Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Design Advice Needed!

I'm about to have an office for the first time in my entire life! It's going to be a major upgrade. I'm currently sharing one open room with seven other people (and frequently at least one sick child on our little sick bed). Plus my chair bumps into the back of another person. It's a tight squeeze!

I want to make the very best use of the space. I always try to start with function. How do I want to use the space? 
  1. My desk, obviously. I think I want it facing out into the room so I can see the rest of the office and don't feel so isolated. This will be a change for me. My desks almost always push up against a wall. I should be open to pushing it up against a wall, though. That would create a lot more space!
  2. Plants, plants, plants. But how? On little shelves attached to the wall? From ceiling planters? In big pots on the floor? All of the above? 
  3. Books, books, books. I have so many educational books. 
Wait, what if I don't have a desk at all? What if I have a dining room table instead? I could easily work there with my lap top. Then, others could come in for meetings and join me at the table! Do I really need a desk? It seems like desks just collect stuff unnecessarily. Am I missing something? I do want to be able to easily reach things like paperclips, pens, stapler, tape, and post it notes. But it feels like I could put those things close by to my table somehow. Oh, I guess I will also have my own phone for the first time. 

If I went with the table instead of a desk idea, I could then have a chaise lounge for when I need to do comfy work (e.g., I frequently have to design curriculum for hours at a time). It's an interesting idea! 

I can barely find any resources about this. I found one article. I can't find any books on it. Isn't there some kind of workplace planner? Some kind of questionnaires? Recommendations?

Okay, I am stressing about this way too much. I just want to make the most of this opportunity! 

(P.S. In case you are wondering, I will be paying for the bulk of this stuff on my own--by saving up my personal allowance. I will only have a modest furniture allowance from the school.)

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Nora said...

Steelcase publishes "Workplace Futures" with research on design, including for ed settings.

One Room Math said...

In my classroom I have a table that I sit at with small groups and use for desk-type work (paperwork, etc.) I sit with my back to the wall and behind me is a long, low shelf unit with paper trays, stapler, tape, paperclips, etc. all sitting on top. I love it!

Sara E. Cotner said...

I'll check it out, Nora!

Love that idea, One Room Math! I was also thinking I could just have a tray with all my office supplies sitting on the end of the table. I could easily move it if I needed to!

Kelsey said...

I would highly recommend an adjustable standing desk (goes from sitting to standing desk). I have had one for a few years at work and LOVE it - I stand for several hours each day and I feel more energized and healthier. You might be up walking around a lot throughout your day so maybe it wouldn't be as important but if you do a lot of desk time I would recommend it. A key thing is to get a high quality, squishy gel mat to stand on. I slip off my shoes and stand in my no-show socks on my gel mat. Sometimes I even do little exercises like calf raises or moving my feet - it feels really good to not spend 8+ hours each day sitting and being inactive. A comfy place to sit like a couch or two chairs would also be nice. I think some large art prints and plants would make it inviting. Oh! And lighting that isn't overhead lighting makes a big difference - table or floor lamps. Can't wait to see the space!

Sara E. Cotner said...

Hi, Kelsey! I feel like the laziest person in the world because I cannot imagine standing for one more second of the day than I have to. Maybe it's because I gave birth to a 9.4-pound and 10.3-pound baby and always feel like my pelvic floor is going to fall out? BUT, I totally hear that other people love the standing desk concept. I'm thinking we'll make a little station of standing desks so folks who want to use it can grab their laptops and head over. And we will definitely order the gel pads. Great idea! Thanks so much! When are you coming to Austin again? Come see us!

One Room Math said...

Yes, the tray! I do have one of those plastic tote trays with the handle in the middle on my table that I slide to the side or move over to the shelf if needed. It has empty jars for pencils, markers, a calculator, etc.

Abigail said...

This is exciting!
I know I'm a bit late - I don't let myself do much outside of school when I'm in it. But, I'm on break! So, I hope any information I can pass on will be helpful (I'm studying to be an interior designer).
I don't know how much space you have, but I'll try to throw out some ideas based on the information you gave in this blog post :)

1) Definitely, have your desk/table/chair setup facing the rest of the room; it creates openness and a willingness to communicate/collaborate. If you have the space, use an L-shaped desk! Extra working space, and you can have a space for working on your own, and a space for collaboration. If you place it so the corner of the desk is in the corner of the room, you can also create a larger, sitting collaboration area, if that's more your thing.

2) Plants! Pots on the floor invite mess - whether from bumping, watering, or children exploring. Shelves (in my opinion) would be best. Decorate your walls as much as you can, and minimize floor usage; that keeps the space open and lessens the idea of clutter - something I think you appreciate.

3) Books! Floating shelves are great for displaying, but it depends on what kind of look you're going for. If you have a lot of plants, good continuity throughout the space would lean towards wooden book shelves. If you can find the IKEA Kallax ones, you can utilize bins and other modules in them for better storage.

4) Other notes: don't be afraid to go up! If your space is small, use height and wall storage to your advantage. If you don't have windows for natural light, put some larger light fixtures in, with multiple lamps, so you get the atmosphere of a brightly-lit space. Invest in a comfortable chair; if you can't do the chaise lounge (or at least not right away), a higher quality chair will do wonders for longer days of sitting. Standing desks are great, but sometimes it is nice to just *sit*.

I hope this was helpful and didn't come off as preachy or pushy. I can't wait to see what you make with the space!

Sara E. Cotner said...

Thank you so much, Abigail! I appreciate all your advice!

Have a wonderful break!

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