It’s amazing how much you can get done when you can’t drink wine. Dry January is proving to be a motivation starter in our house. Perhaps it’s because we’re excited about the new house projects we want to take on, or perhaps (and probably more likely) we’re looking for distractions to avoid thinking about wine. Whatever. The result of the latest distraction exercise pleases me. I finally have a home office to be proud of.
Project one on our house update list for 2016 was to sort out our office space. This has been a work in progress for the last year or so, but one that – finally – we’ve finished. Because I’m a terrible blogger I forgot to take any “before” shots but, basically, if you imagine a very cluttered space full of wet laundry, tools and bits of rubbish that have yet to make it to the recycling bins outside then you get the picture.
This room is right at the back of the house and used to be a utility room. When we first viewed this house we knew we would need to use the space as an office because I work from home and experience shows I get nothing done when trying to type on my laptop while sitting on the sofa. The lure of Netflix is too strong.
Originally, the room was really cold owing to the fact part of the ceiling was a single sheet of corrugated plastic roofing with no actual lining. Fine if you’re only using the room to dry washing or house muddy wellies, but not so great if you want it to be an extension of your living space.
My dad and the NLM spent a whole weekend last year insulating the roof with pieces of foam and then putting timber cladding on top. This was step one in turning the room into a habitable space. Back then I’d thought I’d eventually paint the wood white but I actually like the natural pine finish. There’s something slightly retro and Scandi about it, especially as it looks out onto the garden. I can imagine I’m in a log cabin in Norway or something.
Step two was to create a built-in desk along one wall. Again my dad saved the day, helping the NLM build a sturdy desk along the full length of the room. Once built, we painted the desk in a cheerful yellow wooden gloss paint. This helps to create a sense of continuity through the downstairs of our house, as our open plan living / dining room both have yellow feature walls.
This was where we stalled for a while, as we got stuck into other projects around the house (namely, the baby’s nursery, our five year old’s room, our new bathroom and a reading nook on the landing) . The space was a working space but it still didn’t feel particularly inviting or organised, so I didn’t much enjoy working in there during the evening. A few months ago my mum made us some lovely curtains which certainly helped go some way to making the room feel more cosy – especially at night when I can shut out the pitch black garden.
But still, organisation was a problem. I wanted a huge pegboard or notice board above my desk, but the walls are full of metal so can’t be drilled into easily. Also, when we first attempted to sort out the room we put up two floating shelves, but at the time Homebase only had lime green ones in stock. I was desperate for some sort of shelving so I bought them, but I never liked them. I moaned about them every day, much to the NLM’s confusion (“They’re shelves. Why does it matter what colour they are?” He doesn’t get it.)
Last weekend I finally got my wish and we swapped over the green shelves for plain white ones. I had to compromise on the model car (the downside of having a shared working space unfortunately) but at least the NLM’s ugly computer console paraphernalia is now hidden away in these cute House Doctor baskets – I picked up the pair for a tenner on eBay.
I also put up a DIY mesh board for all my bits of paper and (as yet unspent) vouchers. The board is just an old wire cooling rack I spray-painted white. I’ve used decorated wooden pegs (PVA glue and glitter) to hold the bits of paper and postcards in place.
Another job I’d been putting off for months was scanning my magazine features and turning them into a digitised archive. Every feature I’ve ever written was sitting in a looming pile of magazines stacked up on the side, which was taking up much-needed space. The NLM helped me scan and PDF all the features so I could get rid of the large pile on the floor.
I bought a magazine rack in the Cox & Cox sale, which I love. This has become another storage spot for extra magazines and notebooks.
We also created a little clipboard office wall organiser by tacking three small clipboards on the wall above my desk. I use these for notes, To Do lists and ideas for articles and posts. Along with the clipboards I’ve got a huge wall hanging safety pin – another Cox & Cox sales find. This is home for washi tape, sellotape, string and rattan twine which used to clutter up the desk.
My final purchase (also in the sale at Homebase) was a few plants. I’ve gone for cacti and succulents in the hope I won’t kill them any time soon. These definitely help to make the space feel more inviting.
But perhaps the biggest transformation is the fact we no longer have a huge heated drier full of laundry taking up much-needed floor space (we don’t own or have room for a tumble drier). Last week I bought a Lofti drier from Lakeland which hangs from the ceiling. The NLM put this up in the bathroom above the bath, meaning we’re utilising previous dead space and get the floor space of the office back. This has had a HUGE effect.
Having a working space that feels inviting, organised and stylish has already made a huge difference to my motivation levels in the evenings. Now I just need to get a lovely scented candle and the transformation will be complete.
P.S. If you like this post and are a fan of all things interiors related then take a look at @RoostBlog on Instagram. As I explained in this post last week, Roost is a new collaborative interiors site dedicated to stylish family living. We’ll be launching very soon!
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