How to redesign a small office space

I was asked for some help in redesigning a small office space – see the results below

The Brief

We are two female colleagues starting a new business in Wedding Photography. For about 4 years, the space has been used as an office for a photographer’s agent and a photographer. The room has always been (invisibly) split down the middle to accommodate the two businesses. At present there is no order to the room and boxes are on the floor everywhere.

The new business will be the two of us working together on the wedding business but also running our own businesses at the same time. We therefore need to look like we are working together but also have the space to run our separate affairs. Basically, we don’t want to be on top of eachother, if you know what I mean!

We want to be able to bring clients to the office to show them our work and our products. We were hoping we may be able to fit in a small sofa and a coffee table. The storage therefore needs to be tidy and attractive. We would really like to have shelves that also hold lovely books, and other products that ‘say’ we are in the creative industry, as well as the obvious photography.

We also want the room to be ‘softened’. The white walls are very corporate and bare, so maybe we can have a colour on one wall. The lighting is terrible – strip lights in up-lighting constructions! See the pic showing the side walls. There is a great window down one side of the room that is a wonderful feature, I think. The carpets are standard tile mats, dark blue in colour – these can’t be moved but rugs could be an option.

The Feeling


Homely but professional at the same time


Storage/shelving – for filing as well as for showing nice books and our products, for storing portfolios

Furniture – seating for clients, desk chairs, new desks (if budget allows, present ones are very large but will do if necessary)

Place for printers (A3 and A4) and small scanner/copier – all to be shared by two computers.

Desk lamps


Framed prints/canvases on walls – these don’t have to be pictures of weddings



Notice board showing our inspirations



3.65m by 3.62m – two corners have boxed in pipes.

Layout with measurements is attached

Budget isn’t huge. We probably have about 500 max but obviously anything coming in cheaper would be greatly welcomed! Also, we don’t mind waiting for a few of the furnishings if our budget doesn’t cover everything right now. We have 2 desks in there already. They are not the most attractive and they are pretty huge, but if we have to keep them for now then so be it. There is also a massive wardrobe/cupboard already in there. Its useful in hiding all the paperwork and files but It definitely needs to be moved from where it is as it dominates the centre of the back wall and obstructs the entrance. We would like to change it but we would have to buy something to replace it and our budget may not cover that.


Plan to move in and do painting of room on the weekend of 27th28th September









My advice is to keep the office white and light and add subtle warmth with the wall colour.  You can then create  interest with stylish touches and pretty accessories.

Most of the furniture I have suggested is from Ikea because they offer modern and affordable items and everything I talk about is shown in the moodboard below.


It comes in over budget but I do think that all these things are essential if you want to create a certain look. Just think of it as an investment. If the room looks gorgeous and you get a commission as the vibe is good in the room then you have already paid back your initial spend. It is so important to make the right impression.

Another option is to just do what you can afford and avoid having meetings there until you can pay for all the changes.

My biggest concern is the floor. It’s very dark and oppressive. If you are not able to change it due to the landlord then why not suggest to them that you lay a temporary carpet over the top? You can buy an end of line carpet at any major carpet retail park (or I am sure there are loads of carpet shops in Hackney). This would cost you about £70 and then another £50-£80 to have it laid. It can always be pulled up when you leave. It really will change the whole room and I would include this as a staring point. Even if you can’t afford al l of the other things, a light floor will neutralize the room and therefore make the space look bigger and lighter.

Paint: Georgian 8, Dulux heritage range

This can be sourced from B&Q. I would advice a soft grey/putty colour that is predominantly white with a hint of pink/taupe. This will keep the room looking modern and light but will have a subtle warm under tone. Or if you can afford it then Zoffany’s Platinum Grey is beautiful.

I would strongly advice against any strong colors. It is very old fashioned to have one wall painted a bright colour and also it would make the room feel very stressful and small.

Meeting table, Docksta: £95, Ikea

This is a great value table that I have used many times on shoots. It’s the same one I advised Stu to get for his meeting room and it works really well. It comes in two parts and is really easy to fit together; a good investment. You will definitely need this if you are to have clients come to the office.

Desks, Galant desk, £69 x 2: £138, Ikea

If you are looking to achieve a modern office then I would suggest you trade the old desks in. Maybe sell them on ebay to get some cash? They are very dominant in the room and make it look small and cramped. This Ikea desk is light, bright and great value. It will blend seamlessly into the room and give the illusion of more space.

Office chair, option 1, Jakob £85 x 2: £170, Ikea

Meeting chair, Jeff, £6.49 x 4: £25.96, Ikea

These are great value and more importantly they can fold away when they are not in use to create more space. Don’t worry that they might not be really comfortable as your clients are only going to be with you for a few hours at a time.

Storage and printer shelf, Torsby, £179, Ikea

Blinds, £8.99, Ikea

These are fantastic. I have them in my living room at home. They let all the natural light flood in and yet they keep the room private from the outside. Affordable and modern. You can cut them to any size.

Picture frames, charity shops, white and silver guild only and fairly plain. This is a great way to create a stylish and eclectic and more importantly ‘original’ wall of art. You can opt for varying styles of frames as long as they are silver, white and maybe pale gold. There are many charity shops where you can pick these up. Keep the images in the frames really interesting and stick to, sepia, grey & black and white.


Lighting is key to a look and if you have a stylish lamp/shade, people will notice. Attention to detail is key when creating a stylish room. Accessories make or break it.

Lamps, cheap option 1: Kulla lamp, £39, Ikea

Lamps, option 2, Graham & Green – I would advice this one and buy two shades. I think it will work because it makes a statement.  The pattern had an Eastern influence and is very striking.  The style will have longevity and will not date quickly. Buy one side lamp for the meeting table or on top of the printer unit and one for a floor standing lamp. Again, you can buy a cheaper base from BHS or somewhere and just add the expensive shade. Shade, £27 for 10”


Go to shop a small mirror and framing shop on Hackney Road.  It’s painted red and white and is on the right hand side as you go towards Shoreditch, straight after Hackney City Farm and has ‘Mirrors & Framing’ written on the outside of the building in red writing. You can pick up a large repro vintage mirror for about £80-£100 and they will also deliver is you ask very nicely.

I just want to say a huge thank you to Pippa for making my stand look so amazing. Everyone was drawn to the stand, with compliments from all who visited. Pippa really understood my brief and her design far exceeded my expectations. It was wonderful and made me feel very proud to be showing my company to all the brides-to-be out there! Thank you Pippa.


I just want to say a huge thank you to Pippa for making my stand look so amazing. Everyone was drawn to the stand, with compliments from all who visited. Pippa really understood my brief and her design far exceeded my expectations. It was wonderful and made me feel very proud to be showing my company to all the brides-to-be out there! Thank you Pippa.


Meet Pippa

Pippa Jameson is an author, tv designer and interiors expert. The previous interior editor on several leading UK titles, Pippa has a wealth of knowledge and experience. Throughout her 25-year career, Pippa’s unique and creative approach has won her commissions for large retail brands and celebrities to deliver exciting and engaging projects. 

She’s written the curriculum for the British College of Interior Design, produced and styled shoots for well-known brands including John Lewis, H&M & Team GB/DFS, worked as an International Stylist for leading paint brands in Asia, consulted on the launch and creative direction of major retail names including George Home and Wren, and most recently, published her first book, The Sensory Home. Pippa possesses expertise unmatched in the interior industry.