Thrifty Chicks: Love what you do, love where you do it with workspace home makeover
by Markeshia Ricks
Special to The Star
Aug 18, 2013 | 3666 views |  0 comments | 34 34 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Cheer up a home workspace with personal touches like photos and keepsakes. Photo: Special to The Star
Cheer up a home workspace with personal touches like photos and keepsakes. Photo: Special to The Star
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At the Thrifty Palace there is only one place more popular than our kitchen and couch — our basement. Until recently it was the place where we stored the little bit of junk we have, the place where we worked out and the place where Reese occasionally worked on her dissertation.

But now that I am self-employed and work from home, the need to draw a line between where I work and play is paramount. Besides, after about two weeks of working from the couch and falling asleep most nights on said couch, I realized I was spending too much time on the couch.

At my previous place of employment, I’d had a stand up desk that I loved. In fact, my “office-thigh jiggle,” a condition I am convinced office workers develop from sitting at their desks all day, was starting to dissipate because I spent the majority of my days standing up.

I had no plans to develop “couch-thigh jiggle” and wanted to recreate the magic of a stand-up work space at home. I decided that the opposite corner of the basement would be as good a place as any to create my own home office, for little to no cost. If you didn’t know, stand-up desks start at about $500 and can cost more than $1,000. Spending that kind of money at the Thrifty Palace is not a part of Operation Do Better, and even if it were, we could think of far better ways to spend that kind of cash. Luckily, we had everything we needed to make such a project possible.

All you need, really, is some cinder blocks and leftover scrap wood to create a flat surface. We already had a number of Sterilite modular drawers in the basement and I used them to provide further support to the blocks. I covered the scrap wood in leftover fabric. Put up a piece of cork liner decorated with pictures, quotes and keepsakes — and presto! I have an office space I love. The other perk is when I get bored, I can hula hoop or bellydance to pass the time and burn some calories as the majority of the space between my corner of the basement and Reese’s corner is still our personal fitness studio. Total cost: $0.

Reese had already carved out her own corner of the basement, but she hadn’t really done anything to make the space her own. I knew she was going to be on assignment shooting engagement photos for friends and I got a wild hair to really jazz up her side of the room so that she might be inspired to go down there and work. I also knew she was tired of her binders full of papers not having a permanent home, and valuable real estate on her small desk was being eaten up by her printer.

Fortunately, we had an extra piece of wood I knew would work as a tabletop for her printer and a few framed photos and keepsakes. We had two smaller Sterilite modular drawers left over from my project, but I didn’t think they would be sturdy enough for the printer. A box of books we’re supposed to go through at some point provided the perfect amount of stability and I covered the wood in a leftover piece of fabric from Reese’s window seat project. I also repurposed an extra shutter she’d purchased a while back for her headboard project as a space for her to pin notes and pictures and picked up some inexpensive metal clips and these cute little buckets at Target for additional storage. All together this thrifty transformation cost about $10.

We plan to add more lighting because the basement is rather dark with just two bare bulbs and a lamp. The blank canvases we call walls will soon be covered with vibrant, inspiring quotes and a world map to chart our thrifty travels. I’d also like to put a cute rug down on my side and I suggested we add some spray paint, which we have an abundance of, to Reese’s basic black desk. All of these additions are inexpensive ways to make our basement a much more inviting, user-friendly space.

Transforming a space with multiple uses can be a big, challenging project that’s hard to visualize, but my best advice is to stay focused on what the space will be used for and then decorate with what you have on hand.

Besides, if you hate it, you can always change it.
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