Category Archives: office

Now I’m walking again to the beat of a drum…*

*Lyrics from the Hey Now (Don’t Dream It’s Over) remake as sung by Lolo (aka: Lauren Pritchard). I heard this song in the movie I Give It A Year (the movie is NOT worth seeing, btw) and really liked the quality that her voice gave to this older song. I can’t find the song available for purchase, but it’s listenable on last fm. Her voice is really something special.

The office: a mix of chic accessories, industrial touches, modern amenities, and limited space.

The office: a mix of chic accessories, industrial touches, modern amenities, and limited space.

So, a short while ago, my sister’s non-profit company found some office space to rent. They had been without a dedicated space for much of the holiday season, and had been on a desperate hunt for a better situation. The move means shorter commute times for my sister, and a more centrally located spot for her and her boss, and it’s located in a more bustling area of the city. The only problem/challenge is that it’s a shared space, and their co-tentant is already in place.

Luckily, the co-tenant, an event planner, is very open to sharing (it’s a reality in NYC for many small businesses), and was very happy to have some input from someone (me) who might just have a few ideas on how to best meet everyone’s needs, while maintaining a stylish and affordable office. Easy, right?

Enter: IKEA. Seriously, despite all of the misses that they make, and the hassle/effort of having to build things yourself, this is one of the best resources for cheap, durable and attractive office furniture. (That is, if you’re willing to think about everything they make as office appropriate. Don’t overlook dining tables as desk spaces, bedroom armoires as storage units, and kitchenware as office supply caddies.) With an eye toward spending as little as possible — non-profit + self-employed small business owner = budget? what budget? — and with a nod to the things they already had (including plenty of chic accessories), I whipped up a little moodboard for them to get inspired by.

Inspiration via Pinterest (see board: dual office), and via IKEA, Target, and Overstock.

Inspiration via Pinterest (see board: dual office), and via IKEA, Target, and Overstock.

I also sketched up some potential floor plans (with some expert help from my computer savvy husband). Objectives: desk space for three; meeting space for clients for both the event/wedding planning AND volunteer training; seating area (existing) for clients or staff alike; and, visual harmony/limited clutter. While I know they would all love it if they had more money to spend, or more space to use, they’re all happy to make the best of bright, sunlit, clean office that even sports a herringbone floor.

 

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This floor plan intended to save the most on the budget, and use the existing items to their best advantage.

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This floor plan focuses on the need for chic meeting space, and creates a more open layout.

I included two options for them to mull over. Each plan tries to make the best use of the space they have, while allowing for things to serve as double-duty. Since meeting with non-staff/clients will be a minimal event (several times per month, but not necessarily daily), I focused on making sure they had space for their day-to-day items, while allowing them access to any files/paperwork they might need. And, since I know my sister pretty well, I tried to anticipate her need to have tidiness as an option. Everyone appreciates a clean work surface, so having spaces for messes (read: piles) to go is a must. And, I know the space will evolve with time, so I tried not to fill up the entire room with stuff. Air, and light is important which is why I fought for the seating area to stay (one of the three didn’t think it was necessary, and I’ll let you have one guess as to who it was {it might have been the only male who will be using the space}).

In the end, I think we have a solid plan. I hope to help them ‘install’ the space over the next few weeks, perhaps with a few runs to Target and HomeGoods to round out the accessories, lighting, and soft touches. Once we get a finished look, I’ll share the transformation.

My first real “job” in NYC, and it feels so good to start to make some connections. Woo hoo!

xoxo

Just hang on, hang on to the vine…*

*Lyrics from Hang On Little Tomato by Pink Martini off their second album. I heard this while cooking, or washing up, and it completely cheered me up. It’s a sweet little song about remaining optimistic. Lately that has felt difficult, likely in part due to the lack of sunlight (and never ending days of being trapped in our tiny home). But I’m hanging in there, not like a kitten on a branch, but like a little tomato on the vine, waiting until I’m fully ripened before I burst forth with heirloom flavor (I’m certainly NOT a regular tomato – probably I’m one of those weird colored heirloom ones that look awful but are the best tomatoes you’ve ever eaten). How long until summer again?

See my little office tucked into the living room?

See my little office tucked into the living room?

When we moved back to the city full-time, I had to lose my office. My glorious, large, occasional guest room, sunlit, breezy, private office. Enter one of my daily mantras: it’s only temporary, it’s only temporary. But, while we’re hunting for a more permanent place to settle, we’re still trying to make this one work for us as best it can.

Once we decided to take the pied-à-deux, we had some furniture rearranging to consider. The previous living room layout included a nearly 5′ long niche to the right of what was clearly an old chimney breast. In our prior space, this little nook happily housed our TV and assorted media accoutrements. In our current space, however, that single niche layout was replaced by two niches flanking the chimney breast: on the left, one about 20″ wide, and on the right, one just shy of 32″. Yeah, so, no TV nook here.

We utilized the space as best we could: closet closer to the bedroom; office closer to the natural light.

We utilized the space as best we could: closet closer to the bedroom; office closer to the natural light.

Since there is no proper closet in the apartment (it’s technically a studio apartment), and the giant storage unit in the kitchen was removed so we could re-install our dining room nook, we decided to turn one of the niches into a closet of sorts. It’s pretty basic: a rod, a hamper, and some not-so-glamorous odds and ends tucked and stacked behind a chair, but when you’ve got 320-ish sf to work with, you make do. We considered making the other niche, the larger one, into a closet, too, but then we realized that it was just big enough to house a tiny desk, and could therefore serve as my office.

