Welcome back to my new blog series, I hope you found the first instalment informative & helpful for your own renovations or decorating projects. I'm pleased to finally be sharing lots of detailed 'before', 'during' & 'after' photos, starting with my design studio...
As you can imagine my old Leeds based studio took forever to pack & it was a real challenge as it was really important to keep my stock super organised & keep the online shop running for as long as we could whilst I transitioned between the two cities (a coloured coded labelling system was key!)
The above photo was taken at my old studio, you can spot Blayke amongst the boxes, he thought the whole thing was funny & entertaining! (He looks so tiny here at 9.5 months old).
Out of the whole property the room was one of the easiest rooms to transform as it was a simple facelift really. The following blog posts will be a lot more juicy as that's where the real renovations took place & some structural work.
It was a real priority for us as soon as we moved in the house & we had our decorator booked in to pretty much start it straight away. In the past I’ve always loved to decorate myself & I like to be hands on but with a 10 month baby, a studio & home relocation to a new city & a timely renovation project I just knew it wasn’t going to be possible.
The room was originally used as the main lounge within the house but as there’s a small snug room & an open plan living area next to the kitchen too so we were lucky enough to be able to sacrifice it as a family room & give the room a new lease of life & purpose.
The above image is from the original house brochure, the estate offered two sets of images for a number of rooms as the house was originally on the the rental market & then for sale. Therefore the decor was changed for the old vendors.
It felt light airy & pleasant & good engineered oak wood flooring. It actually looked fairly newly decorated with a traditional floral design, however it just wasn’t to my taste & it definitely didn’t feel like a room I could feel inspired to design in. For speed & eagerness to get working & my studio up & running again we had our decorator strip the walls for us to then assess & the plaster work was in surprisingly good condition therefore we decided to just neaten up any imperfections & just paint the whole room white as oppose to having re plastered. I needed a simplistic, clean blank space to compliment my colourful design work. I love how brilliant white paint has the power to transform a room so easily.
The below images show how the room was when we moved in.
The below images were taken in the 'during' period.
At our old property I had a purpose built design studio and storage area, I found it hard to let go of but equally the new house is much bigger & suits my home business & families needs a lot more. For now I use our large garage for storage (& believe me it’s full to the brim!) & decided to keep minimal stock in the studio as I want the room to be more about creativity and feel less like a storage unit or shop. There is a modern electric fireplace that I’m not that keen on but it came in really handy during the winter & kept me nice and cozy, it’s something I will definitely re think in years to come once the main family living feel more organized. There was a tint film on the windows too which came in handy as a temporary fix whilst we researched how we wanted to dress the windows. In the end we opted for white plantation style shutters however they had larger panels without the distracting tilt rod, as we wanted a more minimal contemporary feel. They let in so much light & whilst still providing privacy at the same time, as I’ve always liked sitting on the computer & looking out the window.
I knew I wanted a cozy sofa for working on my laptop, a printer station, a computer desk, packing desk & a drawing space. Along with homing my old bookshelves & a small amount of stock for online shop orders. There’s a still a fair bit of organising to do yet but after twelve months I finally feel very settled in my studio and the room is a pleasure to work in. I organised the key areas first & then let the rest of details organically evolve little by little. I still want to work another display however, rooms are never completely finished with me as I never sit still and love to potter around & style things up, I see everything is always an ongoing project. If I don’t post this now I feel I’ll probably end up decorate again before I get round to it. I hope you like to see the real side of things it’s not perfect & I doubt it ever will be as it’s a creative and busy den after all. Don’t get me wrong I did tidy up a little for these photos however there’s still a lot of ‘stuff’ out that I could have concealed for appearances but I need all of these things on a day to day basis so hopefully it’s gives you an insight to how I work & a designers life behind the scenes.
A number of these images were taken at different times & I thought it was a good way to show how I'm always moving things around a little.
In the future I pan to have an outdoor space too, a cabin amongst the flowers & I will keep the garden room solely for drawing and painting. I think if you need to mostly work at home it’s good to mix up your surroundings. I like the idea of having a natural organic space for the raw creativity & my colourful indoor space for the digital part of my design process & the running of my online shop.
