I realize this is not my typical “Car Chick” blog post. Amidst buying cars, producing videos and recording podcasts, I managed to redesign my home office this summer. I casually posted pictures to my personal social media as I went along, and I was surprised by how many people enjoyed watching the project unfold. Many wanted to know more about the how’s and why’s of the redesign, so I decided to document the transformation, as well as some unexpected life lessons that I learned in the process.
PART 1: WHY I DECIDED TO CONVERT MY DINING ROOM TO A HOME OFFICE
When I purchased my current home in 2003, I was newly divorced and still working as an IT project manager in Corporate America. Although I worked in a traditional, commercial office, I designated a secondary bedroom in my home as a computer / catch-all storage room. When I left Corporate America in 2006 and started my car buying company, I continued to use that office without any real thought to design or organization. As the needs of my business grew, I simply added more stuff to the room.
While the space was reasonably functional, it was far from inspiring. It felt heavy, with very little natural light. The corner desk gave me a lot of work space, but it faced two bland walls covered in messy cork boards. A clunky metal file cabinet (another $20 craigslist find) was full to the point of bursting and not easily accessible from the desk. The shelving units were horribly cluttered, and you don’t even want to know about the closet! I wanted to use the room as a film studio, but there simply wasn’t enough space.
Bottom line – I hated the space. I didn’t even want to go in there. My motivation and productivity suffered, and I was truly depressed. I didn’t realize until after my new office was complete just how much my depression was tied to the old, crappy work space.
DINING ROOM CONVERSION
I had entertained the idea of converting my formal dining room into an office for a few years. I loved the formal space with the deep red walls (which took 4 coats of paint!) and the mission-style furniture I had purchased over 20 years ago when I bought my first house. But, I only used the room once a year – max. I don’t do any formal entertaining. I don’t even cook. It was wasted space, and I knew it would make a great home office. A large, south-facing window gives the room a ton of natural light, and it is separated from the rest of the living area by a long front hallway.
Yet the thought redesigning it for use as a home office was overwhelming. What would I do with the dining furniture? Would anyone want to buy it? If I sold it, where would I store the china and all of the other crap that accumulated over the past 20 years?
I finally told myself – just take the first step. Snap some pictures, and put the furniture up for sale on Craigslist. I figured it would take several weeks or even months to sell, so the conversion project would be something I could take slowly, one step at a time.
Yeah right. The dining furniture sold in 32 minutes. Literally. A nice couple from Spartanburg had just moved into an Arts & Crafts style home and had been searching for that exact style of furniture. They drove up that Saturday afternoon, handed me cash and hauled it all away. It was meant to be.
The accelerated time table forced me to do some quick cleaning and organizing. I sorted everything into categories of “keep”, “donate” and “trash”. Turns out, I have plenty of storage space. I just needed to throw away a bunch of crap and reorganize!
Procrastination is all about fear. Fear that you can’t do it. Fear that it will be hard, tiring and/or unpleasant. If something seems daunting and overwhelming, just take the first step. Then the next. And the next. Let go of old things that don’t serve you anymore. By letting go of the past, you open yourself up to a new and exciting future.
Stay tuned for more posts on The Car Chick’s home office redesign…