Our Collected & Cozy Study

By Kate Riley January 2, 2024

I learned a few years ago to not chase after happiness but to instead seek peace in my life, and that mindset has changed the way I decorate too. I just finished a refresh of a space in long need of one, the downstairs study which has felt very hodge podge for a long time.

The space was originally a formal dining room then it morphed into a kid space (pictures from 2012 here) and I reinvented it again to be a room for relaxation, reading, playing games, or daydreaming in stillness by the fire.


I love the quote, “If you have a library and a garden you have everything you need.” Translation: a room filled with books you love and plant babies is extra special.


The framed artwork is one of the several vintage landscapes I’ve listed in my Etsy shop. The sconces are wireless, I cut off the wires and instead used rechargeable bulbs that come with a remote. I’ve done this before, it’s so easy to add sconces to your walls with battery operated or rechargeable light bulbs.


My son is an excellent chess player so I like to offer myself up for a beating every now and then. :)


It’s not a large space, it’s only 10 feet wide by 14 feet long. The blue sectional sofa seen below used to live in the family room (see it here) but I swapped it with the white sofa that I used to have at a studio I rented years ago, so now the white sofa is in the family room and the blue found a new home in here. We ordered it custom through a local furniture maker here in our town ten years ago.


A favorite element of this space is the art collection. While traveling, we’ve collected a few pieces of fine art from galleries in Italy and California, and street artists around the world, and I thought it would be lovely to have them all united together in one space. A few oil paintings are hung over the desk, together with watercolor prints I’ve purchased from artists in Montreal, Salzburg, and Quebec City.


I can’t believe it took me so long to frame and hang them together. I recall so clearly the moment I purchased these prints on various trips from artists around the world. I purposefully chose ornamental frames to display them, they feel timeless.


I’ve had this walnut campaign desk since the Las Vegas renovation days, we brought it back in a Uhaul many years ago, you can see it in this sunroom space I blogged about six years ago. I love this wood writer’s desk and good news, it’s still available at World Market! I would purchase this desk again and again for any home office space.


Another favorite accent in this space is the gold leaf flush mount light fixture. I had this one saved for almost a year and finally purchased it. I absolutely love the elegant leaf details and tiny accent lights, it’s so pretty at night when it’s all lit up.

This space has become a favorite spot to snooze for our family kitty cat.


Do yourself a favor and buy or DIY a slender charger sofa table like this one. It’s great for pluging in headphones, tablets, or your phone, it’s also a place to set a beverage, and takes up so little space. Under a window the shorter version allows curtains to fall to the side, I’m surprised how much I use and love this inexpensive table. :)


I found twelve yards of fabric in a box I had totally forgotten about when I was purging the house top to bottom back in September. I liked the heavy weight of it and the terra cotta, green, and slate blue hues in the botanical fabric so I sewed the panels into pinch pleat curtains for a custom look using this pleat tape, it was easy if you know how to sew a straight line with a sewing machine. Pillows were sourced from HomeGoods and Target.




I had an idea to further soften the space with linen curtains at the entry. There are two doorless entries very close to each other and I wanted to give the space a feeling it was enclosed a bit more without the expense or space loss that comes with door installation so I added soft linen panels instead. Cue the magic. There’s something about a space behind curtains that beckons you in and makes you think “what’s in there?”.



The study peeks out to our dining room and family room just beyond so whenever one is lounging inside one can still be connected to the activity happening in the home.

To keep the magic going, I kept two strings of battery twinkle lights from the Christmas stash and suspended them around the bookcases. I don’t think twinkle lights should go away in January, they’re so charming they should be part of winter decor, do you agree?


Collected memories, books, and family photos fill the old bookcase that fits on the short wall between the two entrances to this space.

The space isn’t “designer”, it’s more of a collection of old furniture that’s been rotated, books stacked, memories hung, and art collected all in one space that feels like a throwback, like it’s not really clear which decade you’re in, which I love. I’ll be spending a lot of time in here during the winter months.


Oh, and the fireplace is electric! Take a look at this collection of modern electric fireplaces you can add to your spaces to make them cozy too.




I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Your living spaces should be a reflection of what makes YOU most comfortable and brings YOU the most joy. Interiors designed solely to show off to the world are not truly authentic spaces to live in. Be true to you. Who cares if it’s not magazine worthy, what matters is how it makes YOU feel. And at the end of the day I can say I feel oh so cozy in this space filled with softness, warmth, and memories.

Love to you all and Happy New Year friends.


    • I did not build this fireplace although I imagine it would be an intermediate skill range DIY to build the frame around an electric fireplace insert!

  1. I love those floral drapes! I searched with Google Images and the fabric appears to be Braemore Gazebo in umber, and is very reasonably priced, if anyone else is curious. There are other colors. Those electric fireplaces are really nice. I love having flames any old time, you don’t always want the heat on.

    • Yes that’s the fabric! They have a few colorways, happy it’s still available! I’ve had the fabric for 8 or 10 years it was in a box in a closet!

  2. Would you share the paint color you used on the walls in this room? It’s stunning and I’d love to use it in my office.

    • Oh I love the color, forgot to mention, it’s Oil Cloth by Benjamin Moore, a mid tone olive with grays and a hint of slate in it. I love it.

  3. I love your room! I have started redecorating my former office to my she den and I am loving its look. Your mixture of old and new is perfect. I want that for my space too. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and ideas. Happy New Year 2024

    • Thank you Helen, I do love the mix of old and new it feels more collected over time than decorated in a day. :)

  4. Happy New Year Kate. Loving this room, I looked and looked for any paintings from Geelong/Melbourne from your trip here years ago. Love this room you have created and so glad it’s not designer or for social media. It has warmth, which many of those rooms lack.

    • You’ve just reminded me of the images I took on that trip, I need to upload them to my art print shop! What a wonderful part of the world.

  5. I love your new curtains and appreciate the tip about the pleat tape. This is a pretty, cozy space! That’s a great art collection!

  6. Hi Kate – can you please source your bookshelf for me (the one with doors at the bottom with the lights? And yes, I agree – leave lights up during the winter!

    • oh no I’ve had it for so many years I can’t recall the source, I’m so sorry.

  7. So many pieces of this post caught my attention, from the opening sentence to the sconces with no wiring (WHAT!) down to the family & vacation photos/art. Great post to start the new year, thanks for sharing.

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