Even though my little one is at nursery now (& coming up to age 2 this August can you believe it) it’s still so great to have the flexibility of working from home so I will always have creative space there, Blayke tends to do 2-3 days a week, his Dad or a family member helps with another & then I have set focused fun days with him just work the evenings (& during the odd weekend) instead. As a fairly new Mum I’m so grateful for he business & flexible life I have & the hard slog has t’s really paid off as I get to spend more time with Blayke than if I was working in house for a company. I think once my outdoor space is built I can’t see me wanting for anything more but if I do decide to rent a place it would most definitely be in the Baltic Triangle area. However, I work for so many overseas clients & run two online companies it’s so rare that I have visitors but so lovely when it happens. I have a great team but we al work remotely & are dotted around the UK we have regular Skype meetings & phone calls & get together every few months or so.
I say the studio was the easiest it was in some ways however after only being in it for just 2 days when it was all shiny, new & freshly decorated we have a water leak from the en-suite bathroom above through my studio ceiling, luckily we realized & spotted it straight away so the damages were minimal & we were very lucky but I had to empty out a large section of the room including some damaged stock & redecorate.
Then a couple of months later our newly fitted en-suite bathroom leaked again! (On two separate occasions...) Luckily a fairly small leak but all the same it was a pain & there was a small amount of damaged items. There have been so many unforeseen issues at the new house & I call it the money pit these days… However, we love it so much & it just feels like the forever home & I know we will get there & it's all so worth it.
I laugh about it now & I suppose teething problems are just part of the journey in a new home or renovation project.
In the future I may decide to change it up some more but for now I love my little colourful, creative haven. I hope you like it too.
Sofa from - Made.com, vintage style desk – Made.com, rug from - Oliver Bonas, pink suitcase Oliver Bonas, giant button - Ikea, yellow suitcase - Maison Du Monde, suitcase side table - Oliver Bonas, window shutters - Perfect Shutters, giant scissors - Angel Bill Trading Co, giant safety pin The Little House Shop, Orange fabric storage box - bespoke design of my own, cushions – my own designs, wallpaper samples – my own (leftovers from past design shows, print display – my own, desk chair – Ikea, Pantone chair - Pantone, window shutters - Perfect Shutters.
My white computer desk is actually an Ikea dining table, as I like to have my Wacom drawing tablet positioned directly in front of my iMac it’s always tricky to find a desk deep enough & this has been the perfect solution.
For years I’ve dreamed off ribbon / string rails & storage & it just so happened that the cheapest of Ikea curtain rails fitted perfect in the alcove of my wall. I started off with one & now I have three. I think they were literally about £1.50 each so an absolute bargain!
I wanted some simple & clean looking shelves to display my prints & the Ikea versions just worked perfectly. I love that I have a great little storage area that is a hugely versatile for changeable artwork displays too.
This was another Ikea bargain picked up in the sale section for just £5. It was used at a design show of mine years ago. I removed the original Ikea fabric & decorated it with twinkling lights, fabric & colour chip cards. I like that I can change it up so easily to mix up the displays my studio as I’m always recording various videos for Make it in Design.
Another Ikea hack & fairly inexpensive media unit, the concealed storage space is just perfect for hiding away my paper & folders.
I just love my Ikea trolley I store all of mine & Blayke’s drawing & painting equipment on it, it’s perfect for wheeling around between the two desks depending on where I fancy sitting that day to draw. More often than not I’ll take my drawing pens outside lately or sit in our family room just to get out of the studio a bit & mix up my surroundings.
With special thanks to...
My husband for lots of help, Steve Parnell our lovely decorator, Ken Davies Electrical, Kelly & Holly for keeping the business ticking over smoothly & my Mum for helping me with lots of unpacking & stock organising.
If you have enjoyed this post please stay tuned, as I’ll be working through our home renovation progress chronologically.
PS the next post includes bespoke furniture & bold wallpaper!
Until next time… Have a great week, Rachael xo
I am always switching & moving bits around in my home to keep each room fresh & exciting. Since renovating the studio it has been well used & worked in & I've been continuously adding extra little touches, so I thought you'd like to see how it is looking!