Whether you work from home or in a cubicle being comfortable is a key ingredient to being productive. I really had no intention of re-doing my office since up to now I had been what I considered pretty productive. Don’t get me wrong it really needed a redo from a decor perspective. The wall color was a rusty tan left from the previous owners. Not exactly my cup of tea.
Tax time rolled around and my usual receipts spots were over flowing with tiny white paper slips. I vowed to get organized! From receipts to phone calls that needed returning to ideas that pop in my head, I wanted it all at a hands reach, and most importantly where I could see them. The answer? Chalkboard paint, of course.
This room is one of four bedrooms and the smallest, and it has to pull off double duty as an office and guest room. There is no other room in the house that can be used as a guest room. Thankfully, most of our guests are my kids’ friends. First, and foremost, this bedroom turned office/guest room must work for me because I spend many hours here.
I looked at this room from every angle, but function had to out-weigh form. I also really like having my desk facing the window because it provides lots of natural light for me and for selecting color (a big part of my job). The sofa bed we have is in great condition but I wish it wasn’t and that way I could use the excuse to buy a smaller version that would fit on the wall beside the door. In this smallest of all rooms I had to contend with the room’s entry door, two large closet doors, a window and a must keep sofa bed, a much needed printer station, a seventeen inch monitor, a shelving unit to house catalogues and magazines and finally, a filing cabinet. I officially became my own worst client.
I’m a certified interior designer so what’s the problem? To be completely candid I don’t like placing everything against the walls, it’s one of my design principles. However, in this case there was no alternative that met all the criteria. Form must follow function. I waved the perviable 100% linen white flag. I gave in to the inevitable.
I got over the furniture-against-the-walls grief when I finished painting the window wall with black chalk-board paint. I was in love! I love the contrast of the dull black to the Crystal white (Dulux Paints) walls. Here’s a tip for the chalk board wall, always “season” the chalkboard paint by rubbing the side of a chalk stick over the entire surface and wipe it off with a damp cloth. This will keep the first chalk writing from being engraved and forever visible. Works like a charm. Also, a minimum two coats of chalkboard paint is best.
To keep me inspired on those days I need a morale booster I added an inspirational gallery wall of sorts. On it are some of my favorite inspiring quotes and fondest memories, all easy and quick DIY projects. I even contemplated framing last year’s tax return, but decided against it in the end, after all isn’t that what we end up really work for, to pay our taxes? Dear Tax auditors, I always pay my taxes and have nothing against doing so :). I put my son’s framed senior kindergarten hand print instead, just to remind myself who I really work for.
Here’s a few items you can work into a personal inspiration gallery wall.
1. Find interesting intricate frames that you can spray an eye popping color. Insert frames with favorite inspirational quotes.
2. Art the you’ve collected from your travels. Mine includes canvas tradeshow bags. I also have a Mayan calendar and framed ceramic tiles from different countries.
3. An expired passport open on a page with different official stamps or Visas.
4. Make your own art. I dipped white feathers in gold paint.
5. Make the frame the artwork. I painted the corners of one of the frames with gold paint. Cheap and cheerful. Tape it off and your kids can paint it.
6. Select an unconventional way to display your diplomas or degrees.
7. Child’s art projects.
Here’s a closer look:
It wouldn’t be an office without tons of business cards. I finally got them organized, but the frequently looked for cards are on the design ideas cork board, opposite the inspirational gallery wall.
Functionally I really needed a source of light by the printer, but there was no room for a lamp and overhead lighting is non-existent in this room. I was at a home improvement store working on another project (yes, it’s a disease) and came across an electrician’s portable light protector for less than five dollars. I sprayed it gold, attached the light bulb extension cord and hung it from a ceiling hook and wahla a glam industrial lamp look for under fifteen bucks. I already had the shelving units, but the “X”-framed shelf was spray painted white. Here’s a tip; because the shelving unit is an open design it took 11 spray paint cans to finish it properly. I could have saved a lot of time and a few brain cells if I’d had it professionally sprayed.
I’ve created a few things to keep well organized too. The first is how to keep camera and cell phone charged by not losing the cords. Adhere 3M’s plastic clips in a discreet but visible to you location. Instead of a boring catch-all containers I like using graphically painted Chinese noodle bowls to hold clips, chalk and cork board pins. Best of all, are the large brightly colored clothes pins bought at a craft for store for a dollar each. I used a simple Sharpie marker to write each day of the week to each brightly colored pin.
A curious thing happened when I completed this home office project. I noticed my kids hanging out in my office with me. When friends came over and I showed off my unplanned but finished home office we’d end up spending time in the office/guest room too. Having to entertain in this room caused me to rethink how much I didn’t like the original layout of furniture against the walls. I’d move my Wishbone chair around and found I really did like the layout after all, as long as I left it somewhat flexible. Could that be the moral to this decorating story? Stay flexible? Maybe.