Home Décor

a minimalist home office with cork flooring

You’ve seen the first look at my new light-filled extension space, now let’s have a look at the little room that sits above it – my minimalist home office. At the beginning of the year, we added a double storey extension to our two bedroom Victorian terraced house in London, quite literally doubling the size of the downstairs and adding a new bedroom and a petite bathroom upstairs. We started the project in November, completed the build in April and I’ve been painting, primping and perfecting the spaces ever since.

With a large contemporary window overlooking the wild foliage of the garden, this new room feels like you’re working in a tranquil tree house, somewhere far, far away from the urban noise of London. The space, though small and north-facing, has a calm, quiet feel, thanks to the off-white walls and tactile cork flooring. It really is a dream home office.

Recently I’ve been researching the connection between nature, wellbeing and our interior spaces for a project I’m working on. Time and time again green views have been proven to be restorative, whether it’s aiding healing and soothing pain for hospital patients, or boosting productivity and improving attitude for office workers. In fact, one study found that viewing a forest landscape for 20 minutes has the power to return you to a relaxed state after a moment of mental stress. I love that while I’m working I can stop and pause, and enjoy a meditative moment watching the branches sway in the breeze. And with that mood boosting green view, it’s always a good way to start the day, even on a dreary grey Monday.

[Ad – this post features press products, including Little Greene paint, Recork cork flooring and Dowsing & Reynolds sockets and switches] 

[Ad] My new extension space: a minimalist home office with cork flooringNeutral home office detailsMy new extension space: neutral walls, cork flooring and a simple white column radiator[Ad] My new extension space: a simple home office with cork flooringAn uplifting green view for a simple home office with neutral walls and simple details

I spent ages trying to figure out how to squeeze an extra bedroom onto our home. If we were going to do this project, I knew that it would add so much value for the future if we were to make it into a three bedroom family home. We were also increasingly growing out of our compact house – I was working in the bedroom and with a toddler around, and a proliferation of more and more stuff, things were starting to feel particularly cramped.

In the old layout, the bathroom was tacked onto the end of the house, behind the living room and kitchen on the ground floor, with two bedrooms on the first floor. The key in the jigsaw puzzle was moving the bathroom upstairs to free up the layout downstairs for a generous, new, open plan living space. With a lot of help from our architects Scenario Architecture, we’ve managed to fit a small bedroom on the back of the house (enough to fit a double bed) and a teeny family bathroom with a bath.

During the build we discovered that there would have been a bedroom up here, to match the other houses on the terraces. We found the remains of the fireplace and believe the back of the house must have been bombed during the Second World War. The old rear extension housing the bathroom on the ground floor must have been added later in haste after the war – it was very poorly built out of modern breeze blocks (with no insulation!) so it definitely wasn’t an original part of the house.

It was incredible to see this new room take shape. As soon as the builders made the opening and you could see how the window would frame the greenery, I knew it would be a very special space. I’m so glad that we decided to make the most of the pitch of the roof; it really helps make the small space feel more generous and lofty.

Before & after extension design - adding a home office to a compact Victorian terraced house Before & after extension design - adding a home office to a compact Victorian terraced house Before & after extension design - adding a home office to a compact Victorian terraced houseBefore & after extension design - adding a home office to a compact Victorian terraced house Painting my new home office Portland Stone Pale by Little Greene Cork flooring by Recork Before & after extension design - adding a home office to a compact Victorian terraced house Before & after extension design - adding a home office to a compact Victorian terraced house

We’ve used the same cork flooring by Recork here as the downstairs extension. Based in the UK, Recork manufactures agglomerated cork planks, which are made from recycled cork waste left over from the bottle stopper industry. They have 8 tones to choose from in their UNA range, from dark Charred Oak to light Pale Sand, all with an extra matte finish. I chose UNA Dapple Grey – a pale, almost white-washed finish that feels light and calm.

Recork’s planks come primed with a coating to allow the cork to flex and absorb impact. They also use a plant-based oil to colour the cork and bring out the unique natural texture. The planks are glued directly to your sub-floor using a specialist adhesive. Recork recommend using one of their fully trained, professional Recork Accredited installers for peace of mind as it can be a bit of a tricky product to lay if you don’t have experience with it. We definitely learnt the hard way that you need a really clean, dust free sub-floor!

