Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Making the Office Mine

I know I'm a bit of design geek, but getting my own office for the first time in my life sparked the decorator in me. I was so excited to make this little space my own. Little did I know in June how much time I would spend in here, and I'm glad I took the time to design it and do it right, because I have NO time for such frivolities these days.

Here are a few before pictures.

The previous US History teacher cleaned the office out quickly, and I was glad, since I had big plans for the space.

Notice the bumpy, torn carpet that couldn't be replaced.
Part of the school is a remodeled church, and my office and classroom are part of the original chapel. Since the building is 60+ years old, remnants of old electricity, strange crawl spaces, plumbing pipes and crazy angles come as part of the package. Some of the idiosyncrasies I embraced; others I shamelessly hid.

First thing I did was remove three of the four shelves lining the walls. I hate clutter, and I knew I wanted a much cleaner space visually.
I also ditched the small filing cabinet and all of the furniture left behind--time for a clean slate.

The classroom has a big teacher's desk in it as well, and I brought Eve along with me to clean out the pen/pencil drawer.
She took that job very seriously, filling three shoeboxes with writing implements, which she brought home to test and keep the prettiest ones as her payment.

Once both spaces were clean, I made a plan--a plan on graph paper and everything. (The OCD side of me loved this little piece of graph paper and carried around for much of the summer to make small adjustments and dream how it would look. I know. Design geek at work.) I stewed over that plan for more than a week before I could get keys to the office, and in the meantime, I  . . .

. . . researched pieces on the IKEA website. I didn't want to invest a ton of money, but I did want it to look clean and fresh. 
The IKEA research is when I started getting really excited, but I still didn't have the keys. I took Micah with me to IKEA anyway.
My little boy isn't that little any more. He is strong and helpful and I was glad I brought him and his muscles.

After I got the keys, the office came together a little at a time. Here's the east wall after I removed one of the shelves. I was stumped on what to do with that ugly wall of electrical stuff (only the white plug in the middle even works . . . ), and

that board covers the entry to a crawl space underneath the tiered seats in my classroom. So the board had to stay as well.

I needed a chair in the office (as per my detailed plan on the graph paper), and I knew this one that I bought it at a yard sale over ten years ago would be perfect. Originally avocado velvet, I recovered it in the yellow and red to match the library in our last house, and when we moved here, it landed in the guest room. For its newest location, I pictured it in a grey flannel, and it only took one trip to SAS to find the perfect fabric.
Here's the office when I started bringing in my stuff. The carpet has a big tear in it, but I didn't want to invest in a rug that would get beaten to death. I found this outdoor rug made of recycled water bottles, and it's perfect--a little bit of texture without being overwhelming or hard to maintain.

I needed drawers, and the red locker-style drawers work to store little stuff and as an end table for the now grey chair.
I brought in a four-drawer filing cabinet to replace the small two-drawer cabinet that was there previously. That filing cabinet already saves me from so much clutter on the desk and shelf. I love having it. The clock--I thought I'd keep it, but it was so noisy, it found a new home somewhere else at the school.

Here is the office just yesterday, now full of things that I love:

That desk wall--I measured and remeasured it, trying to work in the biggest tabletop I could fit, and this one fits like it was designed for the space, thankfully. Just a fraction of an inch bigger, and it would have been a huge mistake--I lucked out on that, since I'm not the most careful measurer.
Since I removed three extra-long shelves, I knew I needed something to hold stuff. This IKEA bookshelf is much better visually, and it holds all the stuff I need. The globe is the only thing left in the office that was there when I arrived.
It may be hard to see, but next to the globe is my crown. And yes, I do wear it. Sometime I'll have to describe the classroom simulation we've been conducting--a simulation that teaches the kids how America and its Constitution came to be. It's been fantastic. But the simulation does require a monarch, and since I'm the teacher . . . and since I'm the one with the crown . . . Yeah. It all works out.

I couldn't replace the crawl space cover, but I ordered a vintage train sign from Latvia (not because Latvia has any special significance . . . but because it was the right size and it is so cool) to give the board a little personality. I still need to mount a hook or something to prevent it from falling down all the time.
Can you see how I made the outlets disappear? I bought that table runner on clearance, staple gunned it to the low ceiling, criss-crossed it with twine, and it instantly turned into a picture wall.

And that Friberg print? Brad's mom gave it to him at least 20 years ago, and we never had a great place to hang it--until now. My students all laugh at my OCD mugs with my favorite mechanical pencils and red and blue pens.

I've had these wood files hanging in the hall outside my kitchen since we moved in, and I never really used them much. They always ended up collecting papers that I'd never look at again. I thought they might work well in my office since I teach four sections, but I was skeptical that I'd ever use them since I never had before.

Was I ever wrong. I use them all the time. They are perfect for sorting tests or as placeholders for my classes' sticky note short classroom assignments.

One of the last things I did was change the door from this . . . to this.
That's me--Mrs. Denton. Weird.

Just a reminder. Here's before:

And here's after.

Have I mentioned how much I love teaching? And the office design was just a little bonus thrill thrown in . . . just for fun.

Tomorrow I'll show you the classroom and the hall remodel.


  1. Wow wow wow!! I love a good before and after! You did such an AWESOME job on this little space of yours! I love the gray chair and Americana pillow....that ties in perfectly with red cabinet....and the desk and industrial chair! And such a great idea to cover the outlets with a runner that you can hang pictures and stuff on- you're so smart. And, that rug is perfect! Looking forward to seeing your classroom!

  2. I LOVE your little office! You took an ugly storage closet looking thing and made it fabulous! I would like you to come and do that to MY office/sewing room, ok?