Over the summer I renovated my home office. I didn’t do a ton of advance planning, and didn’t scrutinize the sourcing of materials very much other than tried to get most materials thrifted or re-purposed. Once I got the office reno idea in my head in the middle of July–when the southern summer temperatures steadily rose to their seasonal peak–I knew I had to get it done. It was too hot to spend much time outside, so I could make my indoor time productive by focusing on an office makeover.
Like most of the world, I spent more time at home this year than ever before. My office had been a utilitarian space that I kept files and took calls. My office was not a space that I looked forward to spending time in. It wasn’t a space that inspired me. It wasn’t an area that I sought out as a writing space. Pre-pandemic, coffee shops were my favorite writing spaces.
Although not typical in a writing space, the piece of furniture that sparked the idea of the new space was a chaise lounge my parents were getting rid of. My parents moved from Georgia to Florida over the summer. They offered a royal blue chaise lounge when I visited them before their move. It fit perfectly in the back of my Subaru, so I took it. It wouldn’t make much sense in my office, which had green shag carpet and no other decor except bookshelves and a writing desk. So I started searching online for office renovation ideas and watching YouTube videos of office makeovers.
Then I sketched out the floor plan that I wanted my office to have. I wanted to move my desk back so that my primary view looked out at the woods. I wanted to use ALL the space, so not only sit and stand at my desk to work but also move to the chaise lounge. Moving around during the work day has always been important to me, but living in Zoom now has made me value mobility more. I decided I not only wanted the sit and stand options at my desk, but I wanted to walk too.
Thanks to a homestead blogger I’ve followed for years, Homestead and Chill, I learned about a foldaway treadmill (you can find it in her Amazon store under Household Items). It’s super light and can be folded away and slid under a bed, or folded vertically and wheeled into a closet (which is what I do). I also added an adjustable desktop stand for my laptop so that I essentially have a treadmill desk. This treadmill is not only beneficial to my physical health, but it’s great for my mental health too. Sitting through back-to-back Zoom meetings can make my lower back tense up, and standing for awhile is great but does cause foot stress (and I find I end up leaning and not standing straight). Switching from sitting and standing to a walking Zoom meeting makes me feel more energized during the day, and more comfortable at the end of the day when meetings are over.
Rolling around the treadmill is easy on my new floors, and I intended on not going with carpet even before I had decided to get the treadmill. I found the vinyl flooring at our local Habitat for Humanity ReStore for a great price. I planned to brighten up the space too. Before ripping up the old carpet I painted the office a warm yellow. Fortunately, before I painted I saw a YouTube video about extending a room’s space through its closets. I took the opportunity to paint the color into my office’s closets and decided to turn one into a “craft corner” where I plan to add a desk and use that space to paint and draw. The other closet is my music shack, which has my keyboard and sheet music. Some people choose to remove the closet doors and really incorporate the closet space into the room, but I opted to keep the doors because I like the idea of closing off those spaces and keeping them separate.
One of the things that ties these little pocket spaces together is my office chair. If I had to pick the thing that I hated the most about my old office, it was the chair. I had gotten the chair for $20 during the first year of my writing business from a friend who worked at an office supply store. I had never taken the time to invest in a good chair because I would work in the kitchen, be out at writing workshops, at coffee shops with writing groups, etc. The old chair was an annoyance that I tolerated. This year was different because it became part of my everyday life. An everyday annoyance? No thanks. I put my trust in reviews of chairs on Wayfair and settled on this Everly Quinn Albaugh gray velvet wheeled desk chair. My lower back doesn’t crack when I stand up from it. I keep good posture in it. And it rolls easily between my closet corners.
The circular oriental rug I added to tie the room together doesn’t even get in the way of the chair!
One of the things you won’t see in my office anymore are files. I had 11 years of files from my writing business. I shredded half and made a more efficient filing system away from my creative office space.
A new addition to my office is a side table made from retired bee hive equipment. The idea came to me after watching some thrifting videos of repurposing different things. I realized the hive equipment I was about to sell could make good (although temporary) planters…and then realized instead of setting them up outside to rot as planters (they’re pine) I could instead stack them for a table. I love that it gives new life to this equipment and brings my beekeeper life to my writing life.
Since my space was taking on new dimensions, I wanted to add natural texture. I decided to add a shiplap wall. Although I bought the shiplap new, I re-used a clear semi-gloss the original owners of our house left in the basement. I love the varied grain and different patterns in the wood, and specifically chose the most interesting patterns to show at eye-level while I’m on the chaise lounge.
Another thing that I wanted to use to add texture and layers is life. I added plants to my office by bringing in aloe I grew over the summer, a pothos that’s grown from a cutting a friend gave me, a baby spider plant from big spider plants I’ve had for years, an air plant, and some ginger I was trying to keep alive. I’m still looking for more office plants, so definitely let me know your recommendations!
In the spirit of re-using and re-purposing, I found a lamp stand and a lamp shade at a thrift shop and married them into this cute boho beaded lamp. I also found woodland creature decor at different thrift shops and added a squirrel ornament, owl wall art, and wire bird shelf. I found some “birds on a wire” wall decals on Etsy and still need to add them to the wall space above the shiplap. My nature-loving heart is so full with these second-hand additions!
The detail that makes me happy every time I walk in my office is a handmade Turkish swag lamp I found on Etsy. Between the mosaic glass colors in the lamp, and the color palette in the rug, I feel like the space has the bright spirit and energy that I need without being overwhelming.
My office is now a space I look forward to going to. It’s brighter, not just because of the lighting I’ve added, but the floors and walls make it lighter too. A great way to balance a heavy year.