Home office makeover reveal!

Welcome to my brand-new study space!

As you might remember from my last post, 2 weeks ago my study nook looked like this. We did have furniture in the living room (this shot was taken pre-moving in), but the study space itself was still bare and unfinished:

I gave myself a deadline to tackle this space, because I was over all the paperwork/ bills/ keys collecting on the counter. I knew that if I could conquer this one area, the whole house was going to start feeling more put-together and in control.

Adding to the pressure of the deadline, our study desk was due to be installed in one week, and I really wanted to get in and tackle that wall while I could still get a ladder right up next to it. 

After stencilling a polka-dot wall in our baby girl's nursery at our last house, I've developed a bit of a stencilling addiction. I love that it gives the look of patterned wallpaper at a fraction of the cost, and because you choose the paint colour you can customise it perfectly to your chosen colour scheme. An added bonus is that if you want to update your decor in the future, you can just paint straight over the top instead of having to steam and strip wallpaper. So I knew that a stencilled design would be the perfect statement for this wall, and I'd already ordered a lovely trellis-patterned stencil that I was dying to try out. 

I settled on Dulux "Pale Icelandish" for my paint colour, which is a soft muted mint tone in between green, blue and grey. I started in the top left corner and rolled the paint on in light layers using a small foam roller. It's important to roll off the excess paint on paper towel before touching the wall, because if you use too much, the paint will bleed under the edges of the stencil. Then you move the whole stencil down and use the last row of the previous pattern to "register" the new repeat. You can see the overlap in this picture.

Here's the pattern starting to emerge. To do the edges you just bend the stencil, but it's tricky to get right into the corner and still get a crisp edge on the pattern. Edges are the most time-consuming part of the whole thing. I ended up painting a lot of the edge pattern by hand.

It was a tedious process, I will not lie! But SO satisfying to finally get it finished and see the entire wall beautifully patterned. 

Then it was time to install some shelves. After a bit of searching around, I chose the Ikea Lack shelves for their sleek floating design and because they were the longest floating shelf I could find. I measured up the space and decided the 190cm length was perfect for this nook, allowing some space to the side for the mail-sorting system I'd been dreaming up.

Three shelves installed! The study desk was installed by our builder at this point as well.

Everyone knows that a desk (even a pretty, new one) is not much use without a chair. Our last study chair was far too big to use in this space without obstructing the walkway, with arms too high to even tuck under the desk. Besides, it was an ugly, utilitarian, black padded thing that was completely all wrong for my new light and airy space. So it got the boot and found a happy new home at hubby's music studio. And I was chair-less.

I've been in love with the Eames DSW side chair for ages, but definitely didn't want to pay a designer price tag - the real deal costs $650. Then I discovered my dream chair on Matt Blatt. Aaaaaaah - replica designer furniture at affordable prices. $69 for a design classic? Yes please! It shipped within a few days. I added a cute cushion for back support - it was just twelve bucks from Typo.

Time to accessorize and style this space! We'd had this grey mesh waste basket and pen-holder for ten years, and they were in great condition, but clearly needed prettifying. 

I used Rust-Oleum Paint + Primer in Gloss Seaside to give these accessories a pop of turquoise colour. One coat did the trick, and no need to prime beforehand. Voila! Much better. Such a happy colour - it just makes me smile!

My next project was to DIY a set of mail-sorting baskets using three $5 cleaning caddies from K-mart. The "before" was not what you'd call inspiring:

But I'm completely in love with the "after"!

If you missed that post, I blogged about the transformation here. Honestly, it was such a simple DIY for such a big impact. It took easily less than 15 minutes (plus a few extra for installation.) I'm so happy with the chic industrial vibe of these little numbers. Who would ever have thought I'd be found gazing dreamily at a basket of bills with a happy smile on my face?

 A spot of Ikea flat-pack furniture assembly was next on the project list. I selected the Alex drawer unit to hold stationery supplies that I wanted within easy reach.

