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I recently announced that I’m leaving Earn Spend Live because I’m starting law school. In preparation for what will undoubtedly be the hardest three years of my life, I decided to treat myself by fixing up my home office. Because I’m sure it will be where I spend the majority of my time studying, I wanted it to be a room I at least enjoyed existing in.
Whether you need a home office for studying, working, or just because you want one, here are some tips to maximize your budget and make sure you’re not spending money on things you shouldn’t be.
SPLURGE: Your Desk
Desks are one of those things that you get what you pay for. If you want something made with high-quality materials and is sturdy enough to last you, then you’re going to have to accept the price tag. In college, I found a desk for under $100 that I had to put together myself. It did last me through all four years — but barely. And let me tell you, it sure did feel good to replace it with this beautiful mirrored desk that’s actually big enough to hold all of my things and doesn’t precariously wobble around every time I bump into it. (I bought it on Joss & Main, but it’s unfortunately no longer available.)
Rugs are definitely important, but with that being said, that doesn’t mean you have to spend a small fortune on one. After searching on higher-end sites and stores for weeks (and feeling sticker shock every time I checked the price tag for the rugs I liked), I finally caved and checked out Amazon’s selection. Amazon has literally thousands of rugs to choose from that are reasonably priced and still functional and stylish. I found this one for less than $150 and it had great reviews + tons of customer pictures (which I personally prefer before I purchase something like this so I can see what the colors look like IRL). It only took two days to arrive (thanks, Amazon Prime!), and I loved it from the moment I took it out of the package — and, as you can see, so did my dogs.
When it comes to other cozy items like this, such as curtains and throw blankets or pillows, Amazon is still a great resource. I personally chose to just skip the curtains altogether because I only have one small window in my home office and I like the natural light; plus, I have blinds if I need to close the window for any reason. And the only throw blanket I have in my office was a Dirty Santa gift I won last Christmas.
This is a chair you are going to be spending A LOT of time in, so you definitely want to make sure you love it. If you aren’t comfortable in it, then chances are you won’t want to spend time in your office at all — which defeats the entire purpose. I would personally recommend that you go and actually sit in a desk chair before you buy it, but I knew I wanted a very particular color for my desk chair (which is impossible to find IRL), so I just researched the hell out of every option I found online and made sure the reviews were all positive before I made a decision.
Like my desk, I found this chair on Joss & Main, and it’s probably my favorite purchase I made for the whole room. I didn’t want a traditional desk chair because I knew I wanted something a little oversized — I need room for my dogs to cuddle with me while I work, okay? The high back and low arms on this one are perfect, and not to mention it’s comfy AF. I was so happy that the color was what I was expecting from the pictures online (and matched my rug, which is no easy feat).
While you want your desk chair to be comfortable, if you are planning on having any other chairs in your home office — whether for actual guests or just to take up space and look pretty — the same rules don’t apply. Unless these chairs are going to be used by someone every single day, they simply don’t need to be the highest-quality chairs in the world. I just wanted a pair of accent chairs on the empty wall across from my desk, so I found these chairs on Amazon and got each one for under $100.
After going through at least three Walmart bookshelves just completely falling apart, I realized that I needed to invest in some sturdier (and nicer-looking) bookshelves for my most prized possessions. Target carries some of those cheaper bookshelves — but they also have a nice selection of nicer looking and (slightly) more expensive bookcases. They come in a variety of colors and finishes, so you can treat yo self (and your books) no matter what decor and style you choose.
The light fixture that was in this room before it became my home office was an ugly brown ceiling fan, so I knew I wanted to trade that out for something a little more sleek and stylish — and for some reason, I just envisioned having a chandelier, which I assumed was going to cost a pretty penny. However, after doing some research, I found several chandeliers on Amazon that looked the exact same as other, much more expensive chandeliers sold by home improvement stores. Obviously my chandelier hasn’t stood the test of time yet, and it did require some semi-complicated assembly by my boyfriend who is much handier than I am, but (at least for now) it looks great and I am glad that I saved a ton of money on it!
Every room in my house is an ugly, boring beige, and my boyfriend and I have been talking about painting some of the rooms a more modern grey color — so my home office was the perfect place to start! Picking out the color was the hardest part TBH, but buying it was easy once we decided which type of paint to go with. Higher-quality paint will not only look better, it will also last longer — and really, it’s not even that much more expensive than the lower-quality options. So we decided to splurge — especially because we only needed less than one gallon to cover the entire room.
It may be tempting to spend an entire afternoon in Anthropologie picking out unique and cool items to turn your home office into the magazine cover you always envisioned, but at the end of the day you have to ask yourself: Is a pair of pineapple bookends really worth spending $50? (Okay, bad example because those are cute AF, but you get the idea.) TJ Maxx + Home Goods is a great place to find all types of decor — and it’s usually way more affordable than buying straight from your local high-end department store just for a designer name.
Another option is to simply look around your house at the items you already own. I always surprise myself by how much I can refresh a room just by swapping out or repurposing a few pieces — or trying to find a place for some of the random things I’ve collected that are literally just taking up closet space. I couldn’t afford to shop for any new decor when putting the finishing touches on my home office, so I simply consulted my junk closet and found a few paintings that I used to have in my old apartment and hadn’t yet found a place for in my new house. Also don’t be afraid to get creative — I’m just as intimidated by Pinterest projects as the next person, but it’s much more cost-effective to frame your college diploma or an inspirational quote than it is to go out and buy brand new artwork.