Monday, August 19, 2013

Office Refresher

I mentioned last Friday that I'm back to work as a school counselor following summer break.  Summer is a great time to reflect on the previous year and work on making changes for the next year, and one thing that I decided to re-conceptualize over summer break was my office.  Here are some shots of my office from a few years ago, to give you an idea of where I started.. 

Definitely nothing wrong with it.  It just wasn't very inspiring or welcoming.

Setting up my office at work is always a challenge for me.  I spend a lot of time in there, so I want to make it as welcoming as possible, but I don't really want to spend a ton of money to do so. Also, my re-decorating time is limited to how much I'm able to stay after work or willing to come in on days off.  So getting large blocks of time to make progress is also a challenge.   But over the last few summers, I've been making some progress.

I started the ball rolling last summer, when I re-covered my desk chair and the other two chairs in my office with new fabric.  All it took were some tools to take the chairs apart and a staple gun. 

I realize that the back would have looked better if I had sewn actually covers.  But I don't know how to do that, and the back of the chair is up against the wall.  So I decided it worked well enough for me! 

And then this summer, I decided to 'shop my attic' to find things that I'm not using at home that might work in my office, and spent some time updating these items at home.  This was a total score, as I have a ton of things that I'm no longer using at home.  They are destined to end up in the yard sale or the donation pile, so why not try to re-purpose them in my office?
First up,  is this rug that we used to have in our family room.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with it, but we needed two rugs to fit the space in our family room and I couldn't find another identical rug. 

The problem was, the colors in the rug were not the colors I wanted to use in my office.....So I painted it.
Before you think I'm completely weird, let me argue my point. While I wanted an area rug in my office, there was absolutely  no way I was going to buy one because there was no way I was going to find a 5x7 area rug that I liked at a price that I was willing to spend for my office (which was $25 or less).  A rug in my office at work does not have to be soft or plush.  No one is going to be taking a nap on it, no one is even going to be walking on it without shoes.  So it doesn't matter if the rug is plush or soft.  And if I ruined it....well, the rug wasn't being used anyway.  So I went for it.  I decided which areas of the rug I wanted to keep (the beige and the black and green stripes) and then carefully painted primer over the rest.  Then I used acrylic paint in coral and gold on the areas I wanted to cover up.  While it is not perfect, it's not bad and certainly better than no area rug at all. 
The curtains that you can see in the picture (and the curtain rod that you can't see) also came from 'shopping our house' for things we are no longer using.  Plus, I found two white throw pillows on the futon in our spare bedroom, and they were really only there because we had no where else to put them.  So I brought those in as well.....and I also painted them :)
Using the same coral and gold acrylic paint that I used on the rug, I painted one pillow using inspiration from my confetti vase. I used a foam pouncer dipped in paint to create the dots.
And for this one, I taped off a design using painter's tape, and painted the rest using the coral paint. Once that was dry, I used plastic cups painted in gold paint to create the rings. The goal was for it to look perfectly imperfect, which I think I achieved. 
I covered some of the drawers to my filing cabinet, as well as four canvases that I  bought at Target on clearance a few years ago, with contact paper that I picked up at Marshall's last year. I added a wooden M that I had on hand and painted with my coral craft paint to the canvases. I thought some twigs painted the same color might also look good glued on top of the blank canvases, in order to add some texture. Maybe I'll do that once the trees drop their leaves.

Then, I came across the idea of rope-wrapped and painted terra cotta pots while reading House by Hoff, so I made a set for myself to use with my succulents.  April's blog is fabulous, so I'll let you check out her tutorial rather than writing my own. Be prepared, you'll probably get lost in her blog for awhile!
 Combined with some items I already had in the office that I spray painted gold,  and some of my books, they make a nice vignette in on my windowsill. 

I covered my bulletin board in burlap....
...spray painted my diploma frames, and some other items around the room...
...and hung some tissue paper poms for some vertical interest...


...and that's my stopping point for right now.  I still have some empty walls to fill, and I'm sure that I'll come up with ideas for them eventually. 
Supplies Purchased with price estimates, as I didn't write it all down along the way)
2 yards of white fabric for chairs (~$10)
1 yard patterned fabric for desk chair (~$10)
3 yards burlap ($8 with coupon)
1 roll burlap ribbon (~ $3)
1 package chevron contact paper ($6)
4 bottles acrylic craft paint ($5)
1 can gold spray paint ($4)
2 packs of tissue paper ($4)
3 small terra cotta pots ($3)
Round pouncers ($4)
All other supplies were things that I already owned, so the whole "office refresh" project took less than $60 over the course of 2 years.  I'm pleased with that, and feel like I reached my goal of perking up the office without spending much money.
 So now, I'll start the school year with a more welcoming space and a completely clean desk.  Let's hope the welcoming vibe lasts, because the clean desk surely won't ;)
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  1. Emily, you are amazing!!! When I win the lotto I will have you do my whole house!

    1. Thanks Megs! That would be so fun. You don't have to win the lotto, though. We should just go shopping together and hunt some bargains for YOUR house!

  2. Looks awesome! All your kids will be psyched that you are their counselor and all the other kids will be jealous. You are one crafty woman!

    1. Thank you! I'm the only counselor, so ALL the kids can come visit me :) I hope they do!

  3. Can i hire you as my interior decorator next summer?!?! I love all you do and look forward to your posts!!!

    1. Thanks Ashley! Sure, I'd love to have more spaces to work on!

  4. Your office looks great, much better than mine.
    Next summer you should come help me decorate mine. It
    would take up your whole summer

  5. Thank you for sharing this on Thursday SWEET HAUTE Share! I think this is a great post.

    Christina at

  6. Curious to know how the contact paper is holding up!!

    1. Still looks as good as the day I put it on!!