The closet is delightfully dark. The left shows how it looks with a flash; the right how it looks normally. Good thing our winter clothes are mainly black and navy.

The closet is delightfully dark. The left shows how it looks with a flash; the right how it looks normally. Good thing our winter clothes are mainly black and navy.

This has since been re-styled, but you get the general idea. It's petite, but it works.

This has since been re-styled, but you get the general idea. It’s petite, but it works.

Not the enormous roughly 12′ x 14′ room that I had to myself before, but the 24″ x 31.5″ (that’s right, INCHES) space seems to be just big enough to store my computer, a lamp, some art supplies and books. Just the essentials, but a hell of a lot better than having to throw (or gently place) the laptop on the floor when we want to eat dinner at our table at night. Jeff had a leftover IKEA desk from a temporary employee at his office, so we just took it home one night and tried it out. It fit perfectly. Even fit with a little space leftover that is just big enough to hold a canvas so I can work on art projects at my own pace. What more could I want?

I culled my design books to what I thought would be my essentials. I need to open these from time to time for inspiration.

I culled my design books to what I thought would be my essentials, and they coexist with whatever fiction we’re reading (or hoping to read). I need to open these from time to time for inspiration.

BEFORE: When we arrived at The Deux the paint job, among other things, was lacking. AFTER: With some creative repurposing and some minor investment in shelves, we have a useful, efficient and attractive space. It's only temporary, but so is everything in life, right?

BEFORE: When we arrived at The Deux the paint job, among other things, was lacking. AFTER: With some creative repurposing and some minor investment in shelves, we have a useful, efficient and attractive space. It’s only temporary, but so is everything in life, right?

To make the space really work for us, we installed a few shelves made from some simple boards and brackets from Lowe’s. I wanted the space to recede, visually, since it’s really just a corner of the living room, so we painted the shelves the same color as the walls, and chose black brackets. The effect is especially helpful at night, when the dark corner just expands, and the room feels bigger than it really is.

I can’t really do any hand drafting in this mini-office, nor can I really go crazy with painting/drawing. But I can have a little space to call my own, and that ain’t bad.

xoxo

I don’t wanna say goodbye, I just wanna give it one more try…*

*Lyrics from You Won’t Let Me by Rachael Yamagata from her album Chesapeake. Every time I hear her voice, I ‘like’ her, or I click the little ‘thumbs up’ button on Pandora. The song is a little sad, and perhaps that’s how I feel about this process of letting our house go. But, make no mistake, we’re on the market and ready to entrust this lovely spot to another deserving family. Doesn’t make me love it less, or wish I could pick the whole house up and put it in my pocket. For now, more room tours to make you love it as much as we do…

House Tour: Offices

This room is really quite large - it's easily the second largest room upstairs, and I claimed it for my own. I'm greedy like that.

When we first started out looking for homes, fourscore and 7 years ago (I think that’s actually about accurate!), we thought we’d want at least three bedrooms: one for us, one for guests, and one for an office. Jeff has worked from home for almost the entire time I’ve known him – starting out as a freelancer and working his way to co-owning his own thriving business – so having a space that was dedicated to his work was essential in our home search. We ended up finding this 4 bedroom house, which worked out because at one time my brother lived with us (and at another time my mom lived with us), and we had guests for most major holidays and many a weekend in between, so we had plenty of room to share and spread out. After my brother (and mom) moved on (and out) to other situations, I ended up with the opportunity to get a dedicated office/craft/design studio of my own. And, even though my artistic career is in its infancy, having a whole room (with a fireplace!) to spread out and work on projects (like the desk, or the paintings, or the art), as well as work on design drawings for client projects, has been amazing.

read on…

It’s too early to say, it’s too early to say goodnight…*

*Lyrics from this sweet little song I heard watching a sweet little indie romance (which I was completely in the mood for) called happythankyoumoreplease. The song’s by Jaymay and it’s called Never Be Daunted. Good song inspiration for a year opener, wouldn’t you say?

Office progress at the end of 2011.

And now it’s time for the ubiquitous post on what the new year means to me. I know everyone’s doing it, and with good reason. Turning over a new calendar page can be quite bracing, forcing you to itemize your life, to measure your path and to judge it accordingly. Or perhaps it gives you a moment to cleanse your palate, to step back and say yesterday is gone, today is my focus. Turning over this calendar page (figuratively, of course – who has paper calendars anymore?) has been a most welcome occurrence as 2011 was an emotionally tough year for me. But it wasn’t all bad. I’m just glad to leave it behind, and start again.

read on…

Open your mouth wide, the universal sigh…*

*Lyrics from Radiohead’s song Bloom from their album The King of Limbs. I mean no disrespect by using the lyrics in this playful manner – the song, the album, both amazing. Worth every penny and every minute of listening. Every time.

There’s a light (shining at the Frankenstein place). There’s a ligh-hi-high-hi-high-hah-ha-hight (burning in the fireplace!). There’s a ligh-high-uh-hight in the darkness of everybody’s life. There’s also a light in my office now. So, woo-hoo!

Many moons ago I began compiling bits and pieces for my inevitable office transformation. Up until a few years ago I would have self-identified as a hair colorist who was struggling to find my place in the world. Now I’m not afraid to say I’m a budding artist and designer, and a student of interior design (albeit a former student). Before our kitchen renovation began I had a little tiny area of the kitchen that I referred to as my “hair studio.” Now I have a fully-fledged, proper office. With a portable drafting table, portfolio pieces, and countless implements for design and drawing. (Perhaps not countless, but who wants to count that sort of stuff?)

read on…

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