Once glued to the floor, the cork planks are finished with an HFX extra matt surface finish to protect the cork surface from scratches and wear and tear. The more layers of coating, the better the protection, You can then apply top coats of the HFX-2C Extra Matt PUR surface coating whenever you feel the floor needs it. This can depend on how much traffic the space gets, but Recork suggests every 2-3 years for heavy commercial or public spaces, and every 5-10 years for residential homes.

Our builders also used a colour matched Bona GapMaster to go around the edges of the floor to fill any gaps between the flooring and the skirting boards.

Not only is cork flooring a good thermal and sound insulator, I love how it feels underfoot – soft and subtly warm to touch. It really adds a lovely hint of texture to an otherwise plain and simple room. Cork is really easy to clean and we’ve had no trouble with dents or scratches; in fact, objects just seem to bounce off it when dropped! I think it’s perfect for a home office where you might have furniture on wheels that you need to move about.

Contemporary details in a minimalist extension space, with an &tradition flower pot lamp and a flush doorSimple white details in a minimalist home renovationSimple details in a minimalist monochrome home office, with a HAY chair[Ad] My new extension space: a simple home office with cork flooringCork flooring adds a tactile finish to this neutral minimalist home office[Ad] My new extension space: a simple home office with cork flooringA minimalist hallway with a simple flush door

In keeping with a calm, neutral colour palette for this minimalist home office, I chose matte white sockets and toggle switches by Dowsing & Reynolds, a simple paper shade by HAY with a linen flex and ceiling rose from Zangra, and a white Milano Windsor column radiator from Best Heating. I found the Arne Jacobsen door handle secondhand on eBay and the door is a flush door system from Eclisse.

The furniture is all pieces I had previously, except for a new Trotten standing desk from IKEA with a beige top. The filing cabinets are their Alex drawers and the trolley is called Raskog – we used it previously in our kitchen and think they’re so versatile, you could use one in every room! This utilitarian metal shelving unit (£19!) fits perfectly in the alcove behind the door – it was previously by our back door for hallway paraphernalia.

A minimalist home office with an uplifting green view and simple decorIKEA's Raskog trolley is a versatile addition to a home office[Ad] My new extension space: a simple home office with cork flooringA minimalist home office with an uplifting green view and simple decor - featuring an IKEA standing desk and drawer unitsA minimalist home office with simple storage ideasA minimalist home office with simple storage ideas, including an IKEA desk and IKEA Alex drawersA minimalist home office with an uplifting green view and simple decor[Ad] My new extension space: a simple home office with cork flooringTwo Alex drawers by IKEA provide plenty of organised storage for this minimalist home office

It takes me so long to commit to art and shelves on the wall, but for now I’m enjoying the clean, minimalist look, free of clutter. I have plenty of space for my files, documents and fabric samples, with plenty of room to grow. This room is my space to dream, think, write and be creative. What do you think?

Sources (*indicates a press product):
Architect: Scenario Architecture
Interior design: Cate St Hill 
Engineer: Baker Chatterton
Contractor and joiner: Polstar Group
Glazing: Framexpress
Flush door system: Eclisse
Arne Jacobsen door handles, eBay
Flooring: Recork in Dapple Grey*
Radiator and valves: Best Heating*
Wall colour: Portland Stone Pale by Little Greene*
Ceiling rose and flex: Zangra
Paper pendant: HAY
Pendant outside room: Flowerpot pendant by &Tradition

Sockets and switches: Dowsing & Reynolds*
Standing desk: IKEA
Chair: HAY
Filing cabinets: IKEA
Black trolley: IKEA
Metal shelving unit: IKEA

A minimalist home office with an uplifting green view and simple decor, featuring tactile cork flooring and an IKEA standing desk [Ad] My new extension space: a simple home office with cork flooringA minimalist home office with an uplifting green view and simple decor, featuring tactile cork flooring and an IKEA standing desk [Ad] My new extension space: a simple home office with cork flooringA minimalist home office with an uplifting green view and simple decor, featuring tactile cork flooring and an IKEA standing desk A minimalist home office with an uplifting green view and simple decor, featuring tactile cork flooring and an IKEA standing desk A minimalist home office with an uplifting green view and simple decor, featuring tactile cork flooring and an IKEA standing desk