The Pursuit of a Pinterest-Worthy Home Office
Every so often, very kind people will comment on my social media to tell me how much they like my house.
(SOME of the time, that is. I mean, MOST of the time, people just comment on my social media to tell me they can’t understand how I manage to keep my white walls clean. Which just makes me want to say, “WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU PEOPLE DOING TO YOUR WALLS, THAT MAKES IT SO HARD TO KEEP THEM CLEAN?! No, seriously: what are you all doing to your walls? Because I… rarely even touch mine? Am I doing walls wrong? Are y’all going out for a hard day’s toil in the fields or down the mine, then coming home to press your naked bodies against your walls? What?!)
Anyway, what was I saying? Oh yeah: every so often, people will leave me nice comments about my house, and I’ll immediately be hit with this huge dose of guilt, in which I’ll realise that my carefully-cropped Instagram photos have, indeed, managed to trick some of you into thinking I live in some kind of immaculate, all-white palace, in which every room is carefully styled, and just ready to be photographed for Homes & Gardens or something.
So, just in case it wasn’t obvious: I DON’T. Like, not even a little bit. For one thing, only one room is white (I have no idea where the idea that the WHOLE HOUSE is stark white comes from, but it isn’t…), and while we have made some improvements to the place since we moved in three years ago, I can honestly say that there isn’t a single room I’d consider “finished” – and, in fact, quite a few of them haven’t even been STARTED.
Lately, this situation has been getting on my last nerve. I mean, I should know better than anyone that Instagram isn’t real life (and Pinterest DEFINITELY isn’t…), but even so, lately I keep scrolling through my feed, seeing everyone’s gorgeous houses, and then looking at the badly painted walls of my “office” (Which I have to use inverted commas for, because I’m not sure you can really call two desks shoved up against a wall an “office”, really…), and feeling like I want to bang my head against them in despair. I’m honestly not joking about the state of it, either, because this, my friends, is the view of my desk which you DON’T ever see on Instagram:
So, basically when we moved in we put the desks and chairs in place (this was literally the first thing we did on moving day, because Amber can’t live without the internet, obviously…), and then just left it. For three years. Other than the office furniture and Rubin, everything in this room is courtesy of the original owner, from the bright red wall, to that hideous blind, which I’ve wanted to burn with fire ever since I laid eyes on it. Why haven’t I? Because, when we moved in, every single room in the house contained one of those blinds. We’ve gradually managed to replace the rest of them, but it turns out blinds are more expensive than you’d think (well… they’re more expensive than I’d think, put it that way…), and every time we thought about replacing this one, something else would come along which would be:
a) More fun.
b) Almost exactly the same price as a new window blind, how about that?
The thing I hate most about this room, though? Other than the blind, I mean?
Those awful mats under the chairs.
They’re there to protect the carpet from the rolling wheels on the chairs, of course, so they’re necessary, but GOD, they’re ugly. Like, you NEVER see mats like that on Pinterest, do you? Not ever. The carpet was also there when we moved in, and is the same carpet that’s on the entire second floor of the house (with the exception of my dressing room and the bathroom), and on the stairs. When we bought the house, we were actually pretty concerned about how on earth we’d keep a carpet that pale clean, but honestly? I love that carpet. With all of my heart. Yes, really.
I know it’s pretty dull to look at, sure, but it’s just SO much less maintenance than the wood floors we have downstairs. Those floors show up every speck of dust that lands on them, and they have to be cleaned every single day: this carpet, on the other hand, has to be hoovered maybe twice a week, and it’s good. We bought a carpet cleaner when we moved in (We wanted to deep-clean all of the carpets, and it turned out to be only slightly more expensive to buy one than to hire it), but we’ve only had to use it about twice in three years: so, yeah, the carpets are way less maintenance than expected, which means I’m really reluctant to change them for something I know would drive me nuts within minutes. (See also: my crazed obsession with clean floors…) Also, I quite like the continuity of having the same floor covering over most of the house, so there’s that, too.
So, I like the carpets, but HATEHATEHATE the mats. If it was up to me, I’d just switch to a chair without rollers, which wouldn’t damage the carpet (or would at least damage it less), but Terry won’t part with his beloved office chair, which is the only thing he finds comfortable enough to sit in all day. And therein lies the problem – or the two problems – in redecorating the office:
It’s an actual, working office: i.e. we both work it in all day long, as opposed to just a couple of hours in the evening, or whatever. That means it has to be practical as well as pretty, and to hold a bunch of really non-cute electrical equipment, plus all of their assorted cables. Any time I look at offices on Pinterest (Which is a LOT, by the way: I have a board from them here…), there’s always this pretty little desk, with nothing but a Macbook sitting on it, accompanied by the kind of chair that looks amazing, but which you just know will kill your back after a couple of hours. We, on the other hand, have giant desktop computers (I mean, yeah, I also have a Macbook, and don’t think I haven’t considered tossing the desktop out of the window, JUST because the Macbook would look better on my desk…), and the kind of chairs you can do a full day’s work in. WHY IS MY LIFE SO HARD? Ahem.
TERRY, in a word. Or, to be slightly more diplomatic, this is a two-person office, which has to accommodate both the tastes and requirements of two different people. One of Terry’s requirements, for instance, is a minimum of two large monitors: actually, there are normally three large monitors on his desk, but one is currently broken. He also outright refuses to consider how each item he puts on his desk would look on Pinterest, which is a real bummer, to be sure.
I mean, if it was up to me, this room would look like Kate Spade threw up on it, and I’d basically just resign myself to having to replace the carpet every year, when my chair wore right through it. Terry, however, won’t even entertain that idea… which means I’m probably just going to have to resign myself to my office never appearing on Pinterest, instead. Life is hard, people: go hug all your Kate Spade stationary hard, OK?
Why am I telling you all of this? To prepare you for all of the future blog posts (or maybe just one, depending on how much of a disappointment this turns out to be…) you’re about to be subjected to on the subject of our office – which we’ve finally decided to redecorate.
(Also because if I write a blog post saying I’m going to redecorate my office, I’ll HAVE to actually follow through with it, won’t I? It’s like making a deal with the devil, really. I feel like Dr Faustus or something, here…)
Now, we’ve been more or less haemorrhaging money lately, so we’re having to do this on a serious budget: so if you were thinking it was going to be interesting, you might want to hold your horses there, cowboy. We’re not going to be able to do everything we’d like to do with this room (or even most of the things, really), but we should hopefully be able to make it look a little bit better. To that end, we’ve bought the paint (SPOILER ALERT: it’s white. You may begin rolling your eyes now, if you like…), we’ve bought some wallpaper for that one red wall (SPOILER ALERT: ALSO WHITE. But with a pattern! So that’ll be TOTALLY different, right? First person to use the words “pop of colour” wins a cookie…), and we even a new window blind, albeit it’s a really cheap one that may or may not look even worse than the original. This is almost as tense as a Game of Thrones season finale, huh?
(Oh, and we have some vaguely-formed plans to put some funky wallpaper -i.e. NOT WHITE – or vinyl wrap underneath the mats, to try to make them look a bit more… intentional. I … just can’t imagine what could go wrong with this plan?)
I will report back soon (well, soon-ish…): in the meantime, if anyone has successfully used an office chair on a carpet, without ruining it (the carpet, I mean. And you have to be using the chair all day for it to count, otherwise Terry will just go, “Yeah, but that person only sits in the chair for an hour a day, d’uh!”), please feel free to leave me a comment saying, “Good news, Amber, you can totally get rid of those hideous mats!” I thank you in advance…