Office makeover: ‘An unused room is now my creative haven’

Lisa Thompson transformed a neglected dining room into a calming office filled with a mix of vintage finds and budget-friendly buys

Office makeover: 'An unused room is now my creative haven'

Despite having lived in their three-bedroom, Kent home with daughters, Milly and Daisy, for nearly two years, Lisa, 44, and Graham Thompson, 49, had never quite got around to decorating their dated dining room.

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‘When we first moved in, our priority was a large kitchen-diner extension, so, with the dining room pretty much redundant and more pressing updates required elsewhere, it was far too easy for it to just become a dumping ground,’ explains Lisa.

However, having opted to work from home, her attention soon turned to the dining room when looking for much-needed workspace.

Wendy's office before the makeover
Lisa’s office before the makeover

Lisa’s first task was to strip the room of its drab wallpaper and dingy carpet. ‘Sadly, removing the old painted wood chip paper took its toll on the ageing plaster – especially around the bay window,’ says Lisa.

So, rather than spend days trying to make good the crumbling walls, the couple decided to simply re-plaster throughout.

Office makeover: 'An unused room is now my creative haven'
Rich chocolate walls teamed with a hint of pink, plus a tactile mix of metallic and timber tones, ensure Lisa’s new-look office is a warm and welcoming place to work

They also took the opportunity to add a few extra power points, before laying smart, hard-wearing, timber flooring.

‘We have the same floor in the hallway and new extension, so thought it would be nice to carry it through,’ says Lisa.

Office makeover: 'An unused room is now my creative haven'
Lisa’s generously proportioned, stripped pine cupboard is a useful place to house all her office paraphernalia

Not usually one for neutrals, the inspiration for Lisa’s bold chocolate-hued walls was all down to her favourite online store, Rockett St. George.

‘Their Instagram is full of dark, moody colours and eclectic pieces – and, while I hadn’t been brave enough to replicate the look in the main family rooms, I thought the office would be the perfect place to experiment!’ she explains.

Office makeover: 'An unused room is now my creative haven'
Good idea! Wall stickers are a great way to instantly brighten up walls or introduce a theme – they can also be easily removed when you fancy a change

The result proved even better than Lisa imagined and gave her the confidence to paint the skirting boards to match.

The tired bay window and surround were refreshed with a lick of light-enhancing white paint and finished with practical shutters, which the couple fitted themselves.

Office makeover: 'An unused room is now my creative haven'
Lisa added some relaxed seating and soft furnishings to keep the look cosy and comfortable, rather than solely work-orientated

When it came to furnishing the room, Lisa already had the perfect desk in mind.

‘I originally bought my £95 Habitat table for the hallway, but when it proved too big I decided to keep it anyway – which was just as well, as it’s no longer available and I doubt I’d have found another that fitted the bay window so well,’ she says.

Office makeover: 'An unused room is now my creative haven'
Good idea! Spray-painted cans and containers make inexpensive desk tidies and can be finished to suit your scheme. Lisa chose metallic shades to offset brown and blush tones

A second-hand pine cupboard, spotted during a visit to friends, now holds all her office essentials, and the metal chairs and vintage bench were found on eBay.

‘Online auctions are great for bargains, although buying vintage does require patience – I’m still on the lookout for the perfect bookcase for the wall by the door, but I’d rather wait and find something unique than simply buy new,’ she says.

Office makeover: 'An unused room is now my creative haven'
Smart shutters ensure privacy while still allowing light to flood the room for a well-lit workspace. The couple saved money by buying online, at a discounted price, and also took advantage of the measuring advice for a bespoke fit

Lisa did decide to invest in some new pieces when accessorising her new-look room, though. ‘I think mixing things up helps add character to a room,’ she says.

So, it was never in doubt that a trip to IKEA for a tactile jute rug and seagrass shade would also result in a few more finds, including plenty of storage boxes and baskets, plus the striking floral wall sticker that now adorns one wall.

Office makeover: 'An unused room is now my creative haven'
Although Lisa mainly furnished the room with second-hand pieces, she has also added finishing touches from the high street, including this handy set of modular organisers from Lakeland to keep her office bits and bobs organised

‘I must admit it was a bit of an impulse buy, but I felt the room really needed a little pattern and colour – and, along with my pink cushions and favourite Hockney print, I think it’s worked a treat,’ she says.

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Some quick DIY desk tidies were then all that was needed to complete the new room, which Lisa now describes as her ‘ideal work environment.’

Shop the look

Walls and skirting painted in Chimney Brick absolute emulsion, £47 per 2.5L, and intelligent eggshell, £32 per litre, Little Greene. Kinnared Peony decorative sticker, £6; Lohals natural rug, £80; Torared seagrass pendant shade; £13, Flådis seagrass basket, £13; Kuggis white storage boxes, £13 each, all IKEA. Plastikote gloss spray paint in Gold, £5.79 per 400ml; Brilliant Metallic spray paint in Copper and Silver, £6.99 per 400ml, both B&M. Made-to-measure shutters, from £168 per sq m, California Shutters. Palazzo Frosted Oak oiled hardwood flooring, £88.50 per sq m, Quick-Step. Vintage stripped pine tallboy, £350, Richard Amos 18 The High Street. Tolix-style industrial dining chairs in Vintage Copper, £36 each; vintage folding bench, £35, both eBay. Tatay Baobab four-piece tray organiser, £9.99, Lakeland. Pink folders, £2.50 each, Hema. Velvet and linen rectangular cushions in Blush, £20 each, Cox & Cox. Bamboo battery lantern, £27.99, Lights4Fun. Dried wreath, £20, Blooms & Candy. David Hockney print, £10, Tate Shop.

This is a digital version of a feature that originally appeared in Your Home magazine. For more inspirational home ideas, why not subscribe today?