throw away from each other so we did a quick trip to check out the chairs, lights and storage units. The Hailey chairs from Made.com were a perfect combination of classiness and comfort, and the green velvet was a fantastic match to the Mallard Green wall colour. Big tick!
Unfortunately the storage units and lights from Ikea weren’t as much of a hit and we decided to ditch both of those as options having seen them in the flesh. But we did spot a great metal locker storage cupboard, which we thought would come in handy for paperwork and sample storage, so at least it wasn’t a wasted trip.
What it did mean was that the wall storage and wall lights were going to need a re-think. It made more sense for us to build the wall storage in the same plywood as the desk. It would tie in with the design better and means that we can build it to fit the exact size of the room as well. And we had spotted some similar wall lights in Made.com earlier on, so we had another look online and decided to go for it. They were more expensive than the Ikea option but worth it we thought.
The last key element to source was the cork wall. After a bit of online searching and some useful tips from other blogs we sourced a roll from Corkstore24.co.uk.
Getting it done
One of the biggest tasks was emptying the space of all the clutter. We decided it wasn’t just going to be a case of moving the clutter into another space, we needed a proper sort out. So, cue buying lots of plastic boxes, labelling them and sorting stuff into piles Marie Kondo style.
Once the room was cleared, the job of stripping the wallpaper and removing the carpet was pretty simple. But what it did was expose the state of the walls underneath, which meant that we would need to get the room skimmed before we could paint. This added a couple of weeks to the timeline, but it was a necessary delay. And it allowed us to get our electrician neighbour CJ Electrical in to install two further double sockets to make sure we had enough power for all the laptops, SONOS speaker, printer, chargers etc. that we’d be using in this space.
Once the plaster was dry, the paint went on fairly easily. Jon made the desk and wall storage unit and installed the OSB floor. We’ll post a separate blog about how they were constructed and treated. But, other than Jon having an altercation with the circular saw and a trip to the minor ailments hospital, it was relatively painless!
The finished space
What we have now is a defined working space that is separate from our living space. Although it’s a small space it feels big enough for the both of us to work without being on top of each other. And it’s a space where we feel inspired, uplifted and ready to get creative.
This was all achieved for under £1,600. We put in a lot of labour ourselves, but it just goes to show you can have a luxurious finish without blowing the bank. Some of that is about using cheaper materials like OSB, making wall storage instead of buying it. But if you combine those with more expensive finishes like the chairs and the deep green paint, you can create something unique and inspiring.
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