Interiors: Study Makeover Reveal

February 13, 2017

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Image: Design Soda

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As I sit typing this, it is the very first time I have had a completed study to write in. We have allocated a room for books and writing each time we’ve moved, but they have always existed somewhere between dream space and student hovel if I’m entirely honest. Whether it be hideous inherited blue carpets thought about but never replaced due to sound proofing issues for the flat downstairs or plans for organisation and tranquility that quickly turned to dumping ground for all the things we couldn’t think where to home, this my friends, finally, is my dream office space. A few weeks ago we sanded and sealed the floors. This has got to be our most hated d.i.y task, Dan because it’s such back breaking work, me because I’m more than a little scared of the machine you use to sand the floors with! But, it’s also one of the most rewarding and transformative tasks. We used a dark oak stain varnish from Ronseal which I really love, though I wasn’t sure it was dark enough after the first coat and was very heartened to find Swoonworthy’s beautiful floor in the same finish during a Google search halfway through.

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Cabinet detail with Ikea Ranarp lamp re-positioned from it’s home in the bedroom whilst I decide where it truly belongs.

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The Greenhouse cushion design by Lizzie for Smug is one of my favourite textile designs ever and makes this little corner so cheerful with its presence.

Images: Design Soda

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The great thing about never quite completing a room is that it has evolved authentically over time, nothing is rushed or forced, things have been moved from one house to another but each piece has become a part of the whole. From the sixties Perspex trolley I bought at Portobello Market as a teenager to the Tom Dixon copper light I got for a massive bargain from an events company in liquidation during the 2007 recession, or my first upcycle project of a mid century desk with Fornasetti wallpaper top in 2009 to the Memlite task light I finally managed to source in 2013, or the £2 Hungarian dining chair used as desk chair that should have cost a lot more in 2014 to the latest addition of Crittall window style sixties teak bookcase last year, this room has been coming together for 10 years in earnest (if we forget about the perspex trolley) and each piece works together so well. Each item of furniture in here (bar one) is vintage, so unless I’d spent six weeks trawling various brocantes or employed a very well connected interior designer I know that this room would not look as it does now without the lapse of time. Which is a great lesson for somebody as impatient as me to finish rooms.

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I love this little corner of the room, the tequila always seems to tempt me come early evening if I’m still working up here.

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Cabinet detail, love using books as props for other objects.

Images: Design Soda

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One thing that this room has always been in its various locations is grey, from Cornforth in Reigate to Blackened in Tooting and now Downpipe, I just can’t imagine a study that isn’t grey. I love the dark moodiness of Downpipe, it’s not at all depressing but it is very present and striking within the space, this is our most masculine room and perhaps because of its contrast to the rest of the house one of my favourites. I like a study to feel at least a little serious, Bauhaus or modernist even in its jump point, definitely utilitarian but with a very slightly solemn emphasis. I like studies that feel weighty, it may be a hangover from the smell of academia in austere UCL library rooms as an undergrad but for me a study should have that slightly somber note. We keep all the ‘serious’ non-fiction books up here (by which I mean not my interiors coffee table non-fiction) so it’s almost as though Freud & Foucault are in cohorts with the dark wall colour checking up on you if you’re slacking (no really!).

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Vintage desk, frame painted in French Grey and accessorised with mid-century chair.

bohemian modern mid century vintage farrow downpipe modernist study home office styling ideas and inspiration, vintage mid century desk and chairs Fornasetti Riflesso cityscape wallpaper (3)

My dream desk covered in a Fornasetti cityscape paper from Cole & Son.

Images: Design Soda

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I am really pleased with the desk area in here, as I mentioned above I bought the 1940’s desk ages ago (for £30 on ebay) and it was the first thing I ever upcycled, I painted the frame which wasn’t in the best condition in Farrow & Ball’s French Grey but left the drawers as the design detail. On the top I bought a very expensive piece of Fornasetti’s ink drawn design wallpaper Riflesso from Cole & Son which had been the second most wanted item on my wishlist when we first moved in 2007. It was a total indulgence which has subsequently earnt its place by still being the most appropriate design I can think of in a study with a pattern that leans towards the serious or architectural. It seems a bit of an anomaly that as someone who loves all of Fornasetti’s playful surrealist work that the thing I actually own of his is also his most conventional and pedestrian. But this cityscape, based on the architectural forms of various cities in his homeland of Italy, is a real showstopper for me. It’s black and white but when you look closely you will find tiny dashes of bronze and gold on statues and details. I have protected it under glass and it is something I often pause to look upon during downtime moments at the desk, I am forever finding new details in it that I love, it really doesn’t tire for me. The desk is teamed with my £2 mid-century find on Hungarian eBay which was probably the cheapest piece of furniture I’ve ever bought. Above the desk is my perpetual calendar, map of London and eye chart, all of which mirror the monotone design of the desk top.

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Pops of yellow really work for me against this darkest of greys, can you spot the Lisbon tram in the bookcase?

Image: Design Soda

.Images: Design Soda

Whilst the base notes may be decidedly serious, it’s still a room in the Design Soda house so most of the top notes have the usual tone of fun, humour and colour play. Talking of colour, I love all of the pieces of yellow we’ve amassed over the years in here,  they all pop magnificently against the grey, perhaps none more so than the €10 Lisbon tram in the cabinet which I’m very proud of and visitors seem to be drawn to too. Can you see it peeping out of the left door of the cabinet above?

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The fireplace without a centerpiece! A triptych of mirrors to disjoint any sense of the banal to the focal point as you enter the room.

