Funky Items for Your Office Space

Whether you work in a cubicle, have your own office or even work at home, there are tons of ways you can spruce up your boring work space! Since there are so many options out there, both permanent and easily reversible, I may revisit this topic again or even make it a regular post topic. For now, let’s start with some small ways of bringing color into your space that aren’t permanent and can change with your mood.

Vintage Rainbow Mug (via Etsy)

Vintage Rainbow Mug (via Etsy)

A rainbow coffee mug is a great way to start your morning, or kick-start your afternoon. Having a personal coffee mug at the office always made me feel more comfortable, like I was bringing a little piece of home with me.

Metallic Gold Zebra Business Card Holder (via Etsy)

Metallic Gold Zebra Business Card Holder (via Etsy)

I saw this and had to post it just because of how ridiculous and hilarious it is! Why keep business cards in a boring old wallet or flip book when you could stack them in this fabulous gold zebra holder?! It may catch some eyes in your cube, or even become a conversation starter. If your client takes a card from this and laughs, perhaps that’s a little something to help remember you by. Or maybe it just makes you smile, and that’s great too. A smile or laugh is a great way to perk up on a dreary day.

Kantha Quilts (via Decor8)

Kantha Quilts (via Decor8)

If your building is drafty or you’re like me and always get chilly when sitting down for long periods of time, bring in a nice afghan or quilt to wrap up in. The patterns, colors and price ranges of quilts vary wildly so there’s something out there for just about everyone’s tastes. I like the mix of the floral and textile patterns on the above Kantha quilts. These are a great way to brighten up a boring chair, as well. If you have more space or an office of your own, you could even hang them on the wall to really brighten up the space.

DIY Color Block Cabinet (via Say Yes to Hoboken)

DIY Color Block Cabinet (via Say Yes to Hoboken)

These next two items are ways to change your furniture to give them more color, but they’re at least semi-permanent, so make sure to get permission from your boss first. Or go crazy if you work from home! The above image links to a tutorial on how to color-block wall storage. Without the paint I would’ve thought that shelf a bit old and dingy, but giving it bright stripes of color really helps to modernize it.

The Latest DIY: Faux Snakeskin Table

The Latest DIY: Faux Snakeskin Table

This is one of my favorite finds over the past few weeks: a tutorial on how to re-do a table without painting it, but instead by laying fabric over it! You could use this tutorial on just about any piece of furniture, but simple is probably better and easier. With a bit of glue and a lot of your favorite fabric, the possibilities are endless. Why have a solid block of color on a table when you could have snakeskin?

If you’re going to be spending long periods of time working, I feel that it’s important to make your work space as comfortable and inviting as possible. Even if you don’t have a lot of choice on where you work, there are both small and large ways to make the space more enjoyable.

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Groups of Photos or Art on the Wall

Between my art and Tim’s photography, we have way more to hang on our walls than we do wall space. Rather than space things out sparsely, like some galleries do, I’m a fan of grouping images together on a wall. It doesn’t look cluttered to me and instead provides a point of interest or conversation in the room.

secretary space (via the decorista)

secretary space (via the decorista)

If you’re not sure where to start, pick a theme and hang similarly-styled pictures closer together. Most of the frames above are works of art themselves! There’s nothing wrong with hanging frames without art: mirrors or colored paper could be used instead.

(via Refinery 29)

(via Refinery 29)

The paintings in the living room above don’t seem to have a lot in common, but they look great together. There aren’t any overly bright blocks of color in them or the pillows, so they don’t overwhelm the area and still perk up the light walls. It’s a bit unrelated but the blue cushion on the black couch is a really nice idea.

Laura Oakes: Vintage Style, British Made (via Apartment Therapy)

Laura Oakes: Vintage Style, British Made (via Apartment Therapy)

Don’t have any art and don’t want to hang mirrors? Instead of frames you could install box-shelving for a similar effect! These are great to display collections of items, allowing use of the shelve inside as well as the tops of the boxes. I love that they used pillows above, very practical! Most of the color in this space is thanks to pillows, a cushioned bench and the cool lamps hanging down from the ceiling. The only thing I’d be wary about is the width of the shelves, since my cats like to jump on things.

