When I was young, I dreamed of owning an antique writing desk. Something that Charlotte Bronte might be seen at, blotting paper underhand, ink stains on the spongy leather surface.
Then I grew up and balanced my laptop on my knee in front of the TV. And it was grand. Comfy enough I thought. Until the neck pain kicked in.
On the days that I worked outside of the home, spending an average of eight hours at an office desk and using my evening hours to blog or write, the pain would get so intense that I’d have to knock back glasses of Solpadeine and try and straighten myself out on the bed.
I visited a physical therapist who grinded my muscles from a bone like texture back to a much more desirable ‘tough steak’.
“I love blogging,” I muttered into the the massage bed, listening to the sound of my sinews snapping. “I know I’m in pain, but I’m not giving up.”
“Could you get a desk set up in the house?” asked the therapist, logically.
“Oh no,” I said. “There’s no room.”
And that was that. I handed over fifty quid a session and went home, ready to start another week of working my muscles into cement, hunched on the sofa, whinging at himself to go get me more Solpadeine. (He wouldn’t by the way. He thinks I have a codeine addiction. I don’t. I mean I could stop taking them if I wanted. I just choose not to.)
But the therapist’s words had stuck. He had sewn a Grand Designs seed. And my spare room didn’t know what it was in for.
Looking around it one day, I spied my beautiful vanity dresser, which I’d bought two years previously in a rush of finding a bit of ‘me’ space in the house. I turned our spare guest room into a LadyNicci room with wardrobe space, vanity desk and pull out sofa. (Thank you husband for not protesting too much).
If I got rid of the dresser, I thought to myself, I have space for a tiny desk. I raided the shed for some white paint to patch up the dresser and while the splodges were drying I posted the pics I’d taken online. The first offer came within 15 minutes and by the end of the day, ten people had offered on the desk.
When it was carted off into the black of night, I felt very excited. I could now actually think about buying a real writing desk. Bronte fingerprints and all!
With only €60 in my pocket from the sale of the dresser I needed to get a bargain. I checked some charity shops and scoured online deal sites. An IKEA desk caught my eye – a large corner desk with shelves, that would never fit. Or would it?
I realised if I moved the furniture a bit, I could free up a good chunk of corner in the room. And with the shelves inbuilt, I could make myself a writing haven. I struck a deal with a lady online and after two visits to the house (and the help of a neighbour and his trusty screwdriver) the desk came home with me, wrapped in the seatbelt for the grand sum of €75.
Himself was more than impressed when I dragged the desk in bits through the hall at 10.30pm on a school night and politely asked him to get to work and rebuild it in its new home. So there was only one thing for it.
I helped by dropping nuts and bolts on the wooden floor as the child slept next door and laughing and spilling the wine. And I was on hand to support the carpenter master emotionally when the desk had to pulled apart three times because IKEA likes to play tricks with the wooden mind!
With desk installed, I spent the next few days rearranging clothes and cleaning out wardrobes and shopping for just the right office chair. And here is how it all came together. (The apple below was genuinely on my desk. I just placed it strategically for these photos. After the photos, I replaced it what would should be there. Chocolate).
Part of me was putting off finishing project writing desk. Now that it’s in place I have absolutely no excuse not to write. I hope it’s not like installing an exercise bike in the bedroom – gradually gathering dust, and then the odd towel; the only thing improving being your ability to lie to yourself.
I spent a grand total of €75 creating a mini home office. Here’s how I did it and some tips if you are thinking of doing the same:
1. Sell what you can
If you’re replacing furniture, try to sell your current furniture first. This frees up the space and gives you cash flow. I sold my desk on Adverts.ie. If you’re buying new, perhaps there’s something else in your house that will sell. You’d be amazed what will sell if the price is right.
2. Buy secondhand
The desk I bought is practically new, but cost half of what it would if I had bought from the shop. St Vincent de Paul may have a furniture store in your nearest town and my favourites Done Deal, Adverts.ie or eBay could work for you
3. Think workstation
The all in one desk I went for came with inbuilt storage and shelves, meaning I didn’t have to buy add ons which had been my original plan. I thought I’d need to spent around €70 on new shelves, when in fact they came with the desk for that price.
4. Use vouchers and check bargain basements
We had a voucher for €80 left from one of our wedding gifts. I went to Wogans, a furniture store in my home town and picked up the office chair which I love. I wanted something neat, on wheels and with a gas lift. It was originally on sale at €145. I found a similar chair on Littlewoods too – somewhere you might have vouchers to spend. TK Maxx also have a fab home range.
5. Storage is your friend
I got the lamp and floor mat in Argos, but the most important thing we bought there was an in wardrobe storage unit that allowed us to move all the furniture around in the first place to make room for the desk. You may feel that there is absolutely no space for an office space, but maybe all it takes is a bit of imagination. And IKEA. And D.I.Wine.
Where to buy
Silver desk lamp €25.99 from Argos
Micke Corner Workstation: €150 new from IKEA, also available secondhand
Brandon Office Chair: €119 from Greenwood Furniture, I bought locally for €89
Flo Flokati Black Rug: €25.99 from Argos
Heart shaped lights: bought in Penny’s: €2