For the average man, an office is like his cave. We rely on it to inspire us, amuse us, calm us and impress others. For me, my office is the one place that I don’t have to share with anyone and when I leave my house and go to work, I know that I can redecorate it anytime I like without having to seek my wife’s opinion. While there are rooms in my residence that I particularly enjoy spending time in, it’s somehow relaxing to sit back in my chair behind my large desk and let the freedom of having my own space relax me. While my wife and I have much in common, interior design is not one of them. She likes modern and contemporary design, whereas I prefer a very traditional look.
In our new series on masculine interior design, we’re going to start with the office and move into the bachelor pad, man cave, den and estate.
The Basics Behind Masculine Design
Think leather, tobacco, sports and liquor. This is the essence of what typically impresses us as men. When we look into the design of a masculine office environment, each person has a different idea of what they want. Some, like me, prefer a traditional office lined with wood paneling, oversized furniture and ornate chairs. Others prefer a minimalistic and contemporary design with creams, whites and laminates.
Regardless of what style of design you favor, there are a few basics that most men want in their office.
In my opinion, every office needs a bar. Whether it’s two bottles of Scotch or a fully stocked bar with mix and a shaker, so long as you’re allowed alcohol at your place of employment, it’s well worth it to maintain at least a small bar. There are a variety of ways to do this and it can be as simple and inexpensive as using a trolley cart or as in-depth and expensive as building a built-in dry bar. Whatever your budget, there are ways to quickly build a bar in your office.
The desk is your primary workspace. You need it to work for you. Granted a desk from Walmart is the cheap way to go, spending a little extra money on a solid wood, stone or modern desk is a great way to elevate your environment. As a writer, I don’t exactly make millions yet my tastes aren’t exactly cheap. In order to get the desk I wanted and not have to shell out a lot of money, I struck a barter deal with the furniture store and re-wrote their website in exchange for furniture. It was the best deal I think I’ve ever made. If you don’t have the type of business where you can work on barter but also don’t have the budget to buy what you really want, check out websites like eBay and Craigslist or visit estate sales, vintage shops and other places that might have estate furniture. Buying online can save you a lot of money in the end.
The chair you sit in all day is as important, if not more important than your desk. It needs to be comfortable and reflect the rest of your space. Simply buying a basic desk chair from an office supply store isn’t going to work if you’re desk is a huge stone masterpiece or an Oval Office replica from Bombay. Try and spend a little extra money on your chair and your back will thank you. If you’re on a tight budget, purchase something used and have it reupholstered. Focusing on the skeleton of a chair can be far less expensive than focusing on the fabric. Then, you can save up for what you really want without having some folding chair as your temporary desk chair.
This is also not the time to use folding bridge chairs. Often buying two or three chairs at once can strike you a deal that will save you money in the long run. However, it also doesn’t mean having to spend $500 on each chair. Take a look at your local Ikea for chairs that suit your style and you’ll walk away with something a little less expensive. Remember, these are guest chairs. Unlike you, they’re only sitting in them for a short time.
For some offices this might be a small conference table with chairs and for others, like mine, it means having a couch and a few chairs for a more relaxed conversation. Unless your office is huge, chances are you won’t have room for both, so decide based on your behavior in the office. For me, I rarely have guests and when I do, it’s usually not to go over paper work. That’s why I focused on a more relaxed meeting space. I have a couch that my grandfather built which perfectly suits my office and my two guest chairs are on wheels which allows them to easily move and prevented me from having to purchase more furniture. The goal is consistency. If you can’t find the right sofa, chair or conference table that matches your office, don’t waste money buying something you’ll only want to replace. The meeting area isn’t an absolute necessity. You have guest chairs for a reason. One tip: if you do go with a sofa, get something conducive to relaxation. That’s the one mistake I made and now I have to go home for a nap.
Storage is a must. While some people don’t mind a messy office that’s cluttered with boxes and files, most prefer something a little tidier. For me, I use a large credenza that sits behind my desk against the wall. Matched with two large bookcases, it provides me with ample storage. This is another area you can save some money on. Since the quality of the material isn’t going to really effect how you work, buying an item from Ikea or a discount furniture store isn’t a bad idea. Of course if you have an unlimited budget, chances are you’re going to hire a decorator instead of reading this article. The goal with storage should be to have more than you need so you never run out. A huge benefit to storage is there are many possibilities and you can find storage spaces to fit any style and environment.
Accessories and Art
An office without some charm isn’t worth working in. From desk accessories to wall art, this is one area that should really showcase who you are. Some men prefer autographed baseballs and sports memorabilia where others opt for oil paintings or vintage movie posters. Regardless of what your tastes are, this is one of the few areas that can range from inexpensive to high priced. However, it’s also something you can slowly build on. Most of the art in my office are paintings that I inherited from my grandparents. It just happens that I have the same sense of style as the average 80 year old. Over my desk I have a print of Marc Chagall’s Fiddler which is one of my favorite paintings. Of course, that wasn’t something I got right away.
If you are looking for paintings or posters shopping online is going to be your best bet. Consider using auctions for other items like sports memorabilia or purchase something temporary. You may want a Babe Ruth autographed baseball, but it’s probably less expensive to simply find a nicely framed black and white picture of the all-star that can sit in its place. Since I often have the unique opportunity to interview interesting people, my bookcases are complimented with photos taken with various celebrities and public figures. I utilize a wood chess board I bought for $20 to complete the look of a side table and a silver candy dish full of Werther’s which accentuates another table. Combine that with wall art, some table lamps and a stocked bar and my office feels complete. Of course, pictures of my children sit on the edge of my desk along with an ink well and a wooden pen case that came with one of my fountain pens.
Here are few websites worth looking at for inspiration, accessories, furniture and design.
You’d be amazed what things you can find on craigslist that are unique and not to be found elsewhere.
Local Antique Stores & Flea Markets
Your local high end antique stores may have just the right stuff you are looking for. Ralph Lauren is famous for buying vintage stuff all over flea markets for their store decorations, and you can do the same too.
Even ebay can have some good options but usually it is only good if you know exactly what you are looking for.
Probably the best site out there for inspiration, this site is dedicated strictly to showcasing really incredible interior design that’s dedicated to men. Click here to visit them.
For classic furniture and traditional accessories, Bombay is a great store to shop at. I highly recommend checking them out. Click here to visit their site.
Touch of Modern
If you’re looking for great deals on modern and contemporary furnishings, accessories and gadgets, Touch of Modern is a great website to visit.
For bar essentials, office accessories and even picture frames, Sir Jacks offers a selection like no other.
Amazon, eBay and Craigslist
Perfect places to find the best deals on everything, these sites are ones that I scour almost daily. Regardless of what you’re looking for, you’re bound to find it on one of these three websites.
Whether you’re looking for fine art prints, frames or posters, Art.com is an all-stop-shop for great deals on just about every piece of art you can think of. Whether you’re looking for a movie poster, a vintage ad or a Rembrandt, you’ll find it here and they’ll even frame it for you. Click here to visit their site.
A paint job can be the least expensive and most impressive way to define your office space. Accentuating windows with window treatments adds depth to your space and utilizing area rugs or throw pillows can cover a basic floor or add a splash of personality to your environment. No office is going to be perfect without some effort and investment, but researching interior design, paying for an initial consultation with a decorator or even visiting your local home store can help inspire you to create a space that reflects the type of professional you are. My office isn’t perfect. It’s a work in progress, but it’s mine and it’s a space I cherish.
Sometimes I’ll even come in simply to watch some Netflix or listen to my records. When I need to get down to work it inspires me, but it’s also a place of comfort and relaxation. What decorating tips do you have?