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Work in Progress - A work from home solution

8 min read

Published 28 Mar 2021


My design for the plywood desk.

This month, I’m writing about another work in progress which truly is still in progress - there are remaining bits and bobs to be installed and/or bought, but the clients have kindly shared some update pics with me, so I thought I’d show them to you. 

When I was contacted by this lovely family needing help it was before the pandemic began and we couldn’t have dreamed of what was to come. As the project (and the pandemic) progressed, the focus shifted from making the most of a recent kitchen extension, to providing a work from home space for two - something that I’m sure is familiar to a lot of you. Here’s what the space looked like when I first saw it:

A photo of the area where the desk will be built.

here's the area which had become a corridor and had no purpose

A photo of the kitchen area before we started work

the kitchen area before we started work

A photo of the pantry area before we started work

the pantry area which is just off the kitchen

Here's the floorplan to explain how the areas all fit together:

A floorplan of the space before we started work

They had originally called me in to add the finishing touches to this new space and to make it feel like a cohesive whole. There were little things that needed to be done like installing a tiled splashback and adding some extra storage in the kitchen area. They also wanted to find a use for the awkward area between the living room and the kitchen. Before the extension was added, this area would have been part of the original kitchen, but now that the kitchen has moved, it had become a walkthrough  - not much more than a corridor - and it felt underused and empty.

We did discuss adding a desk or maybe some storage for kid’s toys in this area at our first meeting, and were getting ready to come up with a design plan. And then lockdown happened and the world ground to a halt in March last year. The couple got in touch with me again in June, with an update that they were both now working from home and that a new desk area was a priority. They needed a space which was large enough so they could both work side by side, with plenty of room for laptops and monitors, and also some storage for all those office bits and bobs.

The clients also wanted me to address the lack of storage in the pantry (which is just off from the kitchen) and to add some form of display shelving in the kitchen itself for glasses etc. They’d been given some beautiful glasses as a wedding present and understandably wanted to have them out on display. And if we were going to be getting the other things done, we may as well address the lack of a splashback. It was impractical as the walls were getting splattered with food when cooking, and it meant the small window in the kitchen didn’t have a window sill and looked unfinished, so we decided to get that sorted out too.

A photo showing the view from the pantry to the kitchen

the view from the pantry to the kitchen

So - on to the ideas and the brainstorming stage. The couple wanted to add some more colour and liked greens, blues and oranges, but as they already had a large orange sofa in the living area and had seen some glossy green tiles they liked, we decided not to add any more orange and go for the green. They also had some stunning original artwork with lots of oranges and greens in it, so I thought the green tiles would work well. I felt that the green would sit nicely with the cream shaker kitchen they had, and laying the tiles in a classic ‘stretcher bond’ or metro tile pattern would bridge the gap between a more traditional kitchen style and the modern look they both liked. We all agreed that some open corner shelving above the splashback would provide the display space they were looking for. I suggested making the shelves in the same wood as the existing wooden worktop (American white oak which was finished with a stain) to help to make them look like they were part of the original kitchen installation. 

I designed the height of the splashback to cover the minimum needed for keeping the area clean, finishing the tiling at the next full tile above this measurement. I made sure to use only full tiles in the design, as it would not only look better, but not having to cut tiles would also keep labour costs down. The new shelving would then ‘sit’ on top of the tiles. Here is my design for the splashback and shelving:

my design for the splashback tiles and the new shelving

We stuck with American white oak for the shelving, but the clients really liked the idea of using plywood for the desk as it’s clean and modern looking, and I felt the pale colour of the wood wouldn’t dominate the whole space when used over a large area. Plywood looks great when it’s not painted, and can be protected with a clear oil, so it’s easy to maintain. I think the wood grain in plywood is truly beautiful, and even though it’s a relatively inexpensive material, when used well it can really add to the visual appeal of a room.

Up next - the pantry which is connected to the kitchen with a clever pocket door. The fridge is in here so the whole area needed to be accessed easily, and it definitely needed more storage space. The washing machine and tumble dryer were going to be moving to the utility room which is one door further along, so that gave us some room to play with to add the extra storage. 

