My Workspace Reveal / The Befores & Afters

27th February 2015

Scandi inspired, minimal workspace makeover featuring DIY desk, Zara Home rug and peg board

Today is a milestone – I’m excited (and relieved) to finally reveal my new-look workspace to you. We’ve been here for almost two years now and when I moved into this room it was a sort of shove everything in situation whilst I figured out what to do with it. I set up a desk, stuck some bits on the wall and put up with it as a sort of craft room. And then last August I decided in a fit of frustration that it wasn’t working for me and it had to change. Storage was pretty sparse, there was no sense of my style which had changed so much since we’d moved and I didn’t feel inspired to work in it, so for the next six months I launched into turning it into the best room in the house. Yes. For a space that’s only 2m squared that’s a ridiculously long time but hey, Rome wasn’t built in a day, right?  And it’s good to slowly introduce my home to you, particularly as I’m usually quite guarded on that side of things. I feel self-conscious about it in a lot of ways, much of that comes from spending too much time picking over the bits of the house I can’t stand or can’t change, but that’s all part of the joys of renting. Anyway, come and have a look!

A look at before my home office makeover

Given the size of the room and my penchant for bright white spaces, it was a no-brainer to paint out the cream with a brilliant white, introduce pale, untreated wood to compliment and a touch of black to set it all off. You can take a look at my inspiration on this Pinterest post and see how useful my Studio & Office board became in the process as my point of reference.

Flooring was a real issue for me and it took months to find the perfect rug. I don’t have the glorious luxury of wooden flooring anymore so I kind of just wanted to forget that this carpet existed and find a rug large enough to cover the width of the wall that came out far enough beyond my desk. Try finding one that size within budget! My first attempt was a diamond Berber which seemed great in my head, but in situ just fought with the black desk and took all the focus away from the room down onto the floor. A minor panic ensued (my good friend at LapinBlu can vouch for that as I drilled her for advice) and by the end of the day had returned it and ordered another. I’d come to the conclusion that a textured, patterned rug was just wrong for this space and so Zara Home saved the day with a classic handwoven jute number instead. It was a bit more of an investment than planned but I love the surprisingly soft (for jute) texture under foot and that it adds to the space without distraction. Nervously I waited as Mosey sauntered in to inspect it and I thought he’d take to it as his scratch pad but I’m not sure he’s even noticed it, so long as he can lounge underneath the radiator!

Minimal workspace makeover featuring DIY desk, Block peg board and desk lamp

I’d planned to get a new desk in baltic ply on trestles encouraged by the guys at Hopper + Space, but when I couldn’t find trestles small enough without taking up half the width of the room I had to be realistic and decided to update my existing one. My sister had given it to me after she’d decided she didn’t want it anymore (thanks Meg) but as I thought it was out-dated and worn out in its current state it had to become a statement piece. I’ll be posting a DIY piece on the desk later next week to show you how I did it, but in short, I sanded down the layers of stain on the surface to lighten the tone of the wood, gave it a coat of clear wax, chalk painted the base and changed the drawer knobs which are made from ply by Chocolate Creative. They’re so sexy!

A closer look at the DIY desk with Chocolate Creative drawer knobs in my minimal workspace

Minimal workspace featuring white PegBoard from Block and white 'Cohen' white desk lamp by MADE.COM.

Minimal workspace featuring white Pegboard from Block and HAY wooden hand

I’ve tried to eliminate the desk clutter and keep the surface as clear as possible with the white PegBoard from Block.The pegs arrived with coloured tips so I painted them out in black and white. I love that I can switch up the display whenever the urge strikes. The simple white desk lamp was a birthday present from my mum, the ‘Cohen’ by MADE.COM. Sheeeeeesh that lamp. It’s just so elegant, don’t you think? 

Shelving details in my minimal workspace - Olympus Trip Camera

My minimal workspace before the makeover!

Storage was a huge issue before I put in the shelving which I found in IKEA after quite a lot of searching and deliberating. I wanted to stick with the combination of white and untreated wood to compliment the rest of the look and I loved the mix and match shelving at IKEA. I used to store most things into plastic crates which I hated looking at, so I sorted through the paints and other pieces that weren’t an every day necessity and moved them to the garage instead. Initially I’d had it in mind for three levels but it actually wasn’t necessary once I’d got them into place, so the third will probably go into Tabitha’s room when I get round to it. Now I use a mixture of desk drawers, shelving and my 1920s bureau behind it which is a much better solution.

