Sunday, May 19, 2013

How to Make a Home Office

I work at home, and that's pretty awesome.  It means that I get to wear pajamas (if I want, though I don't recommend it.  Take a shower and put on real clothes so you feel like a real person), I don't have to eat two out of three meals from a vending machine, my only co-worker is my husband who works in the office down the hall.

What's less cool is trying to find the space to build an office.  We're living in a one-bedroom apartment (regardless of how many rooms the landlord insists there are in this place), and my husband and I both work at home - so it's an issue.

At one point, I'd cubbied myself away in a small storage room (smaller than the cubical I'd previously worked in) but it had temperature issues (freezing in winter and a sauna in the summer).  Also, it was tiny; I was constantly looking for reasons to escape it during the day.

We discussed sharing an office, but that really wouldn't work.  The natures of our jobs and work habits are completely at odds.  I'm a call center supervisor, so I conduct meetings and take the occasional angry call.  Additionally, I like to listen to music or have movies running in the background while I work through emails and run numbers.  Jonathan (did I mention my husband's name is Jonathan?) writes, and doesn't like noise distractions.

The solution was to give me space in our bedroom.  I gave myself a couple of guidelines to make sure I had a niche carved out that was completely separate from our sleeping/sexing/beauty/dressing areas both for concentration while working and ability to sleep.  Also, I didn't want to break up the flow of the room with dividers or have any tacky motivational posters/phrases around.
  1. It needed to have it's own design, separate from what we put together for the bedroom that didn't clash
  2. It needed to be big enough to work and spread things out when necessary
Because of our room size, the first hurdle was the desk.  We got a small desk on sale for about fifty dollars.  You get what you pay for, so it's ugly particle board.  Decoupage!
I really like the look of newsprint, and I'd recently decoupaged an old, tacky jewelry box with newsprint, which sat in the vanity area as an accent.  So, I created a unified work station that also tied into the rest of the room.  To keep the wall interesting and still draw a mental divide, I made some newsprint flowers.

You can also see the Kermit drawing my husband made for me when I was having a bad day.  Yeah, I'm lucky to have a guy that will draw me Kermit to cheer me up.

I also have a shelf, where I keep my speakers, supplies, etc.  It was looking a little plain, so I painted a cherry tree above it.  No true inspiration other than I like blooming trees, the only thing I really know how to paint are trees, and the pink matched the curtains of the French doors.

Because the desk is small, when I need more working space, I have a TV tray that was purchased for less than $20 new at a local department store.  It's not your mother's ugly aluminum TV tray with some painted advertisement on it.  It's wood and stained to look like cherry, so it doesn't stick out when it's put away.  Or when it's out, either.  When not in use, it slips conveniently between the night stand and desk.  It allows me to have some instant space to place papers, books, lunch, or crafts on while I work.  Did I mention that working at home also allows me to craft while I'm working without getting evil looks from my peers?

I get that having a whole room dedicated to working is ideal for maximum performance.  However, not everyone has the luxury.  Just because you don't have square footage doesn't mean you can't have a functional, attractive work environment that invites me to utilize it more than any beige cubical ever did.

(Someday I'll have learn how to take nice pictures.  For now, you get the sucky ones.  Trust me, it's much nicer than it looks.)