The idea in here was to add as much storage as possible without making the space look cluttered, and to make use of the currently redundant space above the fridge. We all thought that using the plywood in here again would help to unify all the spaces, and even though there was already a worktop in here, replacing it with a new plywood one made sense visually. The old worktop could be used in the utility room, so we were also able to reduce the amount of waste this project produced. 

Here are my designs for the pantry area - I chose sliding doors for the doors under the new worktop so the items inside could be easily accessed and it meant that there would be no possibility of an open door blocking the entrance from the kitchen, or worse still, that someone could hurt themselves by walking into it.

My design for the pantry storage

I measured the fridge and designed the rest of the storage to fit around it neatly. The couple would now have a usable space above the fridge where they could add baskets to hide some of the kitchen bits they didn’t use very often. I also designed some high level storage on the opposite side of the pantry which didn’t have the depth for any more cupboards. This shelf is above head height and deep enough to house tinned goods etc. I added a rail around it so that the tins wouldn’t be in danger of falling off the shelf and hitting you on the head. Here is the shelf design:

My design for the high level storage

The final job was for me to design the desk. It needed to be a functioning desk, but we also wanted it to fit in with the home and not just look like a work space. My solution to this was to add in some shelving above it which could also be used as display space, and adding lighting to some of the shelving meant that the couple could show off some of their treasured items too.

The recess between the main wall and the wall leading to the kitchen area was the obvious place to build the desk, but the wall leading to the kitchen wasn’t deep enough to house a desk that would be big enough to use. Building a practically sized desk meant that it would stick out further than the wall, so I had to find a way to do this and make it look intentional. I decided to add a cut out in the plywood support at this end of the desk, as it would reduce the visual weight of the whole piece, and it could also be used as another display area. Adding a plant here which could be seen from both the sofa area and the kitchen area would help integrate the desk design into its new home. Here’s what the design looked like:

My design for the desk

There were a few other practical things to consider too - there was a radiator on the wall where the desk would be going, so I arranged to have it moved on to the adjoining wall. We needed to add more plug sockets so all the couple’s work equipment would have power, and I kept these under the desk so they wouldn’t spoil the look of the display area but could still be reached easily. I needed to plan in holes for the cables to be managed neatly, and we had to decide how to finish and protect the desk. We discussed stains and different looks but we all felt that the plywood should be kept as natural looking as possible. In the end, we finished the plywood with Danish oil to protect it and bring out the grain, as this is something I’d done before and was pleased with how it looked. And I have to give a shout out to the couple here, who spent their evenings applying three coats of oil - it’s a sticky and quite smelly job, so thank you for your dedication!

The couple asked me to project manage the build, so after producing construction drawings I brought in my extremely talented carpenter and all the other trades needed. They did a fantastic job and it really was a team effort, and it’s great to see how they translated my design into a finished product. I also want to thank the lovely couple who allowed me to work on their home and coped with all the mess and disruption that a project like this brings, and I’m glad to see from the photos they sent me that the space is working well for them.

A photo of the finished pantry storage.
the finished splashback and shelving in the kitchen.
A photo of the finished desk.

Welcome to my design blog, where you'll see posts about anything from the projects we are working on, to the latest fabric and wallpaper collections, and 'how to' guides for all things interiors related. I love colour and pattern, architecture and old buildings, and I especially love the moment when you see something so beautiful it makes you take a sharp intake of breath.

Happy reading!

We won!

28 Apr 2022

The Cardiff Life Awards 2022 winners badge
This month, we were pleased as punch to receive the Best Homes & Interiors award from the prestigious Cardiff Life Awards. Cardiff Life Magazine are well-known champions of our city, and the annual awards celebrate the best of Cardiff talent, so we are over the moon to be named 2022 winners!

