Creating a home office

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If you have been unexpectedly working from home for the last year you will know what an absolute luxury it is that we have enough space to create a dedicated home office. Like many of us we spent the first six to nine months of lockdown making do, which for us meant a small table and dining chair in the spare room. However, when it became clear that further lockdowns were on their way we made the decision to turn our spare room into a proper home office.

We have turned our spare room that we used for occasional guests and a tiny desk (but mostly the laundry!) in the past.

I have to say it has become the most lovely room to spend time in but it is one of those spaces that doesn’t look particularly good on camera (and trying to get any decent photos was a nightmare as it’s such a small room!). My aim was to make it very much an extension of the rest of the house rather than give it too much of an ‘office’ feel. I wanted it to be warm, cosy and welcoming and it really is all of those things. Although it doesn’t look glossy and curated in photos and follows no trends, it feels and looks so lovely in real life and that’s what matters. Don’t be side tracked by what you see on Instagram and try to create someone else’s style – go with what you know will make you happy and feel good in your home.

Paint colours

I actually wanted to paint the walls a plaster colour – I love Stony Plaster by Atelier Ellis – but Jules was having none of it and insisted on an off white so I chose Slipper Satin by farrow & Ball for the walls and stuck with the Shaded White woodwork. If you follow me on Instagram you will know the whole saga about the cabinets and the fact I painted them Treron Green, which looked really good, but Jules wasn’t sure so we switched back to Shaded White. As I said at the time I was looking for any excuse to shut myself away in a room by myself for some peace and quiet so re-painting was not an issue for me!

Walls are Slipper Satin and woodwork is Shaded White both by Farrow & Ball.

Office furniture

We moved the single bed that was in this room for guests into Mimi’s room as we were giving her junior bed to my niece. This meant we had space for a proper sized desk. Bisley have launched a new range of home office furniture, which is fresh and simple with great colours, and we chose their new Poise Desk. The white top makes the desk very practical and bounces light around the room but the wooden base adds warmth and makes it feel less ‘new’. The olive coloured steel sleeve underneath the desk is brilliant to help us keep a clutter free desk top and adds a nice dose of green (would have looked nice with my green cabinets, right?!). If you don’t have as much space as we do for a desk do take a look at Bisley’s other home office desk options that have been designed with home environments in mind with space saving options as well as clever storage solutions. I have a special discount code KATY20 if you want to buy something from the new range with a 20% saving!

Poise desk from Bisley (PR PRODUCT)

The other big difference to this room that has saved our necks and backs from a lifetime of misery is a proper Ergonomic home office chair. We spent nine months on a dining chair and that really wasn’t ok! Often Jules would get so uncomfortable that he’d move to the sofa or bed if no one was around but that was also terrible for his neck. However, again, it was one of those things where we just had no idea how long the situation was going to go on for so we didn’t immediately get a home office chair (we should have done!!). Summit At Home does a range of ergonomic chairs and you can choose which suits your situation best (as well as your fave colour). We chose the Ovair Office Chair in Futurist Natural fabric. Both Jules and I can use it comfortably as it is fully adjustable and it has made the biggest difference – we’re delighted with it.

Ovair home office chair from Summit At Home (PR PRODUCT)

IVAR cabinet hack

As you may know I bought two IVAR cabinets for this room a while back when it was still mainly used for guests. I did a great IKEA IVAR cabinet hack on one of them that has been my most popular blog post ever – it has been pinned and shared hundreds of thousands of times. However, I had not got round to doing the other cabinet so I needed to do that plus I wanted two more cabinets to go on top of the existing two to make a whole wall of storage. IKEA has been having some major stock issues during the pandemic combined with Brexit issues so there were none available but then someone who lives five mins away saw my instagram stories about this and offered to sell me two that she needed to get rid of – amazing! Thank you Ester! I hacked all of the cabinets and stacked them on top of each other and they not only provide much needed storage but I love the way they look and the texture they give to the room.

The full bank of IVAR cabinets on the left hand wall of the room is brilliant for storage and the added cane helps to make the room feel bigger and the cupboards less of a big dominating block.

Soft furnishings

I wanted the room to feel soft and warm so the existing linen curtains from Couture Living are perfect, especially in winter when we would draw them as it got dark and work the last couple of hours of the day behind big thick curtains with the lamp on – so good. The way they slightly pool on the rug is everything. For the sunnier months we have a blind panel to give some privacy and stop the glare of the sun.

