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Before & after: do make me over

What are you dying to change about your home? For me, most recently, it was to create a creative space in which to work. I'm lucky to have the space for a home office, but for months I had no time to sort it out or decorate, and was working amid distracting chaos and aesthetically disconcerting decor. 

I hated it: it makes a huge difference if the place you spend most of each day makes you feel good and inspires you. So one of several big missions on a recent decorating spree was to give the room a bit of a makeover. Here are a couple of "before" shots. Scroll down to see how it turned out...

The chaos was doing my head in...

And now, the improved office...

I LOVE my revamped office. I painted the walls black to highlight the bright colours of my little wall collage; the desk is just a piece of chipboard that had been used for mixing plaster on ages ago. I turned it over and sanded and varnished it – it fitted perfectly on top of the shelves (just visible bottom right) that I found in the street and the filing cabinet that I painted (more of that in another post, soon). I love having plates on the wall, too – why confine them to the kitchen?

You can see the filing cabinet a little better here; I painted the drawers and the inside of the shelves on the left, the ones holding up my "desk" the same shade of sunshine-y yellow. On the far right, the plain white Ikea shelves are full of all sorts, so I thought they'd look better draped with muslin to hide the mess and keep that corner airy. The framed map of Manhattan is in fact a sheet of wrapping paper.


COMPETITION Where do you look for motivation to change stuff at home? If you think a trip to the Ideal Home Show might help get things moving, read on, as I have free tickets on the go... 

The event is 16 March - 1 April at London's Earls Court; it's been running since 1908 – love this image from it, left, in the 1960s. In fact I would quite like that kitchen... I remember going with my family as a kid (in the 1980s, not in 1908); my parents still have – and use – the orange plastic kitchen mandolin/multi-grater gadget thing I coerced them into buying after a man doing a demonstration said it would change our lives. Admittedly, it is a good gadget. But.

This year the event is sponsored by Everest Home Improvements, who have also kindly sponsored this post. Aside from what you'd expect (yes, Laurence Llewlyn Bowen) there's a how-to DIY stage, a "future home" gadgets area (more home cinema than plastic grater) and you can attempt to stroke Greg "Masterchef" Wallace's bald head during an IHS stalwart: the cooking demonstration. 

So to win the tickets (I've enough for five readers) just email me, saying what you would change about your home if you could. Maybe you'd finally pimp that spare room, like I did, or get Abigail Ahern to furnish your sitting room, perhaps swap all your chairs for design classics, or maybe buy one of those robot thingamys that do the cleaning for you... 

The five best answers get the tickets. Simple as that. Closing date is one week from today – midnight on Sunday 4 March. Emails to:

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