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Malcolm’s DIY-FILLED Workplace Reveal: How To Lean Into Colour And Create A Stimulating Work From Dwelling House

Is there something extra “grownup” than a totally customized dwelling workplace?! Properly, there most likely is, however stick to me. After I was youthful, my household was fortunate sufficient to stay in a number of the most stunning locations on this planet. Nigeria, Honduras, and Brazil—to call just a few—have been international locations by which my sisters and I spent our early life. Totally different societies, ALL kinds of individuals, and a wide range of distinctive cultural experiences knowledgeable who we’d finally grow to be as adults. Unbeknownst to me once I was youthful, these assorted experiences would form my sensibilities—in each life and design—in ways in which proceed to disclose themselves to this very day. Very unexpectedly so, generally.

Lots of these sensibilities got here out to PLAY throughout this workplace rework, of us. This undertaking pressured me to flex muscle groups I didn’t even know I had and led to a number of the proudest (learn: riskiest) and most difficult (learn: exhausting) design selections I’ve ever tried to make. There’s one thing wildly therapeutic about exploring your most visceral, inherent, and spontaneous design concepts and letting them take over an area, however the problem for me on this workplace was to try this in a tailor-made and intentional approach. I’ve stated it right here on the weblog earlier than and I’ll say it once more: I’m nothing if not a examine in personified contradictions… Notably when such contradictions can yield one thing as BEAUTIFUL as this house; which respects the locations I’ve been, acknowledges the place I’m presently, and [cue the foreshadowing] leaves room for the locations I’ve but to go.


In case you learn my introductory article about my workplace plans, you would possibly recall that I got down to create a moody, stimulating, and energizing workplace house that may permit for multipurpose makes use of sooner or later. To try this, I challenged myself to make some uncomfortable design selections, studied numerous strategies of incorporating “conventional” design components, and leveraged the previous to reinforce the present state of my design sensibilities.


Hello. My identify is Malcolm, and like most designers nowadays, I like inexperienced.

Nonetheless, I by no means thought I’d paint practically each floor of a room it. Inexperienced is virtually utilized as a “impartial” nowadays, and I made a decision to go all out on this workplace and paint the partitions, trim work, ceiling, and doorways all in the identical tone. I….find it irresistible. I used to be closely impressed by “Inexperienced Smoke” by Farrow and Ball, however I ended up creating my very own customized combine at The Dwelling Depot with a Behr Marquee base. I used a satin end on the doorways, bookcases, and trim work, a matte end on the partitions, and a flat end on the ceiling. I feel the subtly assorted finishes assist to create a way of motion all through the house regardless of all of it being the identical shade. 

The door to the workplace—identical to most of the doorways in the remainder of my home—is painted in “Black Magic” by Sherwin Williams, additionally in a satin end. I like this mixture of tones, significantly along with my brass door {hardware} and glass knobs. 

Again once I was brainstorming paint selections for my bed room makeover, I requested Emily for some recommendation about paint selections. She challenged me to color your complete room in a darkish and moody shade, which I have to admit, terrified me on the time. I didn’t find yourself taking the plunge in my bed room, I remembered that recommendation when it got here time to make paint selections for the workplace (I additionally remembered Sara’s TV room), and I’m so glad that I trusted my instincts and went all out. The colour—and the way in which it’s utilized—evokes a way of power and psychological stimulation that I used to be actually craving for on this house. I’m writing on this house as we communicate (it’s truthfully a vibe, y’all), and the colour of the room has helped maintain my artistic juices flowing for hours on finish.

Desk | Chandelier | Desk Chair | Rug | Material

The inexperienced ache continues on this built-in construction I constituted of hand (with some assist). I AM TREMENDOUSLY PROUD OF IT.

Okay. There’s a lot to debate right here. In case you’re following me on Instagram, you should have seen this undertaking in numerous iterations over the previous few months. This undertaking pushed me out of my consolation zone in a myriad of how. Right here was the preliminary imaginative and prescient for the built-in system that I spoke about within the introductory article about this room

Whereas many elements of my preliminary plans modified from the unique schematic, I’m very happy with the way it got here collectively! There are just a few totally different parts to speak about right here, so let’s start from the bottom up.

I’m excited to be partnering with Semihandmade for this undertaking, they usually have been form sufficient to ship me two of their new paintable Quarterline cupboard doorways to finish my built-in system. These doorways have been designed in collaboration with Sarah Sherman Samuel (who has been a perpetual inspiration of mine for years), they usually provide Shaker traditionalism to the house with a barely trendy edge. The skinny detailing feels simply totally different sufficient to set it aside from the Shaker development, whereas nonetheless working seamlessly with the traditional fashion of the remainder of my dwelling. I painted the cupboard doorways in the identical inexperienced as the remainder of the room, they usually mix in sooooooo easily. I hooked up classic, strong, brass knobs to every cupboard door, which completed them off in a fantastically tailor-made and traditional approach.

