A few weeks ago, I found myself avoiding my home office. I’d start my day down there, but by midmorning I was desperate to get out. My office space is a diminutive utility room in our finished basement. It’s half underground, and along with my desk and bookshelf, it houses the fuse boxes, water heater, and the unit for our central heat and air. It doesn’t sound glamorous, but it’s got a little window under our deck, and a door that closes, and it’s my own private space to work.
I’ve been working from home, from this room, since 2015. Aside from a new coat of paint in 2018, it hasn’t changed a lot. My massive desk was too big in the small space to move into any configuration that didn’t put me in a dark corner, facing a wall. I tried different lighting options (and bright paint, obviously), but lamps and ring lights cluttered the space, and they shone too bright in my eyes.
In summer, I could escape to the back deck under a sun umbrella to work, or out front in the garden under my dogwood tree. But then it got really hot. And though I moved back inside, I found myself trying to find other places in the house where I could plop down with my laptop and focus. Anywhere but my office.
My left shoulder soon started aching, which always happens when I work from the living room or garden chair or back deck. My standing desk and my Steelcase chair — both of which are in my office — make a huge difference in my ability to work with comfort.
The pain alerted me to my avoidance; my office space wasn’t a place I wanted to be.
When I realized this, I decided to finally make some changes after six years of sameness. I ordered a smaller, lighter colored desk, so the desk itself adds brightness, and now I can arrange my office in a variety of configurations if I need a change. I put my bookshelf behind me for easy access to reference books, and I now have a nice background for video calls instead of the weird vents that used to be my backdrop.
I updated my monitor to one that’s much crisper and easier on my aging eyes, and I mounted it on a monitor arm so I can easily adjust the monitor’s height or move it out of the way when I need to clear my desk to think. My desk is a Jarvis adjustable height desk, so I can stand in the morning and sit in the afternoon, which is how I seem to do things.
After arranging my furniture and equipment, I finished the space off with art from Jenny Gray of Gray’s Modern. The colors and shapes make me happy. I keep walking down there even after my workday is done, just to look at it all and smile.
And best of all, thanks to my smaller desk, I can now face the window that looks out on the garden. That was the true inspiration for this office refresh. I wanted badly to face natural light and the outside world. The window and the garden are good for my soul.