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.)
First 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.
Next, 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!
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.
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. :-)