Grey, Green And White: A Multi-Purpose Home Office

Today's featured workspace is a home office that does double duty as a study area, media room, guest room and more. Despite the multi-functionality the space is still tidy, unified in decor and style, and remarkably cable free.

Lifehacker reader Ed Venture has a tiny room — a mere 3m x 3m — that serves as his home office, a space for his kids to study and relax, a guest room when friends visit, and a place to store files and other office essentials. He remodelled the space with a wide array of tricks including dividing the existing closet into a workspace nook and a media-centre storage rack, routing the cables through the walls, and using dark walls and bright accents to make the space seem bigger. The room even has touch-controlled lighting, customised for studying, watching movies and more.

Take a closer look in the gallery below, and make sure to check out the details notes Ed included with each photo.

Ed's Office - front: Since we live in a small house, this spare room had to be many things. It had to be my home office, guest room, mini media room, library and study area for the kids — and that's a lot to cram in for a room that is 3m x 3m.

To start, the main closet was ripped out and separated into two separate units; one for storage and one where a compact built-in desk would go. The desk couldn't really be a free-floating piece of furniture, because we needed to have enough room to pull the sofa bed out.

Ed's Office - back: Most people would paint a small room a bright colour to make it "look bigger". Well, this room was so small that it wouldn't do much good, so I went the other way. I wanted to have the room feel cosy and warm – like a jewellery box lined with soft flannel (I live in mid-Michigan with long, cold winters, so while this can work here, it may not work for everyone).

The paint is deep industrial grey with a sand finish. I set the dark paint off with white trim and pops of bright green. I don't know why, but I love the look of galvanised metal, so I used it as an accent in the magnet board, storage buckets (from Tractor Supply Company) and storage bins (from Lowes). I also used more galvanised duct sheet for insets in my cupboard doors above my desk (this is where the bedding for the pull-out sofa is stored).

To offset the bright metal and green pops, I built a mirror and wall unit out of aged reclaimed lumber I bought from the Habitat for Humanity Re-Store in Saginaw. This is a GREAT place, by the way! The people are fantastic and there are some great finds at fantastic prices. The wood I used came from houses that were being razed in downtown Saginaw and had a nice aged finish. All the wood you see in my room cost me less than $US8 (did I mention the fantastic prices).

As for accessories, I also enjoy vintage Steelcase furniture. I got the chair from a neighbour who was going to put it out to the kerb for rubbish day. The vinyl is in excellent condition; no rips, tears or cracks. Best of all it was free. The waste bin was found by my wife Molly years ago. Again — it was free and a fantastic find!

Ed's Office - audio and video gear: On the other side of the wall where the media wall unit is hung is the garage. I was able to put runs of conduit in to carry the necessary power and audio/video cables. The AV cable conduit comes through the overhead cupboard above the desk and into the closed where I have my amp, cable box and PS3. All the audio and video cables came from, by the way. You just can't beat the deals there. It only ran me about $US50 to cable the whole thing up!

Ed's Office - desk with PC off: I built the desk out of two cheap kitchen cabinets I bought at Lowes, a sheet of MDF and some salvaged Formica. I cut the bases off the two cabinets so the top would set at desk height and not counter height. I left 15cm behind the desk to hide the cables and made a pull-out kick panel in the back for easy access. The computer sits in the left-hand cabinet below the desktop.

Above the desk is a home-made magnet board built from a standard sheet of galvanised duct metal that I picked up at Home Depot. I glued the sheet to a piece of MDF and offset it from the wall with a 5cm x 10cm cleat. Behind the magnet board at the bottom is a power strip and a string of rope lights to give a soft backlight for the space. Above are standard IKEA puck lights.

Ed's Office - desk with PC on: I attached my monitor to a swivel, tilt and extending monitor arm that I picked up at for $US12. This allows me to push the monitor back and use the desktop for paper activities when needed and pull it out and adjust it when I want to use the computer. The adjustment arm allows for just about anyone to sit comfortably at the desk and use the computer for hours.

Ed's Office - media centre with night backlights on: Below the media centre are two IKEA bookcases on rollers. As mentioned, I use the galvanised bins to store my junk (mostly old CDs and such). The bookcases need to roll out of the room so that when gusts come for the night, the bed can be pulled out with plenty of room to move around the end. Since all the cables for the media centre are contained behind the reclaimed wood unit, there are no cables to trip over when the room is converted to a bedroom.

Ed's Office - command unit: The entire room is setup with X10 adaptors and is controlled by an old Phillip Pronto remote that I got on the cheap. I have lighting schemes setup for working at the desk, reading books on the sofa, watching TV or soft night lighting. It drives my mum nuts when she is over (she wonders what happened to good old- fashioned light switches), but I like it.

Ed's Office: Myron the wonder cat's favourite spot to rest while I work.

Gray, Green, and White: A Multi-Purpose Home Office [Lifehacker Workspace Show and Tell Pool]


    Okay, the monitor thing is AWESOME.

    And also, apologies, but... Eric Forman approves!!

    I LOVE what you did with the desk and media cabinet! What a brilliant idea! The touches of galvanised metal are nice, and the reclaimed wood unit for your media centre looks good. I like how you have matched it with the mirror on the facing wall (or vice-versa).

    Can't say that I like your choice of green, but obviously that's subjective.

    Out of curiosity, how much time did you put into planning (not building) the room? It looks like you have accounted for a lot of things/situations (guests, kids, etc).

    Overall, very nice, clean, and... cosy! :) Good job!

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