March 3, 2011

Office makeover

So remember how I debated whether or not to put any work into making over my new office?  Yes, it was a little sparse, but it was still an office with a door, which is a real luxury in today's work world, so I was trying to be grateful for what I had and not feel a need to make over every space around me.

That lasted about one week.

Then I started thinking of color schemes, patterns, fabrics, and accessories, and I decided to do a really inexpensive office makeover.  Here is the office before:

There were some things that were great: built-in bookshelves, lots of filing space, a large desk, the iMac, and a largish room for an office (I have a lot of furniture in here and it doesn't feel very cramped).  There were also some things that were not great: in no way did I want to cart in enough books to fill those shelves, I didn't really need four mismatched chairs, and there was virtually no color anywhere!

Other challenges for this design: there is no natural light at all, I wanted to do it on a very strict budget (around $100 for the whole project), I couldn't do anything permanent (no big nail holes in the walls or painting allowed), and (here's the real kicker) I had to bring everything in on a bus!  Yes, I decided to park and ride this semester instead of paying for an overpriced parking pass, and I didn't exactly want to ride the bus carrying, you know, a 6-foot fake ficus or something.

Well, here are a few before and after photos.
(Read on below to find out what I did to work around all those challenges.)







What I did...
  • Added a couple warm lamps to take the edge off all that fluorescent light: a thrifted lamp (painted yellow and a new lampshade added), and a floor lamp from the clearance aisle at Target.
  • Rearranged the room and put the desk along the back wall.  This opened up space in the middle of the room, making the room feel bigger and allowing the desk to cover up part of that big blank wall at the back of the room.
  • Filled the rest of the back wall with some inexpensive art.  I also used a couple pieces of art I already had but wasn't using at home: a painting from Guatemala and a piece from Brazil.
  • Rearranged the shelves, removing some to make room for a floor lamp, and lowering another set of shelves along the other wall.  I then covered up the lowest shelf with a table skirt I sewed (see the tutorials for how I made the skirt here and here).
  • Organized the office by adding a bulletin board, big calendar, labeled shelves for papers and handouts, and a clock to keep me on time!
  • Brought in more color through books, the artwork, the lamp, and the floral bulletin board and table skirt.
  • Made it more personal with some pictures of my family and drawings by my son.
  • And you can't forget your other senses: I brought in a diffuser so the room smells fresh and some portable speakers so I can plug in my iPod and listen to music (or listen to NPR streaming...I am an English instructor, after all).

The artwork is vintage and new book covers (appropriate since I teach English).


I would like to add more personal photos and maybe a houseplant or two.  I have heard there are a few kinds that can survive in areas without natural light.  If I have any success growing anything, I will be sure to let you know!

Overall, I'm happy with the way it turned out.  I didn't spend much money, and it's a lot more cheerful and pleasant to be in here now.

Hope you enjoyed the mini makeover!


Nikki said...

Oh my GORGEOUS! Yes, I'm shouting out 'gorgeous', because it's true! Can I come hang in your office between classes, drink coffee and discuss literature?

Nicole @ one half world said...

Thanks, Nikki!! Yes, you can absolutely come hang out. How fun would that be?

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