DIY Home Decor

Inexpensive Home Office Solutions

So, it seems that many of us have had to convert some corner of our home into a home office. It was one thing to have a temporary space set up for remote work in March… when we all thought there was an end in sight. But now, you may need to start thinking about how to create a space for yourself or your child to get work done. Hopefully, this space will be temporary… and it doesn’t make sense to go out and spend a ton of money on it. Here are a few of mine and Thrifty Ellen’s favorite inexpensive, but stylish home office solutions.

Ten Budget Solutions for your Home Office

  1.  Rethink surfaces.  Can you create a new workspace out of things you already have?  I repurposed some metal garage storage shelves and wood planks to make a DIY standing desk. I did it because it was FREE and I can always turn it back into a garage shelf, but I’ve kind of grown attached to it. Look around your own home.  Could you turn a craft table, an old door, or a coffee table into a desk?
A metal storage shelf with some nice wood on top makes an excellent adjustable height desk. The holes were in the wood already and are convenient for cords!
  1. Repurpose tin cans as desk accessories.  I used some empty bean cans, contact paper and copper tape to make pretty pen and pencil holders.
Tin cans covered in contact paper are great for pens and pencils. The shorter one is from a condensed milk can.
  1. Turn an old cookie sheet into a magnetic memo board like Thrifty Ellen did. Some spraypaint and contact paper and you have a cute place to hang things that you need close by or to put pictures that inspire you.
Cookie sheet magnet board
A cookie sheet spray painted with some contact paper makes an awesome magnetic memo board.
  1. Make your own chalkboard.  I used an old cabinet door and painted the inside with chalkboard paint.  You could easily use an old picture frame or paint that cookie sheet to make a magnetic chalkboard. 
Cabinet door turned into chalkboard
This was an unused cabinet door. I painted the inside with chalkboard paint and it became a chore chart. TIP: I wrote the chores with a chalk pen and I check them off with regular chalk that easily erases.
  1. Reuse items you have! This should really be number one.  Maybe you have a pretty vase or bowl just collecting dust.  You can put that item to use to hold pens/pencils/post-its etc.  There is something so satisfying about finding a better use for something you already own.  It is like putting the last piece into a puzzle. 
Milk glass pen holder and nicknack tray.
Thrifty Ellen collects milkglass and repurposed some to hold her desk necessities (yes, a seashell is a desk necessity . . . She needs to remember what she is working for).
  1. Put up a dry-erase board anywhere. You can use dry-erase cling film to create a dry erase board wherever you need it. The cling film is slightly more expensive than the contact paper type, but you know that it won’t leave any residue on your walls.
  2. DIY magazine covers—you can make magazine covers out of old cereal boxes, or if you have some but don’t like the color, you can cover it in contact paper.
  3. Organization boxes—IKEA sells inexpensive boxes for a few dollars.  They are perfect for organizing materials for your office and anywhere else in your home. They neatly stow things that I’d rather not look at. 
  1. USB extension cord—I needed to plug in multiple devices at my desk and so bought a little USB extension cord that allows me to charge several things at once.  I like that it is less bulky than other types of extension cords but allows me to charge my phone, iPad, and to use my tiny USB powered fan. 
Handy USB extension cord
This handy cord makes charging a snap and you can see my “splurge” purchase in the background. I can use it to time my Facebook breaks?
  1. Splurge—Buy at least one thing that makes you happy and excited to sit at your desk.  It doesn’t need to be really expensive or even practical, but it is nice to have something that makes you want to sit down at your desk and get work done.  For me, it was a random sand timer, filled with gold baubles and my biggest splurge, a comfy chair for those times when I can’t sit at my desk any longer.  For Thrifty Ellen it was her fun chair cover and her cute mouse pad (seen above).  
DIY Home Decor

Science Nerd Gallery Wall

I love a well done gallery wall and I love unabashed nerdery.  However, I do realize that my love of animals, insects, and other natural oddities can be a bit over the top for the general public.  So, I turned a corner of my craft room into my own personal science gallery wall.  The best part is that it was inexpensive home decor project, as I have been collecting my items over the years.  The key to creating my science gallery wall is that I always keep an eye out at second-hand stores for books and frames that have potential to be repurposed as thrifty home decor.

The best part is that this microscope still works!!

The microscope on the shelf came from the old codger (aka my Dad) when he was working on a house and the homeowners were throwing it out.  So, if you do like nerdy things, you can’t be too in the closet about it, as you won’t have others keeping an eye out for spectacular finds for you.  The insect collection I got when I worked at a museum and they were clearing out old collections and I got a whole box all about bugs! You could make your own insect collection, if you aren’t too squeamish about killing insects. Personally, unless it is a mosquito (or a termite) I try to avoid intentional insecticide. So, enough chatting, read on below to get tips on creating your own nerd gallery.

Top ten Nerd Gallery tips:

  1. Keep an eye out for old books! They have the best pictures, especially old scout handbooks.
  2. Scour your local second hand stores for nice frames.  Don’t worry about the color as you can spray paint them.
  3. Do you know anyone that works at a museum? A school? A library?  Let them know what you are looking for as you never know when closets will get cleaned out.
Moth and Insects in resin
I scored these when a museum I worked at was cleaning out the archives!
  1. Hit up your local flea markets. Keep an eye out for unusual things like wood carvings, feathers, old weather instruments (just be wary of thermometers with mercury in them!)
  2. Yard Sales and estate sales have so many possibilities! 
  3. Do you have older relatives that might need help cleaning out a basement or an attic? I remember when I was younger that everyone seemed to decorate with owls.  I thought it was odd, but now I’d love to get my hands on that owl lamp my old neighbor had. 
  4. Take a hike! No kidding.  I have found some really cool fossils and rocks in my wanderings (just double check the park’s regulations before you take anything).
  5. Make nerdy friends! I had a friend that had his Ph.D. in lightning physics and he gave me a fulgurite-which is sand that has fused because it was struck by lightning.  It is awesome.  I had another biologist friend that gave me a horseshoe crab exoskeleton.  Also, really cool! 
Horseshoe Crab and Fulgurite
In the front is the fulgurite in all its glory and in the back is the horseshoe crab exoskeleton.
  1. For free printable plant images check out the USDA’s special collections.
  2. If you are looking for animal diagrams or cool line drawings check out the Biodiversity Heritage Library.  You will need to be a little patient with your searching, but they have some really cool stuff!

So, that is it.  I hope that this might inspire you to embrace your inner nerd and proudly display your nerdery in all of its finery. 

Nerd Gallery Wall
This small corner brings me so much joy, as it proudly displays my nerdery for all to see.