From dining room to den: Our ‘Ikea hack’ study, part 1.
Our mission: Dining room to study den in a week and on a budget!
After completing a four month single story extension project last summer, we had the chance to turn our old dining room into the study/den we had always wanted.
The cost of a new extension, kitchen/dining/living area and all of the furnishings meant that we needed to keep the costs down for our new study without compromising on the design or the quality of finish. As we only had a fitted bookcase in the room as a starting point, we set ourselves a budget of £1,000 for absolutely everything else: furniture, paint, soft furnishings, lighting and accessories. We also wanted to turn the project around quickly. Simples!
So did we manage to do it? Yes we did! On time and under budget…Just! Richard finally has a den (‘man cave’) so he can escape from me and the girls and do bloke stuff like playing his guitar and listening to his music. Until now, we joked (although he didn’t seem to laugh as much as me) that he only had the garage and the drawer in his bedside cabinet to call his own. In fact, his spangly new shed only lasted a few weeks before two guinea pigs hijacked it. Yes, and even though we are both delighted with the finished room, I have to confess that the ‘man cave/den’ inexplicably deviated from Richard’s original specifications, (Ahem, another swivel chair may have sneaked in, *guilty face*).
Before: Dining room
Prior to redecorating, the dining room was bursting at the seams with the large dining table and six chairs we brought from our previous house. It was far too big for this smaller room; especially once we added a substantial solid oak sideboard and fitted oak bookcase for additional storage. So, the first stage of our ‘dining room to den’ project involved moving the sideboard into the hallway. It fits perfectly and we can use it to store hats, scarves and gloves and I can sweep the various bits of tat that get thrown on top of it into the drawers (What? Everyone has a ‘messy’ drawer!). We also sold the giant dining table and chairs. This left us with our much-loved fitted bookcase and solid oak flooring as the starting point for our dream study.
Ever since we moved into this house ten years ago, Richard and I wanting a study/den. In fact, we already had a wish list:
- Large desk area.
- More bookshelves.
- Filing cabinet.
- Plenty of drawers and storage.
- Small sofa.
- Funky swivel chair/standard chair, (the final choice would need to be comfortable and ‘fit’ with our design).
- Space to display Richard’s guitars.
- Blank white wall for my photography.
- Angle-poised lamp.
- Trendy stationery, accessories and even the odd tasteful ornament (I caved!).
Whilst considering colour schemes, Richard suggested making a statement with a dark grey feature wall, painting the rest of the walls in brilliant white emulsion (which we had left over from our extension project). A few tester pots later, Dulux Travels In Colour Monument Grey Flat Matt Emulsion Paint from B&Q emerged as the clear winner. We complimented this with the Ikea Tupplur block-out roller blind in grey, (a bargain at only £14).
With our wishlist in mind, we trawled our favourite shops and websites for ideas. We loved some of the freestanding furniture at John Lewis such as the Abacus office range. We initially wanted to mix this range with some gorgeous House by John Lewis Oxford Modular Storage Units but we eventually ruled them out on the basis of cost and because we realised that a ‘fitted’ rather than freestanding option would help us to maximise the space.
Our choice: The Ikea Hack.
After deciding we wanted to have ‘fitted’ furniture on a budget, it didn’t take us long to realise that Ikea could give us the look we wanted at a price we could afford. Plus, if we were willing to do a bit of ‘Ikea Hacking’ and customise the furniture, we could achieve a ‘Taylor made’ look (see what I did there?!) that used all of the available space.
After considering what Ikea had to offer in terms of furniture and materials, we came up with the idea of using an Ikea Bergstena kitchen worktop for the desk area, (chosen because it offered a white or grey side and had an attractive wood veneer edge). We cut the two worktops to size so they would fit across the entire width of the far wall. Then we mounted them on top of cupboards and drawer units from Ikea’s Alex range: two Alex drawer units with drop file storage and an Alex storage unit to house our PC base unit and support the two worktops where they joined. Finally we mounted an inexpensive Besta white frame on the worktop, against the window wall. This gave us the extra shelves we needed, without taking up too much space.
The tailored ‘Ikea Hack’ design had another important advantage, (for me, at least)…We were able to create enough space for two desk areas: ‘His’ and ‘Hers’!
After: The ‘Big Reveal’
We are delighted with how our ‘Ikea Hack’ DIY home office/study/den turned out, especially as we were able to maximise the space and create two spacious desk areas (Richard’s is the right hand desk with extra space for his rugby thighs!).
To complete our ‘Ikea hack’, Richard added a front and side vent to the Alex Storage Unit For less than £7 so our PC base unit would have plenty of ventilation.
