Last year I evicted my husband from his office on the first floor of our home and into another room downstairs. That room was a sad little off-white room that served no purpose and was kept empty since we had moved in. The room had started its life as a study (with proper built in furniture that I removed (idiotic, I know) and it was about to become a new and inspiring home office once more.
Stage One - As-we-found-it stage
So here's the before-before photo. As-we-found-it before. There was a built in corner desk with tons of storage (wall to wall to the right) as well as a bookcase (again built in) to the left. The rest of the room had this silver/white Harlequin wallpaper on and brown carpet. I was utterly convinced that I could fit a dining table in there.
And not just any dining table, my grandma's antique square dining table thank you very much. So word of caution, never measure with your eyes, use the bloody tape measure! In a moment of madness, I ripped off all the built in furniture. That did not make the room any bigger.
Stage Two - Stripping back the paper
It almost pains me to watch these photos. Two days into having the keys in our hand and we need to urgently move in. I need to strip the wallpaper, remove the carpet and get the new wooden floors down. I am working all day to remove the wallpaper and in the process uncover a wet corner that requires some sort of attention. The ceiling is also about to get skimmed to remove the artex.
Stage Three - painting the room dark
This is almost a year later, during which we kept the room unused, unloved and after I had attended a workshop with Abigail Ahern (what an inspirational designer). I started by painting the room top to bottom in Farrow & Ball Railings. I wanted to paint everything - I would have painted the doors and floor too if someone had not stopped me. During this stage in the makeover, the furniture in the room was just a glass top desk with black legs.
And herein lies the problem. With a desk like this every single cable is visible against the wall.
I. Just. Hate. Cables.
So the only option would be to "hide" those ugly tentacles and what better way than behind a pedestal desk. Given that the wall was already dark I was hoping to find a desk that had been restored in a rich colour but not mahogany; still, with red-ish hues in it. I felt that my husband, who would ultimately use this room as his home office, would appreciate a bit of mid-century style in the room. So here's the desk I found in the end. The desk had a stamp in the front central drawer with "1958" but the seller believed it was much older.
Antique desks can vary in condition. You can get them refurbished by the previous owners, in need of restoration (which means they require anything from stripping to french polishing to changing their leather top if they come with one); or you can get them lovingly restored by professionals like Lee Rose, who specialise in finding great quality furniture and giving them a new lease of life with expert French polishing.
Stage Four - styling
This was the most fun part obviously! At this point I added a vintage mid-century credenza (sideboard) for all that filing that my husband is doing. That was another EBAY find for around £300. I also found a Hans Wegner chair. So far so good with the mid century vibes.
Given that the room was too dark - did I mention that I painted the ceiling in Railings took?! - I had to give in and re-paint it white because the truth is, the room got so dark you couldn't find a thing without a flashlight in there!
Then my husband felt inspired and added this classic Anglepoise lamp in red. The carpet is the IKEA Stockholm in classic black and white stripe.
The bookcase to the left is a simple IKEA which was spray-painted in antique gold.
Above: The metallic gold vases to the left are from Cox & Cox.
Below: having a sideboard with tall legs means that you can see all the way to the back of it. That's a trick to make the room feel bigger. The geometric prints over the credenza are from John Lewis.
Below: another find from the Spitafields antique market. The Black Anglepoise cost £30 and was already re-wired and ready to use. The Dark Night figure below has been following my husband for 3 decades...
Finally, after using the Wegner chair for almost half a year, we moved it to one side of the room and replaced it with this one from Made.com. The padded seat offers better comfort and support. It also looks damn good with the rest of the scheme. The vases on the bookcase are vintage opaline West German vases. The "Metro" print is a limited edition by Zeus whereas the Frida print is by Butch Antony.
The room seems to grow organically around my husband's needs. I would love to hear what you think about it with a comment below!