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  • Neyir Urminsky

My Home Office Reveal, a periwinkle paradise

I’m not entirely sure when I was first bewitched by the colour periwinkle but the obsession has been on the edges of my imagination for decades. The technical introduction may have been in my late teens. Something to do with the early morning viewing of the Shopping Channel I’d watch, while eating my 4am breakfast, before heading to my summer job driving a truck and running a Farmer’s Market stand. I had always been enamoured by jewellery and I’m fairly sure this is when I was first introduced to Ceylon Sapphires. Still I had been surrounded by the colour most of my life, my mother grew the plant as ground cover on the northside of our home and I can now spot the shade in some of my early favourite paintings and prints, 2 of which hang beside the door in my office; a pastel sketch by my Great Aunt of my Grandfather and a print of Van Gogh’s Fishing in Spring. Years later I painted my entire 6x6 bedroom in a Vancouver condo in the colour and made curtains and a slipcover for a chair (currently upholstered in zebra print in my living room) using a striped taffeta fabric and stitch witchery(I had no sewing machine). When it came to choosing my engagement right I was set on a tanzanite stone until we spotted a ring featuring a ceylon sapphire in a gorgeous periwinkle.

My office in our last home, time was limited with infant twins!

As so many of us have learned these past few years having a dedicated workspace, particularly one with a closed door is no longer a luxury. I’ve been working from home since my first son was a little over 2 years old (he’s 15.5 now!) and I’ve worked from dining room tables, office nooks in closets and sofas. Finally when I was pregnant with our twins, 8 years ago we started looking to buy our first family house.. Given our visa status at the time in the US there was always uncertainty so we were strategic about a lot of elements regarding our purchase in case we had to sell quickly. But there was one thing on which I would not compromise (other than hardwood floors, I don’t do wall to wall carpet!), an office. Knowing I would soon be a mother of 4 boys, with 3 aged 3 and under an office was non-negotiable. Even though it doubled as the guest room, the luxury of having a dedicated space with a door meant I could leave things on my work surface, it saved countless hours of getting things in and out. The only issue was the French door entrance that eventually lost one of the panes of glass (I have 4 boys remember!). It didn’t take long before one of the twins discovered they could sneak through the open panel.

The Office Before

The bookcases on the left are against the wall, the room is so long and narrow!

Fast forward a few more years to our first year back in Canada after 14 years of being expats. This time the house purchase was even more complicated, we still had 4 boys, one of whom has a disability and we had gained another family member. My mom was coming to live with us and would need a level of care. After many discussions, advice taking and research we landed on a set of criteria, one of which included an office for me. That meant we were looking for a 5 bedroom with at least 2 bathrooms (asking my mom to share with 4 boys seemed unfair on both sides). There was literally one house that fit everything we needed.

Step 1 - The Pinboard Wall

The Pinboard Behind my Desk

It’s a long, narrow room 7 1/2 ft by 15ft, narrowing to 6 feet by the door. It has a closet, though not full height due to the floor above, we live in a 1960’s side split. By far the best feature of the room is the light, our house frontage is south-west and my office sits right at street level and fills with so much sunshine! After 9 years of lovely but cloudy Rochester, NY, the sunny Quebec winter and summer days are a balm to my soul. Overall our house also boasts high ceilings which having grown up with 13ish foot ceilings makes me so happy! Still getting the layout right in this space proved tricky, I’ll spare you photos of alllll the layouts but know there used to be a full size chaise in this room too! The narrow configuration, the bright window limiting where I could place my desk and the privacy issue of being right at street level (ahem ok, honestly the distraction of being able to see right outside my window!) meant taking a little bit of time to get the flow right. Adding a layout snag is that with my office door you can see directly into the middle of the house close to a bedroom/bathroom area necessitating some sort of screening.

Step 2 - The Layout

I added a shelf that divided the room and screened the inside from the street

Then of course like everyone else my children came home full time in March 2020 and they needed to work at home too. My then 12 year old was fortunate to attend a private school that pivoted within weeks to a full time online platform but our open concept main floor, 3 little brothers and a no screens in bedroom policy made it tricky finding him a work space. So we rejigged the space again and he came to work with me. If you are wondering how that goes I’ll say that we generally work opposite hours and he is super tidy! He has a great tactic that whenever he doesn’t want something anymore he piles it on my desk - oy!

Bluebird is the colour on the inside of both these cabinets at about 40%

Step 3 - The Colour

Once the disruption of adding another member to the room settled down I started to desperately want a more beautiful space. Back in Spring 2019 I had grabbed a paint chip of Behr’s Bluebird and I kept coming back to it. I knew I wanted a colour that I adored, my budget was very limited so the colour needed to provide a lot of the ambience, and it needed to make me feel good in my soul. There is something about this particular shade that just gives me a feeling of zen but also helps me focus. By this time I had already used the colour in a semi-gloss to paint a wall of my kitchen. The best way I can describe this colour is luminous, I now have it peppered throughout the house and it really does bring light. When I have mixed lighter versions there are definite similarities with F&B Borrowed Light.

The Final Result

Scientifically there are all sorts of explanations for why I feel this way about periwinkle. There are countless articles that talk about the calming, comforting effect of blue, research even shows that blue releases the most dopamine. talks about the lighthearted, optimistic properties of periwinkle, even going so far as to say ‘It’s a good option for offices and libraries where it can help encourage an atmosphere of quiet productivity.

The teen’s work station, clearly it always looks like this!!

After dipping in my toe by painting one wall and creating a pinboard zone using the eyeswoon tutorial that I used in the boys' room, I undertook a full colour dip of the room! I painted the walls in eggshell at 75% strength, the woodwork 100% strength in semi-gloss and the ceiling at about 25% strength (I mixed it myself of course) also eggshell. The ceiling colour often reads like a cross between F&Bs Parma Gray & Lulworth Blue. Once I had everything painted it wasn’t long before the curtains I had tossed up when we moved started to get on my nerves. I was super fortunate to find a fine wool in a toning shade, slightly greyer, to use for floor to ceiling curtains. I made the decision to hang them from the ceiling, above the crown to emphasize the ceiling height. I DIYed my own lucite rod after discovering that a premade one was way out of my budget. I was set on using brass as it looked gorgeous with the periwinkle and I already had these Ikea shelves from my last office that we had painted in gold. I used these for curtain brackets, my end caps are from the plumbing section of the hardware store and I ordered my lucite rod from here.

This is a great shot for showing the subtle screening of the perpendicular bookcase

For the pencil pleat curtain DIY I followed this tutorial using this pleating tape, drapery hooks are here and my rings are these ones. Finally loving how everything was taking shape I re-upholstered this chair in a wool boucle, the process for the chair is saved in my IG highlights.

My DIY rod, the only issue was the rod was too long to ship and had to be joined once is arrived, not ideal!

Accidentally I discovered that I loved the periwinkle paired with accents of Tiffany blue and that led the kids to gift me this desk chair as a Christmas present. I then added in a charming Mexican rug my parents had bought years ago and some fav desk accessories from Russell and Hazel . Peppered around the room are rocks the boys and I have collected along our travels, including some beauties from our trip to Bay of Fundy last summer. Unsurprisingly some of my favourite pieces of artwork sit really beautifully in this room, they all have touches of periwinkle hidden within them somewhere!

One of my fav last minute additions are these feather light shades I DIYed about 18 years ago in Vancouver in the first house my husband and I rented. I love the touch of whimsy they add and working later in the evening with only them for light is a special kind of magic.

This colour changes so much in different light reading more blue, more blue, lighter and darker

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