create meaningful space in your office

Collected Items from my home office and a few of my favorite books

Collected Items from my home office and a few of my favorite books

Thankfully there are no known photos in existence of my home office in its prior state. I knew when my husband compared it to the tiny, dark and dank studio I kept during graduate school that perhaps it was time for a change. Instead of adding another file cabinet to house my "collections" I was overdue for an office makeover. To visualize the mess I created– Imagine a small room wider on one end than the other, dark, with french doors and one desk with two file cabinets and stacks of papers, sketches, art supplies, photos, collected items and office equipment in a mash-up....it was more like the TV show "Hoarding, Buried Alive" then designer work space.

Once the decision was made to move ahead I found a cabinetry company who worked with me on space planning–knowing ahead of time that I wanted white cabinets with a walnut desk and counter top. Organization was my first priority and as a designer I have a lot of STUFF that requires electricity. Working with an electrician I added 4 USB outlets in the office, two above my desk and two inside a larger cabinet to hide the cords while charging. Additionally, I added an outlet in each section of shelving in case I would need to add another printer, or other equipment in the future. Artwork, ceramics or books cover the outlets that are not in use. To create a warm glow in the evening I had spot lights added in the ceiling that point to the shelves and found a lovely organza drum shade for the main pendant light.

In progress: shelving with walnut counter, and outlets at each section

In progress: shelving with walnut counter, and outlets at each section

Large cabinet for extra large paper and printing supplies + desk area with under cabinet lighting in progress

Large cabinet for extra large paper and printing supplies + desk area with under cabinet lighting in progress

Once the shelving was installed I began organizing my books into categories: art, photography, graphic design, typography, poetry, cookbooks, software and technology, and more. One of the best things that came out of this remodel was it gave me the opportunity to really purge things I had been hanging on to and only allow in the new space objects and items that I truly loved. I then began stacking my books on the shelves– pairing them with objects, photos or artwork–things I would never let go of because of their imbued meaning. Designer Nate Berkus says it best in his book The Things That Matter

"Our homes tell our stories, they reflect the places we’ve been
and the people we’ve loved along the way—and there can be
no more beautiful design for living than that". —Nate Berkus

I feel most at home in a space that has been collected over time. My beloved grandfathers Kodak camera has found its home atop books on photography as has my 1963 Hasselblad camera (reminding me to get out and take photos with actual film!), a photo of my Grandmother "GG" sits next to a Plein Aire painting by a local artist and tiny ceramic pots made by my daughter years ago. Pop-up books, postcards from art openings, photographs, blown glass objects and an antique hula doll are all present on the shelves to remind me daily of where I came from and what matters most.