Real Rooms: Bex’s Study ‘refresh’

This afternoon it’s an office make-over for a newly married couple, which cleverly combines the colour of the moment grey, with holiday ‘finds’ and subtle splashes of orange. I love how it has all come together and I’m looking forward to hearing what you all think of it!

Take it away Bex!

This room was a bit of a dumping ground for a long time since moving in here three years ago, even more so with all of the ‘wedding stuff’ we had to store (boxed vases being the bulkiest items). We never really used this room to its full potential, especially given its good size. It had always had a daybed for extra guests, (useful when both sets of parents came to stay) and a desk for Nik’s computer, bookcases for all his textbooks and notes while he was still a student and a wardrobe which contained overflow from my own, oops, and some fancy dress items! The room was then added to with coats, wellies, boxes of things waiting to be sorted, a very underused exercise bike (aren’t they all!) and all the other bits and bobs we unceremoniously shoved in there whenever we had to tidy up the rest of the flat if guests were coming. It also housed my collection of framed prints that I used to sell at craft & design fairs around Scotland but have recently had little time for. (These have been re-homed for sale in a local cafe.)

All of the above resulted in this ‘before’ monstrosity…

All images courtesy of Bex Photo

Surprisingly, the plan to tackle this room was something I decided on honeymoon, where I was inspired to re-decorate using some of our African souvenirs as a starting point. This spurred me on through the boring sorting and organising of all that stuff as I started to think of how we could make the room useful and look nice, somewhere we would actually like spending time. It actually became the perfect project to keep me busy after all the wedding frenzy of the months before!

We had a few items from our honeymoon which gave me the basis of what kind of style we wanted, including framing some of my own pictures taken on safari, so I started a Pinterest board for ideas and colour schemes (which inspired the grey walls/white furniture plan). We decided we wanted a modern room with white furniture to match the existing Hemnes Daybed and to set if all off against grey walls. We didn’t want to go too dark on the walls as the window is tucked into a corner and we didn’t want it to end up ‘dingy’. Moving the mirrored wardrobe helped to reflect some of the light back into the room rather than being wasted in the corner. We decided on a Valspar colour, Windswept, from B&Q. Since the room has been finished, I have also made a Pinterest board detailing some of the items in it and where they were from if you like the look of anything.

So here is the ‘after’ with our stripped back room…

All images courtesy of Bex Photo

I tried not to go for green accents again, as in most of our other rooms, so we decided to mix it up a bit more and we had a multi-coloured painting from the Masai market in Nairobi. We also purchased a Masai beaded necklace so I thought I would incorporate more orange into the room with some sunset pictures.

All images courtesy of Bex Photo

Luckily the orange colour worked well as most of the African safari pictures had an orange tint to them anyway. I really liked the thought of having them all black and white but decided to make it a bit different by leaving three of them in colour.

All images courtesy of Bex Photo

The frames were Neilson frames from Hobbycraft and were £17.99 each so it was pretty pricey all together but I’m really pleased with the overall result! Mounting and printing them ourselves saved money so it was approx £174 in total. I love the fact they look good but also remind us of our amazing time on safari on honeymoon.

All images courtesy of Bex Photo

The cushions were from M&S, The White Company (15% off thanks to FF!) and Slumber Slumber. Nik sold most of his old books and recycled his notes so we could downsize in the bookcase department. We replaced 3 bookcases just one from Ikea and filled the bottom shelves with cupboards to try to make it look less square and boxy, and to hide some of the uglier books. I took the old lime green file boxes my Mum had donated when she moved and painted them grey with left over wall paint.

All images courtesy of Bex Photo

The unusual string balls were bought by the side of the road in Nairobi and were the main inspiration for re-doing the room. Nik’s conditions when agreeing to buy three was that we had to know where we would put them and I convinced him on my ‘African honeymoon study’ idea. They’re supposed to be light-shades but I just removed the metal hangings from inside as I liked the way they were hung from the trees in bunches like this in Kenya.

All images courtesy of Bex Photo

I finally got round to framing our degrees and diplomas to keep them safe and out of the way. We didn’t want them to be too ‘in your face’ so we hung them high up along the ceiling. In retrospect I wish we had stuck the map a little lower but it’s difficult to judge when one of you is holding up a huge sheet of plastic to the wall.

The amazing map of the world wall sticker is also from and came with coloured dots to mark the places we’ve been. We now want to try and go to more places in the middle of the big black areas to make the dots more obvious and spread out – probably not the usual way to choose places to travel to but it could be fun! We’ve mostly stuck to the coast before due to our love of scuba diving but would love to try travelling in more different places in the future.

I hope you’ll agree it was quite a transformation! We now spend so much more time in there, I particularly love my new snug corner on the daybed where I can curl up under my knitted throw with a good book while Nik’s working on his computer.

I have been dying to share this with the Florence Findettes because I need a little help. We have decided to keep and display our large apothecary jars we used at our wedding but have no idea what, if anything, to put in them. Please help!

