DECOR & DIY, Interior design

Multi-functional spaces – having your office in your dining room

As you may know, we live in a relatively small townhouse – the standard 3 beds, 2 baths, living room, kitchen and dining room. As a result, we don’t have any office space – not ideal when you have 2 people who need to have the ability to work and create from home as well as 2 kiddos that need to have space to create and do homework as well. In order to solve this problem, we knew that we were going to have to create a multi-functional space and take some space from our dining room and convert it into office space.

Now, had we had space in front of a blank wall, we could have bought one of those all-in-one cupboards – you know the ones, where you open the doors and the whole office is contained within it. The problem with that solution was twofold:

  1. We decided that the best place for the office would be under a window, because we didn’t want to be staring at a wall (we are now, instead, staring at our laundry, but hey, it’s better than a wall! HaHaHa).
  2. We hardly ever buy things that are ready to use – we usually design something that we (read: Hubs! HeHe) can make ourselves or we buy something that we can make over, I feel that it just adds such character to a space.

Now, I would have loved to have bought an old desk at a junk sale or antique store to fix up and paint, but it really wouldn’t have worked for our needs (STORAGE!). This led to me agreeing to let Hubs design a desk that would fit under the window and hold all our important things, like printer, Silhouette, small CNC (yes, he has one of those), PC hard drive and other random PC paraphernalia. Oh, and storage for stationery and decor – I needed space to store some decor!

This was a huge risk on my part, because I knew the frame would be made with metal (Hubs is a fitter and turner, or machinist, so metal really is the material that speaks to him), with pine top, sides and doors. So it would have much more of an industrial look (which I do love) than my french country inspired dining room. Also, Hubs always has a rough idea of what he wants, but he loves to build and design on the fly, so I never quite know what I’m going to get!

Anyhoo, while Hubs was busy building it, he warned me that it was slightly larger than we had initially planned, but nothing could have prepared me for the surprise that I was going to get. I walked in one Friday afternoon, to find the frame of a monster standing in my dining room! It was huge! And high – not table height, but bar counter height! And it didn’t even have the top on it yet! Internally I was freaking out, because how on earth am I going to make this metal and wood elephant match my french country inspired dining room? Surely we didn’t need such a huge desk!!

Sawdust and High Heels - pull out drawer for PC storage
So the pull out drawer is not so neat and tidy at the moment, but it fits everything that we need – it’s been built to specifically fit our needs.

Well, it turns out that we did, because of all the stuff I had wanted to hide. Hubs came up with an ingenious way to store the printer, CNC, Silhouette and other PC paraphernalia – the cabinet on the left side was a pull out drawer on wheels! Seriously, I didn’t even know that he had built it like that, it was one of those ideas that he had while busy building it! Also, because it pulls out, it provides an extra work surface for when we are busy working – something that I can never have too much of because I love to spread everything out – I call it organised chaos!

Sawdust and High Heels - faux card catalogue drawer fronts on cabinet doors
Looks like drawers, but – SURPRISE – it’s a very messy cabinet!

I wasn’t quite sure of the other side, because that was just a normal cabinet with these huge, plain doors, which I found rather boring. In addition, the whole piece was a bit too industrial for my french country dining room. The answer that I came up with was to add faux card catalogue drawer fronts to the doors of the cabinet (here is how we did it!). I mean, it was the perfect answer – I have always wanted a card catalogue, but most certainly don’t have the space for it – this way I have the best of both worlds!

The desk top is pine ply; he routed the edges for me, just to give it a finished look. I stained it in Nova in Antique Oak and then sealed with Annie Sloan clear wax (it was what I had and I didn’t feel like messing with varnish). Because I wanted a distressed look, I’m quite happy for us to get creative in that space, I’m not worried about dings and messes, because it will just add to the character of the piece over time.

By building this custom made desk tailored to our needs, we were able to quite easily incorporate the office space into the dining room. Most of the mess can be put away when we are entertaining and the desk/bar top serves as an extra server or bar area for drinks. On the flip side, when we are at home working or creating, we have space to spread out, paint, draw, type, write, mess… and just have fun!

Sawdust and High Heels - multi-functional space - office in the dining room
Our multi-functional space – dining room and office in one! I think that we managed to balance it quite well.

What do you think? How you do deal with multi-functional spaces in your home? Would you like more information on how we (ahem, he) built it? I would love to hear from you!

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