One of the nicest parts about our apartment in NYC is that we have a designated office space. True to pre-war building fashion, it’s a small space, about 9′ x 9′, but ever since we moved in, I’ve seen it as the perfect little place for Jordan to write sermons and for me to work or write or take care of whatever random thing needs handling.
The only problem is, since we moved into our apartment, nearly two years ago, the office has struggled to be the awesome, haven for productivity that it was destined to be. It’s been that house project hanging over my head. Perhaps you know how this feels because you have a similar project or two (or five) yourself. It’s that project you swore you’d get to months and months ago, yet somehow life got in the way, and there never seemed to be enough time to really finish it. In my case, I’ve spent much of the last year and a half closing the door to the office and wishing the mess inside would go away.
But that’s all changed, my friends. And I’m happy to share some photos of our office as well as some of my process for getting it together. Also, make sure you read to the end, because I’ve included a special treat if you’re looking to improve your own space a bit.
First, a little ‘before’ pic action. The office certainly had far more disastrous days before I took these photos (think paint cans stacked against a wall, random boxes, piles of papers, electronics, board games, and sports equipment), but those days were long before I had the foresight to know I’d be sharing ‘after’ pics with you all. Hence, no documentation of the darkest days. But hopefully, you’ll get the gist that it was neither storied nor styled.
1. Dealing with the paper problem
Can we just all agree that paper is the devil? I crave clear surfaces, and yet I feel like everywhere I turn, there’s somehow a new pile of papers. The biggest challenge in the office was sorting through and throwing out a ton of documents we no longer needed. I cut the number of papers we had stored in a filing cabinet by a third, and when I have time to spend some quality time with my scanner, I fully intend to cut down on paper even more. If you have a paper problem and haven’t yet read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, the author Marie Kondo has a whole section dedicated to how to get rid of paper.
2. Maximizing vertical space
Once I cut down on paper, I was able to move them from an old file cabinet that took up valuable floor space and organize them in magazine files that sit on the shelves above the desk — it’s worth noting that I bought pretty folders with gold foil, so that I’d be motivated to organize those no good papers. I cleared out the baskets on the shelves (one had a dozen cassette tapes from the early ’90s that I have no possible way of playing) so that they could hold cables and wires that aren’t needed everyday, but should be easily accessible. I also took a hard look at our vertical book shelves and gave away books that we no longer need. These bookshelves (which I link to below) are huge space savers in small spaces, and they tend to get a ton of positive feedback whenever we get visitors.
3. Adding decorative touches
After all of the organizing and maximizing space, this was the point where I was ready to add some personality to the room. We already had the metal-wrapped desk, and the fancy leather chair, which was given to Jordan by a friend who worked for the chair manufacturer. The funny thing is, when we first moved in, we didn’t have the chair. Jordan raved about it, but said it was still at his family’s law firm where he used to work. Secretly, I was very happy about this, because Jordan and I don’t tend to have the same concern about an office chair being stylish. Simply put, I figured the chair was ugly.
Imagine my surprise when Jordan’s dad tells me he’s done us the huge favor of dropping the chair off at our apartment, so we don’t have to go another day without it. I think I immediately started making plans for how I could eventually get rid of the chair. But then, I saw the chair, with it’s beautiful brown, buttery leather. And I sat in the chair, with it’s ergonomically correct bells and whistles, and I loved the chair. So Jordan now boasts about how it’s the only piece of his previously owned furniture that has made it into our home. :-)
Anywho, more details about the room… A new rug helped ground the room, added comfort, and made it look bigger. I rearranged the shelves above the desk to include a few items that conjure up good memories. The succulent is from a recent event and reminds me to choose faith. The three birds represent the mantra my mom and I have long adopted from Bob Marley’s song “Three Little Birds” — every little thing is gonna be alright.I included some of our favorite books and a favorite candle made by a local candle company, and coincidentally, the fragrance is “renaissance.” And the dried flower print also comes from my mom, while the gold rotary telephone is a token we bought when we were in India.I’m into neutral colors, particularly in a place where I need to do a lot of thinking, so I also reorganized the bookshelves to each have a monochromatic thing going on, with all the books with black covers on one shelf and the books with white covers on the other. The black and white bookshelves tie in great with the rug and the element in the office that is perhaps my favorite part — a new black and white print I fondly refer to as the “Harlem buffalo.”The print comes from the CC&Mike Print Shop, which features dozens of stylish photography prints that really help add life to a space. One of the talented photographers behind the print shop is my friend, Rhesa, and if I didn’t love the buffalo enough for how it brings an element of nature into our city apartment, I love it even more knowing that she captured the shot. Even Jameson likes it and says, “Oooooh” every time he looks at it. Ha!
And thanks to the many cool inspiration shots (like the ones below), I’m already thinking of where I could add another print in our apartment in the near future.And a moody buffalo!Ok, so if you’re looking to improve your own space or to dress up a wall that’s begging for some love or to help warm up a friend’s new place, here’s the deal: Storied & Styled readers can use the code STORIEDSTYLED20 to receive 20% off a print from the CC&Mike Print Shop. You can choose from an array of sizes and framing options.
And if you’re interested in the sources for the items in our home office, you can check out the list below. Here’s to improving and being inspired by our spaces, no matter how small.
1. Desk chair available from Design Within Reach| 2. Aluminum shelf from IKEA | 3. Wooden desktop organizer from Target | 4. Gold decorative object from Target (similar) | 5. Renaissance candle from Harlem Candle Company | 6. Gold file folders from Target (similar) | 7. Moroccan rug from Rugs USA | 8. Magazine files from IKEA | 9. Hammered metal desk from West Elm (similar to ours) | 10. Wicker basket from IKEA |11. Vertical bookshelf from Amazon
Inspiration shots via CC&Mike Print Shop. CC&Mike kindly provided me with a complimentary print, but all opinions are my own.