Home office p0rn: welcome to my happy place

Inspired by Erin a few weeks ago, I decided it was high time I start to get my home office (aka, where I spend 14 hours a day) in better shape. It hit me that I hadn’t been working in there very much, if it all— I’d been working on the couch in the living room. When I work on the couch, I call it “working from home,” haha. And I’d been working from home a lot.

The first problem was that the office was a complete disaster. I’m a packrat by nature (hello, OCD!), and paper and books especially pile up quickly around my house. I do giant cleanouts of everything I own about twice a year, and that helps keep things manageable. But with a lot of things going on last fall, I just didn’t have it in me, and both my office and my storage area have been showing the (very, very) ill effects.

I started by cleaning and organizing everything (useful side of having OCD: things get really clean when they need to be), and got rid of a bunch of crap. Then I realized that one of the biggest problems is that my office is just not a super welcoming, creative space. I’ve wanted to do something with it, but I can never decide, and then I often just don’t have the time. Looking at stuff like my friend Brett Bara’s apartment deco series is both inspirational and slightly deflating— “OMG, I could never be as cool as that.”

So, I decided: screw it. There are obvious things that can be done quickly and relatively cheaply: window coverings of some kind, hang up some art I’ve gathered, and get the oodles-o’-cables situation under control. I went to IKEA. (Sidebar: On a Saturday afternoon, no less. I also had just finished watching the IKEA episode of 30 Rock. That whole episode actually happened to me: a fed-up boyfriend once left me at IKEA in New Jersey after I had a meltdown over a sofa. We’d just moved in together; it did not bode well.)

IMAG0945First up, window coverings. Because I’m a genius, I forgot to measure my windows before I left. Thus, something somewhat generic was in my future. My office is very, very sunny, which is obviously a great thing, except when it’s… not. I need something that would lightly filter the sun, but not block it altogether. I found these textured sheers for $25/set (2 panels per set), so I bought 3 sets— one panel for each window. I also bought some cheap spring rods elsewhere to hang them with, since I didn’t like any of IKEA’s options in the hanging-thingies department. The sheers didn’t come with any kind of tie-back, so I dug out some random ribbon and cut tiny pieces to tie them in the middle.

Added bonus of the sheers: working in my office at night won’t feel so “HELLO, WORLD!,” now that I can create some privacy without totally shutting myself into a cave. 

IMAG0943Next, I decided that the small portion of wall between the 4 windows on the front side of the office would become my Vision Wall (aka, my happy place). In feng shui, it’s also my career center (color: black), and some say that you should put pics of helpers, friends and allies there. I bought a bunch of cheap frames, using the colors from neighboring feng shui areas to spice it up a bit. 

I also added a magnetic dry erase board so that I could mix in new things and quotes that I like. On there now are a few from “The War of Art,” which is a kind of über-macho inspirational book for creative people. Despite the sexist language, it had some good nuggets, like, “The counterfeit innovator is wildly self-confident. The real one is scared to death.”

A little tidbit: I also looked for something to manage the assorted cables on my desk, and found this desktop cable thingie at Bed, Bath & Beyond. I didn’t think it was sturdy enough to wrangle what I had to work with, but I was wrong! It’s lovely. Underneath, I went with twist-ties to keep things in place, and in the big bins o’ cables and power adapters, I went with zip ties and twist-ties.

Here’s the finished daytime look of the main workspace. It’s not perfect, but it’s way better than it was!

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More pics are available on my Flickr, btw.

Last, I remembered that I had bought a string of star lights years ago, but never figured out where to hang them. Since I want to make the office cozy and welcoming for all times of day, I decided to string them around near the ceiling corners, and see what happened. HOLY COW. Nighttime is now ridiculously warm in the office.

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And that was it! Between the cleaning and these little things, it’s like a brand new workspace. I dream one day of being able to afford one of those desks that goes up and down (like this — super ergo and good for you), or even creating a treadmill desk like Sarah’s, but for now, I’m a happy work grrl again. Let’s hope it shows in my production and creativity levels. :-)