The rug is my new pride and joy. I was hoping the lovely Anna, who I met a few years back on a home tour, was going to be able to source me a vintage kilim as I was finding it tricky in lockdown not being able to go to market or shops. Anna is based in Amsterdam and sources beautiful vintage handmade pieces for her shop We Are Here Now and I was on the lookout for a vintage kilim with pink or greens to fit the room perfectly size wise. As this is such a small room a rug as big as the floor space was essential to make it look as big as possible. Sadly, no kilims came up in the time I was looking and I happened across one from Nain Trading that I loved and couldn’t let it pass as it’s a vintage one off so I bought that instead. It adds so much warmth to the room and the colours reflect up onto the walls and furniture giving everything a warm glow. I know it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea but this rug makes me very happy and it also makes the room feel very relaxed (and it’s dog friendly showing up no marks so Otto can happily lie at my feet as I work, which is an added bonus).

I moved the tub chair from our bedroom into the corner of the office when we built the wardrobes and that feels like such a luxury being able to sit in here with a cup of tea. Previously we had always dried our clothes in this room on a drying rack but with the addition of a wall mounted rack we instantly gained back half of the room. Being able to use some of that space for a soft chair is just lovely.

We moved the tub chair from our bedroom into this corner on the right once we managed to move the laundry to a wall mounted rack.

Additions to be made to the room

I still need a few bits to make the room feel finished such as a couple of pictures on the walls and a new lamp base for the Matilda Goad lampshade I treated myself to when schools re-opened and I started work again. But to be honest the point of this room is that it isn’t a perfectly curated room as that is what makes it feel relaxed and a nice place to work.

I am on the hunt for a lamp base for the Matilda Goad lampshade – I want to go to a an antiques market for the first time in well over a year! I love the combo of the lamp and this old wall cabinet that I had in the very first flat I owned about fifteen years ago.

I hope anyone working from home has been able to adapt as well as possible. As I said, we are so grateful for this space and so happy that it has finally found a good purpose. Don’t forget to use the discount code KATY20 if you want to make a saving on Bisley’s new range of home office furniture.

Katy x

IKEA PAX wardrobe hack

Hello! I’ve been away from the blog for the whole of lockdown 3.0 and I’ve really missed it. I also have a whole lockdown’s worth of comments/questions to catch up on; I’m so sorry if you have left me a comment and I haven’t responded yet, I will try to catch up as quickly as possible but there are a lot so you’ll have to bear with me. Please do remember to use my search tool as lots of the questions asked are answered elsewhere on the blog i.e. paint colours. Also, pop over to my Instagram as there are lots of story highlights and info over there too.

During the lockdown I’ve had Mimi at home full time so work has taken a back seat (very, very lucky for us that I’m able to be flexible in terms of how much work I take on). During lots and lots of afternoons at home I have managed to squeeze in a fair bit of DIY and painting around the house so I have lots to share with you over the next few weeks but first and foremost as promised about six months ago I want to share our IKEA PAX wardrobe hack!

The hack took a solid three weekends, and painting took another full weekend, but we are so thrilled with the results and we have saved around £2000 doing it ourselves (we had a couple of quotes for bespoke wardrobes with internal drawers/shelves/hanging space and they were all around £3000). Would we do it again? Yes. Was it hard work? Yes. Did we learn a lot along the way that would make next time easier? For sure. In fact, one of the hardest things about the project was not really knowing what we were doing as it is pretty difficult to find instructions online so I hope this blog post helps those of you who want to take on the hack.

The right alcove has a 35cm deep PAX frame.

Firstly, let me tell you what items we bought from IKEA. For the right alcove of the bedroom we chose a 100cm width – 236cm height – 35cm depth wardrobe frame. The alcove is roughly 105cm wide but the walls aren’t straight so in some places it is 103cm and in others it is 106cm. In our bedroom the 35cm depth frame was the only option as there is relatively little space between the wardrobe and the end of the bed so the 58cm deep frame would have been far too close to the bed. We also had to make the decision to place the frame off centre in the alcove as we wanted hinged doors (not sliding doors, which is the other option) and if the frame was centred the right hand door would not have opened properly against the radiator under the window and curtain pole – consider what your doors will open out onto very carefully as they must be able to open out completely, especially if you are fitting drawers inside the cupboard.