Girly Glam (via A Life's Design)

Girly Glam (via A Life’s Design)

If you have a busy wallpaper or don’t have a lot of wall space to group paintings/framed photos, you could always stick with a safer and less destrtuctive option like an inspiration board. In addition to the paintings hanging in our studio, I have a bulletin board with color palettes, notes to myself and other inspirational items. The great thing about using a board is that if you want to change the content, you’re completely free to do so without making extra holes in the walls.

Now is a great time to buy art or even posters, as lots of places are trying to clear out their back-to-school stock meant to decorate dorms. I really like the idea of doing your own thing, so gather up your favorite posters and put ’em all up together!

Grey Walls Don’t Have to be Boring!

As I showed you all last week, we painted our studio walls grey. On its own, grey is very subdued and can be a bit dull if there isn’t enough variety in decor to accent it. While I was pitching grey as a wall color to Tim before we painted, I looked at several spaces using grey as the wall color to prove that it can be done and it can be fun! It’s especially appropriate in a setting where both of us, for painting and photography, will want to hang lots of work up and edit work in a neutral space.

(via Refinery 29)

(via Refinery 29)

Every color here really stands out from the grey, even the white furniture. Having clear furniture is nice in a small room to give the illusion of more space, but any color would work just as well since the walls are so neutral. When sitting at that desk I’d be more apt to focus on the task at hand, since everything would look so in focus against the grey.

(via Apartment Therapy)

(via Apartment Therapy)

I love how bright the roses on those pillows are and how much they stand out. Almost anything goes for print or pattern in a grey space! We don’t have curtains in our studio yet, and will have to find some, since the sun beats inside in the afternoons and it gets really warm. Those chevron curtains above look perfect for the space, so chic!

(via The Decorista)

(via The Decorista)

Going light is definitely easier to stomach than going dark, since dark walls run the risk of shrinking a space. Something like a floor rug could be the focus point in a space like this. Seeing the flowers and that gorgeous chair, I think I may be a little bit of a sucker for pink in a space, what can I say? Thanks to a recent sale at Kent’s I was able to pick up a pink computer chair, which had me over the moon. That industrial spiral light fixture is superb. Wish I could get my hands on some spot lights, or other industrial lighting…

(via Design Sponge)

(via Design Sponge)

The framed prints on this warm grey wall really stand out. Tim could get a set of prints framed, or I could frame a set of marker drawings and achieve a very similar look. Those prints are an example of how matting something (the white area around the image itself) gives it more presence. Light and bright colors in particular work best against a grey, which is fortunate since I love to work with those colors most. Having the neutral furniture really draws your eye to what’s on the walls. What a smooth, relaxing space.

(via Kitschy Living)

(via Kitschy Living)

This dresser made from milk crates is just awesome. Doing research into grey spaces made me realize how much of an ideal color it is, especially for those just starting out in the renting game! If you find yourself with lots of mismatching furniture, photos and art, but don’t have enough money to rush out and buy color coordinating everything, choose a neutral color for the walls to tie everything together. The decor above is a bit eclectic, but works well in this space. If pure grey looks yucky to you, you could choose a grey that leans more towards purple, or green, or blue.

Rooms in Blue

After much deliberation (mostly holding paint chips up against the wall) we decided to paint our new living room blue (Glacier Blue if my memory serves)! Blue is a calm, relaxing and refreshing color. We thought it would be appropriate for an entertaining space as well as a space for us to relax after work or school. Blue also works with the color of the carpets, trim and furniture that we already had. But how do you decorate a blue space?

via The Decorista

via The Decorista

Both white and black can be used in a light blue space to play up contrast. Dark furniture and light carpets work well here. You can also use different blues (brighter, darker, etc) as accent colors, like they’ve done with the pillow and chair. Feel free to include blues that don’t exactly match the hue/lightness of the wall! For example, include blues that are more towards purple or green. They’ll keep the space from looking monotone and flat.

