When we purchased our house in Victoria last spring, I had vague, but high hopes for the small room opposite our living room/front entry and overlooking the front porch. I pictured it being a cozy extension of our living room, where I could work, we could host overnight guests and roll out the yoga mats, or where Frankie could play without the distraction of the TV.
However, with its drop ceiling, faux wood panelled walls, seventies shades and a hulking desk built out of every scrap of wood and secured to one wall (trust me, that was the thing to hide under in the event of an earthquake), it was not the easiest room to imagine differently. We also spent a bit of time debating its function — should we make space for overnight guests? Did we want to preserve our ability to convert it to a third bedroom (i.e., add a door) either for ourselves or for resale?
We answered these questions along the way and, after six months of sporadic effort, the den has turned out exactly as I hoped it would. It’s such a luxurious room for us as we’ve never had “extra” space in any of the places that we’ve lived! But I’m also very glad it’s our only “spare” room — I seriously don’t understand how people with 2,000+ square feet or three bathrooms find the energy to renovate/decorate. Our house really has turned out to be the perfect size for a family of three plus cat.
Since we last spoke, our carpenters returned to add baseboards, window and door casings and our electrician set the plugs into the baseboards, gave us a light switch and an overhead light. I gave the room a third coat of white paint, dapped and sanded all the nail holes in the trim, painted all the trim twice and then gleefully moved all the art and furniture in.
Everything is painted Sherwin Williams Extra White. Walls are eggshell, trim is semi-gloss and ceiling is flat. My local Sherwin Williams was kind enough to give me a quart of flat paint for free after my electrician put a huge crack in my ceiling at the eleventh hour.
I mostly “shopped our house” for the decor. I stole the picture ledge, pillows, books and toys from Frankie’s room and the play tent (by Deer Child) and desk chair/lambskin from our living room. The rug is a $5 thrift store score from the Salvation Army in Sooke, which I had professionally cleaned.
Pierre found this giant classroom map rolled up and stuffed in the ceiling rafters in our basement when we were cleaning the house out last May. Prestige Framing in Oak Bay removed the map from its heavy dowels and mouldy cotton backing and painstakingly glued it to a birch frame then laminated it with a matte spray for protection. This wall above my desk was the only wall in the whole house that could fit the map (it’s almost nine feet wide) and so the map has been sitting in plastic since October, waiting for this wall to be ready!
This baseboard-floor-register combo makes my heart sing!
I have ordered window coverings for this front window (cordless cellular shades), but they’ll take three or four weeks to come in and, after all this time, I didn’t want to wait an extra month to share this room. If you’re having a tough time picturing them, they’re the same window treatments that we’ve used in our other finished rooms.
The stained glass window opens awning-style, which is such a great feature.
The chair is a corner section to IKEA’s modular Soderhamn sofa. We have a two-piece section of the same sofa (in mustard) in Frankie’s bedroom. Tucks perfectly into this corner and covers up the creaky boards of our old floors. My favourite thing to do these days is get up early, turn the fire on in the living room, set a hot cup of coffee on the deep windowsill and sit in this chair with Archie and a book and watch our street wake up.
We opted to leave the den open to the living room, but if we do get a door down the line, we’ll be going with a Hunter Douglas cellular door (accordion style) to match our window treatments. Installing it would reduce our doorway opening by five inches, but it would provide privacy/sound barrier without the footprint of a swing door. We’re going to see how we do without it for now. It’s very rare that I’m working when Frankie is at home, which is the only scenario that might make a door on this room helpful.
The desk is IKEA’s Hilver table. I liked the mid century style legs and beveled desk top (matches our dining table) and that it was just a clean, simple worktop. So far so good! I can’t deny working in here is so much more pleasurable than setting up at the dining room table or a coffee shop.
You can check out the whole project by looking back at these posts: