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It Doesn’t Take Much to Make Over Your Desk

BY: Amelia Buzzell | Jun 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: it-doesnt-take-much-to-make-over-your-desk_jb_600c390 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: it-doesnt-take-much-to-make-over-your-desk_ja_600c390 it-doesnt-take-much-to-make-over-your-desk_plantpic_600c390 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: it-doesnt-take-much-to-make-over-your-desk_feng_600c560 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: it-doesnt-take-much-to-make-over-your-desk_ab_600c390 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: it-doesnt-take-much-to-make-over-your-desk_aa_600c390 it-doesnt-take-much-to-make-over-your-desk_camp_600c390 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. it-doesnt-take-much-to-make-over-your-desk_pod_600c390 Photos: Andrew Nawrocki, Groupon. Illustration: Jorie Larsen, Groupon.