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Friday 22 January 2010

{Office Inspiration - A storage special}

Angela Carr is an architect who has a great eye for design and, unsurprisingly, those all important practical details. To round off my storage special week on Bright.Bazaar, I caught up with Angela to chat through her home office, where she runs her business living:room. Right then, let's get straight to it, as it turns out Angela's office holds memories behind every corner...

The office is downstairs at the back of my Victorian terraced house in Dublin - it's a split level house known locally as a 'Dublin Villa', which sounds much to grand! When I first viewed the house this was my favourite room - south facing and overlooking the garden - it's perfectly proportioned and filled with light. I'm a big believer in multiple uses for rooms to maximize their value, so this is not only my office for architectural work but it's also where I write, draw and it even serves as a yoga studio. I like to see my office as a hub for creative endeavour, which sounds so much nicer than work!

Ironically though, it was the last room to be put to use and my beloved books lingered in boxes for the first couple of years after the move. One of the things I love most about this room is having all my books about me - I've been obsessed with reading since I was a child. The shelves are an Ikea range with lots of accessories so I was able to put together a system that works for me - books on show and all the other messy stuff hidden away. Although this is a work space, it is my home first and foremost, so I didn't want 'officey' type things dominating the room.

Every room in the house has a chimney and most still have the original Victorian cast iron fireplaces - though I've never used this one. The picture over the fireplace is one of my own from when I was at school. I came across it when I was clearing out the room to create the office. I like having it there because it reminds me that before I knew about anything, I knew how to do that - to always trust in my creative instincts.

All my bits and bobs for working, drawing and filing live near my main desk - the white board is a great way of trying out sketch ideas quickly. The shelf is solid pine (Ikea) painted with Farrow and Ball's Borrowed Light - I try to buy solid wood where I can (and when the budget allows!) because it's longer lasting and more adaptable. I recycle old glass jars and use them to store stationary for easy access.

I keep a box of file cards beside the desk to help keep track of ideas and information, both my own and those I find - it's full of quotes and ideas for the business, for writing projects, for blog articles - the lot. Whenever I'm stuck I have a little delve in there and always find something to inspire - I use old cards and postcards to organise them.

These shelves are from a bathroom range that Habitat stocked years ago - I love the grain of the wood but being solid wood they weren't exactly bargains! To squeeze some additional value out of them, I separated the drawer from the invisibly mounted casing and fit them between the casings instead of inside them. This creates alternate open shelves and closed drawers, doubling the storage space - I've added small timber strips to the underside of the external casing to act as runners for the drawers.
I have a set of four chairs that belonged to my parents' first dining set when they got married, which makes them of mid-6o's vintage. They have a classic modern shape and I've been refurbishing them to match various rooms since I was fifteen years old. This time I reupholstered them with a printed sailcloth material by a San Francisco retro textile designer 'Melinamade'. I love mid century textile designs like Lucienne Day's classic Calyx print for Heals and picked this as it as similar feel to that period. The chair back was then painted in Farrow and Ball's Downpipe to match.

The desk was another basic Ikea buy - I like the neutrality of Ikea's basic white melamine finish (even if it is a devil to keep clean!), it's well behaved and can mix with most styles of interior. The files are organised in an old letter rack and the mug is handmade from a pottery in Cromarty. The sketches are from a recent article I did for 'Decorate and Improve Your Home'.
I love my office space, as it works on so many different levels, but for me the best thing about working from home is sitting down every morning to look out onto greenery, rooftops, Victorian chimney pots, flowers, fruit tress, birds, butterflies and the neighbour's cat.
Told you - interesting stuff, huh?! Anyhow, please do check out Angela's blog as it makes for a great read. It covers many aspects of her work, which focuses on showing people the value of good design and how small, cost-effective changes can make a real difference to our homes - increasing their value and improving the experience of living in them. Does your home need a new year rescue remedy? If so, then living:room's two hour Design Consultation Service with Angela, could be just what your house needs.
Thanks for stopping by; have a great weekend folks and I'll see you next week.


  1. Your office, sorry, hub for creative endeavours, is beautiful Angela. I love the mid century re-upholstered chair, your IKEA storage system (which one is it by the way?) and the way that you have altered the use of those Habitat drawers to maximise your value for money. Genius!! And it looks so tidy and well organised, can you come and sort mine out for me??

  2. Love this office, Will! Thanks for introducing us to Angela. I love the wall of bookcases filled with books! The fireplace is wonderful and I love the desk by the window.

  3. I'm glad you both like Angela's office; I think it's stunning. I have always longed to be able to work from a desk that looks out of a window, which bathes the room in natural light. I will be sure to take inspiration from Angela's office, if, fingers crossed (!) that day does come!

  4. That's a beautiful space - so bright and airy and wonderfully put together. Great article and lovely stills of all that's written about. Thanks for that. Breda, Dublin

  5. Sorry Will, meant to thank you for this lovely feature in my previous comment...poor form!!

  6. Hi Paula,

    Thanks for coming by again :) Don't be silly - thank Angela for sharing her amazing office space with us all! Hope you had a great weekend!

  7. WOW, what a lovely, sunny and bright space. Thanks for sharing it with us. I have the pleasure of meeting Angela just this week and can see her working away there!

  8. I'm so glad you liked it; Angela is a very creative and talented lady (with an office I could only dream of!) Thanks for becoming a follower, too.


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