Mix and match IKEA shelving in my Scandi inspired, minimal workspace

A closer look at the details in my minimal workspace makeoverA closer look at the details in my minimal workspace makeover

West Elm Wire Basket in my Scandi inspired, minimal workspace

Let me just take a minute to talk about this basket. Oh wow, this basket. I saw it way back last summer when I’d popped into West Elm for a quick meeting and had to have it. Given the amount of prints, random rolls of paper and packaging I seem to collect (I hate throwing paper out) it made sense to store them all in something extremely stylish. Before I was just using a bag (see below) but the wire basket is a far better option and doesn’t take up too much space either. Win.

A before look at my home office workspace

A look at the moodboard wall in my minimal workspace

A closer look at the Block peg board in my minimal workspace

Nikki Kreis Wall Hooks add a unique storage solution to my minimal workspace

As floor space is at a premium in here, I was keen to source some wall hooks to keep things like my camera bag and tripod out of the way but also have somewhere that I could hang prints as I find them. When I had an email from designer Nikki Kreis to introduce her beautiful, minimal homeware collection, I called off the search when I found these beauties. With a layered plywood plate and smooth birch ball, they’re so tactile and instantly become an extension of the wall.

Nikki Kreis Wall Hooks add storage to my minimal workspace

Of course, it wouldn’t feel complete without the presence of plants – you might have noticed that I’m a little obsessed? The hanging wire cloche planters in the window were found as a set of three in my local Oxfam which stocks discontinued Zara Home decor. Not sure if that’s where they originally came from but either way I wasn’t hanging around (excuse the pun) and snapped them up for a bargainous £6.99. The first plants I tried inside them were a bit of trial and error and didn’t take too kindly to the bright light and heat from the radiator, so I switched to these two succulents which will spread and trail. So far, so good.

Hanging wire cloche planters in my minimal workspace home office

Phew. So there we have it. One workspace, pretty much complete. Sure, it’ll adapt over time and I plan to bring in some prints at a later stage just as soon as I can decide on what but for now, it’s done. This is absolutely my favourite room in the house now. The kids come and hang out before bedtime in here too and I just love working with fresh walls to play with and a clean, bright space. What do you think?

Photography & Styling by Tiffany Grant-Riley

‘Brilliant White’ paint, Crown | Jute rug, Zara Home | Shelves ‘EKBY JÄRPEN’ & ‘EKBY VALTER’  brackets in birch, IKEA | White PegBoard, Block® White & natural oak ‘Cohen’ table lamp, | ‘LILL’ net curtain, IKEA Wire mesh hamper, West Elm Black chalk paint in ‘Graphite’, Annie Sloane | Black plywood drawer knobs, Chocolate CreativePlywood & birch wall hooks, Kreisdesign


This looks great. We want to book a week here.

Well…it’ll be cosy, but at least you’ll have a productive stay!

This is such a chic transformation! Looks like such a lovely place to work. Great job! 🙂

Thanks Lily! It was lovely to be able to take it slowly and see my style reveal itself again as I went along 🙂 x

Hahahaha Michelle! I take it you like it then? 😉

found your blog through your design sponge tour. totally inspired by your workspace, as i type from my less than inspiring workspace. love the simple desk and the high contrast. and that lamp is pretty spectacular!

Hi Emily! Thanks for stopping by, so pleased to see my little space inspired you – I’m extremely lucky to (finally) have somewhere I can hear myself think and then shut the door on at the end of the day! Are you feeling motivated to do something with yours now? 😉

Oh Tiff I love this! I would be very happy beavering away here. If/when I move can you come and style my new home office? Also just shows it’s amazing what you can do with a rented space x

Hello you! Haha yes, of course I can! I’m lucky that the space I have is very bright so a simple tin of white paint works well. Far more productive to work in a space that you love. Let me know if and when you move 😉 x

Sorry for being over a year late on this post haha. But I just saw your room photo on pinsetters and just have to take a look and I’m so glad I did. I love your style and how you upcycled your desk, it’s simple gorgeous! Definitely keep your blog in my favourites folder.

Tiffany C x
oh P.S. l love your name ? x

Ahhh hello Tiff! (you like Tiff, right?) Thank you for taking the time to comment, I love my desk too-just goes to show it doesn’t take much to update a simple table. 🙂

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