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Design

Have An Unused Nook Begging For Some Attention?? Make It A Beautiful At Home Office

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We get the “what do I do with this awkward/unused space” question A LOT. And we totally get it because designing even a normal laid out space is hard enough. But today we have a GREAT solution that I think most of us in desperate need of. I am extremely excited to formally introduce blogger, DIYer, and designer, Tiffany of Pretty Real (check out her patio in yesterday’s post). When I came across her Instagram I was immediately taken with her joyful and approachable aesthetic. And then when I saw her One Room Challenge I knew that so many of you would both relate and be inspired by her warm but minimal (drumroll please)… office nook. I mean look at it! Tiffany is a mother of 3, with a husband who also works from home. So with everyone needing a place to work, she decided to give her dining room a break and really utilize an underused area.

I also wanted this reveal to be part getting to know Tiffany and part getting into the nitty-gritty of how she created this space. So grab a cup of coffee (or wine depending on the time of day…or not;)) and let’s have a blog chat.

“Mercer” Print | Frame | “Moth ii” Print | Frame | Rattan Pot | Brown PlanterWonders of Man Book Set | Brackets | Coil Basket | Hanging file Holder (Spray Painted) | Folders | Pencil Sharpener | “Here With You” Print | Gold Desk Organizer | White + Brass Stapler | Chairs

What prompted you to start blogging and when did you start? 

I started blogging over 10 years ago. Of course, it’s completely different today than it was then so please don’t look back at my old posts! A friend and I started it together- it was called Taste{FULL} and primarily focused on fashion, parties, and food- much different than my focus now. The blog was initially my friend’s idea, but I quickly came to see it as a creative outlet and a fun way to express myself. It continues to be that and combines my love of writing, photography, and inspiring others to celebrate their families and create a home they love.

How would you describe your style? (Sorry it’s such a hard question!)

This always stumps me. I’m a sucker for trends which does me no favors in figuring out what’s really my jam. I think at my core I’m vintage/modern which I know sounds like a rug category but I can literally start planning a room and before I know it I have one vintage-inspired design board, and another that’s completely mod. I try to mix the two (I love the tip that you should have something old in every room- wait, did I learn that here?- and find that I do that naturally) while also creating a cozy and comfortable vibe. I love clean lines and try as I might, I just don’t love pattern outside of geometric/ethnic varieties.

anyone recognize that wall notepad from this post?

Emily has little ones, but your kids seem to be a bit older thus making actual school a non-negotiable. That must be a bit of a challenge (understatement??) under quarantine. Was this what prompted your ORC idea?

My kiddos are 10, 8, and 5 and yes, yes, yes. They were 100% the inspiration for the ORC project although somewhere along the way I realized that I too, need a workspace. It began with my daughter asking for a family computer for gaming (how am I even old enough to have a kid into gaming??) and we thought it would be a great idea to have a centrally located place for a computer- screen facing out if you know what I mean. And then Covid-19 happened and we realized it would also come in handy for remote learning. Unfortunately, we are slow with home projects, so we didn’t make the cut there, but we’ll be ready if remote learning is required come fall.

What was the biggest challenge of designing/installing the space?

Hands down it was budget (it’s always budget!) and sourcing the wood. We really wanted cabinetry but just couldn’t make the investment work so we decided to splurge on white oak and attempt a built-in look so that it would look substantial without cabinetry. 

Speaking of budget, do you mind sharing yours?

Here’s a breakdown (estimate but close):
Wood: $500
Hardware: $160
Chairs: $200
Wall Treatment: $200
Paint: $20
Accessories/office supplies/decorative: $300
TOTAL: $1,380

yikes that wood is stunning!

Any “fun” hiccups where you had to adjust the design?

I mentioned the wood- we must have gone to the lumber yard 10 times. It was difficult to find wood in the species and size we wanted. In the end, the shelves aren’t wall to wall nor floating- both part of the original plan- but I’m really happy with what we ended up with.

Where did you source the pretty wood you used? Was that a hard process?

A local lumber yard and yes. I don’t know if white oak is hard to find everywhere or just here (North Carolina) but it required lots of visits to the lumber yard (of course the first few don’t count when we were showing up at 2 pm and expecting the good stuff to still be there!). In the end, we settled for a narrower desk (even after joining two pieces together) and shelves that didn’t quite go wall to wall (we joined two pieces together for those too!). We also used brackets rather than float them since we were having a hard time finding 8/4 wood in the length we needed.

Jess here! I can attest to the wood finding process to be A PROCESS (and good wood isn’t cheap). Just be patient and keep an open mind.

Do you have a favorite detail?

The brass sconces are my favorite. I found one on clearance and then a couple months later another one appeared at the store. This was probably a year ago but I kept the faith and had been saving them for forever, waiting for the perfect place. 

Hot Tip

If you love the exposed bulb look like Tiffany's beautiful sconces but want them at eye level then make sure to go for an opaque bulb like she did. This way it can have the exposed look without going blind. THE DREAM.

Any tips or tricks for installing a baseboard after you put up the paneling?

We reused the baseboard that was there. After carefully prying them off, we removed the nails, cleaned them up and repainted them before nailing them back on with a finish nailer. No adjustments were needed for the back wall. The side baseboards had to be cut shorter to account for the thickness of the paneling.

How did you adjust the outlets to account for the paneling on the back wall?

My husband used electrical box extenders (make sure to do this prior to attaching the paneling). We learned that the hard way for the shiplap in our kids’ bath.

Is the desk secured to the wood supports or is it sitting on top?

It sits on top but was also glued. The process is on the blog. My husband plans to attach small L brackets for extra support. But you’ve heard of the 90% club, right? Cause we’re in that. 😉 

Was there a reason (aside from it looking great) that the bottom shelf is at the height it is? Did you want to make room for a potential monitor, chalkboard for school, etc.?

