Ask Apartment Apothecary – combining a guest room and home office

So, I have done a lot of list-making, a lot of paper shuffling, a lot of flicking between tabs but not much blogging the last couple of weeks. My rhythm has been broken by numerous events and commitments but I have a pretty clear run through to Summer from this point onwards and I am really craving getting more hands on again and doing some fun DIY’s, so watch this space!

One of the other things that I have let lapse is my Ask Apartment Apothecary column that I really enjoy but there has been so little time. I STILL have a queue of questions from some of my lovely readers about issues in their homes that they need help with. I’m going to start today with one from Cate.

Cate has a beautifully stylish home that she shares snippets of over on her blog. However, she has a specific issue that she wants a bit of advice about. In her words:

“My second bedroom is a lovely, light room with a big sash window, but the main problem I have is that it has two functions – a bedroom for guests who come to stay from Airbnb (twice a month roughly) and a home office with our computer and all my architecture and design books I’ve picked up along the way. It needs to be a nice, calming space that’s fairly anonymous and doesn’t have too many personal bits and bobs for guests, but it also needs to work for me when I work from home. So how do I tie together the bedroom part with the office part so it’s once cohesive room, where one doesn’t overpower the other?”

Here’s a photograph of Cate’s room (totally jealous of such a lovely, big, bright second bedroom!)…

Combining a guest room with home office | Apartment Apothecary

It’s actually a really great room and I was surprised when she said she wanted to change it. However, the main problem, as the room stands, is that the ‘bedroom’ and the ‘office’ are too distinct. So how can Cate bring the two together?

1. Blind

At the moment the shelves and the blind, which are the same colour wood, are very dominant and very clearly define the office. I think Cate needs to get rid of the blind altogether. It doesn’t work with the rest of the room and is a bit too ‘officey’.  However, proper lined curtains, needed for blocking out the light for guests, are extremely pricey. What about a cheap white blackout roller blind that is completely rolled up except if someone is staying? Add to this a linen cafe curtain to soften the window and for practical purposes to diffuse light on a computer screen. Cate could choose a light grey linen for the window that would tie in with the bed and bedlinen bringing the two sides of the room together. I’m going to do a tutorial for this on Monday so keep an eye out for it.

2. Shelves

Cate wants to keep the shelves but they are screaming ‘office’ at the moment because of their colour. Painting them the same as the wall colour will help to make them less obvious. However, she also wants to hide the books, which is very tricky if you need direct access to them. Shelves can be made to look more streamlined with storage boxes or baskets but this isn’t really suitable for books that need to be used. I would suggest replacing the shelves with a vintage wall cupboard – this would lose the office vibe of the shelves and the books could be hidden behind closed doors. This sort of cupboard or this one, that could be painted, would give more character to the space above the desk and tie in with the beautiful bedside table.

3. Accessories

Another easy way to add warmth to a room is by using soft textiles and art work; these will also help to unify the two parts of the room. By adding more art prints and a new cushion for the desk chair, Cate could easily add more softness to the room.

4. Office storage

Cate really wants to be able to store away her office stationery, printer, books but she only has a few drawers in the desk to do so. If she wanted to take her mini-makover a step further she could think about a major DIY project. What about replacing the desk and shelves with an ‘office’ cupboard?! I know there isn’t an inbuilt cupboard in Cate’s bedroom like the one below but she could convert an armoire-type cupboard. Have a look here for ideas.

Home office in a cupboard | Apartment Apothecary

Image via Stijlbloem blog

Or, a bit more understated, if there is room at the end of the bed for a chest, it could provide valuable office storage space that can be shut away and serve as a handy seat/extra surface in the room. The printer could be stored in this, too. Take a look here for an example of what I mean.

Hopefully, a bit of food for thought for Cate. Whatever she does, I can’t wait to see the updates because I know it will be super stylish, as always! I’m off to Ardingly antiques fair so I will report back on Thursday with how I get on (hopefully having not spent too much money!).

Katy x




  1. 24th June 2015 / 8:17 am

    Thanks Katy! Just what I needed – some clever practical tips and lots of inspiration! I love all the clever tricks for organising and hiding office bits and bobs, so much more interesting than just storage boxes on the shelves. Also love the idea of the unobtrusive white blind and grey linen cafe curtain, definitely going to try this one! Thankyou so much again, and so jealous you’re at Ardingley I LOVE that place!!
    Cate x

    • Katy
      25th June 2015 / 9:42 am

      Glad it’s helpful, Cate. I can’t wait to se the progress you make xx

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