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how i work: my DIY desk space

January 23

I am looking forward to attending IDS 13 this coming weekend, January 24 to 27, 2013.  This annual interior design trade and consumer show brings together the newest and most innovative of international and Canadian design. I’m particularly interested in seeing the How Do You Work? exhibit featuring four designers’ unique approaches to modern day work spaces. Today’s offices can be as near as one’s mobile device – be it an iPad, tablet or smartphone, leading to the questions pondered by these designers and addressed through their designs include – Where do the boundaries of work and play meet? Where is today’s work/life balance? In what type of environment are you most productive?

These questions have me assessing and pondering how I work in my personal space. Living in an open concept condo, there are no boundaries between work and play in my home. Having converted the ‘den’ into my ‘dining room’,  I have dedicated a niche in my living area into a workspace with a minimalist DIY desk. The top I constructed from an 3/4″ MDF off-cut from my upholstered headboard project, the thickness of which I built up with a ‘frame’ of trim on the underside. Painted with an oil based semi-gloss, it has held up fairly well for going on five years now.

home office - saf affect

The right side is supported by a standard flat-pack, originally honey wood coloured file and shelf unit from Canadian Tire that I painted with the same paint as the desk surface and swapped the handle provided for a more contemporary, brushed metal option. While I love the design and the affordable price of the reproduction Herman Miller-esque chair, I’m sorry to say that the vinyl hasn’t worn as well as my painted desk.

file cabinet - saf affect

The left support and storage pedestal I cobbled together from a couple of wire metal ‘cubes’ from Urban Outfitters. When stacked they aren’t quite tall enough to be desk height, so I slipped in a pre-stretched artist canvas, 3″ in depth, from DeSerres. Functional accessories include the lamp from the now defunct Zellers, the leather desk mat from the now defunct Caban, and the mirror fashioned from a vintage, hand-carved, wood frame that was my grandparents’, strategically placed so I can easily glance up and see the TV.

storage desk - saf affect

As much as I am happy and productive working in this open concept space, design is about evolution and efficiency is about continuous improvement.  A new chair perhaps? Some interesting colour / art on the bland beige wall? Some hanging storage solutions to take advantage of that bland beige wall? New and improved lighting? Options for shutting away more of my work to help maintain work-life balance?

How do you work?

15 Comments leave one →
  1. January 23 8:36 am

    It’s really tough when you work at home in a small space! I recently moved my desk to a space right at the front door. I can’t see out the window, (fewer distractions) and the low table makes a better visual balance at that end of the room. My “desk” is just plywood and 2 by 4s covered with an antique paisley shawl and prayer rug (lots of color) and I used an old Canadian wood nail-box for my in-box, a green ceramic ginger jar for my pens and a silver cup for my pencils. But more and more I work on my laptop at the dining table or sofa, so I am not stuck in one place all day.

    • January 23 10:11 am

      I too move around to different spots in my home when I need a change and to charge my creativity. I too like my dining room as I can sit facing the window when gazing into the distance helps to inspire, especially lovely on a sunny day. And a nice change from facing the wall at my desk. But yes, generally, facing the wall keeps me focused as well!

  2. January 23 9:41 am

    Great ideas – love your chair and the mirror really helps make the space feel bigger!

    • January 23 10:12 am

      Thanks! Yes it’s surprising that a small mirror like that can expand the space, reflecting the light, and providing a way to look into the distance to rest my eyes when working too long on my laptop that is so close.

  3. January 23 9:49 am

    I love this space! Very light and unobtrusive, but tucked away enough to be able to concentrate and be productive. That mirror is gorgeous. 🙂

  4. January 23 12:58 pm

    I like all of the white…so fresh looking.

  5. January 23 10:24 pm

    Will have to send you a photo of the desk I bought at a garage sale that is on wheels so I can move it around!! Best $20 I ever spent. LOL

  6. January 28 9:59 am

    Looks fabulous – I love all the white. (You are the colour!) I bet this desk must be great used as an impromptu bar or buffet?

    • January 29 10:53 pm

      Well aren’t you clever, Modmissy! Great idea re. extra party layout space. I’ve never done that and am always short on space when I entertain. Thanks for the idea!

  7. January 29 9:39 pm

    Aw I am loving the mirror and its sentimentality! How cool. I also really like that desk chair and those metal cubes are so clever! I have been selling vintage items online for a little while while now and I quarrel with whether I should create a permanent space in my home designated for product photography. It would save a lot of time but at the same time, my apartment isn’t very big so there isn’t a great space for it and it’s not the most attractive set-up. So for now, I’m hauling stuff back and forth from the basement. 🙂

    Great post!

    • January 29 10:52 pm

      Thanks, Amberly. I feel for you. I know from experience it’s often tough to eke out enough space in a small living space for all of one’s business and life’s tasks! That’s where creativity and flexibility come in.


  1. how i work NOW & IDS 2016 | saf affect

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