For the left alcove, which is also roughly 105cm, we decided to extend the wardrobe around the corner and along the left hand side wall of the bedroom. With this type of configuration it is not possible with the PAX system to use a 100cm wide frame to go into the alcove, it has to be a 75cm frame as this can be connected to the corner attachment and enables a 50cm door to be fitted. The cupboards that run along the left hand side wall have to be 35cm deep to fit with this configuration and that suited us perfectly as if they had been deeper they would have eaten into the small amount of floorspace we have far too much and again opening the doors would have been a struggle. However, we were able to have a 58cm deep frame in the alcove as there is enough space on this side of the room for the doors to open without clashing with the bed.

The corner unit is configured like this – the frame on the right side is 75cm wide and 58cm deep and the one on the left is 50cm wide and 35cm deep:

The corner attachment frame is 35cm deep and will only connect to a 75cm wide frame.

The knock on effect for us of having this corner unit was that the wardrobe frame was only 75cm wide, the frame had to sit 13cm away from the left hand wall and that left a 15cm gap on the right hand side of the alcove. This was the big compromise for us and would make boxing in essential.

As you may be able to tell by now there was nothing symmetrical about the two sets of wardrobes – one was off centre, the other deeper and with a big gap – therefore boxing in would really help to make the cupboards look more cohesive.

What we bought:

Right hand wardrobe

100x35x236cm frame £60

x2 Forsand white stained oak doors £60

Left hand wardrobe

75x58x236cm frame £60

53x35x236cm add-on corner frame with 4 shelves £135

50x35x236cm frames x2 £80

x4 Forsand white stained oak doors £120

(I will tell you more about the interior of the wardrobes and the overall cost in my next post)

Materials we bought

Timber for base

x2 sheets of 18mm MDF for boxing in

x1 sheet of 6mm MDF to customise the door fronts

Tools needed

Track saw

Drill driver and impact driver

Laser level

Multi tool

Nail gun

Instructions

  1. Remove skirting board with a multi tool and construct a base for each set of wardrobes the same depth as your wardrobe frame (so the door will overhang the base). Ensure it is level using wood offcuts to adjust the level if needs be.

2. Construct the wardrobe frames using the IKEA instructions and place them on top of the base and anchor them to the walls.

Customising door fronts

Ideally we wouldn’t have customised the door fronts but we were only able to get hold of Forsand doors, which are flat fronted and not the finish we wanted. Therefore, our only option was to customise the fronts, which added a lot of work to the process. Without messing with the doors the whole hack project would have been sooooo much simpler. We decided to add strips of MDF to create the look of panels and we got 6mm MDF strips cut to 55mm by B&Q.

3. We used masking tape to decide the width of our MDF strips to be cut by B&Q. Sorry about this photo – it was the only one I took! We ended up deciding on 55mm strips after taking into account the effect of shadows of the strips making them look slightly wider.

4. We used glue and nails to attach the vertical strips to the doors first. We cut them to length using a mitre saw and made sure any rough edges were sanded.

5. We used a laser level to place the horizontal strips and we decided on placing them one third of the way up the wardrobe.

6. We added handles but because the MDF strips added 6mm of depth to the doors the bolts for the handles were too short. Therefore, we had to counter sink them from the back of the door.

N.B. Once the strips were attached we realised that the doors that would open against the end panels and against each other needed to be chamfered otherwise they rubbed. They also needed open hinges.

Boxing in the wardrobe frames

6. Use a track saw to cut the end and bottom panels that will clad the wardrobes. Ensure they will sit flush with the doors. Remove any picture rail or coving necessary with a multi-tool and glue and screw the end panels directly onto the surface of the wardrobe. Glue and screw the bottom panels onto the base that the wardrobes sit on.

7. To cover the large gap on the right hand side of the left wardrobe we decided to use some timber that we already had. We drilled through the inside of the wardrobe to attach four wood blocks. We then drilled a length of timber into the base and through the ceiling from the loft, attaching it to the four wood blocks using glue and more screws.

8. We clad the frame with two MDF panels, one on the side, one on the front.

9. We used the same technique for the right hand panel on the right wardrobe. We drilled through the holes in the wardrobe to attach four wood blocks. We were then able to attach a panel to cover the gap.

10. The last panels to attach are the top panels as the measurements for these will depend on the side panels. We drilled through the inside of the top of the wardrobe to attach a block of wood onto the top of the wardrobe that runs flush with the frame. We could then drill a panel onto that to cover the gap between the top of the wardrobe and the ceiling.