The doorways from Semihandmade are hooked up to Ikea Sektion base cupboards, which I elevated—actually and figuratively—off of the ground simply excessive sufficient so as to add the bottom and shoe molding current all through the remainder of my home. This small element really makes this built-in system sing, and makes all the pieces really feel included, intentional, and built-in. After I inform you this step was difficult to get proper, I imply this step was CHALLENGING TO GET RIGHT. I needed each cupboards to be stage with each other, however with wobbly flooring in an previous home, it was a significant job. However, we did it, Joe! With the cupboards stage and fantastically adorned with Semihandmade Quarterline doorways, it was time to maneuver to the subsequent step…making the concrete counter tops!

Initially, I REALLY needed to make use of soapstone counter tops on this house. I like how smooth, buttery, and saturated soapstone is… however I don’t love how costly it’s (even for 2 little child slabs). As such, concrete counter tops appeared like a great different! They provide the identical wealthy feeling as soapstone at a tiny fraction of the associated fee (I paid roughly $30 for each of my counter tops, mixed). The one draw back was, properly, I needed to make them myself. BUT! The method was extremely satisfying, if not barely fatiguing, and yielded precisely the product that I used to be trying to find. I used a reasonably primary fiber-enforced concrete combine and a black colorant to get the tone excellent. There are many YouTube movies about this course of if you happen to’re concerned with studying extra about it (or you’ll be able to try my course of on my highlights on Instagram). I feel it was utterly well worth the time and labor it took to make these counter tops. 

That leads us to the peak of our dialogue (hehe) in regards to the built-ins: the tall bookcases. I knew I needed full-height woodwork on this house, so I taught myself how one can construct these showstoppers. Their building is pretty easy: I used plywood on the perimeters and again, primed strips of MDF for the face panels, and strong purple maple wooden for the shelving. The cabinets are held up by easy shelf pins to finish the bookcase! The ceilings in my home—identical to the flooring—aren’t in any respect straight or sq., so getting these bookcases excellent was one more skill-building problem in measuring, slicing, and ending.

I initially needed to color the bookshelves inexperienced, however I opted to complete them naturally to herald a contact of heat that displays the colour of the flooring. The peak of the bookcases can be mirrored within the peak of my Everhem material in a really “designer” approach. Everhem made these curtains and sheers customized for my workplace, and their tailor-made pleating provides simply the correct quantity of soppy and delicate detailing to steadiness a number of the tougher, colder components of the built-ins.

Let’s get into this built-in, DIY console desk with me for a momenteroni.

Lamp | Outlet Cowl

I went by way of roughly 101,393 concepts for how one can deal with the empty house between my two bookcases. I thought of putting my Rejuvenation desk there, however I didn’t need my again to face the door to the workplace. A Murphy mattress appeared like a viable choice, however didn’t fairly really feel like me. Extending the concrete countertop would have been a pleasant contact, however that may have been too heavy and cumbersome to maneuver into place. Finally, I needed so as to add a function right here that may be simply detachable in order that sooner or later, somebody would possibly have the ability to match a queen-size mattress between the 2 bookcases.

Then, I had an eye-opening dialog with my companion:

Him: It’d be nice if you happen to might discover a perfectly-sized console desk, noticed it in half, and set up it between the bookcases.

Me: Good concept! I’ll search by way of some classic and salvage shops to see what I can discover.

Me: …I discovered nothing. I might simply construct one thing… however that’s extra work than I wish to deal with…

Me: Come over. We’re constructing a console desk.

Throughout this workplace makeover, I chatted briefly with Emily about designers’ tendency so as to add TOO MUCH WORK to our plates, even when we’re already drowning in obligations. She instructed me “it’s truthfully a great place to be. A number of progress in hustle mode”, and I feel this DIY desk encapsulates that mentality fairly succinctly. Was it difficult to construct? Completely. Am I a greater designer due to it? Abso-frickin-lutely.

I opted to safe a butcher block countertop for the floor of the desk, which occurred to be on sale for $100 at The Dwelling Depot. I used a butcher block conditioner to complete off the highest of the desk, and drilled a gap into the highest for wires to drop all the way down to the outlet. I additionally grabbed these fantastically turned butcher block legs for the bottom, and after a lot inside (and exterior) deliberation, I made a decision to color the legs in the identical inexperienced as the remainder of the room. The painted legs end off the desk in a approach that’s each quiet and crowd pleasing whereas chatting with the unique posts featured on my staircase.

