My parents had a book business they ran from home, so I grew up amidst shelves of merchandise and me-sized shopping carts they used to pick orders. When I was about kindergarten age I entertained myself by imagining there were different worlds through each crack between bookshelves. The sight must have been entertaining- me at five years old with a little blonde bob, one eye glued in between bookshelves and murmuring quietly to myself.
About fifth grade, I started to get interested in the business itself. I entered my own scores of customers to the records (their names usually corresponded to my favorite Redwall characters), and would spend endless hours pretending to answer the phone and take orders from customers with names like Martin the Warrior.
By the time I got tired of that, I was old enough to do it for real (funny how that works). I knew all of our regular customers, where each book was kept, and would have won any contest that involved speed packing and shipping. Too bad there are none of those, I checked.
I suppose all of this has contributed to my strange love of office furniture. Some people get chills going through antique stores and thinking of who first owned what and what happened to them; I get chills walking through office supply stores and imagining this chair or that file cabinet in my dream office. Okay, maybe that's a tad dramatic, but I really do enjoy planning and putting offices together.
It may sound strange, but really, if you have a nine-to-five office job, almost a third of your life takes place in your office. In that light, I'd say your office furniture is pretty important! There are so many elements to consider when choosing what you'll put in your office. Will you go for that fabulously classy wingback chair or the ergonomic roller? Do you want a desk made of mahogany or one that has more storage space?
One of my all-time favorite offices belongs to a professor at my university; one wall is completely lined with bookshelves (surprise! I wonder why I like that?) but the great part is that his gardening/botany section of books has real vines crawling over it! That's just what drab offices need- a little touch of personality. I'm not talking printing out a funny picture from an email, but a real piece of something you love. That's not too much to ask for a place you spend a third of your life, is it? Find a great piece of art or something with a splash of your favorite color to spice it up.
I'm not content with that drab gray, funny fabric cubicle. These days, there is a plenitude of other options that are (dare I say it?) appealing! I love the light wood look, reminiscent of simple Scandinavian design. It brings such a good feeling to an office: simple, peaceful and calm. Every office I've ever worked in could use a little more of that.
Did you ever take a cardboard box and make a little house out of it? That's kind of how I feel when planning an office- there are so many options and configurations of office furniture available, it's almost like playing house when I'm putting it all together! There are room dividers, privacy stations, work stations of all sizes, and one of my favorites, a pinwheel shaped piece that has space for four people by Harmony.
There's one thing I feel compelled to mention when saying anything about offices and office furniture, and that's the reception area. It is one of the most important pars of any office, and yet it's often left to sit with decades-old chairs and magazines. Your reception room is like the first couple bars of a song on the radio- if you don't like it, you turn it off, but if it's good, you turn it up and buy it on iTunes when you get home. Go for a clean, simple atmosphere in this room, but beware of making it look too sparse. Provide comfortable, matching chairs and up-to-date reading material. Coordinate the receptionist's desk and a table for clients to use. A coat rack is an often forgotten touch that eliminates that awkward feeling of having your coat next to you on the couch, and then not knowing what to do with it when you go into your appointment.
When you're putting an office together, whether for a couple dozen employees or just you, don't let it become a boring place that no one wants to be in. Keep it simple, and put your own personal touch on it.