via The Aestate (tumblr)

via The Aestate (tumblr)

The mauve/violet against the navy blue really pops here. There are some neutrals to tone down the bright colors, almost a charcoal in the fireplace. Since wood is naturally brown/orangey, and orange is opposite blue on the color wheel, these two colors play well off each other and make each other look great.

via Marcus Design Inc

via Marcus Design Inc

I’ll confess that I would absolutely love to have some zebra stripes in our living room! Whether through simple accent pillows, or a chair, or a nice rug, black & white stripes look great with blue. Big yellow curtains bring warmth to the cool colors, and the green armless chair bridges the gap between yellow and blue.

via The Peak of Tres Chic

via The Peak of Tres Chic

I love this art wall; black and white photos look so classy against the blue wall above. Blue is such a great color because almost anything works as an accent against it; black & white like I mentioned earlier, silver, gold, espresso… so many possibilities! This space makes me wish we had more white furniture as it really brightens the room up. It’s also worth mentioning that pink looks amazing against blue, so go to town!

via PicsDecor.com

via PicsDecor.com

I’ve said before that wallpaper is coming back, and it’s something I’d love to play with in our space, even if it’s just on a small wall that no one ever looks at. The intricate pattern here looks gorgeous, and they’ve compromised by not doing the whole wall. Having the solid block of blue beside it gives the eye a place to rest.

We’ve finished painting the living room and are slowly putting it back together. All the boxes are finally gone (from that room at least) but we still have to organize the clutter a bit more before I’d feel comfortable showing off some photos. But stay tuned, because eventually I plan to show our new living room off!

Have a great weekend everyone!

More Ideas for my White Apartment

I thought that if I was home all week it’d be no problem to get posts up.. guess not! We’ve been packing pretty steadily all week without a whole lot of time to do much else. I’m hoping things will be back to normal next week but it all depends on when we get internet in the new place, so no promises there. Keep an eye on my twitter feed for moving updates, if you’re interested in the mean time.

I’ve been glancing at Pinterest and my blog feeds over the past few weeks for ideas on how to decorate and/or paint our new apartment. Since we’re located on the back of the building it stays nice and cool but may not get as much light as other units, so I’d like to keep whatever palettes we choose nice and light to reflect what light we do get.

(via The Peak of Tres Chic)

(via The Peak of Tres Chic)

I don’t think Tim would go for this much pink but I really like how soft it makes the room look. With only a small amount of black accents, this room looks open and welcoming. The chic vintage-travel-type painting on the wall ties everything together and gives these soft colors a bit of an edge.

(via Chloe Rose Boutique)

(via Chloe Rose Boutique)

More pink, but it’s really subtle. Silver accents this space much better than black and help keep things light and shiny. These modern lucite chairs also give the illusion of more space than there actually is.

(via The Decorista)

(via The Decorista)

Pink and blue are two of my favorite colors. If I’m going to include them in our new place, though, it’ll likely be in small doses. Pillows or flowers are a simple and practical way to bring in some brightness and fun to a space. I’d absolutely love to have a cow hide rug (they’re so durable and super easy to clean), but that may have to wait for holidays. In a small space, keeping clutter neatly organised in book shelves or other storage is critical.

(via Serena and Lily)

(via Serena and Lily)

Technically this isn’t a white space, but I liked this color combination so much that I chose to include it in here anyway. Yellow and magenta seem like they’d be too bright to work off each other, but if you keep them pale they really liven up the space without it being garish. Doing some wainscoting or painting half of the wall is something we’re considering as well.

(via Mimi and Me)

(via Mimi and Me)

The rich colors in that painting caught my eye immediately, but then I was drawn in to the richness of the space as a whole. Leaving wood plain instead of painting over it warms up this mostly-white room quite nicely. The green in the plants pop against the magenta/purple in the background.