Morris & Co. X Ben Pentreath

28 Mar 2022

A room styled with items for the new collection of fabrics and wallpapers.
The designs of William Morris have made a comeback over recent years, and now they have been given a striking makeover by interior designer Ben Pentreath. The Queen Square Collection has reimagined some of Morris's most famous fabrics and wallpapers in rich tones and vibrant colourways. You can see the collection here.

Matchy Matchy

28 Feb 2022

A photo of Woodchip & Magnolia's wallpaper matching the fabric on the sofa.
One of my favourite design houses, Woodchip & Magnolia, have gone all out for the all over pattern trend and produced wallpapers and fabrics in the same prints, which I love. You can see the whole stunning collection here.

New fabric collection from Prestigious Textiles

28 Jan 2022

A photo of fabrics and cushions from the new collection from Prestigious Textiles.
A new collection of sumptuous fabrics has just been released from Prestigious Textiles, called Monsoon. The collection includes tactile velvets, animal motifs, embroideries and beautiful sheers, so it's versatile enough to use anywhere in your home. If you'd like to know more about these fabrics, please get in touch.

New reeded glass pendants from Mullan Lighitng

28 Nov 2021

A photo of the Nahla glass reeded pendant
Lighting designers and manufacturers Mullan Lighting have a new range of reeded glass pendant lights available. These Mid Century inspired lights come in three shapes and four finishes, but the Nahla (the one pictured above) is my favourite. You can see the range here.

Little Greene and Bert & May join forces

28 Oct 2021

A photo of some green Bert & May tiles from the new collection, in a bathroom painted green.

Little Greene has announced a collaboration with tile brand Bert & May. The collection sees eight gorgeous Little Greene shades translated onto tiles, giving you even more opportunity to add colour, texture, and a mix of materials to every area of your home. I love this bathroom combination above, with the perfectly matched tiles and paint offset with touches of terracotta, mustard and oak. You can see the full collection here.

Dulux colour of the year - Bright Skies

29 Sep 2021

A promotional photo from Dulux showing the paint colour Bright Skies in a room setting.

So, Dulux have announced their colour of the year for next year, and here it is! Bright Skies is described as the 'breath of fresh air' that we all need after being indoors for so long. What do you think? I'm reserving judgement at the moment. It looks a little cold in the picture, but I don't think the beige sofa and the styling are doing it any favours here. Maybe colour drenched (painted on walls, ceilings, trims and doors) and with some warmer burgundies and terracotta, it could be lovely. You can buy the colour here.

A new home collection from Paloma Faith

28 Aug 2021

A photo of the vintage botanical black wallpaper from Paloma Home.
British singer songwriter Paloma Faith has recently launched her first collection for the home. It includes wallpapers, fabrics, cushions and bedding, and she describes the look as 'faded grandeur and retro maximalism'. The prints are everything I love - dramatic, colourful and fun, and you can see more of the collection here.

It's all about soft yellows

28 Jul 2021

A photo for Little Greene with room inspiration for using Carys yellow paint.
I was watching an Instagram live post from The Little Greene Paint Company last week, and they were discussing a comeback for yellow. Now, as you know, I don't think you have to follow the trends but yellow hasn't been fashionable for a long time, so this sunny, uplifting shade is often overlooked. A warm yellow like Little Green's Carys (above) is perfect for cheering us all up, and you can buy it here.

The cushion that gives back

28 Jun 2021

A photo of the green velvet cushion on a chair.
Introducing the cushion that gives back, from homewares company Oka. They have produced this cushion in partnership with The Trussell Trust who support two thirds of the UK's food banks, and 100% of the proceeds from sales of this lovely green velvet cushion will be donated by Oka to The Trussell Trust. It comes in a range of other colours too, and you can buy the cushion here.

A beautiful new tile collection inspired by the National Trust

28 May 2021

A photo of one of the new tiles in a kitchen roomset with pink walls and black bar stools.
Just launched, Ca Pietra a new tile collection in collaboration with the National Trust. Every tile has been inspired by one of the historic properties, gardens or coastlines looked after by the Trust, and a minimum of £10,000 from sales of the tiles will be given to the National Trust to help them continue their important work. You can see the collection here.

