Monday, 22 July 2013

An attic make-over: From dumping ground to home office

In September, I am going back to university to study for my masters degree and with everything really taking off with my blog, I am in desperate need of an office at home so that I can work and study in peace.  The previous owners of my property had the loft converted into a bedroom, a large landing area and a bathroom but until now, the space hasn't really been utilised to its full potential.

Our blank canvas- walls painted and the carpet cut
This summer, Mr WLL and I have taken on the task of converting the bedroom in the attic into a home office ready for my studies.  We've got the floor down and the walls painted as you can see from the photo above and we've started buying things to go in it.  I've really enjoyed the process of removing all of the junk and clutter with the view to creating my own personal space.  When its finished, I'll do an office tour for you all but for today, I thought I'd share with you some things to consider when you're thinking of doing an attic make-over.

Turning an attic into a home office doesn't have to be a chore - it can be the ideal way to add value to a home, to create more useful space and to free up a new type of area that will prove a real boost to your lifestyle, like in my case giving me a place to work and study within easy reach.  It will be a place to shut away my work so that the rest of the house is an area not associated with work, unlike now where I'm often studying on my laptop in front of the lounge television. With the right environment, studying at home is the best place to do it! Surrounded by one's own things, it's easier to focus on the job at hand and - when it's time to stop for a quick snack or drink - it's just a case of heading to the kitchen. There are some issues to consider though and here they are...

Choosing the right colour for your office space is really important and in order to choose the right colour you need to think about what it is that you're going to be doing in the office in order to create the right mood.  I opted for my favourite colour, coral, as the main colour in my theme as it is a colour I associate with the summertime, my favourite time of year and of feeling happy.  I choose Coral Flair from the Dulux Feature Wall range as whilst being a bright pop of colour, it is creamy so it isn't too in your face.  I wanted to keep the rest of the walls relatively light as too much of a bright colour may give me a headache particularly when studying for prolonged periods and for that I chose Malt Chocolate from Dulux as it compliments the coral really well and wont mark as easily as white.  For the skirting boards and radiator, I've chosen a bright white to keep the room clean looking, light and airy.

Lighting and Electrical Sockets
Lighting is a really important aspect of a home office. Think about where the desk will be in the room, and what sort of angle the light should come from - is the choice going to be for table lamps or a standard lamp? If so, sufficient power points will need to be installed close to the desk. Or if the choice is for downlighters in the ceiling, make sure the electrics are well planned and sorted out before any decoration is done - otherwise a lot of unnecessary mess will be caused.  I am pretty happy with the location of all of the sockets in the room as it is but it is definitely something that is very important as if there isn't a plug socket near where you'll be putting your computer or printer then you will have to run an extension lead around the room which just looks messy, as well as providing a trip hazard!

A good investment will be a proper office chair - preferably one with a high back for extra comfort. Arms are always an advantage too. It's best to try a chair out before buying one - I'd recommend having a look online first, to get an idea of the prices and different types of chairs, and then head out to try them out. Generally, with office chairs, you get what you pay for: the more expensive the chair, the longer it'll last, the sturdier it'll be, and quite possibly more comfortable too.  I like a wide seat as I like to sit with one leg under the other which isn't incredibly brilliant for my posture but it is my preferred position of comfort when I'm sat typing for hours!

If studying for long periods of time, it's important to be able to get fresh air into the room. Even better - nip outside for a break every now and then. Take inspiration from your favourite sports stars and grab a game of tennis or go for a run. Exercise and fresh air always help when studying- I like to take my Bichon Frise, Daisy May, for a walk around the park on my break from studying. For ventilation in an attic office, a Velux window or a skylight could well be the answer. But check first about planning permission, especially if any new windows overlook a neighbour's house or garden.  I have Velux windows in my loft room already and I've just ordered some sample fabrics for the blinds to match the colour scheme that I have gone for.  They're pretty pricey but they give privacy, colour and shade to a room.

Remember, if someone is walking around on the top floor of a house then whoever's directly underneath will be able to hear - so a wooden floor isn't ideal for a home office. Carpet tiles are a great alternative and relatively cheap too, as well as being practical: if a cup of coffee or glass of wine gets spilled then it's a simple matter of replacing the tile or tiles that are stained. Failing that, you could opt for a wall to wall carpet depending on how homely you want the home office to look.  I'm actually going to have a day bed in mine so that I can use it as a spare bedroom when I have guests over so a relatively affordable carpet has been my choice of flooring.  I chose this beige carpet as I thought that it matched the colours of the walls well.

Too hot or too cold is never a good idea - so some form of heating that's easily turned on and off is ideal for a home office. A small portable plug-in radiator might work well if you don't have one built in, or perhaps a tubular heater that can sit inconspicuously along a wall. I have a radiator on the wall already so I don't need to worry about heating in that room. Keeping a blanket or fleecy throw in a home office is always a good idea too for those evenings when it turns really chilly (though it's hard to imagine it at the moment, in the midst of a heat wave) - sitting there freezing is the quickest way for concentration to disappear!  On the day bed that I am going to have in the room I'm going to have a nice throw so that I can use it while at the computer or my guests can use it when they stay.  I also think it is important to have a fan to cool you down as attic rooms can get very hot.

Storage will be needed to keep files, books, stationery, and all the stuff that you accumulate once you're using your new home office. Think carefully about shelves, cupboards or drawer units - which of those types of storage will be required and would fit best in the environment?  I'm going to need drawers for all of the products that I have to review and shelves for my university books and folders.  Also, since I'm going to be losing storage with converting an attic space, some deep drawers for storage of miscellaneous items would come in really handy.

Finally, it's always a great idea to fill one's home office with a few accessories that'll make you feel at home and cheer you up every time you go into the room. Colourful cushions, photo frames, pictures, window blinds - none of those will cost a lot, but it's worth looking around for inexpensive objects that'll really make a home office feel special and individual.  I'll be covering my day bed with cushions and I'm going to put up some photos of my Simply Be photo shoot to remind me of the experience as well as the achievement.

So they are some of the issues to consider when turning an attic into a home office. Plan it well, and make a list so that everything necessary can be taken into consideration when the room is at design stage. Set a realistic budget: have a look your favourite websites to see what's on offer and - if the attic is to be converted from a presently unused space - remember to include all the basics like electrics, heating and lighting. It'll be a fun project with an exciting outcome.  I can't wait to share my finished room with you all!

What summer projects are you involved in?  What does your at home office look like? What tips for decoration could you give me?

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  1. I have a spare bedroom and home and while it is a dumping ground of clutter at the moment you've really inspired me to create my own space. thank you xoxoxoxox

    1. Aw thats awesome hun. I cant wait for mine to be completed. Im just looking online now for all the bits and pieces to go in it xxx

  2. What desk have you brought? Can you recommend anywhere for a good day bed?

    Em x

    1. Hi Em

      I got both my day bed and desk from Ikea. My day bed is the Hemnes one and the desk is the Liatorpe also from Ikea.

      Hope that helps.

      Laura xx


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