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The Eames style rocker that was a nursing chair now re-purposed as reading nook with Lizzie for Smug cushion, Ikea Blanket and H&M Home cushion.

Images: Design Soda

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All of my vintage pieces came really cheap (£2 for a chair, I mean, I’m not saying it’s comfortable but I mean!) so I have allowed myself a few indulgences for the dressing of the room. My very favourite of these is actually my most recent and it was an early birthday present to myself in the new year (totally undeserved as I was utterly spoilt this year) but you may recall that it was the item I was most longing for in the Lizzie for Smug collection I featured on the blog when it launched in November. Everything against these Downpipe walls with even a hint of colour pops in here, but let me tell you, this Greenhouse print cushion by Lizzie pops more than anything else and it brings me massive pleasure catching my eye each time I enter the room. It’s currently sitting on an Eames reproduction rocker chair bought from Cult Furniture for nursing in Teds room and now makes an ideal reading nook (if I ever find the time that is). 

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Memlite original grey task lamp, Jasper Conran for Debenhams letter shelf and Arne Jacobsen travel journal from Design Letters.

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This Kay Borjesen Rosendahl dog on the mantelpiece is one of my favourie items and it works really well next to the vintage printers tray with growing ephemera collection.

Images: Design Soda

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By way of trinkets my other investment piece has been this Rosendahl dog (above) designed by Kay Bojesen in 1934, I love its form and it’s definitely a piece I see going down through the generations in our household, when Ted is a little older (and can be trusted with it) I will put it in his room. It retails for an eye watering £90 but I bought it with a discount code some years  ago and got it for nearer to £70. It lives next to the printers tray which I picked up for a song at a bootsale and a fabulous slab of brutalist concrete used as a pen holder. I have also allowed myself a few bits of design stationary that invite my curiosity during moments of pause in here. One of my favourites is the Arne Jacobsen Travel journal (which you can see on the surface shot with the grey Memlite task lamp, first picture above), I was talking with a rep at a design show recently and learnt that the idea behind the carpet its design is taken from (used in the design hotel Jacobsen built in the sixties in Copenhagen) was to create a disjointed pattern that in the age of cameras and television wouldn’t produce lens blur where the lines on a pattern appear to statically move, such a clever little detail that illustrates the workings of a brilliant design mind obsessed with both detail and perfection, I love Jacobsen for this.

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A collection of trinkets and drinks on Dan’s vinyl storage.

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My, My, storage in the office that doesn’t just house books! I love these pigeonhole drawer, they are the perfect size for stashing all kinds of craft related junk.

Images: Design Soda

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These pigeonhole drawers (above) are one of the most useful pieces of storage in the house, they currently hold a mixture of craft supplies, sample paint pots and information on design brands I like but it has had many uses over the years. It’s also something that has gone through quite a few visual transformations, it came to me with an awful stumble wax effect, at one point each drawer was painted a different vibrant hue but for this setting I have pared it back to its wood base, lightly coated in oil and attached tan leather straps, the shell has been painted in Farrow & Ball’s Lamp Room Grey. I have plans for the Ikea Kallax unit (in all of the pictures above) which holds Dans record collection. Since it’s the only piece of modern disposable furniture in here I feel that I need to do something with it. Dan has a fairly decent store of vinyl (there’s more downstairs) and it’s really hard to find something hardwearing that’s designed for more than about 20 records, I searched vintage a bit before plumping for this sensible fairly bland utilitarian option. The plan is for some doors and wheels and racing green leather straps which I will get to over the next few weeks but for now it’s comfortably housing a drinks-trolley-come-candle-stockpile vibe (which you can see in more detail in the top image above). The beautiful smelling Earl of East London candle with #stylist hashtag was a cute gift recently from ShareStyle which is an app that has just launched for hiring stylists etc – see my profile on it by downloading the app. 

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Candle detail on the only shelf free from Dan’s records.

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I love this Calathea plant in the fireplace, all the plants dotted around the room bring some much needed nature into the space.

Images: Design Soda

.Images: Design Soda

The final thing I’ve added throughout the room is a fair amount of greenery, from cacti to succulents and houseplants theres definitely more than a passing smattering of the botanical, I want something that makes this space feel healthy, so far I’ve got a few green notes going on in the accessories and I’m hoping to up this a bit more over time, possibly re-upholstering the desk chair in dark green velvet. What do you think? Could you work in a room that feels slightly austere and moody or do you prefer light bright spaces to think in? Let me know in the comments below.

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bohemian modern mid century vintage farrow downpipe modernist study home office styling ideas and inspiration

Reflection from one of the smoked mirrors on the chimney breast.

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4 thoughts on “Interiors: Study Makeover Reveal

    1. Design_Soda_Ruthie Post author

      Thanks Melanie, I take that as a huge compliment 🙂 yes, it’s such a good colour isn’t it? You have to feel a little brave at first but I’m so glad I went with it. I’m not sure a dark study is for everyone but it definitely is for me! Xx

      Reply
  1. Patricia

    Oh wooooowww! I love this! The detail in that fireplace…The colour of your floor…That downp pipe grey… I’m using it in a moodboard for a client as we speak! Great job xxx

    Reply
    1. Design_Soda_Ruthie Post author

      Oh goodness Patricia, I’ve only just seen your comment! Thank you so much, I take any compliment from someone with such incredible style as you very well 🙂 Downpipe is gorgeous isn’t it, so glad we used it xx

      Reply

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