Yummy new switch & socket colours

28 Apr 2021

A photo of two of the new light switches from Dowsing & Reynolds
Did you ever think that your light switches were good enough to eat? I'm guessing the answer is no, until now. You can now buy switches and sockets in these gorgeous colours from the new Dowsing & Reynolds Cafe Culture collection. They come in luscious shades like Cinnamon, Caramel Latte and Whipped Cream, so you can tone, coordinate or contrast with your wall colours and make every part of your interior scheme look delicious. You can buy the gorgeousness from here.

A sustainable fabric choice

29 Mar 2021

A photo of the some of the new Eco range of fabrics.
A beautiful new sustainable fabric range from Clarke and Clarke has just been launched. It's made entirely from recycled materials so you can refresh your home with a clear conscience. You can have a look at the fabric here. Get in touch with me if you'd like to buy any of this fabric.

Sought & Styled - Preloved items given new life

28 Feb 2021

The sought and styled logo on a green background
This month I want to highlight a business run by a very talented lady I met a few years ago (remember when we could meet people?) Not only is she a creative interior designer, she also runs an online shop where she reuses and repurposes anything from soft furnishings to larger furniture items. Everything sold is bespoke and unique, and is effortlessly waste conscious because it's being used again. You can visit her shop here.

Do kitchen worktops bore you?

27 Jan 2021

A photo of a Blackpop design on a kitchen worktop.
Thanks to a genius idea from kings of pattern Blackpop, you can now have one of their colourful designs on your kitchen worktop. They will put any of their funky fabric or wallpaper designs onto waterproof MDF to make you a unique worktop, or they can even make a design just for you. Chopping will never look the same again! You can buy the worktops from their website here.

A Fresh Take - Cardiff Life feature

18 Dec 2020

The cover of the December 2020 issue of Cardiff Life magazine.
This month's issue of Cardiff Life Magazine is out today, and features an interiors special, because one thing this past year has made us do is take a new look at our homes and how we'd like to live in them. To see what I and other local interiors experts have to say on the subject, including a round up of the trends for 2021, have a flick through the digital mag here.

An enchanting inaugural wallpaper collection from Tom Baker

26 Nov 2020

A tropical teal wallpaper plasters the wall above a wainscoting panelling and a navy fabric covered bench. The wallpaper is adorned with tropical wildlife and atmospheric jungle scenery including parrots and  jaguars.
This opulent and atmospheric wallpaper from Tom Baker immerses you in a world of tropical flora, fauna and exotic animals. With soft cool tones and hints of pink floral detailing, this is the perfect wallpaper to add a relaxing and exciting edge to your home. Find this enchanting collection here.

A new shady collaboration between Matthew Williamson and Pooky

20 Oct 2020

A picture of designer Matthew Williamson, standing next to a blue dresser with a wide array of candles and candlesticks on the top. Behind him in a ornate floral wallpaper with a sunburst mirror
The humble lampshade is often overlooked, but with the new collaboration between Pooky and Matthew Williamson they won't be for much longer! Matthew Williamson has applied his talent to design a new range of Pooky lampshades. Whatever your taste, colour scheme or budget you will find the perfect lampshade for your home in this new collection which is now available. This spectacular new collection can be found here.

Felt covered curtain poles

17 Sep 2020

Walcot House felt cover curtain poles

Now you can add some texture to your window dressing with these Walcot House felt covered poles. The pure wool coverings come with a option for bronze or steel fittings and wide spans up to six metres. The curtain track is cleverly hidden within the wooden curtain pole and there's a choice of nearly 50 colours and textures. You can find out more here.

Please vote for my blog

11 Aug 2020

A picture of the Amara Blog Awards vote for me sticker.
I'm really thrilled to have been nominated for an Amara Interiors Blog Award this year! If you enjoy reading my blog and would like to vote for me, I'm nominated in the Best Interior Designer Blog category, and you can vote for me here.

