Home Office Makeover Part I

I wanted to show you the first stage of the home office makeover because I have been talking about it for a long time and while it’s broadly finished I am waiting for some blinds and also for the gloss paint to fully cure which means I can’t put anything on the shelves but I thought I would show you what has happened so far.

home office with panelling at
home office with panelling and mock up window dressing at

Now this room has been through it in the 10 years since we moved in. At that stage the house was two flats and this room – which measures roughly 6ft by 8ft, not including the corridor entrance, was the kitchen. It’s a sort of L-shape as the room next door was originally just a loo (in several houses on the street it has remained a loo and this is a good-size bedroom). However, when we arrived the loo room had been pushed back into this one to create a small bathroom with this kitchen next door.

shelves painted in little greene gloss arras
shelves painted in little greene gloss arras

We moved the kitchen downstairs and the then 7yo decided that he wanted this as his bedroom. It made sense – he was small, it was small and given that he can make titanic amounts of mess we thought this might contain it a little. Four years later we made the room over and created a built-in bed and desk which you can see here. He insisted on this cool blue shade and complained loudly for the next few years about how cold his room was (see yesterday’s post on blue). The pictures don’t really show it but instagram was mostly a twinkle in social media’s eyes back then.

gold ceiling at
gold ceiling at walls in threadneedle by mylands

Last year we decided that the now 17yo needed a bigger space to study for his A levels and since my study (formerly the 19yo’s bedroom – keep up!) was being used mostly as a junk room we decided to swap. In my defence for the constant tetris I offered this room to to the 17yo when his brother moved out and it became the spare/junk/laundry and he adamantly refused to move. So I took it, painted the ceiling gold and loved it.

light from la redoute
light from la redoute

But then the lockdown came. And with it the chance of redecoration. And as the room filled with the clutter we had zealously cleared from other rooms so I retreated to the sofa. The 17yo, however, spent most of last year lying down on his bed in this tiny room.

Something had to be done. When lockdown eased towards the end of last summer I called the decorator and explained. He put me on the list and promised to return as soon as he could. Which turned out to be a month ago. In the thick of another lockdown but with builders and decorators allowed to work. He arrived masked shut himself in with the window open and we donned masks to pass him cups of tea at regular intervals.

bedroom painted in little greene puck with slaked lime and mylands FTT002 gold ceiling
bedroom painted in little greene puck with slaked lime and mylands FTT002 gold ceiling

Now you will remember I showed you my plans for this room which involved some panelling and a rich emerald green. The 17yo was insisting on more blue. He was also hesitating over the gold ceiling which was fair enough although the decorator was hesitating over its painting over.

Then he saw my green. And demanded that it be his. Nothing else would do – he would keep the gold ceiling (which he secretly quite liked). I took the deal as there was also anaglypta wallpaper on the lower half of the wall which he hadn’t yet noticed and that was going to be a nightmare to remove.

So he was in and happy. Twenty four hours later he announced that he rather liked the texture on the wall and was glad of the eggshell finish. So that was him sorted.

bedroom painted in little greene puck with slaked lime and mylands FTT002 gold ceiling
bedroom painted in little greene puck with slaked lime and mylands FTT002 gold ceiling

Meanwhile, I had to start again. Then the new colour card from Little Greene landed, which I wrote about a couple of weeks ago. I instantly reverted to type – and chose Arras for the panelling and Ferdinand for the ceiling. And now you see it.

The back wall, once the built-in bed is lined with shelves and the panelling goes round the rest of the room. My desk just squeezes in front and the chair sits in the corner. The pendant light is from La Redoute. I had planned to hang two at different heights but I got the measurements wrong and it was too big – I love the single one though and it’s just behind the curved chair so no head-banging. There are also smaller versions and the light it gives is lovely and soft. Clipped to the shelves are two Hector pleat lamps from Original BTC (who I started working with last year). The shades are hand made from bone china and they give the most gorgeous diffused light. I’m particularly keen on the idea of being able to move them where you want with the clamp and the plug in cable which is so much easier than having to wire in a wall light.

hector bone china pleat clamp light from original btc
hector bone china pleat clip light from original btc

Finally I need a window dressing. This is a north-facing room with two outside walls. I wanted a curtain but have realised there is only room for one and there’s no space for a curtain pole to extend to the left of the window to pull it back fully so it would cut the natural light. So it will be a blind. I wanted something over the top and floral but having looked at dozens of patterns it isn’t quite me so I have decided to go for the over the top floral but in black and white with a pink stripe behind it. I await the samples and I will, of course show you the room when it is fully done.

By the way – because you will ask – the Berber rug is from H&M about three years ago and the Persian rug has been rolled up in a cupboard for about six years – we’ve had it forever. It has emerged slightly moth-eaten and faded which, as any fule no, is a perfectly good way for a Persian rug to be.

office at madaboutthehouse - panelling in little greene arras and walls/ceiling in ferdinand
office at madaboutthehouse – panelling in little greene arras and walls/ceiling in ferdinand



Tags : home officehome office makeoverpanelled walls
Kate Watson-Smyth

The author Kate Watson-Smyth

I’m a journalist who writes about interiors mainly for The Financial Times but I have also written regularly for The Independent and The Daily Mail. My house has been in Living Etc, HeartHome and featured in The Wall Street Journal & Corriere della Sera. I also run an interior styling consultancy Mad About Your House. Welcome to my Mad House.


  1. Not about your office, Kate, though I love it. Just to say I’m having trouble opening your last two emails. Is it just me? Or is it the wretched bt. mail- I’ve had great problems since they dropped the Yahoo portal.
    Can’t bear to miss your super ideas. Maybe I’ll have to rejoin your email group?

    1. Oh I’m not sure – I haven’t changed anything so I can only assume that if BT has that might be the issue? Can you try unsubscribing and resubscribing? Sometimes that can do it.

  2. You’re a genius, Kate! Cosy and functional, and I really love that colour: elegant and modern.
    Also, YAY for the gold ceiling having stayed.

  3. Love it! You must be delighted with it!
    Very very clever use of space – both tight awkward floor plan and the panelling painted in a gloss finish, which pulls it all together and draws your eye away from the odd shape of room and also the slope of the ceiling. Making it feel both cozy and spacious. It’s very luxurious! Very jealous!
    I hope you enjoy it!

  4. A solid, well organized room for serious writing The wall rail is thoughtful above the T&G walls. It is wide enough to hold works of art which can then be changed and moved about. Or just enjoyed where they are. Very nice images too! I love the inclusion of your vintage desk and that cozy armchair. When spring arrives, you can enjoy sun filled breezes through the window. I also like how the window frame is painted in the arras colour to blend in with the shelving and the panelling. The effect draws one’s eye up to the top of the window creating an interesting linear visual. A Happy space!

  5. Love it Kate, looks fabulous, but where oh where did you get your b/w stripy vase?! It’s calling to me, Gx

    1. Well you need to pick the right shade of blue basically – a warm blue for a north facing room or it will feel cold whereas a warm blue in a south-facing room will be very intense. As I said on Monday, Sophie and I will be discussing this in the next episode of the podcast – you can subscribe via this link to wherever you get your podcasts.

  6. Is the green chair poking out from behind the desk a proper office chair? On wheels? If so, where is it from? We are looking for two office chairs, having redecorated, but they’re either ugly chairman of the board or pretty backache.

    1. It is not! It is a dining chair from Rockett St George but I will say that the curved back makes it very comfortable – for me at least. If you buy office chairs you can either have them reupholstered or I have added one or two to Design Storey shop: where you will see – at the top – an ochre version of this green one.

  7. I love the new office, Kate, even more than the last one. It feels cosier (not because of the size) and really nicely put “together” – I love the Arrras colour. I got the new LG colour card too and I’m thinking of re-painting my bedroom in the Nether Red (I was going to use a colour from Emery & Cie but it’s a hassle to have it delivered from Belgium!).
    Those clip lights are great. I bought some clip parts myself online (from a pet reptile supply place weirdly…) and will buy coloured cloth cable and use some old shades I have. It’s for my husband’s office so I suppose I can’t go too over the top, but he generally likes what I end up doing (read – doesn’t really care unless I go really wild with the decoration 😆).

  8. Sally

    What is the curled leaf picture. I recall you did a post about this company in the past and I liked it rhen.

  9. I love your new office, Kate. The glass side table is my favourite piece from the photos. May I ask where you got it from? I’m currently looking for something similar and so far haven’t had any luck in finding just the thing for a slightly awkward corner of the living room!

  10. The trouble with that desk/laptop combo ( and I have had something similar) is that it plays havoc with your back & neck – I get that is dull but there it is- maybe a really exciting office chair?
    Can I also ask if the window is single glazed- I have a very similar bedroom with single glazing which I am thinking of replacing – because the house is like an igloo- but not sure what with.
    Also would appreciate another post on feature lighting which doesn’t cost the earth.

    1. I get it. Glad everyone is sorted out.
      I love, love paisley, and would kill for those shelves, perfect for my yarn stash.
      Cheers from Canada!

    2. This chair is pretty comfortable but I know it’s an issue. Re lighting – your wish is my proverbial – come back on Thursday… – if you see this in time are you wanting desk, table or ceiling in preference?

  11. This is absolutely beautiful. I was absolutely delighted to received the new Little Greene color card too and had ring marked Arras to use somewhere in my house so it is great to see it put to such great effect too.

  12. What a lovely room. I love your desk. I admired it in the previous study and it looks good yet again with the new colour scheme.
    I like the way you position it. I have always disliked having desks facing walls or placed in such a way that my back is to the door. It makes us feel unsafe, doesn’t it? Some sort of leftover prehistoric instinct 🙂

  13. Love the colours and the room looks really spacious even though the dimensions suggest otherwise. Is the small glass side table new (if so could you share where from?) or is it something you have had a while. Love it!

  14. I absolutely love the gold ceilings and Kate you inspired me! So my lounge has the most beautiful gold ceiling. I call it my little Downtown Abbey!
    Love it…… thank you for all the inspirations.
    Michaela X

  15. I L ove the new office Kate. You’ve done so much with the space. The question is; do you have a coffee machine in there? Otherwise I imagine the kitchen table and it’s proximity to those amenities may keep the top spot!

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