Great job Bex – I particularly love how you have managed to make all this things I always want to buy on holiday that then look out of place in cold grey england work so well together, particularly the safari photos and cohesive splashes of orange. The map is a great way to nod to the travel theme in a chic way and I love your certificates placed so high like that – genius idea!

Do leave Bex a comment if there’s something you like or if you want to ask her anything, I’m sure she’ll be around to help you out!


PS You can find Bex at her blog The Olive Dragonfly and on twitter @OliveDragonfly. You can also see more of Bex’s stunning photography on her photography website: Bex Photo.

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30 thoughts on “Real Rooms: Bex’s Study ‘refresh’

  1. Wow.
    So not only can BEx cook, she can Interior design too…prehaps you should open up a boutique B&B?!
    Seriosuly tho, love the room and your use of the african bits and bobs is really inspring, i have so many bits I’ve picked up from my many African jaunts and struggle to think how to make best of them – so Thanks!

  2. Amazing transformation – the room looks so much bigger!

    And Bex… I didn’t realise it was you (of Olive Dragonfly fame) until the end – I had an inkling but didn’t make the connection with the photography website (AMAZING photos by the way lady!)


  3. Love it Bex! I really love the photos – they look great. I also really admire how you got it all sorted out – we have two rooms that kind of look like your ‘before’ pictures and this has given me the inspiration to DO something about them.

    Can I ask how you like the Ikea Hemnes daybed? We really want one…

    • I LOVE the Hemnes, and I can vouch that Gemma (Prettiest Hobo) has recently purchased one and loves it just as much as I do! I even tried hers out on a trip to London to make sure 😉

      It’s the ideal storage/spare bed solution, the drawers are huge, it looks fab and is super comfy to sleep on!

      • ARGH our router has been down for the last few days and I didn’t get to see this or comment on it! I LOVE our Hemnes… Best thing we’ve bought for our (rental) flat.

  4. Bex, that really does look stunning, all those little snatches I have seen come together really well and it does look much better, however as a Mum, I have to ask…… where did all the ‘stuff’ go? lol You’re right the jars do need a little something, do you save buttons?

    • Mum! Only just saw your comment now, must have missed it yesterday in my fevered haze! We sold most of the stuff – using Amazon, gumtree and wedding forums! A lot went to charity shops too. Same with the kitchen, the cupboards had a big clear out.

      I do save buttons but it will take me a long time to fill one of those jars, my button tin is very small. Like the idea though!


  5. This is gorgeous Bex, I’m impressed at your restraint in choosing grey (even if it is the only non-green room in the house!) I’ve been meaning to do the same framing and hanging a cluster of pictures with my indie posters you guys got me at the Pen Do…am going to need to save up though!


  6. Four months after moving in, our spare room looks JUST like your “Before” pics! We’ve bought the paint and the bookcases, we’re stalking desks on eBay…just got to work up the energy to actually sort out and clear the crap, then start painting! Thanks for the inspiration to get on with it, yours looks lovely.

  7. Wow it is gorgeous – love the paint you’ve used! We have so many things that we’ve picked up while travelling that I really want to put out but was worried about having a ‘themed’ room… You’ve managed to get the balance perfectly without it being too in your face and as Rebecca says not ‘aging hippie tat’ at all! haha.

    I’m also lusting after that daybed after your glowing review…


  8. Thanks for all the comments, I’m so glad it’s inspiring people! It did feel good to finally sort out all that clutter!

  9. I’m am SO jealous of your study! Ours is about a third of the size of yours and basically a bit of a tip. Unfortunately it’s down the list of ‘things to sort’ after the bedrooms but I have taken lots of notes from your study transformation. Particularly loving that map on the wall, will be looking into that 🙂

  10. The before looks like my spare room which is also totally cluttered with wedding stuff at the mo!! But i love this – its totally inspiring – I love the way all the pictures are styled and the African souvenirs. So stylish. I also love the bookshelf – its looks so chic.
    Great job!
    Rachie xo

  11. Wow, this room looks fab! I am thinking of doing up our craft room/study, but it’s a bit of a dumping ground at the moment, and as our flat is tiny, the thought of pulling everything out to redecorate is just too much at the moment! great inspiration though. I spent a month travelling in Africa (gap-yah!), and I bought quite a few cool things too, and I feel they are a bit lost in our flat, so it would be nice to make a real showcase of them, and get rid of some of the junk! Good work. x

  12. Sorry I’m so late on this one but wow, what a transformation! I love the ‘classy’/’travelled’ look (not always easy to get that balance right I don’t think) and the grey and white look so calm and lovely.

    Fabulous job and very inspiring! xxx

    • Els, I’ve only just seen this (sadly can’t get notifications) so I’m sure this is useless to you now but it was Valspar paint from B&Q, ‘Windswept’ and the desk was from Ikea – mix & match pieces!

  13. Fantastic transformation- I love before/after makeover photographs. I have a similar drive to travel after my boyfriend bought me a scratch map ( – we’ve scratched off as much as we can but there’s so much gold left- I want to get out there and explore it all!
    I’m not sure what the jars are like from your wedding (haven’t gotten to that post yet) but could you maybe put some pretty cacti in a few, to continue a sort of desert theme?
    Katie xx

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