Life, Inspired ❦ The Weekend Review – February 23, 2015

Welcome to Life, Inspired — The Weekend Review. This is the weekly column where I take a step back from the recipes so you can have a wider look at what’s been inspiring me, moving me, or just catching my fancy out there in the life beyond my kitchen.

Workspace Inspiration

Now for something a little different. This blog is definitely not an interior design site, but since I’m preparing my home for sale I thought I’d take advantage of its uncharacteristically neat state to give you a glimpse of my office/studio space. Or, as I like to call it, Blogging Central. This may well be my favourite room in the house; it’s a tranquil and inspirational space in which to work. I thought I’d give you a bit of a before and after tour (ahem, there are no ‘before’ photos as I think that’s better left to the imagination).

Workspace Inspiration │ © Marlene Cornelis


Originally, the room had three tan walls and a medium blue one, and dark brown curtains. Fortunately, the door and trim were already white, and I was able to keep the white mini blinds on the windows. The south-facing door opens onto the covered veranda overlooking the back yard, and the corner windows bring in the south and east light. In warm weather, I open the door to bring in the fresh air and even more light. A cottage-style screen door painted a soft green keeps out critters like the cat that came in one night while I was working, pre-screen, and scared the bejeezus out of me. I’m just lucky it wasn’t a raccoon, or worse yet, a skunk. But I digress (as I so often do).

Pre-transformation, the furniture in the room was a sad collection of cast-offs, including a sadly battered brown computer desk that my kids used to use and which none of them wanted. After emptying out my mother’s house last summer, the office also served as a repository for boxes and piles of stuff that I brought home. And — let’s face it — lots of my odds and ends were crammed in here too.

The room was definitely not the creativity-inspiring space that I dreamed of working in.


My vision was a light and airy space that would serve as a writing room as well as a photography studio. ‘Studio’ is a bit grand for what I do, but I like the ring of it.

Last October, at the Food Bloggers of Canada conference in Vancouver, I finally found the motivation to move ahead with the transformation of the room. I have big plans for my blog and business, and it’s important that my workspace support my success.

The first step was to paint it white. For most people, including my earlier self, this would have been a do-it-yourself project, but because of my wrist injuries I can’t wield a paintbrush. So, I hired a painter, which proved to be a very good decision indeed. There are no splats and drips on that lovely bamboo floor! I then found simple white curtains.

Why so much white, you might ask? For photography, the white provides a nice clean background, and it also eliminates any issues of wall colour reflecting onto my dishes of food. I also find that white inspires creativity, clarity and tranquility. Can’t have too much of those!

I also treated myself to some new furniture, breaking my long-standing habit of making do with what happens to be around. For a long time, I’d had my eye on a line of office furniture in a creamy French white. To be perfectly honest, I couldn’t bring myself to buy it at full price. In a stroke of luck, I found both the desk and the chair in an outlet store for a third of the regular price. Yes! The table has one scuff mark on the top, a minor imperfection that actually matches the distressing around the edges of the drawers. As for the chair, it tilted in the wrong direction because the mechanism had been attached backwards. Some quick work with a screwdriver and that’s been put to rights.

I like the clean lines of the desk and how it enhances the light, airy feel of the room. To be perfectly honest, it’s normally covered with paper, but I’m going to do my best to keep it spare and neat like in the photo. It feels like I’m working in a magazine photo right now.

My other major purchase for the room was the tall glass cocktail table, which is where I photograph my food. The height is good for me, as I’m fairly tall. I like how the glass top and simple metal frame meld unobtrusively into the room and don’t obscure the view out the window.

The existing low black bookcase was overflowing. My first idea was to replace it with three white bookcases, but the store where I found them only had two. My daughter convinced me to use the black bookcase in between them, and I’m happy with how that turned out. The contrast in both colour and height adds visual interest to the room, and the pop of black keeps the room from being too monochromatic.

Behind my desk (not visible in the photo) is one section from the maple-finished wall unit my parents had custom-made about thirty years ago. I use cupboards on the bottom for office supplies, and keep food styling props behind the upper glass doors. A black filing cabinet topped by my printer sit in the corner next to the cabinet.

Perhaps the only item that doesn’t belong in the room is my black office chair. It’s fairly new and in good condition, so I want to hang on to it. I may find a better home for it in future, but for now it’s tucked quietly out of the way, and I can bring it out if I have a guest in my studio.

I’ve kept décor items in the room to a minimum. Normally I have my kids’ photos on display above the bookcases, because they inspire me. However, for real estate showing purposes, I’ve replaced them with an eclectic collection of decor items. Two plants that I brought from my mother’s house add welcome touches of greenery. A few Parisian-themed storage boxes add little bursts of colour and keep me mindful of my dream to visit Paris one day. Finally, a sound system keeps me inspired by my favourite music.

If I had to sum up in a single phrase why this room works for me as well as it does, I’d simply say, “I like how it makes me feel.”

Weekly Recap

Last week was all about almond milk and healthy goodness around here. Once you try this homemade almond milk you’ll be a convert! Incredibly quick and easy to make, raspberry chia seed pudding is a nutritional powerhouse and delicious to boot — another recipe you’ll want in your repertoire.


    • Thanks so much, K! Your opinion means a lot to me since you have such striking posts about design. It was rewarding to see that I could turn a vision for a room into reality, but it helps that I started with a room that had such great potential!

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