The New Office Revealed

Some, Gentle Reader, have kindly expressed an interest in the appearance of my new digs. So I am going to waffle on about interior decorating, demitasse teacup collections, steampunk, tribute from readers, and the like in this post. There are also lots of pictures.

I am a huge fan of interior decorating and design blogs. Almost as much as fashion, in a few cases, more. Renting this office space was an opportunity for me to stretch my nascent decorating wings, although it being rented I could not do any major modifications to walls or carpet.

One of the things I love about design blogs are before & after pictures. I will start with those images, and then let you in on a few secrets as to the details of my professional life in object form.



 Before & After: The Entrance

Note the spiral staircase? The office has two levels. I wanted to turn the downstairs into a meeting/tea/reception area and the upstairs into a writing and reading zone. The challenge was that the downstairs has this kind of L shape to it, not very conducive to a conversation pit.

Managed it only just, with a small angled couch-let (Home, chair, end table as tea trolly, curtains (all Ikea), silly throw pillows (Ross & TJ Max), globe tissue dispenser and shag rug (Amazon). The pictures on the wall, the orchid (Mr. Ambassador) and its sphere container, and the vintage scarf draped over the couch came with me. Those are my scrapbooks of the Parasol Protectorate journey on the bottom shelf of the tea trolly.

I put a bamboo rug in the hallway (Amazon) by the tea preparation zone (Ikea). I thought bamboo might be easier to clean of food and foot traffic, plus I think it goes with the Victorian nature of the building. I was very concerned that visitors might bop their heads on the spiral staircase, so I got some paper pompoms (Amazon, sold as a streamer) and hung them on all the corners. Hopefully they will act to catch on people’s peripheral vision if nothing else. They reminded me of this dog:

via facebook

Inside this entrance I put the tea zone. One simply must have a little area for food prep with a fridge (for tea milk) and a kettle (for tea).

 Before & After: Food Zone

Cabinet is the Besta (designed to hold TVs I think) from Ikea, fridge and kette from Amazon.

Tea towel gift from a friend.


Tea map above the tea zone, gift from a reader.


Collection of tea items my own excepting the utensil holder and tea caddy, both from Ross.

Opposite the tea zone in the entrance area I put a Billy bookcase (Ikea) full of all my books, from foriegn editions to author copies.

 From top down: Hat boxes of steampunk hats; foreign editions; display of covers and pretty teacups (along with Wilberforse Percival Mummy the III ~ the octopus who started it all); other magazines and sundry; bottom shelves full of author copies.


Close up of covers, teacup, and Alex Award (finally on display!)


 Before & After: Downstairs Corner

This corner has a bathroom door and a closet to deal with. So I nested a display cabinet in that area (Ikea) and my parasol collection in a large Ikea vase.

Curtain over the closet door is from West Elm, no longer available.

Inside the display cabinet I placed my demitasse teacup collection. This collection has been in storage for almost 20 years!

 Porcelain Victorian, deco, and French up top, satsuma Japanese style (my favorite) along with a picture of my maternal great grandparents (the very Britishist of my British relations).


 Octopus items, and the queen cup of the collection. You have to meat her in person to know why.


Steampunk items and tiny parasols.

It was so so nice to get the teacups out again (although not all of them fit). I also put in some of my favorite steampunk items, and gifts from readers. If you’ve gifted me something and you don’t see it on display, please don’t be upset. Much of the fan art has gone into my scrapbooks, some jewelry items I wear regularly, and other tribute objects were too big or off color to really fit properly. Others I intend to rotate in.

Before & After: Storage zone at base of staircase

In the odd unusable corner, I added the big poster of Soulless (gift from Orbit), a small alarm clock (Amazon) and three Godey’s fashion plates, framed, inherited from paternal grandmother.



 Before & After: The top of the Staircase

You would not believe how complicated it was getting desks up and down a narrow spiral staircase. We made it easy with six people, two passing up, two lifting over, two on the stair guiding. But I elected not to take this table (which came with the place) back down. Instead, I just covered it with a sheet and a bamboo runner (Habitat a long time ago), and cute little lamp (Ikea) and two plants (the Mum). This desk area has become the sewing and depository of stuff zone.

