home office

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:

home office: beforeYeah.

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.

and

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:

01.

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.

02.

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…

COMMENTS
  • I’m sure it’ll look great once it’s finished. Steven has a rug under his office chair

    October 10, 2016
  • I should have said “office” too. You don’t want to know what I normally call that room.

    October 10, 2016
  • The Other Emma

    REPLY

    “POP OF COLOUR ” or my other interior favourite “Feature Wall” 🙂

    Seriously though, we had full length versions of those blinds in our kitchen and I attacked them with a pair of scissors when we got rid of them because I hated them so damn much. Why would people put office building blinds into their homes? I don’t get it.

    October 10, 2016
  • Chiarina

    REPLY

    OMG, those blinds. So seventies. When I was a child we had them in every single room. I think my sister also attacked them with a pair of scissors when we got rid of them… I was still too young to care.
    On a different note, I think I might have to put together a corner of pinterest-worthy nearly empty space in my house, just for the therapeutic effect of it? So that I don’t have to think about the remaining mess of a house for a few minutes?
    I am really curious to see how you office turns out….

    October 10, 2016
  • Oh no, I work from home two days a week on a roller chair on a carpet and I hadn’t even considered that I was destroying it. Crap. Looks like it’s time I got some ugly mats too…

    October 10, 2016
  • Children, that’s why the walls here don’t stay white. LOL 🙂

    October 10, 2016
  • Probably not massively helpful as you want just the carpet, but I have avoided the plastic office look mats by using a standard floor rug to avoid wreaking the flooring. You do have to commit to replacing that rug when it starts looking bad (or returning to the mats), some do impede your rolling (just like some carpet), and there seems no rhyme or reasons behind which hold up and which don’t but it might be worth considering

    October 10, 2016
  • OK, I’ve got it! What you need is a set of space hoppers (remember them). They would solve two problems:

    1) They won’t leave any indentations as you bounce around the office.
    2) They will add a ‘pop of colour’.

    BTW, we’ve just moved in to a house that used to be a rental property. The whole house needs decorating – or a flamethrower, so I feel your pain ?

    Michelle xx

    October 10, 2016
  • Ellen

    REPLY

    So am I the only one who likes the blinds? Also, please bear in mind that the very minute you get rid of them, they will come roaring back into fashion in a major way.

    October 10, 2016
  • Myra Boyle

    REPLY

    What are you talking about, it’s immaculate. I’ll give you the blinds are horrible (we have them in our new (old) house – right across the large glass four sliding doors and I bet mine are uglier than yours. They are also broken and never sit right. Luckily there are 1930s flowery lined curtains over them that hide the blinds (lesser of 2 evils).
    Your mats are ugly too, but dare I say it, I love the red wall, although it is a bit bright. (Ask your mum about my bright orange kitchen in the early 1970s.
    Your desks are sparkling white, with none of the detritus that’s on mine. Can’t wait to see your Pinterest version when it’s finished.

    October 10, 2016
  • Lori L.

    REPLY

    Amber,
    I love this post! And I can’t wait to see what you do with your office. I also believed your whole entire house to be white, not sure where I got that idea. I hate seeing everyone’s home office on Pinterest and seeing just a tiny, little laptop with NO cords anywhere. Where is the printer? Where’s the extra paper? Where are the scissors and stapler? It kind of makes me want to gag a little bit.
    I’m sure your newly redecorated office will be sublime:)

    October 10, 2016
  • Miss Kitty

    REPLY

    I don’t use a mat at work, and yes I am in my chair pretty much all day, and the carpet doesn’t look that much worse under my chair than it does anywhere else. So there’s hope! A couple of points though: our office carpet is fairly heavy duty industrial type carpet, in a darkish colour. It had no ‘fluff’ to begin with, so couldn’t really flatten out much. And our office also gets a fair bit of foot traffic, which has probably contributed to it wearing down fairly evenly everywhere. I wonder if you could get some offcuts of lino or those laminate floorings, to put under your chair? They might look nicer than a vinyl mat? I don’t really know! But look forward to seeing what your office refurb looks like!

    October 11, 2016
  • Fiona

    REPLY

    You might be able to replace the castors on the chairs you already have with chair glides. Something like these – http://m.ebay.co.uk/itm/262643571460?_trksid=p2141725.m3641.l6368 – I haven’t tried it personally and I can’t recommend a specific brand, (I just googled “chair glides” and looked for the right sort for an office chair to show you) but it might solve your problem. 🙂

    October 11, 2016
  • Mandy

    REPLY

    Very entertaining post, I’m with you – white is lovely and does not need a ‘pop’ (urrrgggh) of colour!
    Btw what make are your office chairs?
    Mandy

    October 11, 2016
  • Erin

    REPLY

    OMG, I thought you were revealing that you painted a new red feature wall and I loved it. I think your office actually looks really nice *hides under chair*

    It’s the space you are both in the majority of the day, so the only thing I’d probably spend more on is a mattress. My husband insisted I buy a $300 Lazy Boy office chair last year. I was being cheap and wanted to get something for much less but he pointed out that I work two jobs from home, and like to putz around on the internet so I’m in this chair FARRRR more than I’d like to admit 😉 We are redoing my office soon, but he doesn’t know that yet.

    October 12, 2016
  • rachel

    REPLY

    Thankfully my hubby an I don’t share an office as divorce would ensue. However we both have wheelie chairs on carpet with no ugly mats and the carpets are no worse for it. Hubby in particular wheels between his 2 desks frequently to no ill effect.

    October 13, 2016
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