I basically sat down and made sure it wouldn’t hit me in the forehead. Perhaps there was a more scientific way? We also plan to use a monitor on the desk, so we wanted to make sure there was room for that. Aside from that, the space can feel a little cave-ish so we wanted to avoid exacerbating that with a very low shelf.

EHD also tends to design very “scientifically”:)

Why did you opt for the side sconces vs ones under the shelf?

Mainly because I’d been hoarding them for forever and they worked perfectly there but I also didn’t want shadows. That said, we may install puck lights if we find ourselves using the space at night, often.

Have you made any style adjustments since using it in real life?

We use seat cushions on the chairs and there’s a letter board that often has the word ‘poop’ on it complements of my kids. Other than that, not really!

Was this your first ORC? What is the experience like? Any advice for designers wanting to get involved?

It was! And it was everything- fun, challenging, exhausting, exciting… If I’m being honest, I wouldn’t say one space in my home is “finished” other than our playroom so I love that it motivated us to completely transform a space in a short period of time. It pushed us past our comfort zone, and I think my husband was even motivated to make it great knowing there was a community of people cheering us on. I highly recommend it! As for advice, I think it’s important to sketch out a timeline and have an idea of what you will share and when. Tackling a small space (though it packs a punch) was hard because it felt like there wasn’t a lot to share week to week. Last tip? Don’t compare. There are many talented designers (real designers!) taking part and it’s just not motivating to compare your project to anyone else’s. Embrace the community, focus on fulfilling the potential in your space, and it’ll be great! When you run into hiccups just know it’ll all work out and you’ll be equal parts relieved and proud in the end.

And for the grand finale… 

Thank you so much to Tiffany for letting us feature her wonderful space and taking the time to answer all of my questions. It turned out SO great. I also hope that all of you have been inspired to take your little nooks and reimagine what they could be. The possibilities are clearly endless.

Free later?? Join us over on the EHD Insider community at 4 pm pst/7 pm est for a happy hour zoom chat with Em and the EHD team. We’ll be answering your questions (personal, business, and the like) and enjoying each other’s company. RSVP here!

Credits: Design and Photos by Tiffany of Pretty Real

Fin Mark

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Susannah

Nooks are perfect for mini office spaces like these, built-in banquettes for napping and reading, entertainment centers, or more storage.

Kate

I love this whole space! Congrats!!! Wouldn’t change anything myself…

karen

As school from home discussions have continued for the fall, my husband and I were just talking about how we wish we could have a better designated school space. Thanks for your timely post.

Herselfindublin

Gorgeous transformation. And I love that the shelves are so high above the desk shelf, it really gives it an airy feel.

Katy

I love this! I’m so instantly inspired, I didn’t even make it past the first image before I pinned it to a couple of boards. This is just the inspo I needed for a couple of shelving areas I am installing in my home. Great work Tiffany! It’s so beautiful!

Thank you so much!

I need to find a good nook for this same reason! It looks really nice. 🙂

Gabrielle Muir

Tiffany, love this post thanks for sharing!

It made me want to check out your website, what a find of all the things I have wanted to do, yet needed a little inspiring & how to.
– Outside movie night, comparison looking great items with a lower price point options,….
When I saw all your posts it reminded me of stumbling on series of unlatched Outlander or Poldark.
Jess great questions and introduction.
Thanks

Thanks Gabrielle!

Robyn

Looks beautiful! A question on the custom shelves – were you able to find wood that was presurfaced and cut to length or did you do that yourself? I would love to make some solid wood shelves but don’t have any of my own tools. Thanks!

Suzanne

I’ve heard that places like Home Depot will cut wood to the length you need, probably at a fee. But Tiffany has many posts on her blog. Here’s one that describes the finishing process of the floating desk. It does look like there were power tools involved.
http://www.prettyrealblog.com/2020/06/how-to-make-shelves-with-two-narrow.html?m=1

Rusty

Oh, wow!! That’s perfection right there in that nook!

Jessica

Love the color palette! My office nook needs some attention but first I have to get a through-wall AC put in to make the space usable 😛

Speaking of the EHD community, were y’all actually planning to give folks a free voucher if they couldn’t afford it? I sent an email but haven’t heard anything back 🙁

Suzanne

Beautiful space! I love nooks and have actually wished I had one to do something like this. And that white oak is stunning. All those early morning trips to the lumberyard paid off.

haha thank you!

Ryan Gaylord

Oh man those Lana chairs will not come back in stock!! Been checking daily 🙁

keep at it! I had to for a bit before I got two. If you’re near a store I’ve seen one lone chair in my local stores numerous times!

I LOVE everything about this! My favorite response was about the word “poop” being written far too often. I have three boys who do the same, so that one made me laugh!

ha! So glad you could relate.

Sophia

I love this nook!! That wood is AMAZING!!

Jillian

Really love this little work space! Absolutely gorgeous, and inspiring that you can make something out of nothing! 🙂

Brenda

This is so awesome! I love how they were able to do it on a pretty tight budget but have it look like it wasn’t! The other neat thing about this, is that as they evolve as a family, if for some reason they don’t want it as an office nook anymore, its not such a huge waste to remove it down the road, like built-in cabinetry would be. Not that I would ever want to rip it out, but it is funny how things change as your family grows. My house is a former shadow of itself from when my kids were little.

That’s a really good point! I’m totally scared of commitment so I do like the idea that it could be removed if necessary! Now my husband may not like that idea as much… 😉

Nicolette

Thank you for sharing Tiffany’s work!! This is the kind of ally-ship I hope sticks around

Jenms

More of this kind of content, please!

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