I had the pleasure of working with my friend Ruth of Ruth Eileen Photography on her incredible loft home and work space. If you’ve been reading my blog for a bit you probably recognize Ruth’s name as the photographer of many of my favorite projects. When she approached me about helping her and her husband downsize their living space and make it suitable for living and working, I jumped at the chance. I’ve always wanted to do a loft and I feel like Ruth and I just “get” each other in terms of our aesthetic so I knew it would be great. I will admit though, it turned out even better than I had envisioned!
But first the before! The loft is in a historic paper mill building with these ENORMOUS windows. The light! Oh the natural light!!! It is glorious and floods the space all day long and is just about the dreamiest place ever to work. It is tailor made for a photographer like Ruth and pretty much a dream to for a designer.
Coupled with the original factory wood floors, it’s warm and cool all at once. It’s such a beautiful space. (ignore my traveling band of children peppered throughout these photos. Real life here people…real life). Like all spaces, it did have its challenges though. Like that funky opening from the living space to the bedroom and the general smaller space. Ruth and her husband were moving from another unit in the building 2x the size of this so organizing, ample storage and space planning were key. Ruth had also made the decision to use her home to host prospective clients so it had to be “studio ready” at a moments notice and embody her brand but still feel warm and usable as a home.
I set about devising a floor plan and decided that this would be the main lounging/tv watching/meeting with clients area.
And that this space off the kitchen (perfect for a dining area) would be her office space. They were comfortable giving up a formal eating space in exchange for a dedicated workspace for Ruth and the breakfast bar would be suitable for their every day dining needs.
Ruth had a few existing pieces that she wanted to hold on to – like this vintage chair.
And her office desk and chair set up.
They needed a new couch which we quickly remedied with an awesome Craig’s List score – this gray Room & Board piece.
So the goals:
-devise a floor plan that allowed them to live and work comfortably
-provide ample storage as they were downsizing from a larger unit
-create a space where Ruth felt comfortable and proud to host clients
-devise a way to display Ruth’s work that didn’t leave her husband feeling like he was living in a photography studio
-do it all on a budget
Here’s the after! Sources for everything are linked at the end of this post.
When you walk into the loft and past the kitchen it opens up into this really impressive space and I knew I wanted to create a big wow moment on those huge 20′ walls. Because this is a rental, we couldn’t paint but I was pretty in love with the white walls anyway. We jazzed them up with some removable gold dot decals which tie in oh so perfectly with Ruth’s branding. Check out her site!
This coffee table started off as a not-so-special IKEA piece but Ruth Rub N Buffed it into something glorgious using gold Rub n Buff.
That rug is a dreamy, soft thing provided by Shaw Rugs from their Caress line. It typically comes as wall to wall but you can get it cut and bound to any size area rug you want so don’t rule it out. It’s honestly the softest rug I’ve ever felt and has a crazy stain repellant added to it. This style is called Stylish Art in the Artic Frost color.
Does this pillow combo not make you weak in the knees? This might be my favorite pillow scheme I’ve ever done. Just happiness. And maybe the best part – the blue velvet pair are from IKEA and less than $8 a piece and the gold sequin one is from H&M and $10! The rainbow houndstooth ones are my own creation and I’m obsessed with them. They’re for sale in my Etsy shop here.
I toyed around the with the idea of putting the media and storage component of this room on the far wall and using the couch to divide the office side from the living side but ultimately, I like how it could be a little more hidden on this wall. And the IKEA gods were with us because this Besta storage combo fit perfectly on the wall.
The unit is super functional because it provides ample closed and open storage/display space. I think that’s important in everyday life but especially so when you’re entertaining clients and need a place to throw your everyday “junk” before they come over while still having nicely styled shelves that give them a glimpse into your personality. I turned one of the cubbies into a makeshift bar area, perfect for when Ruth is hosting clients or just having friends over.
And of course, I zhushed up the IKEA console a bit with some brass hex knobs.
To make the TV less of a focal point on this wall, I did a gallery style art arrangement around it. Again, another opportunity for Ruth to showcase her personality while also displaying some of her work. As I guess you would expect from a professional photographer, Ruth has an enviable vintage frame collection. The eclectic mix you get from combining them all is just awesome I think. That green piece in the upper left is a vintage Vera scarf from my collection that I framed the same way I did mine. Tutorial here.
I made these little map figures for Ruth and her husband using an old road atlas I had. Each is traced onto their hometown map. I’ll post the templates for these this week. Cute right? And free! Just trace, cut and glue.
On the other side of the loft is her office.
Ruth already owned all these Expedit units but they were scattered throughout her last apartment. I turned them all upright and pushed them together to create this one wall of office storage.
Isn’t this gilded bud vase collection dreamy? Ruth got them from a thrift shop for just a few dollars and then transformed them with some gold Rub n Buff.
Because I took the dining area of the loft and made it the office, I wanted to create a designated, informal eating area for Ruth and her husband to enjoy on a daily basis. Luckily this little breakfast bar area was just right for two and those cheery Target stools make it a little more special.
This is a good view into the overall loft layout as seen when you’re coming down the hall from the front door. The bedroom door is to the right (not visible), kitchen and then beyond is the office and living area shown above. On the right there is perhaps my favorite thing in the whole design.
I really wanted to create a way for Ruth to showcase her work but in a less permanent way than the traditional wall of frames. I designed this gold sequin wrapped pants hanger display to be a rotating gallery of sorts. If Ruth is meeting with a prospective beach bride, for example, she can quickly swap in some of her featured seaside wedding work, for example. City bride – swap in some gorgeous urban shots, etc. And if she (unlikely) or her husband (more likely) don’t feel like looking at smiling strangers’ weddings when they’re having friends over, they can put up some more personal photos. I love how easy it is…no messing with taking out the backs of frames, cleaning glass, etc. Just take it down off the nail, open, place new art in, close and re-hang.
Ruth is now selling these hangers in her Etsy shop so if you’re not into DIYing, you can purchase them here.
Pretty great right? I can see this working well to display kid’s art that’s always odd sizes and shapes!
And because I know you guys love a good side-by-side before and after, here ya go!
I hope you loved this project as much as I did. It was truly a collaborative experience and one I wish I could repeat over and over again with all my clients. Just a great example of how easy and good it can be when two creative professionals trust each others’ expertise.
Gold dot decals // White Chairs (vintage, recovered by me in gold dot burlap) // Pillows on chairs // Couch (Room & Board scored on Craig’s List!) // Pillows on Couch – Blue velvet, Rainbow Houndstooth Pillows, Gold Heart Pillow (discontinued), Gold Sequin Pillow // Rug // TV Console & Storage Towers // Hex Brass Knobs // Bin Pulls (Restoration Hardware, discontinued) // Gallery Wall – Green Scarf (vintage, framing tutorial here , Starburst Mirror, Abstract Floral, Love Never Fails print, All frames (vintage) // Ping Agate Side Table (Target, discontinued) // Brass Snail (vintage) // Coffee Table (hacked with gold Rub n Buff // Agate coasters on coffee table // Gold Wishbone objet // Tripod Lamp (custom made from vintage camera tripod) // Green chair, vintage // Gold Pig Bookends // Mercury Glass Mushrooms (West Elm, discontinued) // Desk (IKEA) // Desk Chair // Desk Lamp (Target, discontinued) // Kilim rug (vintage, contact Honey & Fitz for details // Storage towers // Desk Chair Pillow // Head Planter (Furbish Studio, discontinued) // Corkboard (custom via PictureFrames.com) // Gold Crowned Bird // All You Need is Love and Coffee Art // Yellow Metal Bar Stools// Gold Sequin Wrapped Hangers