Upcoming interiors trends from Love Rugs

10 Jul 2020

A photo of the Love Rugs website featuring the article.
Love Rugs, the people who know about all things rugs have just published a feature on the upcoming interiors trends for 2020. They asked six of the UK's top interior designers (including me!) to tell them what the upcoming trends are, and in particular the changes we will be making to their homes. The article can be read here, and if you'd like to have a look at the huge range of rugs they offer, click here.

A new fabric collection from Linwood Fabrics

15 Jun 2020

A photo of the new Kami collection from Linwood fabrics.
I love Linwood fabrics - they have a fab way of mixing colour and pattern into something really special, producing fabrics and wallpapers that make me want to coo. This new collection, available at the end of June, is just as gorgeous. It's called Kami, with the pattern inspired by a 19th Century document. The collection is a range of printed velvets, so perfect for upholstery and accessories like cushions.

An easy way to update your kitchen

16 Apr 2020

A photo of the new birch handles from Superfront.
If you are looking to update your existing Ikea kitchen rather than replace it, Stockholm based company Superfront are here to help. They sell a range of fronts, handles, legs and tops to fit not just the Faktum kitchen range but also the Besta, Metod and Pax ranges - so you can customise anything from your sideboard to your wardrobe. These super cute round handles are part of their new birch collection, and the whole range can be found here

Move over boring taps - colour is the new black

13 Mar 2020

A photo of the new coloured taps from the Dowsing & Reynolds Miami colour pop collection.
Colour has been taking over our kitchens and bathrooms for a while now (yay!), and has slowly been creeping into sanitaryware and fittings. These perfectly coloured mint green and pastel pink taps from the new Miami Colour Pop Collection from amazing homeware brand Dowsing & Reynolds are spot on and would look gorgeous in any kitchen or bathroom to add a shot of colour without overwhelming with sugary sweetness. You can learn more about this new collection here.

Who knew a door stop could look this good?

19 Feb 2020

a photo  of the new doorstop from Buster and Punch, with their logo and branding.
Door stops are one of those little annoying things that we all need, but are not the prettiest to look at. Now London based Buster & Punch have turned their attention to the problem and transformed the humble door stop into something cool and covetable. They might cost more than your average one from a DIY store, but as you're going to see it every day, why not look at something beautiful? here.

Wallpaper made of cork?

29 Oct 2019

A photo of the wallpaper made from cork, By Monkey Puzzle Tree
Sustainability and concern for our environment are key in the interiors world right now (as they should be). So when I saw that Monkey Puzzle Tree (a brand I admire for their sense of style and creativity) had produced this wallpaper made of cork, I was blown away. Cork is great for so many reasons - it can be harvested every nine years without harming the tree, is grown without the need for pesticides or fertilisers, has excellent sound and heat insulation properties, and is naturally antimicrobial and antifungal. This wallpaper has an A+ rating for emissions so it creates a healthy environment wherever it is hung. Add to this that the design was produced in collaboration with the talented Drew Millward who lives in my home county of West Yorkshire, and that it's called 'Hit The North', I was bound to fall in love with it. You can buy the wallpaper here.

I'm in Cardiff Life magazine - again!

17 Sep 2019

The front cover of Cardiff Life Magazine issue no.208, Autumn 2019

Now that the summer is officially over and our thoughts turn to cosying up our homes for winter, I'm here to help. If you're in need of some inspiration, you can read all about the interiors trends for Autumn and how to work them into your home in this month's Cardiff Life magazine. Hear what I and other interiors experts have to say on pages 18-22. You can read the digital version of the magazine here.

I've been nominated for an Amara Interiors blog award!

6 Sep 2019

The Amara interiors blog awards voting banner 2019.
Exciting news! My little blog (Design Insider) has been nominated for an Amara Interiors Blog award! I'm so chuffed to be included at all, and not expecting to win, but if you enjoy reading my blog posts then please vote for me. I'm nominated for the Best Interior Designer blog category. Voting is open until the 11th of September and you can vote for me here.