 Before & After: Upstairs Corner

Upstairs has to be more practical. Hence the ugly wall calendar (Amazon) ~ its the only way I can keep track of all my events and deadlines. I put up all my framed (now unused) degrees. What not? The sitting glass desk is for in-and-out processing and editing (it’s a floor model I picked up from Office Max super cheap that as now moved five times and is rather rickety), pod chair (Ikea) in white, perhaps not the smartest choice, file cabinet (CB2), printer under a cover, planters as pen pots (Ikea). (Map of victorain London in slip magnet on front of file drawer.) The painting is by the artist Tom Field, a Beat period California based impressionist. He often painted areas of the coast, including the ones I walk on and swam off as a girl. This painting was my father’s, who briefly ran a gallery in the 50s. I’ve lived with it my whole life and I love it. I find it very peaceful.

Gail’s desk

This is my real desk, where most of the action happens. I like to write standing up. Both it and the bar stool (tucked under) are from CB2 and I’ve had them for a while now. The desk was sold as a free-standing wet-bar, but it’s the perfect height for me (at 5″6′). I’ve a Wellness mat to stand on (Amazon) which I hope to replace in a nicer color after fiances have recovered from the move (they are not cheap). On the desk you can see: my teacup (gift), scrap paper, a tiny lamp (Ikea), docking station (Amazon), orchid (TJs), S-shelves as laptop lift (Westelm), wireless keyboard and mouse (Amazon).

 Before & After: Other Corner

Maps of Victorian London 1870s torn from Baedekers. Picture of a character, Scorch, done by one of my beta readers. Scorch is from the Unpublishable Blightness of Being series.

 Before & After: Upstairs Closet

My spine bookcase takes center stage in this area, with all my primary sources (mostly Baedekers) adding a pop of red. The shoji came from Ross a long time ago. And finally I have enough space for my dummy!  I missed her so, it’s hard to tailor clothing on yourself.

 Before & After: Skylight

One of the other reasons I rented this office ~ besides the historical Victorian setting, the quirky two levels, and the private bathroom ~ was the light. It has great light. However, we had a really sunny day last week and I discovered it was too much light! So I pin screened over a vintage tablecloth from my grandmother to filter it. The cloth was stained and rather sad, so I don’t mind abusing it. (I’m not one for storage and preservation of objects for their own sake. Perhaps this comes from being an archaeologist and handling really old artifacts, but I think objects should be used and lived with, otherwise why have them at all? With the possible exception of demitasse teacups.)

The final reason I rented this space was the nook. I think it was meant to be storage.

The Nook: Before

Wanna see what I did with it? Do ya? Oh yes you do!

The Nook: After

Bookshelves bellow and within, step stool, curtains (all Ikea), comforter cover and vases (Westelm), pillows (TJ Max, Ross, Amazon), silver boxes (Ross), map of 1895 Indian coast, LED Christmas lights, dimmer switch, and melted clock (Amazon).

It’s a book nook! A place to curl up and read, perhaps watch a costume DVD. Isn’t it adorable? I am beyond excited by it. Too many pillows perhaps? Is that possible? I’m such a girly girl. But don’t you just want to cast yourself into its cloudy puffy goodness? I know I do.

The AB’s comment?

“Only you could fill an office with that many pillows.”


Your Moment of Parasol . . .
1855-1865 The Metropolitan Museum of Art
1855-1865 The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Your Infusion of Cute . . .
via Heather over FB from an old contest

Your Tisane of Smart . . .
Quirky Victorian Term explained: Peruvian Bark? “This valuable medicine is the bark of the quinquinna tree, growing only in Peru. It was discovered by the Jesuits, whence it is frequently called Jesuits’ bark.”
~ Mangnall’s Questions, 1830

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .
Good blogging advice for writers from the fashion blogger perspective.

Waistcoats & Weaponry ~ The Finishing School Book the Third: Writing rough draft.
Curtsies & Conspiracies ~ The Finishing School Book the Second: Release date November 2013. Await ARCs.
Manga ~ Soulless Vol. 3: (AKA Blameless) Available serialized through YenPlus. Print edition possibly Nov. 2013.
Prudence ~ The Parasol Protectorate Abroad Book the First: Delayed. Why? Begin rewrite in 2014.


BIG FAT SPOILER ALERT on the Parasol Protectorate series! Really, DON’T READ THE BLURB ON AMAZON if you haven’t read the other books first!

The Omnibus hardback editions are limited run through the SciFi Bookclub only.

The manga editions, both now available in print.

Most short stories available in ebook form world wide!

The first Finishing School book ~ OUT NOW, The second Finishing School book ~ Nov. 5, 2013?

Book News:
Errant Easel says, “Despite it’s early calendar debut, Gail Carriger’s Finishing School Book the First was hands down my most anticipated book to be released in 2013. I was not the least disappointed.”

Quote of the Day:
“Hands have they, yet steal not – clocks. Legs have they, yet walk not – tables. Teeth have they, yet chew not – combs. Lips have they, yet kiss not – pitchers. Eyes have they, yet see not – needles. Hearts have they, yet the pity not – cabbages. Ears haev they, yet hear not – old book leaves. Arms have they, yet toil not – chairs.”
~ Godey’s Lady’s Book and Magazine November 1872

Daisypath - Personal pictureDaisypath Happy Birthday tickers

Posted by Gail Carriger

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  1. Morgan said:

    Your office is amazing! The before and after pictures do a great job of showcasing your decorating skills. My favorite bits are the staircase, the tea area, the tiny unusable cupboard under the stairs (my parents had one of these and I turned it into a Harry Potter cupboard to read in!) and of course THE BOOK NOOK! That is the coziest, cutest space ever. I adore the twinkle lights and how fluffy it looks! I would never get any work done!

  2. schmoo said:

    What a perfect office space! And you've done such a great job personalizing it and keeping all the things dear to you at hand. I am blown away by your book nook transformation… having a plush spot for reading is every girl's dream.

  3. NoraA said:

    It looks fantastic.. but I would change just one thing. Instead of a simple power strip for your computer setup… go to Best Buy, or Staples or Office Max and pick up an APC battery backup unit. This way if the power goes off, you don't crash. It will sound an alarm and you'll have up to 30 minutes (depending on model) to save and close your files and shut down your computer.

  4. Angelica R. Jackson said:

    I am not a pillow-y girl, but yes, that nook looks absolutely inviting. I would ask when we are all invited to tea, but I suspect it will have to be one or two at a time. Three if you count the person upstairs in the book nook.

  5. Puck Malamud said:

    That book nook is everything I wanted as a child (and still want today). When it's time to seek out a place of my own, I will make certain there are nooks involved.

    Your entire office, top and bottom, is wonderful!

  6. ALW New York said:

    A simply charming pied-à-terre. I would imagine it an author's dream refuge. And how perfectly generous of you to share the lovely photographs!

  7. Gail Carriger said:

    Thank you all so much! I'm so glad you like it. I must admit it is kind of a dream. Who knows how long I get to (or can afford to) keep it but I'm going to make as close to my ideal as I can in the interim!

  8. Anita said:

    What a brilliant idea to have a place to have a little secret nap in an office. I'd really like one of those!

  9. bunnyface said:

    Wow, I am so jealous of your office. I want to go live there! It makes me think that instead of encouraging The Boy, who works from home, to find an office space or studio, I should find myself a cute little space to get away and do my sewing!

  10. lesiabee said:

    I'm drooling … the Tom Field painting is amazing and the Book Nook, what a charming idea!
    You did such a great job decorating…another literary genre possible? Find peace and inspiration in your little haven and most of all
    relish in your creativity. Fondly, Alex and Uncle Nils.

  11. Celtic Dreaming said:

    Ah Gail, one can only imagine the trouble you could get into in such a fabulous setting. Hopefully it will feed your creative juices, while soothing your soul. Enjoy-Sabina

  12. Pen to Paper said:

    Everything is so pretty! You did a really good job of the place, Gail!
    I especially love your little nook. I could just jump in there right now!

    One day I hope to have an office like yours. It looks perfect. x

  13. Sally-Ann Livingston said:

    I can tell by the pictures that your new space feels wonderful to be in. Thankyou for sharing such a personal endeavour! We share a few of the same tastes it seems – Japanese design (I have my Granny's Satsuma ware), that lovely leather fan and the shoji screen, to name just a few things. Oh, that nook! Pillowed perfection 🙂 Wishing you many blissful hours of working there and many happy readers!

  14. Dora De Leon said:

    Very cozy and practical…excellent use of space…wish I could intern w ya! Thx for the tour!

  15. annbenjamin said:

    I am beyond jealous! It's such a perfect space. Well done and loving the before and afters. Not sure if you enjoy an adult beverage now and then (in your mini fridge), but I'm a big fan of having a bottle of bubbles on hand at all times – never know what you might need to celebrate!

  16. Heidi Harkenrider said:

    Great job of turning the space into yours. You need one of the peacock tea cup, spoon and saucer sets that I believe was on your page a while back. As with most all comments, I too, like your nook. Great spot to lounge and read, or dream of new characters….

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