I recently redesigned my home office, which hadn’t been touched in just over 10 years. You might imagine that it cost a lot of money, and if I’d had the room and space and unlimited funds I might have been willing to spend it. Since my office is relatively small, and it was near the holiday so I didn’t have a lot of monetary discretion, my wife and I completed the job by imploring some inexpensive touches that I’d like to recommend to you.

1. Find inexpensive rug remnants

new inexpensive rug

I needed to replace the rug in my room for more than one reason, but most of the places I went to had rugs of the wrong size and cost nearly $400. Then we went to a local rug store that sold large remnants and I found one that was pretty close to the color I wanted. It turned out to be 8′ x 10′ and it was selling for $125; that’s a major steal! I needed a foot cut off the 10′ side so I paid an extra $20, and with tax the total bill was just under $170. If you don’t have a vehicle to cart around something that big you might have to pay extra for delivery; luckily we had that covered.

2. Contact paper might be your friend

Some of the furniture in my office needed an overhaul. Painting or staining wasn’t going to get it done, and though I’d gone out looking for a new desk, nothing seemed to capture the feel of what I already had.

My wife came up with the idea of contact paper, and we were lucky to find some that was not only large enough to cover the top and any other areas that needed it, but it looks like wood grain, which makes my desk look brand new. We were able to use it on a couple other things as well, and luckily enough it matches up well with some of my other wood furniture. The contact paper cost around $15 at a local hardware store.

3. Repurpose old picture frames

I wanted to add some new pictures to the wall, but I had no idea what to do. My wife came up with the idea of printing out some motivational messages in different colors and then blinging them up with tiny plastic stick on jewels. Next she took old picture frames that she’d saved in the basement and used those to enclose and hang the messages up behind my desk. Since we already had the picture frames we didn’t have to spend anything for that, and I printed the messages from my computer so that was free. The little jewels cost around $5 total, which she’d found at a craft store.

4. Sometimes all you need is a new perspective on what you already have

Years ago we placed furniture around the room without rhyme or reason and it turns out that almost none of it was functional or all that aesthetic. Because we had to take everything out of the room anyway because of the rug, we decided that almost everything was going into a different place. The only thing that’s still where it started is my desk, and even it’s been moved about a foot so I could add a second file cabinet next to my desk instead of all the way across the room. Now, all the storage space I need on a more immediate basis is within arms reach, while everything I only occasionally need is in a spot where I don’t need to see it until I need it.

5. Use a thick slab of wood as your office chair mat

One of the reasons I needed a new rug is that over the years my chair had ripped holes in it. A regular plastic floor mat didn’t work because the weight of the chair and my weight would dig divots into it within weeks. Still, I tried one of those and had to take it back the next day. Then I tried a bamboo mat, which was pretty nice, but it started cracking within a day.

inexpensive wood slab

My wife had the idea to run to the home improvement store and buy a large piece of wood that was at least 1.2″ thick. We found just what we were looking for and, even though we had to buy a full sheet, had it cut in half so that each piece was 4′ x 4′. It’s thick enough to hold my weight, it’s large enough so that my chair stays on it if I roll under the desk or anywhere behind or to the side of it. Also, because it’s wood, I wasn’t moving around on it as fast as I was when I was trying to use the plastic, which means I had control of my movements. My wife decided to bolster its protection a bit by wrapping it in the rest of the contact paper.

Here’s the funny thing. The wood cost only $33, whereas both the plastic and bamboo chair mats were $79 plus tax. Added to the other things we paid above, the majority of the design cost less than $300; pretty good, right?

Just to add this part, I decided I wanted to paint one of my walls white, since my office is red. Because of that we had to buy primer to cover the red and then we bought glossy off white paint. The total of those two items came to just under $75, but because we already had other painting supplies laying around we didn’t have to pay for anything else. Because we did the painting, this means that the entire cost of doing my whole office was less than $400! Because we didn’t get a deal on the paint I didn’t include it in my original costs, but because we saved so much on everything else it was worth it.

That’s all I have; I hope it’s helpful. What design ideas to you have to help make your work or personal space feel better at an affordable cost?

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