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Friday, June 24, 2011

Erika Ward's Advice For Your Home Office Needs

Welcome Erika Ward from Erika Ward Interiors!

As a young girl, I was a complete bookworm and loved to write. My all time dream was to become a journalist, but it wasn't until my teen years that I fell in love with interior design. At home, surrounded by decorators and an accomplished architect, is where I learned that God made us all creators. I was also taught how to help others enjoy the work of their hands and soon, myself, formed the heart of a teacher.A formal degree in design managed to elude me in college where I received a degree in Finance from The University of Georgia. That degree afforded me the opportunity to work for well known design/build firms and to manage multi-million dollar construction budgets. Being in the environment of design and construction made my heart yearn even more for a full time career in design. I took the next step and enrolled and completed coursework in Interior Design at American InterContinental University.  In 2005, I established Erika Ward Interiors and never looked back.
Carol Burnside aka Annie Rayburn, Melissa Smith, Paige W. Pendleton, Delaney Diamond, Carol Kilgore, Donna @the House on the Corner, Christine, and Lindi asked how to reclaim their office, their muse, and their writing zen.
Check out our tips for helping them - and YOU! - reclaim their writing spaces and reenergize their creativity! DesignWrite->>

Carol Burnside aka Annie Rayburn, whose Bittersweet Obsessions has just released this month with Smashwords and Kindle and Nook (whew!), shares her office with everything else in the house that doesn't have its own spot yet. That's right - this busy author is in the spare room. But she has just settled in a new home after moving from Maryland to Arkansas, so she has a good opportunity to take her time and incorporate her office into her home in a truly organic way.
baker eclectic home office
Camouflage your office by incorporating it into your home's decor. Notice how this designer cleverly used similar fabrics and furnishings in the adjacent room blending the two spaces.

Home Office eclectic home office

                             How do you like this space Melissa Smith? 
Melissa moves from room to room to room with her laptop writing her novel, meeting her #wordmongering wordcount and her supportive writer's  blog, MissLisswriter. Maybe this pic will inspire an office space for your home.

"Let's get warmed up to the idea of repurposing the dining room by removing the table setting and all but one chair. Now you have the home office you've been wanting. Use a couple of drawers in the adjacent buffet for file storage. Return chairs to table when company arrives. Easy. Done."

Under the Tiki Hut
 Carol Kilgore is a writer in Texas and blogs at Under the Tiki Hut.  
Her dogs are kind enough to share their space with her.

>>>This sounds too simple, but camoflage the dog hair! You didn't think I'd tell you to actually clean, did you?!  If you have a black dog, stay away from light colors and whites --they are not your friend. PatternPatternPattern! 
  And if you need to claim your space, offer a pillow or a corner with their toys so they stay entertained. But you knew that already. I have a cat, so I'm lucky if she deigns to grace me with her presence when she's hungry or lonely. >>>So, guess I will offer the cleaning tip: if you're out of lint rollers & you want to sweep up the pet hair fast, get out the old latex household rubber gloves, the kind with the textured fingers. They sweep up that pet hair faster than you can say "Off the couch!"


Both Donna and Christine have space issues-  too much work on too small surfaces. Christine writes 'sassy contemporary romances with an emotional edge'  and writes the blog Digging out of Distraction. As a writer who needs to spread out hard copies to edit, she needs a big (big!) surface to work on. 

 Donna writes the blog, Donna's house on the Corner, all about running a peaceful though busy home. We met on the Tuesday Train Bloghop, and she always has charming photographs and stories about life in a small town. She collects, she scrapbooks, and I bet she coupons too-- all of which takes over the kitchen table, the dining room table, the desk... you get the idea.

>>> Don't settle for anything smaller than 30x60; that's the standard size of a receptionist's or secretary's desk. If you can buy one at an office furniture store with a return on one side (the surface that makes the 'L' shape)-- even better. 
But for DIY, you can buy a plain, unfinished hollow core interior door from the home supply megastore that will give you 30" to 36" of depth,  80"( 6' 8" ) of length. Mount  on top of bookcases, modular cubes, sawhorses.... You get the idea. This is a freestanding, portable version of the all white version pictured below. Great for students or renters.

"First, when seeking decorating inspiration, do not look to recreate the exact room you may see here or somewhere else. Really examine the space to accurately determine your needs.

Second, shop other areas of your home for furniture that may be useful in your office. Notice this homeowner uses a dining room buffet to house fabric and sewing notions."

Lockettes Inspiring Home eclectic home office

Feldman Architecture, San Francisco CA

Built In Version:  Use veneered or even laminate covered plywood and mount with brackets and a supporting ledge against the wall. The shelving is stock shelving, also available at home supply stores or department stores. Makes an ideal built in for a narrow space. 

For CJ, who will not be blinking for the next year. And that link will take you to a post that will make you cry. >>> Reclaiming an abandoned bedroom with a typical long narrow closet? That adorable writing or extra small  student desk would fit perfectly in here: 

Replace the doors with a tension rod & drapes. Power up that back wall so you can plug that copier IN the wall, without power cords running everywhere! An alternative to the lamp is a fluorescent strip -- the kind that runs along kitchen cabinet bottoms. It can plug into the wall as well- just watch your outlet placement.

