Reading Room Revamp

Inspired, as so many of us were, by Lisa Dawson and Bianca Hall’s recent Revamp Restyle Reveal Bonanza, I thought to myself, “what a perfect opportunity to kick my ass into gear and tackle the Room of Doom.”

Everyone has a Room of Doom. You know, that room in your house that never quite makes it to the top of the list of renovation projects because it’s not in your face enough and has also handily become somewhere you can chuck everything that doesn’t have a home but you’re not yet ready to part with.

This particular one served as my daughter’s nursery for a good couple of years and was the perfect size for that purpose, small but bijou. Then when she was ready to make the move from cot to bed she decided to move into her brother’s room leaving this space behind.

We put in this beautiful William Morris wallpaper when I first decorated the nursery. It’s the only part of the room that has stayed put.

Over the following 2 years we ummed and ahhed repeatedly about what to do with the room. We’re lucky enough to have a study and guest room on the top floor so they were out. Some suggested a dressing room but I’m more of a chuck on clothes and spend 5 minutes on make up type of person so that also didn’t seem a great use of space.

Finally we settled on making a reading nook which would act as an extension to the kids’ chronically overcrowded bedroom and give us somewhere to house the books I moved out of our study when I was prettifying it.

The Before. As part of the move the fish got an upgrade to our main living space downstairs so they’re happy (I think).

One of my primary aims in this room was to do it on a small budget. This was partly determined by lack of funds (funnily enough) but also by a feeling that we had plenty of stuff around the house that could be better used. I’m also keen that the kids have well designed rooms without going overboard on budget as they have a tendency to change their minds pretty frequently about what they like (they also have a tendency to keep bloody getting older).

As part of the renovation I also sold everything previously in the room on eBay to raise funds for the new space – it was a great way of keeping the budget low!

In terms of decorating, I used paint that we had leftover from the bathroom renovation – Farrow and Ball’s Dropcloth (or actually a Johnstone’s mix of) which went well with the carpet and the William Morris wallpaper. So far, so cheap.

I also handily had a spare curtain pole and curtains which were hanging around from when I decorated our bedroom. I can never quite bring myself to part with curtains even when they clearly aren’t going to fit any of the windows of my house. Finally I used a La Redoute rug which has lived in lots of rooms around the house but just fitted so perfectly in here.

Having asked the kids for a brief I knew one of the things they really wanted was a canopy tent. I looked longingly at many beautiful pricey versions before settling for this one from Amazon for about £20. I used a piece of leftover fabric for the floor of the tent and added a couple of cushions from Flying Tiger and a couple that we already owned.

This was the first corner that I finished. If I took pictures just facing in this direction I could happily ignore the carnage behind me for another few weeks.
Tent: Amazon
Striped cushions/hooks/swan planter/ball lights: Flying Tiger
Alphabet picture: Lisa Jones Studio
Plate: Sandra Isakkson
Wooden postcards: The Wooden Postcard Company
Basket: H&M

Creating this wall was one of the fun bits. I used some lights, hooks and a swan planter from Flying Tiger, a new piece of art by Lisa Jones Studio which I framed in an old Ikea frame and some other bits we already owned including this Eleanor Bowmer print. I also added this cute plate by [xx} which I picked up for £5 in Homesense.

I knew from the start of the project that I didn’t want to have a lot of furniture in this room. It’s small and we’ve tried to cram things in before but it quickly ends up looking over-crowded. So, instead of chairs I decided I wanted to create a floor cushion area. Once again, I scoured the internet finding lots of lovely floor cushions that were out of my budget (Urban Outfitters remained pinned for a long time) before having the idea of using a cheap cot bed mattress and dressing with blankets we already owned and a few new cushions.

We love lounging on here and reading before bed.

Cot bed mattress: Amazon
Teracotta mattress: Madam Stoltz, Trouva
Grey floor cushions: Aldi
Green cushions: Sostrene Grene
Arrow light: Sainsburys
String cactus: Donkey Products

The final piece of the jigsaw was the shelving. We needed to fit in as much as possible for the kids books and my own collection which I really tried to slim down as far as I could when clearing out the room – not an easy task! We had very recently used scaffold boards in our kitchen and so added a few to the order for this room too although we used much cheaper wall brackets from B&Q in this case.

Then came the fun bit – filling them up! God, this must be my favourite hobby, I couldn’t wait to get started.

Everything fitted – just! – but we will have to operate a strict one in one out policy from now on!
Brackets: B&Q
Stool: Ikea painted with pink Rusteoleum chalk paint
Concertina stool: Flying Tiger
Light fitting: Laura Ashley

Finally, because our daughter is only 4 and also let’s say on the petite side (i.e. really short) I added some extra shelves to make it easier for her to reach her favourite books. These are Ikea spice racks that I’ve seen lots of people using in this way. I thought about painting them but decided I liked the unfinished look better.

Shelving for short people
Shelves: Bekvam, Ikea

And that’s it. As with so many rooms in our house I am finding that post-revamp we are using this so much more because it’s really such a lovely place to sit. Sadly, I was far too slow to reveal for Revamp Restyle Reveal (life gets in the way) but we got there in the end and I’m really happy with the result and with the amount spent.

Spend: c.£290
Minus furniture sold on eBay: c.£100

Final Total: c.£190