Easy Workspace Update: How I Got Organised
Last year, the situation in my home office became severely out of control. With a combination of blood red and mustard walls, it was not conducive to working unless you were used to a day job in an abattoir. The only furniture in the room was a desk, the remainder of the room was used a dumping ground for everything from Joe's old University books (there's only so many times you can read 'Concepts Of Marketing') to old football boots. Using the sturdy tools of wallpaper, cork and chalkboard paint, I transformed it into a place that was more suited to work (as opposed to slaying) - in fact, you can see the blog post showing what I did here.
Anyway, a year later and it's all gone tits up. Both as a blogger and as an obsessive internet shopper, I receive regular deliveries to my house - I'm on first name terms with Royal Mail, Fedex and UPS and the Hermes delivery man has been known to bring my dog treats. What this means is that I have enough cardboard in my office to build a four bedroomed eco friendly Huff house and still have some left over. If I was ever asked to jump out of a cardboard box for a birthday surprise, I would be able to fulfil this brief immediately. Every now and then, it gets to a point where I can't enter the room without fear of box collapse and I'm forced to take them out into the garage. Once in the garage, they stay there for up to two months before a) you can't enter the garage due to the amount of boxes in there and b) Joe and I commence divorce proceedings due to his inability/unwillingness to go to the recycling tip on my behalf.
Aside from this, my paperwork situation would send the Tax Office into immediate full investigation mode. This department isn't my forte and my filing system currently involves throwing all receipts into a large cardboard box, so I knew that something had to be done. I needed a clear out.
So what did I do? Well, to start with I decided that the chalkboard wall had to go. Leo had written 'Max is a willy' on the wall in permanent chalk pen. I honestly can't understand the point of a permanent chalk pen. Surely the whole point of a chalkboard is that it's changeable? Anyway, this sort of language is commonplace in our house with two teens and an eight year old. Don't judge me. Instagram Mummy's, you may spend hours on creative play, feeling smug because they eat 'everything', avoiding anything with aspartame and restricting screen time to one hour a month but I can assure you that by the time they reach their teens, your hard work will matter not a jot. They'll be getting you to drop them in dodgy parks, eating entire 20 piece boxes of McDonalds chicken nuggets, glugging Smirnoff Ice and have your credit card linked to X Box Live before you can say organic carrots.
Another word my kids use is 'peng'. Apparently it means 'good'. Yesterday Ella came home to say that now you can say 'weng'. This is a short form for 'well peng' meaning 'really good'. WTAF. I actually googled this and it appears in the Collins English Dictionary. Random fact for today. Anyway, I digress. The chalkboard wall had been used only for abuse so I painted over it in white paint which immediately brightened up the room. But I still needed storage that wasn't restricted to two paper sacks and a plastic box.
The answer was shelves. My immediate thought was scaffold boards and after measuring, I worked out that I could fit five rows on to the wall that I'd just painted. The cheapest scaffold boards I could find online untreated were £12.95 each. I searched on eBay for the brackets needed and nearly fell over - the cost for five sets was about £120. I immediately ruled this idea out due to budget. I decided to go to the timber yard at B&Q to see if they had any ideas and they came up with the perfect solution. They've got a huge timber machine which cuts to size. A large piece of MDF could be cut into whatever width and depth I required and the entire board was under £20. Bargain. I gave the very helpful B&Q man the measurements and not only did he produce five perfect shelves but also cut the remaining MDF into smaller shelves for later use. Yay, B&Q. Winning. And all for £38.50.
Okay, so I had my shelves. Now I needed brackets. As I was going to paint the shelves white, I wasn't bothered about the brackets being particularly flash so I went for the most basic ones I could find. At £1.25 a go, they were perfect price wise and they were inoffensive enough to do the job. At this point, I became aware that this wasn't a job that I could do myself so I texted Martin, The Worlds Best Handyman (running theme here, sorry), to put the brackets up for me. It took him just over an hour - the only remaining task was for me to paint them. A simple job, unless you decide to paint them leaning against the wall and then leave them to dry. When I returned, expecting to feel smug at my handiwork, I realised that I had actually painted them to the wall and subsequently upon removal ripped the wall paint back to plaster. A quick slap with the paintbrush and no one was any the wiser. It's times like this when I realise that I will never be offered a job on Changing Rooms. Ever.
Anyway, the shelves were up and looking good. As everyone is aware, there is a downside to MDF shelves and that is that they are not as solid as wood and are therefore prone to sagging. However, if you are using them primarily for decoration purposes and styling shots for Instagram, such as I do, then you'll be fine. I know my priorities. I've put the heavy stuff at the ends and left the centre for the light stuff.
So next, I needed storage. I already had some wire baskets left over from last year which fitted well but I needed something to stick receipts and general financial stuff in, plus brand paperwork and all that sort of stuff. Sainsbury's had their desktop files reduced to £2 - £2!! - so I grabbed a couple of those and then went to Homesense to buy some patterned boxes for receipts. I'm also always being sent brochures and product info and I wanted to try and keep it close to hand, so two black fabric baskets were perfect for this purpose. I already had a wall mounted magazine holder from La Redoute and I filled this with current wallpaper samples and magazines. I'm talking Elle Decoration, not Take A Break, btw. Back in the early 90's, I had a job working for a fitness company called StairMaster in Milton Keynes. It was, at the time, THE most boring job in the world. At lunchtime I would literally fall asleep in the conference room, setting my watch for an hour - I was by myself nearly all day with only Simon Mayo for company. I'd spend 75% of the day completing every single competition in Take A Break and similar magazines, then send them off courtesy of the company franking machine. To be fair, I did win several prizes (notably a copy of Now That's What I Call Music 1992) and even contemplated a career in 'comping' (this is an actual thing), but I never hit the big time. Digressing again.
When I redid the office last year, I created a cork board wall using square cork tiles that I picked up on eBay. It cost about £75 but I can honestly say that it's BRILLIANT. Anything that I receive that looks board worthy goes up - not only is it great for business cards but also it acts like, well, kind of a piece of art. Sort of. My daughter came in when I was working the other day and said 'do you know what? That's actually very cool'. Bear in mind that Ella gives out compliments as often as my husband goes to the recycling tip, I was fairly shocked. It's an effective storage method that serves a dual purpose - coolness and practicality. Perfect.
Finally, I needed to sort out the lighting situation. Before we bought this house, it had been renovated and since we've moved in, we've found a few issues that are not solvable without taking apart entire rooms. One of these is the study which has ceiling spotlights which have never worked. The bathroom is above and it's fully tiled which means there is no way of fixing the spotlights without a) removing the tiles in the bathroom or b) removing the ceiling in the study. As a result, we have no lighting in the study aside from a small side lamp. Hopeless. I'd seen some cool spotlights used as down lighters on shelves so immediately picked some up on Amazon and clamped them on. However, I hadn't considered the fact that being on the top shelf, they didn't reach the plug. Someone messaged me a brilliant idea which was to use battery powered remote control counter top lighting inside the lamp shades. I ordered them, again, from Amazon - less than £12 for two - and voila. Let there be light.
So my work here was done. No longer would my Instagram Story viewers see me adorned by a backdrop of abusive chalkboard lettering and a mound of cardboard. So far, I've managed to keep it all fairly organised, although my Mac is often surrounded by empty crisp packets and pizza plates due to my children watching screaming YouTubers when I'm not working. The shelves look bright, white and smart and are actually super practical. And in addition, I can now see (although possibly not know) what I am doing thanks to my spotlight hack. A win all round. In fact, it's more than a win. It's weng.
This blog post was NOT sponsored by B&Q. But quite frankly, it should have been.