The first room I wanted to feature was one of the first rooms I actually “finished” in the condo, as it didn’t require any renovations: my den of productivity (a.k.a. the office). I’m sure the space will evolve over the years, as my needs change–but right now, I need an office space to hunker down in for the majority of my weekdays.
I hadn’t had an in-home office since I’d lived in Chicago, but with WFH as the new normal for the foreseeable future, I wanted to build a comfortable space to spend 8 hours of my day in. The kernel of the design for the space came from a photo I saw in my Pinterest wanderings–navy blue walls with walnut and white. It’s amazing how inspiring a single image can be–that plants the seed of an idea that you can run with and build an entire room around.
One of the great joys of owning one’s own home is the freedom to finally go bold with colour. For the last decade really, I had played it fairly safe with my design decor, neutral furniture and walls and only pops of colour. At long last, I was excited to unleash my colour kraken, so to say.
Given all the windows in the space, and how bright the room is, I had no qualms painting the walls a rich, dark blue (Benjamin Moore’s “Old Navy”). Because the room’s footprint is relatively small, I didn’t want heavy, full bookcases or a massive, bulky desk. Flanking the arched entry to the den, a pair of CB2’s wall-mounted bookshelves were installed to keep things light and minimal, so that the books, art, and plants could really shine.
In my search for desks, I became obsessed with the idea of a live edge walnut tabletop. While most pieces of lumber come with a straight edge, a “live edge” refers to wood that retains its irregular, natural edge. I loved the idea of the juxtaposition between very modern, glossy, clean-lined bookshelves with something that follows the curves of nature. Most desk options that I was seeing were either extremely expensive or not the right dimensions. I finally came across a local company, Son of a Woodcutter, that does custom work for a reasonable price. I ended up purchasing a live edge “dining table”, customized with the appropriate desk dimensions to fit in the space.
I knew that I wanted a little sitting area in the other half of the den–a place to curl up and look out the windows. To tie in with the walnut colour, I fairly quickly zeroed in on a pair of “Professor” chairs (perhaps a cheeky nod to my former life as an academic) in Italian Brompton Cocoa leather from Restoration Hardware. I really love their petite dimensions–that they weren’t big overstuffed chairs that loom large in the space. The irony is that I’d actually owned a loveseat version of these exact chairs in Chicago, but that piece had gone with my ex-husband when we parted ways. While I felt a bit silly re-buying essentially the same chairs I had 5 years ago, I remembered that there was a reason I bought them the first time (they’re really great chairs!).
One of the last touches to the den, which didn’t even go up until after the other renovations, was wall art. I wanted something colourful and playful to liven up the dark expanse of wall, and these prints of vintage Vogue covers from Etsy caught my eye. Not only are they aesthetically appealing and have the right bit of whimsy for my taste, but I liked that they’re an ode to my love of fashion (which has sadly taken a bit of a backseat during the pandemic, with all our sweatpant work attire and the whole not-leaving-the-house thing).
Eventually, I’ll replace the vertical blinds (I’ve never been a fan, as they always feel very “corporate office” to me). I’ll have dual-layer cellular shades installed; because my windows are SE-facing, the den gets an incredible amount of sunlight, which means it can get very hot during the day. So I’ve ordered honeycomb shades that are designed to trap air in its little pockets to keep things cool in the summer and warm in the winter.
It truly is amazing how a space can be transformed with a lick of paint and the right furnishings. Working from home, we spend so much time and energy confined to the same space, that it’s worthwhile to try and fill that space with things that you love or make you smile. After sitting through the umpteenth call of the day, my eyes will often wander over to a charming portrait of Giz or stare up at my colourful magazine covers. Just an added lift to get me through the day.