Finally, the results of my guest room/home office makeover are here! The project, as with many of these things, has taken a lot longer than expected – what with various coats of paint, one failed attempt at putting up a blind, summer holidays and airbnb guests, etc, etc… But that’s all part of the fun and I’m so excited to now reveal to you the before and after.
So, just a bit of background on the room itself: this is the spare room in my two-bedroomed 1930s London flat, in between Bloomsbury and Kings Cross, that I share with my boyfriend. It’s south-facing, light and airy, with a large sash window. On paper and in the flesh, it really is a lovely room, well proportioned with a generous ceiling height – essentially a blank box on which you could do absolutely anything. But, when we first moved in, due to lack of inspiration for anything else, we painted the entire room white and filled it with a mix-match of Ikea furniture and inherited old items. I put so much attention into redecorating the living room and making it warm and cosy that this space got left behind. Over time, it became our dumping ground and laundry room.
The result was a rather uninspiring space: the white walls made it feel rather cold and uninviting, while the wooden shelves and blind made it feel too ‘officey’. It just wasn’t very homely – nothing really jelled together into a seamless whole.
We also have two seemingly clashing functions for the room: a bedroom for friends and airbnb guests, and a home office with our computer and all my architecture and design books I’ve picked up along the way. It needed to be a lovely, calm space for guests, but it also needed to function as a clean, working space for us. The two functions therefore needed to be brought cohesively together so neither overpowered the other (Katy from Apartment Apothecary offered some wonderful words of wisdom on this front).
We didn’t want to do a completely drastic overhaul of the room, just a couple of clever changes and alterations to make the space sing and work for us. With a minimal budget, we didn’t want to splash out on loads of new furniture or items for the room. We wanted to work with what we had.
The makeover is therefore rather subtle, a little frugal but, as they say, less is more. Here, a lick of paint really did make all the difference! Essentially, what we did was: we painted the walls light grey (Little Greene’s French Grey in Medium), swapped the blind for a discreet white one, painted the shelves white and adapted the existing desk. All in all, it probably totalled no more than £250 (for example, £50 for the desk unit, £40 for the blind, £24.50 for a new duvet cover, etc), a fair bit of that going on paint and all the paraphenalia around that.
Now, the space looks warm and comforting, calm and collected. We did a massive clear-out, I made £80 by selling some of my books to the local bookshop, and tidied up all the cupboards and surfaces. I even painted inside the wardrobe (from horrible brown laminate) with a lick of Laura Ashley chalky paint to give it a little facelift for guests. The main differences can be seen in the home office part of the room. Here, the shelves now blend into the room instead of sticking out like a sore thumb. I can’t believe how the white paint has transformed them from being dull and ordinary to sleek and modern. Another of the most successful elements of the makeover is the desk unit, simply by matching the colour of the drawer unit to the tops and legs, it looks like a more complete and less obtrusive piece of furniture. Now, the shelves and desk complement each other, sitting neatly in the corner of the room by the window.
Just by changing the wall colour slightly, to a light grey, has made a big difference. In a funny way I think it’s helped unify the two corners of the room, while also creating a warmer ambience. The bedroom part of the room hasn’t really changed much, but a new duvet cover and guest tray for a welcome drink make the space feel more like a boutique hotel room than an unloved spare bedroom.
I made these handles for the wardrobe myself! Here’s how I did it and it couldn’t be easier: I got an old belt, measured and cut two strips of identical length and measured two holes either end of each strip (the length between the holes had to be longer than the length between the holes on the wardrobe itself, so the handle comes out a bit and can fit a hand in it). I used a scalpel and cutting mat to create the holes. I then bought some brass flat-headed screws and bolts. The holes were already in the wardrobe from the old handles, so all I had to do was thread the screws through the holes in the leather strip and secure on the inside of the wardrobe with the bolts. So simple and it gives the wardrobe a little designer finish!
There we go, one guest room/home office makeover – proving that you don’t have to spend a fortune or buy a whole load of new furniture to make a difference to a space. I’m so pleased with the results, already it’s a much nicer place to work in, and hopefully a comfier place to spend a night. It’s amazing how a little refresh can inject a bit of inspiration and motivation into your working day if you’re in clean, tidy, light space. Now I want to get my hands on all the other rooms in the house, all over again!
For more interior inspiration, check out my ‘Guest Room’ Pinterest board:
Styling and photography: cate st hill