As an interior stylist, writer and designer who lives with his interior journalist partner, it’d be easy to assume that every room in Luke Arthur Wells’ Essex Victorian terrace would be perfectly styled, fully functional and rather beautiful as well.
But like all of us, some rooms simply work better than others and there are times when these discrepancies need to be addressed. After a year of working from their dining room table, Luke realised the guest bedroom needed to do double duty and act as a dedicated home office as well.
With a 4-week timeline imposed in the Revamp Restyle Reveal Challenge, Luke decided the space needed a clear-out and a complete reworking of the layout and design.
“I really needed somewhere that I could keep all my samples and paperwork together, as well as just a nice clean space so I could keep focused and motivated. The room originally just had a double bed in that ate up the majority of the space, and it was just a bit tatty, as all the woodwork had yellowed – whether that was down to oil paint or the 16-year-old who had the room before smoking out of her window, I don’t know!”
With a love of neutral tones and elevated contemporary styling, the main planning required would be spatial. The double bed was out and a stylish sofa bed was in, alongside solutions for making the most of every inch of space.
“Every desk we looked at was too big for the space, so we had to plan to make our own with bespoke built cabinets in the alcove too. [Planning involved] lots of sketching and measuring basically!”
Enter Luke’s step-dad, a carpenter by trade, who was able to help with creating the bespoke pieces. “He whizzed up the cabinets and desk for us in no time – he also made sure the finishes were far better than we could have done ourselves, tapering the plywood for the desk so that there were no exposed edges.”
This didn’t mean Luke and his partner Hugh were off the hook. “It was all us doing the DIY. We created a 3D ridged panel backboard for the desk, which is one of my favourite parts of the room, and also replaced some drawers which had been built into the chimney recess (who knows why?) with a reclaimed fireplace from which we had to strip back layers of buttercup yellow paint to restore it to its former glory.”
DIY for many of us is not without its challenges as Luke soon found out.
“The backboard design was inspired by something we’d seen in a commercial space made from real wood strips, but when we realised this wasn’t going to be feasible for us to make from lovely oak on our budget, I had to come up with a way to make it from MDF. It involved a lot of processes – hammering, drilling, filling, painting and re-painting, but I’m so glad we stuck with it and didn’t give up on this idea.
Luke chose the Dyson Hot & Cool Air Purifier from AO to add to his room. “Given what this summer has been like, it’s been a life-saver. With weeks at a time over 30 degrees, the cooling function is pretty much the only thing that’s kept me sane while everyone else has been in their air-conditioned offices, and my hay-fever has been really playing up this year, but the air purifying function has really settled it for me while I’ve been indoors.”
The hard work paid off and the smartly styled guest-bedroom-cum-office is a relaxing, calming space. “For my working life it’s made a big difference,” Luke explains. “After breakfast and a morning walk, I can settle down with the dogs at my feet and get down to work without the distractions of the rest of the house.”
Luke offers these three pieces of advice if you’re looking to update a room:
- “I do think there’s something great about a scheme that evolves over time, but in my opinion, saving up, spending time on designing and implementing a scheme in one go will give you a really cohesive base and stop you spending money unnecessarily on furniture you end up changing.”
- “Pay attention to the details – changing light switches, plug sockets and radiators may not be at the top of your spending list, but they can be really transformative and really elevate a space. They’re also a great investment as they’re the bits that remain every time you re-decorate.”
- “Always add another lamp. There’s no point in having a beautiful room if you don’t enjoy spending time in there, and lighting really affects the mood of a space at night. Having a lot of options that include task lighting and ambient lighting in different layers will help you to create somewhere that’s easy to relax into.”
The next project on Luke’s hit list? The living room. “It’s perfectly functional as is but needs a bit of refining – some built-in storage under the stairs is a must and, crucially, a new TV!”
All images copyright Luke Arthur Wells and used with kind permission.