I’ve been able to sell of quite a bit of my art, so I’ll have some more wall space to play with when we get settled into our new apartment. Being able to paint art specifically for the new place, as well as paint the walls, will be a lot more fun than this packing is! I’m off to fill more boxes, see you all soon, maybe from Halifax!

Zoe Pawlak

Haute Design, an interior design blog, introduced me to Zoe Pawlak‘s work. Zoe does custom work for clients based on the spaces they live in, working closely with them from the conception phases of the work, all the way to staging the finished painting. She got her BFA at NSCAD (hurray!) and went onto study painting after that in Montreal and Mexico. Her use of vivid colors is striking and refreshing, like a fruity drink on a hot sunny day.

The next three pieces you’ll see are of the same subject, but painted very differently. There are some that might think that painting the same subject over and over would be too easy, but I disagree. In my own work I usually start with research sketches, followed by several sketches of what I want to paint, followed by a final sketch which I may ink depending on materials. I’ve usually drawn something 4-5 times before I go to paint it, which helps me familiarize with the subject matter, especially when it’s something I’ve never drawn before (like Owls!). It can really test your patient to work on the same subject continuously.

Heaven Hold On, Oil on Canvas, 36 x 48 by Zoe Pawlak

Heaven Hold On, Oil on Canvas, 36 x 48 by Zoe Pawlak

All three of these works have very different vibes to them. I love the tropical palette used above, the sun and the water in saturated soft splashes of color. Her multi-colored hair draws your attention to her whimsical expression and the birds above her.

Far, Far, Oil on Canvas, 36 x 48  by Zoe Pawlak

Far, Far, Oil on Canvas, 36 x 48 by Zoe Pawlak

This painting has a more graphic-style to it, with flatter colors and harsher shadows. Using the complimentary palette of pink and yellow gives these simplistic colors depth.

Semblance, Oil on Canvas, 36 x 48 by Zoe Pawlak

Semblance, Oil on Canvas, 36 x 48 by Zoe Pawlak

There’s a lot of texture in this piece. The colors are softer and there’s a lot more happening with the background. I like how she takes each painting to a different level of completion. These pieces are plenty different, different enough that I’d want to display them side-by-side. The Haute Design article has several photos of how her clients display her work.

Swimmer, Acrylic and oil on Canvas, 48 x 72 by Zoe Pawlak

Swimmer, Acrylic and oil on Canvas, 48 x 72 by Zoe Pawlak

The deep blue hues of this painting drew me in pretty quickly. The cape flowing from her shoulders draws the eye up to the carefully detailed surface of the water.

Taken Away, 48 x 48, Oil on Canvas by Zoe Pawlak

Taken Away, 48 x 48, Oil on Canvas by Zoe Pawlak

Some of the paintings Zoe does lean a bit towards abstraction. The above landscape, painted in light soft colors looks like something from a dream, or a foggy landscape painted in the early morning. Paintings like this really show off her skills with brushstrokes. Some of her lines are stark, others carefully softened and others still half-blended, keeping the texture of the brush visible.

Large Flowers (Taupe background), Acrylic and oil on Canvas, 48 x 72 by Zoe Pawlak

Large Flowers (Taupe background), Acrylic and oil on Canvas, 48 x 72 by Zoe Pawlak

The flowers above are so beautifully bright and really stand out against the taupe background. I like the geometry in this composition, the cool greens in the stem blossoming into warm bright petals up top.

Here’s a video showing her working away as well as showing off her work to potential clients. Being able to hand-pick clients and showing work all over the world are goals that I would like to accomplish, some day. Watching her in her element is very inspiring. The music is really pretty too, definitely worth two minutes of your time.

ZOE PAWLAK from Liam Mitchell on Vimeo.

Decorating Plain Walls or Carpets in an Apartment

Typically I try to mix up the subject matter of my posts, but even though I just did an interior design post on Friday, I’m going to post another one today. Why? I spent the weekend in Halifax looking for new digs! We still have to get paperwork sorted out but we think we’ve found a place, gunning for a move-in date two weeks away.