My kitchen project featured on the Artifact Lighting blog!

1 Aug 2019

A view if the contemporary copper kitchen featuring the copper pendant lights from Artifact Lighting.

When I designed the contemporary copper kitchen, I wanted to use some copper elements to add warmth and also to tone in with the pink walls and pale grey units. I found these pendant lights from a company called Artifact Lighting, and they are perfect because they add to the 'warm glow' I wanted to acheive. They also have a vintage look which contrasts nicely with the sleek look of the kitchen units. When the kitchen was finished I sent some pictures to Artifact Lighting, and they liked the kitchen so much they featured it on the blog page of their website.

You can read the blog page here

House of Hackney's first outdoor fabric

26 Jun 2019

A photo of the new House of Hackney Palmeral print for outdoor use.

One of my favourite interiors brands, House of Hackney, who are known for their daring and quirky prints, have just released a new fabric which is suitable for our door use. They took one of their designs, Palmeral, and reimagined it in a fresh colour palette of off white and green. This colour fast and water resistant fabric can be used for anything from outdoor cushions to furnishing yachts (if you are lucky enough to have one!)

My thoughts on the colour Living Coral in Cardiff Life Magazine

31 May 2019

A photo which accompanies the Cardiff Life article about Living Coral
Hear what I and my fellow designers have got to say about Pantone's colour of the year, Living Coral, and how to use it, in this month's Cardiff Life magazine. The article is on pages 84-86, and you can read it here. Do you think you could use it in your home?

Sustainability in furniture design

7 May 2019

A photo of the new Componibili Bio.
Sustainability is something that is becoming more and more important in interior design - not just where we buy items from and how far they've travelled to get to us, but also the materials that they are made from. Kartell, one of Italy's best known design brands, have just released the world's first piece of furniture made from a bioplastic called Bio-On. It's a fully sustainable version of one of their best selling items - the Componibili modular unit, and it comes in four delicious pastel shades. They may be 100% sustainable, but they are also super cute and bang on trend with this seasons colours. You can buy them here

The latest trend in shutters

24 Feb 2019

A photo of California Shutters new range in ash wood.

Forget painted shutters - the new style direction for window shutters is bare wood. These full height shutters made from sustainably sourced ash are the newest product from California Shutters, and are set to be big this year.

My new favourite tile!

7 Feb 2019

A picture of the Lampas Marint pattern tile from Topps Tiles

I was searching for some tiles for a client's splashback recently and came across these beauties from Topps Tiles. There's long been a trend for patterned tiles, with lots of geometric shapes and bold colours going on, but I've begun to see more and more tiles with a pattern in the surface of the tile itself. These ones are a lovely example, and the deep blue colour is just stunning. To get a closer look at them, follow the link below.

Lampas Pattern Marine tile

Pantone announce their colour of the year 2019

11 Dec 2018

a shot of a coral reef with the description Color of the Year 2019

Leading colour experts Pantone have annouced the shade which they think will be the colour of the year for next year - Coral pink. It might look very bright and scary, but it's actually quite easy to use. I wouldn't suggest painting a whole room in it, as that might be a bit overwhelming, but I would use it in small doses, such as on cushions or in artwork, to liven up a shceme. Pantone say that the colour is meant to 'embrace us with warmth and nourishment and provide comfort and bouyancy in our continually shifting envirnoment', which basically means it's a happy, uplifting colour, and might just cheer us all up!

My work featured on Homify

8 Oct 2018

a view of the dressed bed, pink walls and blackout lined curtainsMy work has been featured in an article on Homify - one of the leading online ideas platforms for all things interiors. My project is in an article on how to avoid common mistakes when designing a bedroom. The article mentions how important it is to block out light for a good nights sleep - something I addressed by adding blackout lining to the curtains and adding an extra layer of window dressing with the wooden Venetian blinds. To see the article, please use the link below.

Homfy article - Are you guilty of these 8 bedroom design mistakes?