I got a request for some tips on how to decorate an office on a budget – I’m not talking a home office where you can go wild and put trellis wallpaper on the walls and a zebra rug and hot pink desktop accessories. I’m talking about a corporate space that you need to make your own because for God’s sake, you spend more time there than anywhere else (America really needs to pick up on the 4 day work week or at least a little siesta por favor). So here are my top tips for injecting some it girl style into your work space – I used all these tips on my office and I get compliments all the time that my office is the best one in the company … I say tell the president with his sofa, big screen and floor to ceiling windows – he ain’t got nothing on my chippendale chairs.
1. BRING IN AN AREA RUG. Nothing about office carpet is sexy. Bringing in an area rug – no matter how small – adds a pop of color and pattern that makes up for the fact you can’t paint over that drab greyish green color on the walls.
2. LIGHT IT UP. Placing a table lamp on your desk or console adds style twice over – you get to make a statement with your lamp choice AND a good 60 watt soft white bulb adds just the right of warm light to counterbalance the complexion draining fluorescents overhead. Tip: If you have a big office, a second table or floor lamp on the opposite side of the room will be enough to give off a balanced level of warm light.
3. STEP UP YOUR SEATING. Office issue guest chairs are notoriously hideous. Don’t argue me on this, it is true. Across the board. If you work somewhere that provides awesome guest chairs, you shouldn’t be reading this anyway because you must work at the Jonathan Adler Headquarters. Seriously, donate those freebie guest chairs to the conference room corner and bring in some statement chairs. While you’re at it, top them off with a toss pillow each that helps coordinate with the pattern/color of your rug.
4. I HEART ART. Art is probably THE most important thing in an office in terms of personalizing the space. I despise when I walk into someone’s office and the walls are bare – it’s like they haven’t moved in yet. Either that, or they don’t plan on staying for long! Move in, get comfortable and put some art on the walls. It’s great if you can tie the subject of your art in with what type of job you have, but it doesn’t have to. One of my favorite cheap art resources are album covers. They are graphic, colorful and speak to your music taste. Best of all, you can just print them out and put them in a frame from Ikea, voila! Art for under $20. You’ll learn quickly that art is also a great conversation starter and people seem to really respect your for having an ounce of taste and showing it. As the saying goes … the Earth without art is just eh, right?
5. DECORATE YOUR DESKTOP. Please, please, please don’t use the desktop accessories from the company supply catalog. Please. I beg of you. Especially not that black metal mesh stuff. If you’re going to do that, just stick a pencil in my eye. If you can take advantage of office supply accounts, search for acrylic accessories – this way you can step up your style on their dime. Or pick up trays and pencil cups from Target or CB2 to add a splash of color and pattern. Also, bring in your own coffee mug and pick one that says something about your style or has your monogram on it (I type this as I’m sipping diet coke out of my “I heart my cougar” beer stein mug from a past Halloween costume, also a great conversation starter). And lastly, do yourself a favor and order a red Swingline stapler from the office supply catalog – Office Space is eternal and wonderful.
And here is some office porn to give you some inspiration:
This amazing office featured on Made by Girl for a girly look.
And finally, Anna Wintour’s office because it is sooo interesting to check these out. Here is her office from before “The Devil Wears Prada” for which her office was infamously copied in the set design and therefore she had to redecorate post-haste!
And here is her office after as shown in “The September Issue” and “60 Minutes”. Notice: Rug? Check. Light? Check. Seating? Check (although I doubt her bony booty is sitting on an industrial metal chair all day). Art? Check. Personal desktop accessories? Check. She must be thristy … there are a lot of pitchers!