Designing a home office includes organization, labeling, and filing. The problem for me lies with where do I start? I felt a little overwhelmed about putting a whole office together. I thought it would be best to sit down with my partner and get some input before diving in. Jeff and I have never had a differing opinion about how to decorate any room in our house. Looking back I realize that I made all the decisions. He played a minor role when it came to our living room, kitchen, and our bedroom. He always seemed pleased with the result which encouraged me to keep going. The home office is a different story.
When there is any decorating to be done in the house I let Deb drive the process. I will be there to give a hand, but in all honesty, I don’t care about it too much. The older I get the more I realize that I am a simple guy and while I enjoy some decor, it is not a priority for me.
When we started thinking about building the home office I had a couple of ideas. I wanted a space that felt creative for me. I wanted a space that felt comfortable, yet that spoke to both of our needs.
PAINTING THE OFFICE
Initially, I knew I wanted a mural with the company logo—craypenguinmedia—on the wall. Then I suggested the possibility of having a red wall. I love the color red. It is full of passion and creativity. It inspires me. I had to have it! The tough part was finding a color we could agree on.
I was all about fire engine red or Ferrari red. Something bright and in your face. Deb wanted something darker and more subdued. After about 400 paint swatches and two weeks, we finally settled on a color that we could both agree on. So Deb kicked me out and began the painting process while I tried to figure out what we would do for desks.
DESIGNING THE WORKSPACE
As far as workspaces go, my minimalist nature took over again. I figured we could make our own workspace using some cedar planks and a small bookshelf. After looking around, I settled on using 1X12 Cedar planks. It took three planks to span the space.
We spent about three hours looking for the right bookshelf. The tricky part was finding the height I wanted. I wanted the planks to be high enough that I could slide my chair under them without hitting the arms. But, it couldn’t be too tall or it would create a bad ergonomic position for our arms. After three stores, we finally found one in the price range we were looking for (under $50) and the size we needed.
The other thing that was important to me was having the ability to stand and work. I liked the idea of the convertible desk that I could raise and lower. But, I didn’t like the prices that were being asked for those type of systems. Once again, I began looking for a simpler alternative and came up with the idea of using a small bookshelf.
A quick trip to one of the local stores uncovered the perfect shelf. It had a twelve-inch rise with a small middle shelf for stuff. I figured I could push it out of the way when I wasn’t using it, and pull it forward when I wanted it. With my wireless keyboard and mouse, portability was a snap. My standing workstation was complete!
Next came the chairs. Knowing how much time we would be spending at the office, I didn’t want to scrimp here. I have sat in plenty of cheap office chairs over the years and didn’t want to do that again. After spending about two hours between every office furniture store in town (it is a small town, we only had two options) we found a chair that was comfy and cool!
While we may have spent a little more than Debbie would like to have ($360 per chair), the investment has been well worth it. The chairs are comfortable and seem to be very durable. Also, the back support is pretty decent so I am a happy camper.
PICKING THE RIGHT MONITORS
When we started talking about monitors, I was adamant that we have a big enough monitor to replace two monitors. Deb had never worked in a two monitor environment before, so she was apprehensive about needing that much screen space. Once you have had two monitors to work on, one just will never be enough. So as we started shopping for monitors, I began to realize that getting a big smart TV would do the same thing at a much cheaper price.
I started by purchasing a 42 in TV for Debbie. We brought it home and put it on the desk and at first, it seemed huge. But with the width of the desk and the pullout keyboard drawer, you sat far enough back to not be overwhelmed. It was awesome introducing her to the world of plenty of screen space and multiple windows open. It didn’t take long for her to agree that bigger was better!
For my monitor, I wanted to go big. I have spent a lot of time working on small monitors and I didn’t want to feel cramped anymore. While wandering through Costco, I found a 52 inch Vizio monitor that had a price I couldn’t pass up. I bought it and a wall mount because I wanted to be able to swing the TV out and show things to Deb without causing her to get out of her chair.
I mounted the TV on the wall high enough that it would be eye level while standing. The wall mount tilted down enough that it gave me a decent viewing angle while sitting. Looking back, I should have mounted the screen a little lower, because sometimes I feel like I have to look up too much. Overall though, I am pretty happy with the setup.
THE FINISHING TOUCHES
Finally, we come to the whiteboard. An office is not complete without a whiteboard. I am a visual thinker and having a big whiteboard in the office was a non-negotiable item. The question was, how big of one would Debbie let me get away with. Her answer surprised me. She said I could have as big as I wanted as long as it looked good. That meant no metal frames. A quick trip to Staples and we had a decent sized whiteboard with a wooden frame that didn’t break the budget. Wahoo!!
All in all, building our own home office was fun. The unveiling was cool and the mural that Deb painted took my breath away. It is so fun to go into a space that has everything I want in it. I feel relaxed and creative when inside. The beauty of the whole space is that the most expensive part was the chairs.
We built the desk for under $100. The paint cost about $40 and the Whiteboard came in around $70. As I mentioned earlier, the chairs were about $360 each. Deb’s monitor was $160 while mine came in at $230 (and worth every penny!).
Outside of a couple of days labor, that is it. Our perfect home office for under $1,500 and we did it ourselves. Let me know what you think!