In December our design group (the people that design what you see on Made + Remade, DIYNetwork.com, HGTV.com, and several other Scripps sites) was told we’d be moving into a new workspace. The result is a communal work area where each of us has a desk that is 6 feet long and 30 inches deep. I won’t sugarcoat: This change kept more than a few of us up at night. As designers, we are all pretty particular about how our working environment looks, feels, and functions, and that was much easier to control when we each had big cubicles. So after a mourning period that lasted at least two weeks, I decided it was time to decorate. Here are a few things that helped me personalize my space and make it a bit more functional. They may help you too!
Start with the essentials.
Back in the day, my cubicle looked like this:
Lots of pink & lots of glitter. I’ve always had a tendency to surround myself with beautiful things (read: tchotchkes, books, etc.) as a source of inspiration, but in this new space that was not an option. So it was time to go through and prioritize. I decided the most important things were those that served a daily function so that’s where I started: colored pencils, a Peanuts calendar, and a French press. (Use a coffee machine?! As if!)
Get a French press for the office. Drink your afternoon tea out of a china teacup and saucer. Take an everyday office ritual and kick it up a notch. Use something each day that requires you to slow down at some point in the afternoon and walk away from your computer. It can change the trajectory of your whole day.
Multiply your space by mixing levels.
To give me some prettier storage space and distract from all the grey, I asked Husband to build me this adorable box. I painted and decorated it with scrap paper and cut up pieces of last year’s Rifle Paper calendar. (Anna Bond is such a genius — I couldn’t just throw it away! You’ll notice pages from her last catalog hanging above.) The box raises up my phone, which I never use, and is a nice little cubby for some of the things I use the most. Plus, the inside decoration makes me smile every time I see it!
According to our ergonomics guy, it is best for you to face your monitors head on instead of looking down at them. To remedy this, some of the guys I work with have used reams of paper to raise up their monitors; others have built shelves. I went thrifting for some pretty books. The art books work great and are personal to my taste way more than a shelf or ream of paper!
Get a dinosaur … or a plant … or a pet rock.
One day, this little blue dinosaur with a succulent in his back showed up on my doorstep and followed me to work. He’s been perfect company on my desk ever since, and the succulent in his back has proved virtually impossible to kill. So I got brave and brought in another succulent in a pot that I’d made myself. That one isn’t looking quite as great, but fingers crossed.
More things to note:
- If you love to make things, then surround yourself with handmade things. They’ll lift your spirit and inspire you to keep making cool things.
- Having a plant on your desk is a lovely reminder of the outdoors and life beyond the office door. Bonus: Some plants can actually help improve indoor air quality. I don’t know if it would work in an open office like ours, but surrounding yourself with living things never hurts.
- When I was little, my dad had a pet rock that lived on the shelf in his office. One day, someone brought him a bonsai tree. Within months, the bonsai was dead, but his pet rock (Samson) is still there. Moral of the story: If you lack a green thumb, maybe you should have a pet rock.