11. We reattached the skirting to the bottom panel of the wardrobes to create the feeling of the wardrobes being built in to the fabric of the room. We had to cut the boards at an angle or scribe them to fit together.

12. We then filled in all holes and gaps with wood filler and sanded.

This is how they looked before being painted…

I realise that my written explanations here may be unclear to some so please do ask me questions in the comment section below and I will try and get back to you asap. Just so you know, the cupboard doors and boxing are now painted including the inside of the doors but not the interior of the cupboards (a question I have already been asked a couple of times). We did this quite some time ago now so small details have slipped my mind so please feel free to ask very specific questions.

If we were to do it again we would have waited until panelled doors were in stock as personalising the plain door fronts really was a faff and they would open more easily now if they didn’t have the MDF strips on. However, I am really, really please with how they look so I definitely don’t regret it.

I will take some photos of how the wardrobes look all painted up to show you next. Believe it or not I still haven’t sorted all of the inside for the cupboards (I blame lockdown!) so that may need to wait for a little while.

Katy x

Kilim flat weave rugs

Since selling the ottoman in my sitting room a lot more of the rug has been on show and I have been deluged with questions about it. Very sadly the gorgeous company who made it, The House Of Rym, has since closed down so the rug is no longer available. I spotted it on their website quite some time before we moved in to our house but at £700 it was out of my budget. I had the tab open on my phone for weeks and then one day I checked it again and the rug was in the sale at £190. I have never ever bought anything so quickly! I based the decor of the whole living space around the rug and I still absolutely adore it.

Rise and Shine rug designed and made by The House of Rym
A flat weave kilim style rug

The rug is made of wool and a kilim style flat weave so it feels quite different to a lot of wool rugs or carpets as there is no pile. It is soft but not spongey or shaggy. This type of kilim rug is quite unique when compared to other patterned rugs as they actually act as a neutral; it is possible to layer pattern upon pattern with a kilim as the base. The geometric patterns are timeless and as can be seen in these homes they will fit in with many different styles of interiors…

Image via @ournewstorey
Image via @annacate
Image via Living Etc

It is impossible to find anything the same as the rug that I have – trust me, I have looked endlessly – but I would like to share my pick of similar style rugs and I hope that may help those people that have asked me about mine.

Vintage Scandinavian flat weave rugs

These Scandinavian rugs are probably most similar to my rug, which is a Swedish design. They are all vintage rugs from Vinterior and there are other rugs in their Scandinavian rugs category if you like these:

Kilim Afghans

Hand woven using traditional techniques, these flat weave wool rugs are beautiful and all one off unique pieces. There are hundreds available from Nain Trading so check out their Kilim Afghan rugs category. I have just bought a ‘modern kilim’ from them for our office so I will show it to you when it arrives.

ebay one offs

You’d better be quick if you like the look of any of these are they are all Buy It Now sales…

Modern kilims

And just a couple of mass produced kilim style rugs that are quite tricky to find…

Some advice when buying one off rugs

When choosing a one off rug there are a few things you need to check and consider. Firstly, the size of one off rugs varies hugely and there are no standard sizes like you get on the high street. Do make sure to check the exact measurements very carefully and don’t be fooled by images of the rugs that can make teeny weeny mats look like large area rugs. Some ebay sites in particular superimpose rugs into room images and scale them up to make them look a lot bigger than they actually are. Also be mindful to check what the rugs are made of; wool rugs will generally be more substantial, thicker and heavier than cotton rugs. If you want a rug that won’t wrinkle or for a heavy traffic area you will want a relatively thick rug. You will also need to bear in mind the cost of underlay for any rug you buy. I have always found that kilim rugs are amazingly good at disguising marks and stains and they wear so well too. Our sitting room rug looks as good as when we bought it two years ago despite living with a very large dog and young child.

I hope that helps! If you are looking and don’t see something you like here do make sure to click through to the different sellers as they have lots more to offer.

Katy x

DIY lamp makeover

One of the great things about the street that I live on is that we have a Whatsapp group so we can communicate with one another really easily. One of the things that we use the group for is to post any household items that we want to get rid of and more often than not there will be someone who needs whatever it is that is being given away. When one of my neighbours asked if anyone wanted an old M&S lamp I said yes as we desperately needed one in our bedroom at the time. Even though it wasn’t nice to look at I knew with a different shade and a change of colour on the base it would be as good as new.

A salvaged lamp that was being given away by a neighbour.

