Our Home

Scandinavian Workspace Makeover — The Before


Before I share these photos with you, I have to tell you something.


It’s just that, when you combine an almost comical lack of storage with a tendency to hoard collect supplies, and add in a dash of chronic health problems that often leave you too tired to finish projects or clean up after yourself, you end up with this:

Scandinavian Workspace Makeover - Before

Or this:

Scandinavian Workspace Makeover - Before

It’s unreal how much CRAP you can inadvertently collect in six years. We’ve reached a level of non-function in our little one-bedroom apartment, and nowhere has that become more apparent than in my “workspace.”

The the too-small wobbly folding cart engulfed in clutter and the too-large desk by the window where the glare makes photo-editing impossible just don’t inspire productivity. Shocking, I know.

Which is why I’m beyond giddy to finally announce that IKEA Stoughton has partnered with me for a Scandinavian workspace makeover. That’s right, IKEA, baby.


I’ve been sitting on this secret since early March and OHH, is it good to get it out into the world!

This is going to be epic, you guys. It’s my Scandinavian workspace inspiration come to life—bright white shelves, organized storage boxes, plants. I’m excited.

But no makeover is complete without a few painful “before” pictures, so just grit your teeth and allow me to give you a little tour. This is REAL LIFE, folks, crappy iPhone photos and all.

Two years ago we gave our living room a badly-needed paint job, which took us from this lavender insanity

Scandinavian Workspace Makeover - Before

…to a much more palatable bright white calm.

Scandinavian Workspace Makeover - Before

At that point I still had a giant desk in the bedroom (the bedroom which also got painted two years ago, and is STILL unfinished), and managed to convince myself that the tasteless monstrosity plus another desk in the new living room would be sufficient.

I can’t believe this is a photo I allowed myself to publish on the blog:

Scandinavian Workspace Makeover - Before

Two desks seems like plenty, until you end up knee-deep in scrapbook paper, craft paint, copper wire, and more washi tape than any one person should own. DIY blogging is a supply-heavy venture, my friends.

The bedroom desk has since been removed, as my style is THANKFULLY no longer vintage kitsch, but that left me here:

Scandinavian Workspace Makeover - Before

I’ve finally realized that I don’t like working in the bedroom, due to it being intended for sleeping and all, and am now completing this lengthy game of musical furniture rotation by moving my workspace to the corner of the living room. Which brings us back to this sad state of affairs:

Scandinavian Workspace Makeover - Before

Hey, it could be worse. It could be lavender.

Soon, so soon, I’ll get to show you how this corner has evolved.

But it always has to get worse before it gets better. At least, that’s how I rationalized the IKEA bomb that went off in my kitchen the day I brought back my future workspace:

Scandinavian Workspace Makeover - Before

AAAAAND, that’s about as much embarrassment as I can handle.

Please someone share their stories of decorating/organizing disasters so I know I’m not alone!

Read the whole series:

Scandinavian workspace inspiration for renters

How to shop IKEA like a pro

How to hang heavy shelves on horsehair plaster walls

Scandinavian workspace makeover — The Reveal

DIY Copper Inspiration Board


Author: Marlene @ Idle Hands Awake

Maker, baker, cat momma, total nerd, perpetually covered in glitter/sawdust/paint. Blogging DIY and design for modern creatives.

8 comments on “Scandinavian Workspace Makeover — The Before”

  1. I love seeing process photos! And your living room is beautiful – it’s crazy how much of a difference a little paint can make. And a few months ago I decided to switch up the dining room/living room/kitchen nook situation… the dining room is now a family room and looks great. The kitchen also looks pretty good… but there is a dining room table and a few other random piece of furniture in the living room and it looks so weird haha. I still haven’t figured out quite what to do about it!

  2. Ok so we don’t have chronic health problems and our place can look twice as bad 😉
    Your living room though, WOAH GORG!!!!! I love love love the rug. I can’t WAIT to see what you do with your scandinavian workspace!!!! It’s gonna be so good

    1. Thank you Tan!! And I know, there are many reasons to have clutter, including just having more important things to do. 🙂 I’m so glad you like the living room! Even though it’s been two years since the painting I’m still a huge fan. I sadly had to sell my beautiful kilim though, it was just too much upkeep with all the cat hair! 🙁

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *