Room for Improvement

I'm taking part in Room for Improvement - it's a fun competition where you take £50 and use it to improve a room!  It's being run by Money Supermarket.

Room For Improvement

Like most exhausted busy, working mothers I don't have a great deal of time on my hands - the time I do have spare I like to spend in my garden, at my sewing machine or drinking a large glass of wine or two!

So I decided to accept the cash and be a little bit selfish with this challenge and spend it entirely on improving my own space - the little space I call home for many many more hours than I get paid for every day - my harry-potter-esque cupboard under the stairs that is my office!  It's small but it's functional and it's also usually a mess!

Last year I converted the cupboard into my office, had the door removed when we re-plastered our dining room, removed the hoovers and junk shelves that were in it and added a desk, book shelves, my PC and a calendar - that was it - functional (aka boring).

As you can see it was dark, needed painting and it wasn't exactly inspiring (despite all the books!) and I regularly let it get much messier than it should be as a result - you need to love somewhere to keep it pristene!

Eeek - so messy and dull!

Get those shelves sorted out! Do I need all that clutter?

A messy uninspiring space is NOT conducive to work - but when it's the only space you have, you just have to get on with it!  

My Theme for the Makeover!

I wanted it to feel light, bright and a bit crafty too - and I wanted plants and a view!!!  (a lot to ask for an understairs cupboard in a terrace house with a party wall)

I'm a long way from where I really want to be living in North Wales where I grew up, where there are huge views of the sea and mountains, houses are cheaper and I might even be able to afford a whole room for an office with a WINDOW!....  

Let there be Light!

...and so I had an idea to create a fake window.  My plan is to be able to change the view with every season or whim - mountains today, a garden tomorrow, just by slotting an image (divided into 4) in between the fake mullion and transom  (cross bits)

As you will see from the final pics, my plans were slightly thwarted by a printer which refused to print today and frustratingly I'm on deadline for this project -  But I hope you can see how great it looks just with blue card in it and imagine just how fab it will be with my printed views - New printer didn't fit into the budget!

A Room with a View

I planned out the wood I would need and how I could best make it look like a window.  The wood was really cheap!

One piece of planed soft wood 18 x 44 at £2.50 from B&Q.
One piece of moulding at £2.00 from B&Q
One sheet of MDF at £9.18 (I have lots left over!)
Brackets for wall £2.00
Shelf - I had this piece of wood!
Screws - used what we had.
A4 Photo Paper for the changeable images - £7.00  (I have 50 sheets so lots of potential views!)

Total = £22.68

Cutting the shelf to size on my patio!

I used a router to create a decorative edge on the inside edge of the frame - to make it look more like a real window. We have lots of carpentry tools and router bits as we recently built our own kitchen from scratch (never again, saves money, not time!!!) 
I also created a bull nose edge for the shelf with the router using a round-over bit.  Clever tool is a router!

Then it just needed painting.  I used a basic one coat satin to paint the window frame and also to re-paint the toungue and groove under the stairs - it cost £9.98  - I have loads left, I had to get a new pot as the one I thought I had in the shed had gone all funny and yellow!

Next is the PRETTIFYING!

Get some plants on the wall!

3 terracotta pots from the garden centre at £1.49 each and some brackets at £1.00 each - I used a selection of nuts and bolts I had laying around.
3 little Ivy plants from the garden centre at £1.99 each

Total = £13.44

I'm worried these little guys won't get enough light - so I'll try and give them a sun bath when I go out for my coffee every now and again - I have a daylight bulb in the office but not sure if that's enough? (Any green fingered folks would love to hear your tips!)

I do love a detail!  Super simple - the plants are in their own plastic pots and as they are near electrics (my PC = my lifeblood!)  I'll have to water them elsewhere to save dribbles!

Add Some Colour!

I have some drab office drawers from Ikea - they are metal and very very functional...  so I gave them a burst of colour by removing the handles, sticking on some bright card and then adding the handles back on - I'm so pleased they look amazing now! I used carpet tape to stick them on and it's really easy to remove, so if they get a bit shabby or I move office and need a different colour scheme I can replace them - took me about half an hour in total to do this!

Coffee Pen Pots!

Sewing, coffee and beer - and what do you do with those empty coffee pots?

I felt decidedly blue peter doing this - but the result is amazing!  Wrapped some of the card I'd bought around some nescafe azera coffee pots as I felt the budget wasn't going to stretch much further (especially after buying the beer!

Azera Coffee posts wrapped in card

A pack of card at £5.00 for lots of colours from the paper mill I work for papermilldirect (They were nice and let me choose more than 5!) I even used the scraps as little inserts into my drab files and I have loads left - I had to use some in the window in the end too, after my printer malfunction.

 Last but not least I sewed up a little bunting - had everything I needed for this from my ridiculously large fabric stash - just wish I had time to sew more...

 it's a little scruffy as bunting goes, but I love these japanese fabrics! Also stuck up some cards that I love from Paul of Navarone.

The rest was just about tidying!

Great to have made a place for my beetle from my trip to Indonesia - to always remind me of the project I was involved with for Save the Children, my inherited typewriter from my sister in law and also my lucky wooden elephant that needed a little safe place to live!  There's also a nice space for my camera to live here.

Ta Da!  Look how bright it looks now! I'm loving my bright window and the potential for views once my printer is sorted.

Just looks tidy and inviting - thanks to #roomforimprovement for this amazing opportunity!

The before and after - quite a change I hope you will agree and all for less than £50!