Archive for August 31st, 2011

August 31, 2011

Hip to be Square

by Cait

I don’t know how many of you work in a cubicle every day, but for me 40+ hours a week in at a drab desk with standard-issue tan cube walls makes me just a little bit crazy. It also makes me a little bit jealous of all of those full-time bloggers, freelancers, business owners and telecommuters. I had to stop reading Apartment Therapy because I couldn’t take seeing one more pretty office. My little cube just couldn’t compete.

It’s not like I haven’t tried to dress the place up a bit. I added fun accessories to my desk, changed my computer background to something cheerful, considered getting a plant for my desk (and then a faux plant, after I killed all the real plants in our house). It worked for a while, but then one day when they were working on the front office building at work I walked out of my window-less cube in the back of the warehouse to see this:

did someone order a pallet o’ West Elm?

Yes, that is a pallet of West Elm Parsons Desks. There was also a smaller stack of tables. It might have been the most beautiful thing I had ever seen if I wasn’t so busy being jealous and enraged.

I tried to forget about it. I tried to focus on working, and spend my time away from work making our house into the kind of inspiring space you see splashed across decorating magazines and blog house tours. I tried to tell myself I didn’t even want a Parsons desk (“Where would I even put things? There’s hardly any drawer space!”) That worked for a while, too. Work was work, a place where I put on blinders and tried to pretend I didn’t spend almost every waking second thinking about paint colors, fabric swatches, furniture and design boards. A coworker and I dubbed the recently completed front office building Swankyville, and I vowed never to go there. Even after hearing the rumors about coffee that wasn’t 40 cents a cup . And especially after learning that my ID badge won’t even open the door to Swankyville!

Finally one day I had a reason to go over to Swankyville. After having my coworker use his badge to let me in, I sat waiting for my interview. I allowed myself to look around at the warehouse-chic breakroom, with its matte black ceiling, dark furniture, and stainless appliances. Just for a second I imagined myself working in the surrounding offices and far nicer cubicles. I even snapped a terrible iPhone picture (which it came out horribly blurry, thanks to the glare from the freaking atrium with picnic tables and the idea of being caught being that girl who takes pictures of the breakroom).

I spy with my little eye, a lot of West Elm furniture.

Since the photo came out so poorly, I threw together a quick design board with the furniture (and vases, which are not pictured) they used.

 

West Elm Overlapping Squares Bar Stool; West Elm Scoop-back Bar Stool; West Elm Klismos Dining ChairWest Elm Round Dining Table with Cutout LegsWest Elm Hive Vase

Back over in… whatever the opposite of Swankyville is, I looked around my cube. Maybe I don’t have West Elm furniture, maybe I won’t be working in Swankyville, and security sure as heck won’t let me in the building with much else to spruce the place up with (they give my paper bag the stink eye daily), but I can probably at least pull off CB2 chic. Even if I am on more of an Ikea, Target and Amazon kind of budget.

Aladdin To-Go Tumbler Clear; Ceramic Greek Coffee Cup; Black & Decker 5 Cup Coffee Maker; Tape Dispenser; Red Swingline; San Fran Tumbler

I have tried to deck my desk out with fun pops of color to keep me sane during the work week. A few of them have been on my desk since I started this job over two years ago, like the ceramic Greek coffee cup, my red Swingline, and my cassette tape dispenser. I added a plastic tumbler (similar to the San Fran one, though mine actually has leaves on it) as a  pen cup. My mom gave me a heart-shaped box made from recycled magazines, and I thought it would be a cheerful reminder of home, so I use it as paper clip holder. Up until a recent company email preventing us from having coffee makers I had this Black & Decker 5 cup on my desk, which got me through a lot of overtime last year. Since I have to bring (or buy) coffee now, I thought an Aladdin tumbler like this one would be nice for the tail end of summer and iced coffee (I haven’t actually decided which one I want yet, I might just buy whatever I find at HomeGoods).

Other than the things pictured, I just try to pick up things I think are cute (and usually cheap). I have a little Florida license plate with my name on it, the VW that popped out of one of my car’s center caps a few years ago, some pins with funny sayings, a small yellow desk fan.

What do you keep on your desk (at home, or the office)? Anything other than basic office supplies?

PS- I’m sure this post sounds like I hate my job. That isn’t true. I’m thankful to have a steady income, and a job where I get to use some of the skills I went to school for. Is this the job I want to work the rest of my life? No. But I do feel fortunate to have a job, even if it’s one that makes me want to strive for more.