A couple weeks ago, I contributed a post to One Woman Shop called Five Lessons Learned in my First Six Months as a Freelancer. Several people told me that they found the insights to be helpful (yay!) but the part I got the most questions about was the “Create an Inspiring Workspace” section. Specifically, how I managed to do it on the cheap.
First, full disclosure:
- I already had a room in my home dedicated to a home office. It used to just be a room that stored my huge collection of jewelry and happened to have a desk. But at least I had a few basics to start!
- The cost did not include my brand-spanking new laptop.
- That’s not a rented dog in the picture. She is a real-live corgi named Ginger and she’s the official office greeter.
But everything else was definitely scored for free or at a ridiculously low price. Other than saving money, my main goal was to make my office a representation of my personality and things I love. And here’s how I did it:
1. Get Comfortable.
One of the myriad perks of having a home office is getting to create a space that perfectly suits your tastes and comfort. That means choosing your own office chair instead of putting up with the backache-inducing one the company gives you. I chose one with a hard back from Ikea – it’s cute, inexpensive, and forces me to have good posture.
Create some ambiance. If you’re anything like me, you have close to a million candles stashed in a cupboard somewhere, and they’ll instantly turn your office into an ultra-soothing space. Bring in fresh flowers from your garden or spring for the $5 bouquet at the farmers’ market. These are things that cost nothing or very little, and help to create a desirable atmosphere. And less stress means better work, right?
2. Get Creative.
Spotlighting your unique personality in your office requires some creativity and even a bit of soul-searching. What are the things that inspire me? Which colors make me smile and feel more awake? How can I show off my quirks? Not all people love knick-knacks, but I personally enjoy tchotchkes and display them freely. To give my office a boost of individuality, I cruised garage sales, flea markets, resale shops, toy sections at craft stores and discovered forgotten treasures in my basement. For example, I found the plastic dinosaurs in a $1 bin at Michael’s, painted them silver, and voila! An ideal cross between chic and kitsch.
3. Get Shopping.
When I first set up my office, I made a list of my necessities. A file cabinet. A bookshelf. Places to sit and brainstorm. I do have my fair share of items purveyed from Target and Ikea, but scoring truly great deals usually requires scratching beneath the surface. Do some research and check out places in your area that are off the beaten path. That’s where I scored this circa 1970s school desk. I ventured into a local warehouse that sells cast-offs from the university, and this desk was only $5. But it adds a whole lot of personality.
4. Get Lighting.
As One Woman Shops, we have been known to work into the wee hours. That’s how it goes sometimes when you’re a solopreneur! For us, good lighting is a must. Light can help you feel more alert, prevent eyestrain, and create a cheerful feel on cloudy days and dark nights. Ikea is famous for their statement lighting, like this pendant lamp in my office.
5. Get Inspired.
In my opinion, an inspiration board in a solopreneur’s office is a must -- something you can look at to remind yourself that you’re on the right path and will get creative juices flowing. Go through some memory boxes, photo albums, old magazines, or go to Etsy for awesome visuals. My favorite thing on my wall is a painted picture of a flower my mom made when she was eight. Free, fun, and it inspires me to keep going.
Those are my tips! Now go out there and find those free or nearly-free things that stir your soul.