We found that many apartment buildings in Halifax had carpets, even if they allowed pets, which is likely to help insulate in the winter and cut down on noise level. White walls and white carpets can look kind of blah at first, but think of it as a blank canvas and the possibilities are endless. I’m so excited to decorate a whole new space! My taste in design has changed a lot in the past few years, especially since I started writing this blog and discussing what designs I like and the trends I notice.

There are a lot of restrictions on decorating in a rental space but sometimes restrictions can inspire. There are loads of resources out there for apartment-dwellers, and Apartment Therapy is top of the list for me!

Use Modular Furniture (via Apartment Therapy)

Use Modular Furniture (via Apartment Therapy)

Apartment Therapy has done several articles on decorating small space. The images above are from an article on the 10 things you can do to customize a rental. Using modular furniture is good for a rental space because it can adapt to any new furniture you choose to add. It can also be useful for dinner or gatherings; a sectional that comes apart can be spread around the room for better seating.

Layer Colored Rugs (via Apartment Therapy)

Layer Colored Rugs (via Apartment Therapy)

Even if you already have carpets, don’t be afraid to lay down some nicely patterned or colored rugs! They help give the space character and have the bonus of giving more heat for your toes in the winter, and a little bit better sound isolation.

Paint a Piece of Your Furniture (via Centsational Girl)

Paint a Piece of Your Furniture (via Centsational Girl)

If you’re stuck with white walls and white floors, Centsational Girl suggests painting a piece of your own furniture. You could go with a super bright neon, or keep it calm with a neutral (mint is really popular right now). This new place will be the perfect opportunity for me to go yard-sale shopping, find a plain ol’ boring piece of furniture and start another coffee table project! There are so many possibilities here; you could use one color or several, paint the entire piece or just portions… have fun with it!

Swap or Add a Light Fixture (via Centsational Girl)

Swap or Add a Light Fixture (via Centsational Girl)

Replacing a lamp shade or light fixture is another way to bring color to your room. If you like DIY, Design Sponge has an article on creating your own fishscale paper lantern which looks very cool.

Add Additional Shelving in Kitchen (via TheKitchn)

Add Additional Shelving in Kitchen (via TheKitchn)

TheKitchn lists ways to make a small apartment kitchen more effective. Extra shelving can help organize some of counter-clutter. Hooks are a great solution as well, for large utensils, pots, even hanging mugs. One of the tips I keep seeing is to work with what you have; if you can’t change the color of your red kitchen cabinets, work with it instead! It’ll look much better if you design with red in mind instead of trying to hide it.

Make the Kitchen You Have More Functional (via TheKitchn)

Make the Kitchen You Have More Functional (via TheKitchn)

Taking the cabinet doors off can really open up your kitchen, and is great if you have crappy doors that you can’t otherwise change. Painting the shelves inside provides a nice pop of color. Notice how they’ve hung wineglasses above the sink to save more space. It’s all about using what space you have as effectively as possible.

How to Deal With Narrow Rooms (via HouseBeautiful)

How to Deal With Narrow Rooms (via HouseBeautiful)

HouseBeautiful has some very specific things you can do in especially small places to make them look better, and work better for you. In a narrow room, use small furniture that’s easily rearranged to give the illusion of more space. Adding mirrors will help give a dark room more light.

Use Multifunctional Furniture (via HouseBeautiful)

Use Multifunctional Furniture (via HouseBeautiful)

Be picky with furniture; don’t simply pick up anything at a yard sale or flea market just because it looks good and is cheap! The table above  is a chess table that doubles as a dining table. Treat your space carefully and make sure your purchases are worth while. Furniture that can be taken apart and stored easily or furniture that includes storage are both great buys.

These blogs have way more tips than I could fit into one post, so click the pictures for more info! I’ll be looking to decorate our new apartment as cheaply as possible with art school around the corner and will keep you guys up to date on progress. We’re able to paint our walls, so we’ll definitely be having some fun with colors. 😀