Do It. Do it. Do it. Do it. (There's more amazing advice in the actual Guide!)
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I’ve moved four times in seven years. In 2013, we moved to Dallas and downsized from a four-bedroom Tudor in Ohio with a basement to a two-bedroom bungalow in Dallas in a neighborhood where basements are not a thing. I had to let go of a lot of my treasures, and even then, things were pretty cramped.
When we bought a three-bedroom home in Dallas in the summer of 2015, I was thrilled to have a dedicated home office.
At the home we’d been renting, my office space was an alcove off the master bedroom where the wifi signal was too weak to be useful and I could only use the printer when my husband was awake.
Even though I’d seriously pared down my collection of books prior to moving to Texas, I still needed a way to store and display what I had, so I purchased unfinished wooden crates at Joann Fabrics and stained them. It was barely a step up from the plastic milk crates I’d used as a college student.
I had several problems in my new office space:
I read that one of the best ways to increase productivity is to eliminate distractions in your work space. I decided that new bookshelves, preferably with cabinet storage, would be a great solution to my work space problems. I planned to change the layout of the room and put all those lovely, distracting books and knickknacks behind me—yet within easy reach.
I always shop antique and resale stores first, because I love to find unique pieces and I also enjoy a good DIY project.
I found these bookshelves at an antique mall in Dallas. They were a matched set that had been painted different colors, but I didn’t care because I wanted to paint them anyhow. The top of one bookcase was loose, but it was easy to pre-drill some holes and use a few screws to re-attach it.
I already had a cabinet in my office. My dad made it for me when I was three years old, out of scrap lumber he’d brought home from his job at a sheet metal warehouse. It’s been many different colors through the years. Even though it was 4” deeper than the bookcases, I believed painting them and lining them up with the shorter unit in the middle would give it more of a custom look.
I wanted my office to reflect my personality, so I decoupaged pages from one of my favorite children’s books on the backing. My husband checked in on my progress. “You’re burning a copy of a Trixie Belden book for this project?” He knows just how much I love my vintage Trixie books. (I have three other copies of that book, and the binding on the one I used was damaged.)
I wanted layers of different colors on each piece so when I sanded, the distressing would simulate years of use. Both pieces had been painted brown over the original wood, and one had been chalk painted white. I started with that one, and applied the color “Grotto” from Folk Art paints, which are available at Joann Fabrics and other stores.It was a little brighter than I’d anticipated, but I loved it right away.
This was my first attempt at chalk painting, and it was really easy and fun. Here’s what I learned:
Now my desk is perpendicular to the windows, which reduces glare. I have easy access to the printer, which is moved up to beside the desk, and the large floor lamp has found a perfect home. If I need files, office supplies, or a book, everything is less than a step away, but I’m not distracted because everything is behind me.
If you’re feeling not-so-productive, take a look at ways you can re-organize your work space and keep the clutter at bay.