The shade was cracked and marked and the frame was wonky so there wasn’t much I could do with it. However, with a few pounds or with paint I already had I could see that the pretty shaped base could be transformed. The base is ceramic so I gave it a good clean and taped off the candle part and used an all surface spray paint and it couldn’t have been easier to get a good finish. I actually found the spray paint I used by chance at my local DIY store. It was the only colour they had and it was reduced to £3 (these cans are normally £5-11 in big DIY stores) so I decided to just give it a go!

I used Painters Touch gloss spray paint.

It’s definitely not my first choice of colour normally but I actually really like how understated it is and it works well with the other colours in my home. These sprays are quick drying and intended for use on wood, metal and ceramics. This paint provides a gloss finish.

Tape off any parts of the lamp you don’t want to paint.

Originally I decided to tape off the candle part of the base so I used decorators tape to cover anything I wanted to protect from the paint.

Spray the base outside and do thin coats with lots of drying time between coats.

I find it easy to use spray paints outside and I did three very thin coats and left a decent amount of drying time between each coat (a minimum of an hour). Once I removed the tape I could see that it would look better to paint the candle part of the base too so that’s what I did. And this is the finished lamp with a brand new shade…

The finished lamp with new knife pleated paper lampshade from The Lampshade Loft.

I decided to spend a bit of money on a really lovely shade as I’d only spent £3 on the base. This has been a really good way of ending up with a lamp that would have cost a lot if I bought it new, plus I have prevented the waste of an old lamp and supported a small business from whom I bought the new lampshade. Win, win!

There are some very beautiful unique lampshades available at Rosi de Ruig and Matilda Goad but if you are looking for something similar but much more affordable do try LeKrazyHorse, Pooky, Munro and Kerr, The Lampshade Loft and Compton Marbling. I’m very excited about all the knife pleated lampshades coming back on trend – I so remember having one in my room in the 80s that coordinated with the curtains, duvet cover and frieze!

Katy x

Sebra Kili junior bed review

Since writing my last Sebra Kili cot review we converted it to a junior bed when Mimi turned 2.5 years old. I want to give you a clear review of the cot in this new configuration, as I promised I would in my first review, because it’s the longevity of the cot that justifies its high cost.

I felt very nervous about converting the cot into a bed as Mimi is such a good sleeper so I was worried changing her bed would totally disrupt this. I forecast lots of running around her bedroom, roaming the halls in the middle of the night and rolling out onto the floor! I put the move off a little too long if I’m honest as Mimi was too big for the cot by the time she was 2.5 years so I had to take the plunge.

The cot was super easy to convert and I just had to add an extra chunk of mattress that is sold separately at the bottom. The cot lengthens but it doesn’t get any wider. The very clever design means that the mattress is sunk down by about 10cm so that rolling out of the bed is almost impossible. In the 18 months that she’s slept in it she has never fallen out.

I wasn’t able to find a sheet to fit this mattress size so I use a single one tucked in around the sides and that is fine. Mimi is quite a wriggly sleeper so a toddler sized duvet that fits in this junior bed was no good as it just got kicked to the bottom so I also gave her a single duvet in the hope that that would provide more coverage.

Mimi was super excited about sleeping in the bed for the first time and she had a really great first night. The bed is very cocooning and comfy and I needn’t have worried about the transition disrupting Mimi’s sleep.

As you can see there is lots of space in the bed for the toddler and lots of length for growth. However, the big downside for us was that we couldn’t sit or lie in the bed mainly because of the 10cm lip around the bed. We don’t stay with Mimi whilst she gets to sleep but I can see how this would be a huge downside for some parents. For us, we just had to organise to have a chair next to the bed to read bedtime stories.

The only other potential downside is that the bed is relatively high. Mimi never really had a problem getting in and out, especially as she got taller, but for some less physical children it may be a stumbling block. My nephew, for example, fell out of the bed trying to climb out.

Mimi is about to turn four and we could easily have kept the junior bed as is for another couple of years but we’ve made the decision to pass it on to my niece. This decision was mainly prompted by the fact that we need to create a dedicated office so we need a home for the single bed that was in that room. It made sense to put it into Mimi’s room and I have to say it is a welcome change being able to snuggle in bed with her now, which I was never able to do with the junior bed. But saying that it really did make the transition to a bed so, so easy and I was heart broken saying goodbye to the cot as it’s been such a big piece of the baby and toddler years and we’ve loved it at every stage.

If you do have any other specific questions please do ask me below!

Katy x