When my partner and I moved to a new city in 2016, I had to find a new job. Thankfully, I found a position within my current organization that allowed me to work remotely. Most of my new team was based in New York, with a handful of us working all across the country. Adjusting to working from home definitely had its ups and downs. While I was able to complete some household chores throughout the day, like laundry and dishes, the isolation was a big adjustment for me. Additionally, I needed a work space that looked semi-presentable on Zoom. The messy home office cluttered with boxes and old papers was not a good look.
During my second maternity leave in 2018, I was blessed with a baby that did super well snuggled up in a Boba wrap tied to my body all day long. This allowed me two free hands for most of the day. Sitting around reading and watching TV got boring fast, and since my daughter was born in November, outside activities were limited. I needed a project. A big one. So I decided to tackle my home office.
Our current home office was located in our basement den. We were using my desk from high school (!!) and a few old bookcases we had collected over the years. In the corner of our office was a stack of boxes from our various moves that we just hadn’t gotten around to unpacking in 2 years. Cleaning out the mess was task number one. Task number two was envisioning a space that would be functional and beautiful while not breaking the bank.
My vision for this new space was simple: wall-to-wall bookcases and two desks facing each other, partner-style. The bookcases would provide much needed storage and the desk set-up would give both me and my partner individual and dedicated workspace; something we desperately wanted. Finding budget friendly options was a little harder. I started my search like I always do, with the major big brands like Pottery Barn and Crate & Barrel. Their beautiful designs gave me a ton of inspiration, though the price tags did not.
Enter IKEA. IKEA had an online planning tool that allowed me to virtually design my dream room using their products. My daughter and I made several trips to our new local IKEA to scope out the goods in person. I tested out all the desks and office chairs, and measured floor model bookcases and storage units until I finally landed on the perfect solution. I selected seven Hemnes bookcases and two Hemnes desks, all in the white stain. Though not the cheapest of the IKEA options, the quality and price balanced nicely for our intended purposes. I decided to splurge a bit for my desk chair since I knew it would be getting a ton of use so I went with the Hattefjall in grey and white. All in all, the total spent on on all this brand new furniture was just over $1,500. Not bad considering what we got in return! I was able to assemble everything, with my daughter snuggled up on my chest, over a couple of days.
The Light Fixtures
Since IKEA had proven economical and stylish, I stayed to browse the lighting fixtures. Who are we kidding, I could not have found my way out of IKEA without following the maze-like path and I just happened into the lighting section. Regardless, I found two black Ranarp pendants that were the right style and price I wanted. A couple of DIY Youtube videos later and I was calling myself an amateur electrician. The new space was coming together nicely!
IKEA for the win, again! I found the perfect storage boxes for all the random papers and office materials we needed to keep, but didn’t want looking messy. Enter the Fjalla storage boxes. They were easy to assemble and look super sharp on the white bookcases. After a few hours of organizing and labeling, most of the office was assembled and looking awesome.
All that was left was something for my Zoom background AND a solution for all the random pictures and frames I had just cleaned out of the stack of boxes in the corner. With gallery walls notoriously tricky to get right, I opted for two black floating shelves from Amazon that I could stack all our framed pictures on. The end result was just what I had hoped for!