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Office makeover: ‘My small home office has all I need’

Kate Watson used clever design hacks, smart storage and a love of colour to create a space that’s perfect for working from home

In the midst of lockdown, photographer Kate decided to turn her underused ensuite bathroom into a home office with everything she could possibly need.

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Here, she shares her makeover story…

My experience

This room used to be an en suite, but we also have a bathroom and downstairs loo so when lockdown started and we were all working from home, it made sense to turn this into a dedicated office.

I sold the bathroom suite online to fund the project and had the room replastered.

Before she transformed it into an office, Kate's bathroom was underused
Before she transformed it into an office, Kate’s bathroom was underused

Then I bought two rolls of peel-and-stick wallpaper, which was a revelation. It was so easy to put up, with no mess at all, and literally took an hour.

Welcome to my home…

A bit about me I’m Kate Jane Watson, a photographer. I live with my two daughters, Poppy, 13, and Lola, who’s 15. We live in a three-bedroom Victorian terrace in Stroud and we moved here in 2016.

My problem office During the first lockdown the girls were using the dining area – my usual office space – for their home schooling and Zoom lessons, but I was still trying to work on projects and needed a quiet space to edit my images to meet my deadlines. We were all getting in each other’s way and none of us had any quality space to concentrate on our individual tasks.

Kate Watson

I was going to do the whole wall, but I liked the blocking effect so decided less is more. Then I painted the walls. I always head straight to the bargain bin at B&Q and found this tub of pink paint.

To be honest, I don’t even know the name of the shade, but it was only £10 and it’s a lovely colour.

Kate chose white as her base colour to encourage a sense of space in the small room. White paint was also a cheap option as Kate opted for a simple, budget brand to achieve a quick refresh
Kate chose white as her base colour to encourage a sense of space in the small room. White paint was also a cheap option as Kate opted for a simple, budget brand to achieve a quick refresh

I painted three quarters of the wall first and then decided to have a play, using masking tape for an interesting effect. I’d already earmarked the rug, from Wayfair, to go in here and was lucky enough to find an off-cut of carpet for £30.

A bit more about my home… 

How I made it work I decided to convert an under-used en suite into a dedicated office space. I ripped out the shower and loo and had the room replastered, then I decorated. I commissioned a bespoke desk and filled the room with plenty of storage.

My favourite part I love the walls. The paint effect was so quick, easy and cheap to create, and the wallpaper strip adds a fun touch. I also love my desk. It was my biggest spend but it’s bespoke, so I got to choose the exact size and colour, and I had a hole put in the back to tidy up the wires.

Kate Watson

I asked a local kitchen maker to design a desk out of birch ply and Formica and then had a day at IKEA to stock up on everything else I needed. Now I have a place to work in that also inspires my creativity.

These IKEA pegboards are easy to customise so you can choose what accessories you want to suit your needs. Kate asked her desk designer to make a couple of plywood shelves to sit on the metal brackets
These IKEA pegboards are easy to customise so you can choose what accessories you want to suit your needs. Kate asked her desk designer to make a couple of plywood shelves to sit on the metal brackets

Style advice

Prioritise creating a workstation

It’s important to have a well-designed workspace to encourage good working habits and productivity. A comfortable chair that protects your back is key, though don’t forget to move around every 20 minutes.

'My small home office has all I need'

Good lighting is also important, whether natural or a bright desk lamp; and encourage a tidy desk while keeping everything to hand with a pegboard, then finish with a pinboard to display inspiring pictures and prints.

Customise cupboards

The IKEA IVAR cupboards are great quality, easy to put together and quick to customise. Kate used tester pots to paint the geometric design on each door.

'My small home office has all I need'

‘My tip when doing this is to remove the masking tape while the paint is still wet to prevent bleeding,’ she adds. Kate then attached the hairpin legs to turn the cupboards into floor-standing cabinets. The black handles – just £4 each from IKEA – finish the look.

Include clever storage

A tidy house is a tidy mind, so the saying goes, and plenty of storage will encourage a good work system.

'My small home office has all I need'

The wall-mounted magazine rack, from Wayfair, is perfect for keeping notebooks to hand, and Kate keeps her props for styling shoots ordered in colourful boxes. ‘I also use cardboard boxes for storage as they look good, and they’re free.’

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Feature and styling Lisa Moses. Photos Katie Jane Watson. 

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