Sofa and chairs
Once we built the main desk area we needed to choose the perfect sofa and chairs for our lovely new study. We wanted to put a sofa in front of the window so Richard had somewhere to sit when he wanted to play his guitar. The biggest problem was finding a two-seater sofa that would fit comfortably into the space. After checking out various high street and online retailers for potential candidates, we eventually spotted the perfect two-seater sofa at Wayfair.co.uk. The Wrafton 2 seater sofa by Home & Haus is available in a variety of colours, including our eventual choice, dark grey. After applying the 20% discount code offered to new customers we bought our sofa for the bargain price of £138, including delivery.
When considering chairs for our study we weren’t sure whether to opt for swivel chairs or a couple of standard upholstered chairs to make it feel a bit more ‘stylish’, rather than ‘officey’. In the end, we chose the Staples Crusader Black Ergonomic Office Chair in Mesh/Fabric, because despite being a swivel chair, it was adjustable, comfortable and had funky styling. At £119, the Crusader chair was a little pricey for our ‘study on a budget’, especially as we needed two of them. However, we were so impressed by its looks and build quality that we decided it was worth the investment. Plus, when we popped down to our local Staples store to buy the chairs we haggled with the manager and he gave us a 20% discount. The chairs are super-comfy and we love the curved chrome castor legs.
Let there be light.
Lighting was another important consideration for our study design. We already had dimmable downlighters in the study but we wanted a couple of angle-poised lamps for the desk areas. Checking around we soon discovered that they varied significantly in price ( from £15 to £150+). The finish and quality of the lamps also varied enormously. That’s where Ikea came to the rescue again: their nickel-plated Forså Work lamps were an absolute bargain at only £15 each. We love their quirky shape and the outstanding build quality for the price, (They have a heavy metal base, metal body and fittings that ooze quality).
Put it all together!
Finally we added the finishing touches and accessories to complete the look (accessories are the subject of Part 2 of ‘From Dining Room to Den’). This included some cushions I made using the Retro tape theme in the Jeremy Harnell Mix Tape Framed print we bought to hang above Richard’s desk space.
We are delighted with our new den. It’s such a great space for both of us to work and play in.
Did we stay within budget?
We set ourselves a budget of £1,000 for furniture, lighting, wall art, soft furnishings, blinds, accessories and office supplies.
Furniture costs: Ikea Alex storage unit (for PC base unit), £50; Alex Drawer unit on castors, £95; Alex drop file drawer unit (2 @ £60 each), £120; Ikea Besta Frame, White, £25; Ikea Erik 2 drawer filing cabinet, white, £50; Ikea Bergstena Kitchen worktops (2 @ £50) £100; Staples Crusader office chairs (2 @ £100 each), £200; Wrafton 2 seater sofa, £138; Ikea Forsa Work Lamp (2 @ £15 each), £30 = £808 total.
Decorating costs: Dulux Travels in Colour Monument Grey Matt Paint, £22; Ikea Tupplur Block-out Blind in Grey, £14 = £36 total.
Additional accessory costs: Balloon Dog Money box, £8.99; Benson Clock, £14.99; Ikea Tjena Storage, various, £24; Jeremy Harnell Retro Tape Print in Ikea Ribba Frame, £65; Homemade Taylor Family Favourite Places Framed Print in Ikea Ribba Frame, £30; Vents for PC cupboard, £7 = £149.98 total.
Overall cost of the complete study makeover = £993.98! Unbelievably, just inside our £1,000 budget (I promise I didn’t cheat!)
Could we have achieved the look for less?
We could have saved even more money if we had used our existing wall art and storage boxes but we decided to use the rest of our budget to buy accessories to complete the look and, in our opinion, it was worth it. If we had been prepared to bide our time we could have bought used Ikea items and a used sofa instead, which regularly appear on eBay and Gumtree. Also, although it wasn’t factored into our calculations, we did sell our old dining table and chairs for £150 and I made my own funky Retro Tape cushions using supplies I already had in my fabric box.
The finishing touches.
In Part 2 of my ‘Dining room to den’ makeover I’ll be giving you details of the accessories we bought (and made) to complete the look. I’ll also be giving you a chance to enter a competition to win one of Richard’s favourite additions…A Balloon Dog Money Box. If you can’t wait until my next post (!) and want to get a sneak peak at all of these items and where to buy them then check out my ‘Dining Room to Den’ Pinterest board now!
Let me know what you think of our study makeover or share your own Ikea Hack and study makeover experiences, I would love to hear about them.
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