Apartment Tour: Welcome to My Home Office!

Tuesday, January 26, 2021


This January marked a decade of my working from home! In a world where many, many people now work remotely, it's started to seem like the norm - but for the majority of my time as a work-from-home staffer, it was considered somewhat unusual & potentially only for lazy people. I once even wrote a piece for Thought Catalog (remember what that was super popular?" titled "11 Things That People Who Work From Home Hate Hearing."

Recently, I shared a photo of my office on my Instagram Stories, & my coworker @PaigePlates expressed delight at it, noting that she only ever sees the one little square right behind my head on Zoom calls. I thought I'd share it here so people can see my work-from-home space, where I spend the majority of my time in my home. 

I've invested significant effort (& very little money) in making this a space where I like to be. Most of the furniture is hand-me-down, & the art & tchotchkes are things I've collected throughout the years & months. I've arranged & rearranged to make the space feel "right," & I think I've finally reached that place! 

Let's start with the basics...

My Computer Screens
First things first: Yes, I have two of them. No, I never use them. Yes, they are almost exclusively used for my Post-It-based organizational system. Don't @ me.

Big French Doors
Perhaps most importantly, doors. My office has beautiful French doors that let in light & don't make me feel too closed in or cut off from the rest of the house.

When the pandemic began & all of my colleagues began working from home, I was interested to see how everyone adjusted. I started to feel more fortunate than ever that Mike & I have an apartment that is big enough for multiple rooms with doors, because my colleagues in bigger cities like NYC & D.C. were all working from their kitchen tables with their spouses & kids right next to them, doing the same. 

My Grandmother's Desk
My big, sort of beaten-up wooden desk originally belonged to my grandmother. When I take a moment to stop & think about it, I can mentally transport myself back to being in her home office/library; the long, thin top drawer always held dozens & dozens of different designs of stamps. I loved digging around in it. 

It could use some TLC (in some of these pics, you'll see the wear & tear on the surface of the desk), but overall, it's in excellent shape, & it's basically the perfect desk... although it's very heavy & pretty unwieldy to move!


My Favorite Tchotchkes
This is my favorite little corner of my desk, the one with all the little goodies. Unfortunately I recently broke one of my favorites, this Protection Against Intention Trolls candle... I may have to get a replacement!

In the back is my favorite photo of Mike from our wedding day; in front of it is an affirmation card that @MarisaLee84 gave me after my miscarriage. The cat bowl was a birthday gift from @BrittanyMoseley, & the little Pukará bull is from my 2017 trip to Peru; the orange color represents joy. 

There's rose water face spray for midday refreshers, & "Cloud of Protection" room spray I bought from Coven, a local witchy shop, for "defense against illness, bad vibes, & stinkiness." And that plant? I'm trying desperately not to kill it, though I'm not sure I'm succeeding. It sits on a diamond-shaped slab of marble that I found while beach-combing along Lake Erie, one of my best finds yet. 



The Bookshelf
This folding shelf came from my friend Cara because when I lived in D.C, & it's actually the perfect size for holding my small TV. The books are arranged by color, as you can see, & mostly books I haven't yet read; the ones I've finished are on the bedroom bookshelf.

Why is there a tiny bottle of bourbon on my shelf? Next to a tiny dinosaur & a tiny RBG? I don't know... why not?


The Gallery Wall
I love a good gallery wall, & the one above my desk is my pièce de résistance, even though it's just full of little things, no "big" works of art. In there, you'll find:
  • Two watercolor paintings by my grandmother, an accomplished artist: one of a fencepost in the shape of a K, & one of a little boat
  • Two pieces of art I bought on my second trip to Israel, made by a quirky American artist named Abraham
  • Two Newsies references: a small "Seize the Day" pennant & a little piece of sunset art given to me by my childhood best friend
  • A shadowbox of Mike's & my wedding invitations, made for us by my Aunt Linda
  • An Etsy print of a spinal column with flowers wrapped around it because hey, I have scoliosis, maybe you've heard
  • A copy of Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, my favorite childhood book & good daily reminder that "some days are like that"
  • A Disney-themed drawing given to me on my 18th birthday by my friend Miyuki, who went on to become an animator on The Princess and the Frog, Tangled, and Frozen
      


Here's are zooms on a couple other things on the wall that I especially love:
  • A hysterical childhood photo of my husband, given to me by his grandmother, of him... as a firefighter? "On my way to steal yo' bitch," as his sister captioned it.
  • A little wooden bud vase with two paper flowers from Love, Anji, both given to me by Mike - a plain red rose & a daisy made of a map of Cleveland 
  • A small framed print by Cleveland artist Arabella Proffer, who is living with terminal cancer
  • A decorative bronze hamsa, intended to ward off the evil eye 
  • My attempt at turning my beach-combing finds into artwork

Bulletin Board... with no Room for Bulletins
This little corkboard originally held passwords & the like, but it was quickly overtaken by buttons, pins, & stickers that has no other home. I love this chaotic little spot, which is so representative of my personality & my interests & the places/things/ideas that are meaningful to me.
  • I've had the "Journalism is a Terminal Condition" button i since college, given to me by my mom. 
      
