We need to talk about your flair
July 31, 2018 2:03 PM   Subscribe

For the first time in my career, I have a private office, yay! It's in the basement and windowless, though, boo! What can I do to make it less depressing?

It is a rectangular room, about 10 x 15 feet. Currently, there is a largish L-shaped wood desk against one corner of the rectangle, a tall (5 shelf) wood bookcase, and a two-drawer wood filing cabinet (the kind that takes hanging folders). Standard office fluorescent lighting.

Assume no departmental funds for new furnishings, and limited personal budget (I'm on an academic salary, remember). I'm just looking for ways to make my space cozy and productive.
posted by basalganglia to Work & Money (20 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
In my first windowless office, I had two tiki torches held up in buckets of sand, one on each side of the desk, with battery-powered candles in them so they looked like flames, with an Ikea oversized poster of an island sunset on it. The rest of the office basically themes itself after that. Hawaiian music is a real de-stresser...
posted by answergrape at 2:10 PM on July 31, 2018 [6 favorites]

Instead of the fluorescent lights, use several lamps- much cozier. Fake plants and/or posters of the outside world might offset the lack of windows somewhat...
posted by pinochiette at 2:14 PM on July 31, 2018 [9 favorites]

You need lamps, so you don’t have to use the fluorescent lighting. Lamps are SO MUCH better.

I love your title.
posted by Weeping_angel at 2:15 PM on July 31, 2018 [6 favorites]

Many indoor plants do well with fluorescent office lighting. Also, if there's only overhead fluorescent lighting, an incandescent floor/table lamp can make a big difference.

IKEA often has nice prints of foliage or plants. That can really brighten things up as well.

Christmas string lights can also cheer up a space - you can hang them or put them in vases. They'll be readily available in a few months - get them with white strings and make sure you get "warm white" bulbs.
posted by quince at 2:15 PM on July 31, 2018 [2 favorites]

Decent lighting would be my #1 (and 2, and 3) priority in that situation. Multiple lamps, multiple wattages, multiple locations. And a rug, if there's any money left over. (I'd triple check with facilities that ventilation was in order.)
posted by cotton dress sock at 2:15 PM on July 31, 2018

Okay, we all agree on lighting. Lol.

If you can afford it, a nice coffee maker and a comfy (but still attractive) chair are nice. And a small fridge.
posted by Weeping_angel at 2:19 PM on July 31, 2018

I share a big office in a basement with no need to worry about being public facing. We painted our office a fun color, and put a mural of clouds and blue sky on one wall. We also turn off one of the sets of overhead lights and use desk lamps. One person has a lot of her children's artwork up, and another person and I have reused props to hold various decorative and fannish items or things we've found on campus (Funco Pop figurines, small rubber ducks, a weird clay vase we found wedged inside a sculpture, artwork by other employees, photos). We also put up magnets and postcards or other flat artwork on our file cabinets. Also also there are some alphabet letters that spell out various things and some magnetic poetry that gets rearranged from time to time.
posted by PussKillian at 2:27 PM on July 31, 2018

I have successfully kept a large sansevierius plant alive in a windowless (home) office. Water no more than once a month--it likes it if you forget sometimes.
posted by snorkmaiden at 2:27 PM on July 31, 2018

I generally avoid "nesting" because I dislike clutter and also I would feel silly if I were suddenly laid off. So, I aim for function, with the added ability to quickly put my personal belongings in a box if I were ever axed. I think part of my attitude comes from having been a freelancer and a remote worker for so long -- alls I need is my laptop.

In the offices I have inhabited, I generally tend to put up a map of some kind, since it's interesting to look at during long conference calls. I also make sure I have good chairs for visitors, a potted plant of some kind and a power bar (I really hate crawling under a desk to plug in something).

But I really hate doing any kind of decorating or other kinds of nesting. It would make a layoff so much more depressing.
posted by JamesBay at 2:43 PM on July 31, 2018

Do you have access to a bathroom? this thing brightens my day every time I see it turn on. Wash those hands with rainbow water!

It fits on most regular sink aerateor threads. Even if the bathroom isn’t yours, it’s a fun thing to have around.
posted by furnace.heart at 3:12 PM on July 31, 2018 [1 favorite]

Decorate it like you would a living room - a rug, warm colorful art, lamps. Get some sort of diffuser and use a scent you like. Use a small bluetooth speaker to play music that makes you feel calm, comfortable, and productive. You could also get a desk sun lamp, but I'm not sure that those do really work as a replacement for actual sunshine.
posted by Everydayville at 3:53 PM on July 31, 2018 [3 favorites]

Me and my coworkers are always this close to buying some cheap ridiculously fun wall tapestry from this site to hang up in our boring drab office.
posted by foxfirefey at 4:41 PM on July 31, 2018

MeFites gave me some great ideas on a similar question here. I moved out of that office two years ago, but still have a thriving, happy little marimo. And cree lightbulbs are the best.
posted by MrBobinski at 5:23 PM on July 31, 2018

Can't recommend a nice colorful rug enough to make a barren, institutional small space feel warm and cozy. When I lived in a shipping container I acquired a big red Persian-style rug and it really made the place feel homey and welcoming. The transformation cannot be overstated.
posted by Hal Mumkin at 7:00 PM on July 31, 2018 [2 favorites]

You might want to consider a full spectrum light. Being stuck in a windowless space for long periods of times might be somewhat depressing due to the lack of sunlight. A full spectrum light may assist in this (it's a pro-tip from someone who used to live in the Pacific Northwest, where SAD is a real and present danger).
posted by el io at 7:09 PM on July 31, 2018 [3 favorites]

We had a neighbor who put up some painted window frames on a basement wall with no windows. He put cheap bamboo blinds behind them, and some rope light (LED) around the inside edge. When lit, they looked like real windows! Maybe a small window done like this could provide a similar illusion?
posted by dbmcd at 8:09 PM on July 31, 2018 [3 favorites]

I have lots of things stuck up all over the walls of my office. They are a mixture of: colour printouts of photos I took; brightly coloured abstract-patterned wrapping paper; cheap prints I got at a museum; greeting cards/birthday cards/other cards people have given me with nice pictures on them; pretty bookmarks; free postcards and/or postcards people have sent me; pictures from at least two calendars, plus one year for Kris Kringle I was given a page-a-day art calendar of works held by The Met; origami. Basically, lots of colour and different things to look at. They are all stuck together any-old-how in a sort of crazy quilt effect. They don't always fit neatly together and are not arranged in any kind of order, plus I can add/remove/rearrange as I want to. Probably the most expensive aspect of this kind of decoration was the blu-tack.
posted by Athanassiel at 11:03 PM on July 31, 2018

Wallpaper or cover one wall with a large daylight scene print eg - this lake situation, or this skyscape, or just a beautiful light blue paint. Put a simple lengthways reflective panel or mirror on the wall opposite.
posted by freya_lamb at 3:29 AM on August 1, 2018

The very first thing that came to my mind was a large picture that looks like you're looking out of a window. This is my sense of humor though.
posted by Sara_NOT_Sarah at 5:36 AM on August 1, 2018

I too had a basement academic office. It's cheep table lamps or cheep pole lamps. They did wonders for the gateway to hell (that's what people called it).
posted by james33 at 7:39 AM on August 1, 2018

« Older How do you buy a used cargo bike in New England?   |   Choux me your desserts Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.