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It Doesn’t Take Much to Make Over Your Desk

BY: AMELIA BUZZELL | 6.9.2014 |

It Doesn’t Take Much to Make Over Your DeskChances are you do more at your desk than just work—it’s probably also where you lunch, binge on Pinterest, and try to guess when 5 o’clock is coming. But if the place where you’re spending 40 hours a week is “decorated” only with a tape dispenser and some lidless pens, you’re missing out on making your home away from home a bit more homey. As it turns out, with a little help from things you already own (and maybe a few paper crafts), it’s easy to design a space that’s functional, themed, and personal. Last week, my coworker Jorie and I staged our own desk makeovers.

Jorie’s Desk: Feng Shui Forest

Before:

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What's on your desk:

Too much clutter: random photos tacked up, a tape dispenser floating in the middle of nowhere, more pens than I know what to do with. It feels like the inside of my seventh-grade locker.

Your desk’s worst quality:

It’s unforgivably dusty. I swear I keep a clean home, but I’ve let my desk go.

Its reputation around the office:

Like a wallflower at the prom, it has gone largely unnoticed … which only makes its She’s All That–style transformation even sweeter.

After:

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Why you picked this theme:

I’ve been attracted to the philosophy of feng shui ever since I was young. As a grownup, I figured I should bring some of that good juju to my workspace.

Changes you’ve made:

I applied the feng shui principle of dividing a space into nine equal “boxes”—each one corresponding to a facet of your life and represented by a different color:

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I had to bid adieu to a few items that just didn’t jibe with the principles of feng shui, but I did get to add some great stuff:

* A faux terrarium (my desk doesn’t get enough sun to nurture a real one)

* A picture of my fiancé and I hiking in Wyoming and a photo of our dog, Winnie

* The Elements of Style, an important reference book for my job as a writer

* An issue of National Geographic for travel inspiration

Do you like the new space?

I feel calmer and lighter. You could chalk it up to the decluttering process, but I like to think my chi feels safe and happy in this workspace now.

Do your neighbors like it?

Soon after I finished redecorating, I had several coworkers oohing and ahhing at my bountiful garden and adorable puppy pic. Freddie Prinze Jr. would totally take this new desk to the prom.

My Desk: Wes Anderson Nap Pod

Before:

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What's on my desk:

A lot of paper ephemera and bumper stickers that I can’t bear to part with, a wax ear I got as a gag gift and display to scare passersby, and a lot of pop tabs that I keep meaning to put in our office’s donation box for the Ronald McDonald House.

My desk’s worst quality:

The crumbs of a thousand lunches. If I’m going to eat at my desk, you bet I’m going to act pathetic and slovenly to match the occasion.

Its reputation around the office:

I keep the dismantled parts of my long-retired standing desk beneath my current desk. It’s very crowded, and my neighbors have asked me if I have a junkyard dog living under there.

After:

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Why I picked this theme:

I’m envious of Google’s nap pods, but I figured a George Costanza–style nap situation was more attainable. As for Wes Anderson, I’ve always loved the Scalamandre wallpaper print (as seen in The Royal Tenenbaums) and knew the theme would be a great excuse to make little paper crafts, too.

What changes I made:

* The wallpaper (which was painstaking to line up)

* A “Lobby Boy” hat and Mendl’s box like those in The Grand Budapest Hotel

* A Latin book cover as a nod to Rushmore

* A Fantastic Mr. Fox mask

* A miniature Camp Ivanhoe from Moonrise Kingdom

* Turned my yellow tablecloth into Steve Zissou’s Jacqueline Deep Search submarine, which now conceals me when I dive down to take a nap

* A lamp and decoy duck from home. They felt appropriate, even if they don’t have any Andersonian meaning.

What I think of the new space:

I worried this project was a little on the twee side, but I’m pleased with it. It’s clean, it’s cohesive, and it saved Latin—what did your desk ever do? I haven’t taken my first nap yet, but just knowing I have the option makes me feel peppy already.

What my neighbors think of it:

Several of them have already worn the Lobby Boy hat, and others have stopped to ask about my wallpaper or high-five me for my Mendl’s box. Nobody has complained about the missing junkyard dog.

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Photos: Andrew Nawrocki, Groupon. Illustration: Jorie Larsen, Groupon.

Guide Staff Writer
BY: Amelia Buzzell Guide Staff Writer