Suddenly working from home? Ditch the cubicle look and create an inspiring work space.
My morning routine since entering the workforce seven years ago was always the same: turn off the lights in one cozily disorganized apartment or another and head to work in a swank River North office with all the trappings: unlimited paper clips, a picture-window view of downtown and a sweet swivel chair that’s still comfy after eight hours. I took all of this for granted until the day two months ago when I became one of the 8 percent of unemployed Americans. Even though I was technically jobless, I still had work to do, and my home office—a former sunporch stocked with a ream of printer paper left over from college—needed a makeover. Enter Chris Bowers, a designer at Chicago-based CB2, who promised to help set me up on a budget more “severed” than substantial. His goals: add color, utilize all my space and eliminate the monotone, cubicle feel. “Even if you go back to [working in a 9-to-5 office] in the future, you’ll always have something nice at home to fall back on,” he says.
Michelle Quaranta at Bucktown’s Colori paint boutique (2243 W North Ave, 773-252-4923) suggests a wall color called Shale C2-483 by ecofriendly C2 paint ($53–$56). “It’s a sophisticated, bold gray reminiscent of a power suit,” she says.
For art, Bowers picks a high-energy print from CB2 by Chicago artist Matthew Lew ($179 at CB2, 3757 N Lincoln Ave, 755-3900).
Budget option Try websites like 20x200.com. where original, limited-edition prints start at $20.
The addition of the Sol console table ($249 at CB2) adds another work surface so that all of my accessories and office supplies don’t clutter my desk. The mixture of office supplies and found objects (Manzanita branch, fishbowl, bookends, Takboard) makes the space both functional and inspiring by eliminating that sterile corporate vibe.
Budget option Find used office furniture at thrift stores such as The Brown Elephant (5424 N Clark St, 773-271-9382).
The final touch was a Herman Miller Aeron, the standard office chair I’d been swiveling around on for seven years at my old job and decided I had to have at home. Instead of shelling out a G for a new model, I surfed over to ’burbs-based preownedaerons.com, where certified rebuilt versions (with 12-year warranties!) are sold for about half the price ($600). “You need the fully loaded size B,” preownedaerons.com owner Marc Levin says authoritatively. “Healthy sitting is the first thing you should invest in, and we can barely keep them in stock in this economy.”
Budget option Search for used chairs on Craigslist or buy Ikea’s Klappe chair for $300.