And on the other side, the Alex cupboard. This is home to bulkier items such as the laminator, laptop bag, and nappy bag (because it's always getting packed at the kitchen bench and it's handy to have it stashed nearby.)

When I designed our house plan, I included a recessed area to the left of the study space to hold a filing cabinet. This has already proven SO handy for filing away household paperwork as it comes in. It's within arm's reach of the desk and yet slightly tucked away so that it doesn't command attention.

Back to those big blank shelves. They would be called upon to store everything from paperwork and stationery to scrapbooking supplies. I needed a cheap and stylish storage solution, and once more, Ikea proved up to the task. I went with the classic white Kasset storage box. At $2.50 per box, it's well worth the time it takes to assemble them.

I already had some nice wooden magazine holders kicking around in a cupboard. Onto the shelf with them! I considered spray-painting them white, but in the end decided the pale birch timber is a nice accent colour so everything isn't too matchy-matchy.

I already mentioned that I bought a cushion from Typo. They have lots of funky industrial bits and pieces, so on my fruitless search for the perfect wire basket to use for my mail sorting system (before I decided to DIY my own) I stopped in there to see if they had any. 

The sweet chicky at the counter proceeded to empty out two wire baskets that were part of their display and had been holding pens and other knick-knacks. She told me they were getting rid of them in the next few weeks anyway as they were updating the store displays, and I could HAVE them if I gave a $2 donation to their charity per basket. Um... THANK YOU!!! How awesome is that?!! They were too wide to mount on the wall, but I knew they'd be the perfect accessories for my shelves. $2 wire baskets - how can you beat that?!

The clock was a cheapie K-mart find for around $6, and I already had the china bird.

The white crumple box was comparatively a bit of a splurge at $19.95 from Howard's Storage World, but it was so cute I could not resist.

One of the things I most wanted to incorporate into this work area was some life inspiration in the form of graphic art quotes. I bought some Ikea Ribba frames and a couple of other white frames from Big W and K-mart, and DIY-ed these prints in Photoshop. 

I love the "dreams" quote on the left, which is a great reminder that fulfilling a dream comes down to hard work over the long haul. The frame to the right holds my "One Word" for 2014 - FAITHFUL, which I arranged to look like an eye chart because I'm digging that look right now.

On the next shelf down I created a monogram with my initial, just for fun. This is the first time in ages I've had a space which is "just for me", so I really wanted to make it mine and fill it with colours and objects and art that inspires me.

One of the key verses God has given me this year to go alongside my One Word, is this:

It's not the most usual piece of Scripture to have on display, but it's very meaningful to me. I love the story of how King Solomon took the time and care to make his surroundings beautiful, both in the Temple and the Palace. As an interior decorator, that gives me assurance that God is pleased when I use my creative gifts to honor him. King Solomon took on a vast number of building and beautifying projects, and he completed them. He followed through and carried out his plans.

This really speaks to me as I launch out this year with this new blogging endeavour. A project-based blog takes an ENORMOUS amount of work, and it can feel discouraging to pour endless hours into something and then receive no comments on a post. But God reminds me that my task is just to remain faithful (there's that word again!) and follow through on my plans.

With the shelves filled, I had to just stop and gaze for a while. I love how all the different elements have pulled together so well.

My study space is at the heart of our home. When I planned our house, I knew that I wanted this area to be right off the kitchen - for starters, so we could use it as a "command centre" to corral paperwork that otherwise ends up dumped on the kitchen counters - and secondly, so that I could snatch moments throughout the day to catch up on emails and blogging while also keeping an eye on the kids playing.

The layout has worked beautifully for us so far. In this season of my life, it makes sense to have an open-plan study space, because if I was tucked away from the family, writing would seldom happen.

One last before:

And after!

I hope you've enjoyed this glimpse of my new study space! I'm thrilled to bits with how it turned out. There may have been several nights where I was up until midnight finishing things off, and I must admit I felt pretty exhausted by the end! But it's amazing what can be achieved in two weeks when you give yourself a deadline. It's exactly what I dreamed of, and it feels so satisfying to have it complete.

