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"!
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.
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?