 Delaney Diamond,  Fight for Love
  Lindi Peterson, Her Best Catch

Two high powered authors with busy lives who need to unplug, unwind, rest and rejuvenate their creative minds.
 With a book release comes a whirlwind of blog tours, book signings and book club visits, along with keeping up  your blog, your website, your Facebook page and Twitter accounts.... 
AND your day job! 
No wonder Lindi's got a disaster area and wants some soothing color, and Delaney needs an ergonomically designed chair and keyboard -- both of these are whole posts on their own.

 >>>Sometimes you just have to get zen, and a bubble bath isn't handy.
Make a tranquil space somewhere in your home. Clear out EVERYTHING (I mean EVERYTHING) 
and give yourself the Luxury of Space and Light. 
Limit accessories and furnishings to your three favorite things.
Be amazed at how clearly you can concentrate, how relaxed you  feel,  how easily you  solve those plot twists and pesky character arcs.
It doesn't have to be Asian. 
It just has to...                                      be.

 Last but the best of all:

"Refresh your color scheme by recovering pillows or reupholstering chair cushions." 

>>>> What could be simpler? Delaney, this ergonomic chair project is for you! I know I know... those office chairs are u g l y. But with a screwdriver, a staple gun, some time and patience, and maybe a hunky wrestler to help you keep track of all the hardware you'll be disassembling, you too can achieve the results here:

>Writers everywhere! You want this chair! Back adjustments, height adjustments, casters.
No sewing - just a screwdriver, a staple gun, and time. Just don't lose any of the screws you remove- you'll need them to put it all back together again.
Ergonomic, Economic, and Eco  Friendly Genius! 

Got more inspired ideas? Questions? Suggestions? Leave them in the comments or tweet them to @PamelaVMason or @ErikaatBluLabel with #designwrite.   
We know, we both have long twitter names. If it's a long one, you may have to dm or email me.

Join us for #designwrite on Twitter! @PamelaVMason and @ErikaatBluLabel are there and we love to tweet and retweet! You don't have to wait on a blog post or a chat -- just follow us on Twitter, tweet a question or problem with the hashtag #designwrite, and we'll do our best to answer your questions right away on Twitter. I'll collect the questions and repost them here on my blog for another post like this, so spread the word to your followers and friends on Facebook. 

@ErikaatBluLabel also participates in #homeoffice chat on Twitter - Follow to find her there! 


  1. Thanks for the tip, Erika! I'm off to your website to get more ideas.

  2. These are great ideas that make me really want to do something better with my bonus room office by day, TV room by night! I've got some of the pieces I want but there's also some that have to go. And I need paint! Weekend project? Thanks for the great post!

  3. Delaney, There are so many great tips and info on her site! Book.Mark.It.

    Leslie, Glad you like the ideas here! What color paint are you thinking of?

  4. Excitement is taking hold for transforming my 'spare room' into "Carol's DOMAIN" with a lovely Do Not Disturb sign! I've chosen a spa-like light aqua, a lighter shade of the bright aqua in the nearby guest bathroom. I have 216" white sheer scarves to drape around the two windows for a feminine touch.

    Thank goodness the room comes with a large closet, 5.5'x10.5' with shelving running the length of one wall. I'm turning it into my sewing 'room', plus storing my office supplies out of sight.

  5. Hey, I sent out another quick tweet about this post - great advice and tips, BTW! I'll Check out Erika's site more next week. I've got company today and throughout the weekend, plus blogging on PFHT. Gotta run...

  6. This is great stuff! Love the first photo, too, because my office opens to the entryway.

  7. Love that color scheme Carol! I have a deep shade of aqua-more like turquoise- with apple green and black accents. The white sheers sound airy and light-- nice!
    And thanks for spreading the word!

    Carol Kilgore-- I love how that office faces the entryway and living room. You're not disconnected from family life that way. Thanks for dropping by!

    I'm thinking CONTEST! Hmmm....

  8. I love the suggestions in this blog for repurposing spaces. I also love what you did with the ugly chair. Are there instructions?

    Thanks for all the great ideas!

  9. Oh man! So sorry for missing the party yesterday…grin…

    Awesome ideas. I LOVE the rubber glove tip and camouflaging the area. Have both a cat and a dog. I’m lucky to have a separate room for my work area (using the formal dining room – which we don’t use as a formal dining room), but I’m still using one of those cheap plywood desks that looks similar to the credenza in one of the pictures above. I have stuff stacked everywhere because I have just not made creating the writing space a priority. LOTS of terrific ideas here. I am definitely going to have to start making some changes.

    Adding the #designwrite link to my Tweetdeck!!!

    Thanks for a very informative post.


  10. Christine- no instructions, but have you ever covered the seats on dining chairs? Very similar: A staple gun & screwdriver are all you need.
    Once you find the screws and take apart the office chair, all you need to do is cut and fit and staple that fabric over the seat & back and hold taut as you staplestaplestaple away. That's where the brawny guy comes in handy! Then, just reassemble, and tuck as needed. This is NOT what a professional upholsterer would do, BUT this is not going to cost you anything either (but time & fabric, natch).
    Wonder where that fabric is available?

  11. Tami,
    You are just in time! I never have a lint roller when I need one- this rubber glove tip grew from desperation when I had even run out of masking tape! And with all that you have going on, you are going to have to carve out that time! Once you give yourself an afternoon or weekend to declutter, organize, and set your space up to work for you, you'll wonder how you ever managed to function before!
    Yippee! TweetDeck column for #designwrite!
    See You There.

  12. Ohhh I've been needing to re-do my office, and this is very inspiring! Thanks for all the wonderful ideas. :)

  13. Some really nice interiors here. Thanks for sharing them.


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