Talking of the inherent “conventional” features of my dwelling…


One thing that has at all times me in regards to the design-o-sphere is the notion of “conventional” fashion. In case you lookup “conventional design” on Pinterest, you’ll largely see an amalgamation of American- or European-inspired components: wainscoting, tufted furnishings, oil work, and the like. Now, don’t get me unsuitable, I like these components simply as a lot as many different designers do. Nonetheless, I’ve been more and more conscious that “conventional” design is totally depending on any variety of elements: geographic area, time interval, spinoff interpretations of OTHER conventional types, and numerous different issues. Throughout this workplace rework, I discovered myself selecting paintings and options that incorporate numerous variations of traditionalism (I’ll offer you a cookie if you happen to can rely what number of occasions I say “conventional” on this article), and I’m ecstatic about what I’ve collected.

Take this unique Nigerian batik, for instance. FIRST OF ALL, HOW BEAUTIFUL IS IT OMG. My household procured this beautiful piece by Wahab Oyebode in Nigeria circa 1988 (one 12 months earlier than I used to be born), and I instantly considered it when planning the paintings for this house. The dimensions of it’s perfection. The steadiness of the colourful inexperienced background and the nice and cozy, saturated patterns is beautiful. The power of the figures represented is filled with life and motion. This batik feels proper at dwelling right here, though it’s notably a special fashion than its surrounding components. My companion created a customized body for this piece utilizing primed MDF, which we completed utilizing a paint that was color-matched to one of many lighter tones within the paintings. Synergy, my associates! 

However, now we have this giant, neon interpretation of Michelangelo’s David. YES, a neon signal. I can’t fairly clarify it, however I’ve at all times envisioned a neon signal of some kind on this house, and I made a decision to lean into that visceral feeling and comply with my instincts. BOY, AM I GLAD I DID. The power that these two items of artwork create within the workplace is palpable. Although they seem like vastly totally different, there’s a similarity to the linework in each items that enables them to have a dialog with each other–based mostly, I feel, on the relative traditionalism inherent inside them.

Neon Signal

Earlier on this article, I mentioned how the execution of this room was an train in letting my most visceral design concepts run rampant, however doing so in a tailor-made approach. That’s the place the magic occurs, and I feel this piece encapsulates that mindset fairly properly. A standard topic to make sure, however with a contemporary sensibility. It additionally lends an acceptable quantity of FUN to the house! Who doesn’t wish to have enjoyable whereas they work?! I’ve spent just a few nights working within the workplace, and the lighting has actually been key to establishing a singular, moody, and galvanizing house. Each time I look on the neon signal of David (significantly when it’s lit), my abdomen jumps somewhat bit. It’s thrilling. It’s energizing. It’s totally different. It motivates me to assume creatively whereas embracing how profoundly the previous conjures up the longer term.


Opposite to a number of the different paintings I’ve sourced within the house, the classic elevation plans of my neighborhood are as distinctive to this home as potential. After I moved right here in April 2020, I stumbled upon these architectural drawings in one among my kitchen cupboards, and was instantly enthralled by them. 

The drawings right here present the elevations of my precise unit, and I’ve at all times identified that this set of documentation would finally land within the workplace. The custom of this home relies on colonial structure, so it feels acceptable to provide these classic drawings a major presence.

Chair | Flooring Lamp | Aspect Desk

The classic elevations anchor this cozy little part of the room, which I LOVE. The Lulu and Georgia flooring lampGoal accent chair, and Rejuvenation facet desk (which is making a visitor look after being showcased in my deck rework) spherical out this nook of the workplace in such a fantastically intentional approach. I included black, smooth, steel accents into this nook, which distinction towards the classic drawings in a approach that creates a ravishing sense of steadiness.

In my introductory article in regards to the workplace makeover, I discussed that I felt the necessity to safe a barrister bookcase for this room. FIRST OF ALL… a lot of you despatched me listings to bookcases you present in my space, for which I’m eternally grateful and mildly emotional. I discovered this one at Neighborhood Forklift in Maryland, and the walnut shade of the wooden works completely with a number of the different furnishings items within the house.


I simply find it irresistible! There’s one thing so fantastically traditional a couple of barrister bookcase. The form, glass paneling, and mechanics of it work collectively to kind an ideal addition to this workplace. It’s studious. Good-looking. Utilitarian. And just a bit bit further. Aspect be aware: this stunning floral association was crafted by Andrew Hill of Blakemore’s Flowers in Harrisonburg, Virginia. I challenged him to create a ravishing bouquet that felt “wild” but in addition spoke to my “tailor-made” design sensibilities, and he delivered in spades. Ten out of ten.

Lets dive into some earlier than and afters?! We will.

*Design by Malcolm Simmons
**Pictures by Malcolm Simmons and Andrew Hill


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