My new office

We moved to a new house last Christmas, and we’ve been slowly getting things sorted out since then. We had a big list of preferences and managed to satisfy virtually all of them. Private parking with adjacent space for visitors’ vehicles, a garden with a greenhouse and a deck, a park nearby for Whisky, a bigger kitchen with room to grow, two bathrooms, a large living room for entertaining and a dining area, a master bedroom plus a permanent and dedicated spare bedroom, an office for me, and a multipurpose room that would primarily be a home office for Lauren and a gym, and could also be an additional guest bedroom.

Having redecorated the master bedroom and the living room before we properly moved in, we waited until after the new year to completely redo the upstairs bathroom. Then we had a break, before redecorating the spare bedroom and getting it set up. Then another break, and we tackled the downstairs bathroom over a long weekend. A further break, and then during the course of three weeks we did Lauren’s office and finally my new office, back to back.

During that whole time — eight months — I’ve been working in the living room each day, using my iPad Pro in a Smart Keyboard Folio. Now, I finally have my own desk back.

My new office, wide view with desk and armchair both visible. Purple walls. Dark grey carpet.

As I’ve mentioned many times, my favourite colour is purple — but a particular blue-purple, rather than the pink variety; closer to a saturated violet. I thus chose Pantone’s 2018 colour of the year, Ultra Violet, for the room. I kept the woodwork (except the lovely natural window surround and sill) and ceiling white for contrast and lightness, with greys for the carpet, armchair, and foot stool. The overall palette is purple, neutrals, and wood, which really focuses the eye on my desk. I designed the room on my iPad first, as I’ve done for my previous office, and for Lauren’s new office here too.

View of armchair and foot stool.

I’ve made a few tweaks to the room to refresh it. I changed the handles on the built-in cupboard to chrome, to match the door handles, and likewise added a chrome coat hook to the back of the door. The cupboard is shelved, and it holds everything we didn’t get rid of from my old office’s chest of drawers, bookcase, and our basement. It’s organised (of course) with everything in categories and boxes, according to what I most often need access to. The printer is in there too, which I’ve decided to only bring out and plug in when it’s actually needed; we’ve only used it twice since last December. I’ve trimmed down my collection of messenger bags and backpacks, and I now just have three bags — they’re hung on the interior walls of the cupboard, along with my guitar case.

I decided to hang my guitar on the wall, with a Hercules auto-locking mount that has a wooden base to pair nicely with the instrument’s maple neck. It frees up the floor space that a stand would occupy, making cleaning easier, and it draws more attention to the instrument. The guitar itself is the one clashing colour, in candy apple red, and I love the contrast. Technically, I suppose the little (fake) plant on the windowsill is also a colour clash; it’s to draw the eye outside to our beech hedge, leading off towards the trees of the park across the road.

Guitar mounted on the wall. It's a candy apple red Fender Stratocaster, maple neck. The built-in cupboards are visible beside it.

I’m toying with the idea of getting another item of furniture, with glass shelves and doors, to display my retro video games consoles and memorabilia, but I’m leaving that for another time. The entire top section of the built-in cupboard currently contains my video games collection.

There are purple highlights throughout the room, including a purple felt drinks coaster on my desk, a purple light shade, and a purple fleece throw and lumbar cushion on my armchair.

View of desk with purple felt coaster holding a white ceramic coffee mug.

On the outside of the door, a gift from my in-laws: a faux blue plaque in my name. My wife insisted it went on the outside so she could see it whenever she passes by.

Room door open against the wall. Outer surface holds a dark blue circular plaque bearing my name, birth date, and indicating I'm the author of the KESTREL novels series.

The office gets the morning sun, and light from the whole sky during the day. I have a blackout roller blind installed to help with glare. The outlook is to our cul-de-sac and the park beyond, and is leafy and suburban. The two side windows of the three-pane frame open outwards, and indeed I have them open most of the day right now. I love having the breeze and the smell of the trees, which are well worth putting on an extra layer when necessary.

View out of office window showing residential street and park across the road. Most of the view is bushes and trees, currently green.

The soft, medium-pile slate carpet quietens and warms the room, and is better then my old hardwood floor — both for Whisky sleeping on it, and also for slightly muffling the sound of my keyboard. I have a transparent mat under the chair to make it easier to roll. I’ve added a pull-out Lightning cable to the rear left of my desk, connected to power, and a six-port powered USB charger to the underside, facing the front. They’re both connected to the extension block that’s slung under the desk in a net, so that only a single cable comes away from the desk and into the wall (cinched to the desk’s leg for neatness). The room’s overhead light is a combination PIR motion sensor and ambient light sensor, so it only comes on when it’s dark enough and when someone is here.

Underside of desk showing cable management net, and installed powered 6-port USB hub.

In front of my Bekant desk, my trusty Aeron chair, and on the desk itself I just have the essentials: my keyboard, and my iPad Pro in a Lamicall stand. I love the sparseness of it, and the striking purple walls both calm and inspire me.

 View towards open door, guitar on wall to right of frame, and dog asleep in the doorway.

I’ll no doubt make little changes here and there as I go, but this is already the office I’ve wanted for a long time. Dedicated to work, but with a place for reading a book, taking a nap, and having my family with me when they want to be. I’m very happy here, and I hope it’ll be a home to my writing for a long time to come.