I'd love you to share your thoughts. Do you have dreams of making over a study space? How would you describe your ideal home office area?

Linking up at Get Your DIY On: Room Revamps!

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  1. Absolutely love what you have done with your space Karen... So fresh. Love reading your blog too...
    Keep up the great work.

    1. Thank you so much for your encouragement!

  2. Looks great. I love your stencilling. <3

    1. Thanks, GingerSmiles! I was really happy with how the stencilling turned out!

  3. Looks great! I'm going to see if I can find some of those "mail baskets" you used so I can try them out at my house. I've been looking for something similar for awhile but just can't bring myself to pay the price for the real deal. Can't wait to see more of the new house!

    1. Megan, yes, the real thing can be up there in price. I found these popping up everywhere once I knew what I was looking for. You probably won't have the exact same brand in the U.S., but I've seen similar on Amazon, so I know you guys have them. Check out your kitchen storage section - good luck! :)

  4. Happy blogging and everything else that demands our attention in an office space. Feed and conquer in one area of the home. Love it! It looks gorgeous!

    1. Thanks Cassandra! :) LOL - feed and conquer - love it!

  5. That looks absolutely amazing. Your stencilling is so inspiring. I am building in some Billy bookcases from Ikea into a downstairs TV room at the moment and you have inspired me to stencil the backs in something similar. Thanks also for mentioning the paint colour, I have been looking for a soft muted blue for a downstairs bedroom and that might just fit the to get a sample this morning! I also can't wait to see more of your new house!

    1. Thank you, Lynne!! Stencilling your Billy bookcases - what a GREAT idea - and you will never guess what I've just finished doing!! ;) I'll be sharing the result in an upcoming post. It was well worth it - made such a difference to a very plain piece of furniture! Great minds think alike... ;)

  6. Another beautiful space Karen.

  7. I love the colours, the idea, the execution. Well done, it's simply fabulous.

  8. This blog post makes me want to break into song and serenade you with "You are the stencil queen, young and free only thirty-three" (Hope you're thirty-three, it doesn't quite work if you're not) Hehe. xx

    1. Hahahahaha! :) You're so funny! Pretty close actually, 34 as a matter of fact, but I'll take 33 any day! ;)

  9. A beautifully pulled together space Karen. I love that it's defined as a space of it's own by the stencil but sits perfectly with the kitchen and living room. Also loving your little baskets sprayed black. I'm thinking about using some of these in our pantry. Loving your house more and more with every detail that you show. My study area is tucked in a nook in our lounge room. Built in book cases have been done (just need some crown moulding) and the desk is next on my hit list. After the epic kitchen rebuild is finally finished of course.

    1. Thanks for your kind words, Fiona! Oh, your study nook sounds absolutely perfect!

  10. Wow, this looks great! I'm sure it's inspiring you to get lots of things done!

    1. Thank you, Samantha! It sure is - I'm loving sitting down to work in my new study space. Funny how my whole life feels just a little bit more organised now! :) Thanks for taking the time to comment!

  11. Valerie Ott7:10 AM

    I love EVERYTHING about this!!! Pinning pinning pinning!

  12. This is sooo pretty. I did the same stencil in my craft room that I'm working on so I feel your pain. I've been looking for some shelves so I'll have to check these out.

  13. Haha - yes, it wasn't the most forgiving pattern to work with, was it?! I'm really impressed with the Ikea shelves so far, they're very sturdy and were pretty easy to hang. They come in a few different lengths too.

  14. Jennifer6:17 PM

    I love everything about this space from the paint color to the chair to floating shelves. Stecilling is like the bane of existance but I always love how it turns out when people do it. Fab job!

  15. Thanks heaps, Jennifer! Totally agree with you about the stencilling - it's always so painstaking to do that I'm cursing it in the middle of the job, but the end result is awesome enough that I somehow keep going back for more! Ha!


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