  • The "Buttercup Boogaloo" card comes from my visit to The Color Factory in NYC. I took a test to determine my aura color, or something, & although this wasn't the color chosen for me, I took the card anyway, because my dad called me Boogaloo when I was a kid.
     
  • Also in there you'll find ephemera declaring my love for: social justice, books, naps, Judaism, & beer. Sounds about right.  



The Little-Bit-of-Everything Table
This table belonged to Mike's grandma & matches the glass-topped coffee table in our living room. This one, too, is home to a mish-mosh of items, which is, I suppose, my overall aesthetic?
  • The RBG bobblehead was a recent gift from my holiday mug swap package this past December. Thanks to San of The In Between is Mine for hosting & to my Secret Santa @stephanieruns for such a great assortment of items! 
      
  • The taller air plant sits in a recovered brick I found at Lake Erie with a cool Dalmatian tile pattern, & the circular air planter was a gift from my mom; the succulents in the brass bowl (which belonged to my mom) are extremely fake. 

  • Speaking of my mom, that's a photo of her & my dad on their wedding day!

  • Speaking of wedding days, the crown bookends were a wedding gift from @sugasciolla & @jasciolla, our friends in Pittsburgh; they hold a highlighted selection of rainbow-colored books chosen only for their hues & not for their content. 

  • The handblown glass container is from The Glass Asylum; it's filled with crystals & smudging items from Positive Life Haven, a local, Black-owned, woman-owned wellness business.

  • I found the CLE rock on a hike, & it sits in a bowl of coffee grounds to soak up the weird scent of a little bit of spilled citronella on my office carpet. Ha. 



Windowsill Stuff
Here are more plants I'm trying not to kill, including another one in a reclaimed Lake Erie brick & one I received as a gift from @EmilyGoodstein following my miscarriage

I wish I could remember where the 3D printed version of my social media handle came from, but alas, I cannot figure it out. It's next to little glass vials of some of my best & brightest pieces of beach glass.

The stained glass skyline of Cleveland, too, has unknown origins. It came to us by way of Mike's aunt & uncle as a truly perfect holiday gift.


Trundle Bed / Office Sofa
This is the bed I slept on as a kid! That's why it's a little frilly, with that frou-frou white. It's a trundle bed, technically, but the bed that rolls beneath it is still at my mom's house, on its own, so that I have extra space beneath this one. Our apartment doesn't have much storage space, so it's much needed!
  • The giraffe pillow was Mike's first gift to me on our third date. 
  • The long Cleveland pillow was a gift from my aunt.
  • The red & orange blanket was handmade in Peru.
The storage unit in the back corner is home to a bunch of towels & cleaning spray for my rides... & you can see my cat backpack in the back corner there, too! 


Circular Shelf 
I loooove this Pillowfort-brand shelf, which I got from the children's section at Target a long time ago. Hot tip: Home decor in the children's section is always cheaper. 
  • The stuffed "KATIE" sign is from my childhood bedroom. In middle school, I started going by Katy instead.
  • The tile up top has a Dumbledore quote on it, another gift from my friend Christina.
  • The tile at the bottom came from a street vendor in Costa Rica on our honeymoon.
  • The lighthouse prints were originally my mom's, but I took them out of a giveaway bin.
  • And I made those colorful streamers myself on a virtual tutorial with Oh, Pink! Party Shop.
 
The Other Shelf
This shelf is the most recent addition to my office. I've owned the shelf itself for years, but I just recently realized I could use a power drill & set it up myself. It was so easy that I was very embarrassed not to have done it sooner! On it is:
  • A covered bridge greeting card from our 2019 visit to Maine
  • More found objects from Lake Erie, including a chunk of tile & a vase of green glass
  • More reclaimed brick planters, this time with elaborate faux flora I arranged in them
  • Another Arabella Proffer print, which I originally bought as a gift but kept for myself
  • A Michelle Obama prayer candle I bought while visiting Austin during a bachelorette party

The Peloton
Our apartment is decently sized, but not so decently sized that there's anywhere for my Peloton to go except for riiiiight in the middle of my office. The screen looms in the background behind me on every Zoom call; very professional, I know. 

It's pointed in the direction of the TV, which basically only gets ABC & is thus only used for watching Grey's Anatomy & The Bachelor/ette in real-time. Instead, Mike got me the plastic tray hanging over the Peloton screen, which I use to prop up my iPad for Hulu-watching. 



The "What Do I Do with This Space?" Spaces
My office is sort of like a little turret off the side of the apartment, with rounded walls that make it hard to figure out what, exactly, to do with the empty wall space. I've filled in some of it with prints (including the strong women print by Cleveland's own Lady Noel, a gift from my mother-in-law), plus a display of colorful earrings & a "Do Not Disturb" sun hat.

The piece of wall that usually ends up hidden by my French doors features photobooth pics with family & friends, a Midwest-loving print from Brittany, & a photo of me with the Cleveland Magazine team, among other items.

And... there you have it, my whole little office. I know, I know, I sort of have the aesthetic of a slightly more mature college student decorating a dorm in the early 2000s, but what can I say? I like it. It's me. And I feel super at-home in this little space, day in & day out. Sometimes, when Mike snores, I even sleep in here overnight!

What does your home work space look like? Do you have a designated office, or can you be found working from the couch / your bed / the kitchen table?

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