Home Sweet Home Office

I now have the ideal, blissful and fortunate opportunity to freelance from my home office. I quit full-time life in interactive design (within advertising=burnout) in the Spring to freelance and build a new design studio company. I have always believed that environment is everything. It has everything to do with your mood, productivity and state of mind toward your work. To that end, ever since we moved into our home 2 years ago, I've been setting up my ideal office up in our loft space.

I wanted to keep things pretty clean and white with just small accents of color to allow the work on the walls (and screen) be the focus. My office was completely inspired by the mid-century palettes exemplified by the George Nelson Swag Desk:

So, my first rule of thumb is: Love where you work. Set up a space where you really want to be. I mean this both in terms of the physical office space and your workplace. Honestly, we spend at least 10 hours of our days working and to be miserable in that is just uncalled for. We really owe it to ourselves to be happy in what we pursue in life. So, either create an exit plan (right now), or, if you like your job, simply make your workstation more of a place you want to be 10 hours a day. Personally, I can't wait to get up to my office everyday:

tip: Head to your local farmer's market during lunch and pick up some fresh flowers. Sunflowers are beautiful and inexpensive.

— tip: if you don't work from home, office coffee usually, well, sucks. And trips to Starbucks can really add up. Bring your own coffee & nifty French press by Bodum and serve in these cheery design-nerd mugs from Pantone:

Second rule of thumb is: Be Organized. It will save you time, heartache AND money.
Luckily, organization and neatness is an obsession of mine, but for those less inclined, these tips and products may help. You've heard this before, but "everything in its place". Very simply, if there is a place for everything, being organized isn't as tough. It's about having systems in place, whether it be storage, or a way to get things done, such as with the offline and online versions of Behance's Action Method:

There are some really excellent time tracker apps for the Mac that act as stop watches that can be labeled per client, project, etc. Check out Timepost: (which plugs in with Basecamp, activcollab, Harvest, and other project management tools). Time is money!

Other apps:
Toggl, Tick, Harvest, Billings, iBiz, Slife.

— File it away: I covered an awkward step against the back wall of the office with these modular credenzas from the EFFECTIV line at IKEA. You can choose the base, cabinet doors and interior to create customized storage. They're stackable, too:

Clutter looks a lot neater when you use multiples of the same desktop storage boxes. I chose a clean white so that it blended in with the walls. I try to get sturdy yet inexpensive ones because they can really add up. These are metal-reinforced paperboard KASSET from IKEA:

(The Container Store has some great ones, too).

For storing more hanging folders or smaller office items, I also found these ERIK file cabinets at IKEA in a great punchy lime color (which they don't seem to have in that color anymore.)

You'll also be more inclined to take part in your hobbies after hours if your supplies are sorted and easy to get to: Cart on the left from The Container Store. Cart on right, no longer available, from Crate & Barrel. TRIPP Stacking patterned boxes from IKEA:

Use inspiration binders: Finding myself lost in a sea of inspiration clippings, I went through the labor-intensive task of filing everything in 8.5 x 11 plastic sleeves (that you can get at any office supply store) and placing them in 3-ring binders. It was totally worth it.

People tease me about my "OCD" binders, but they have made my life so much more organized. I have binders for my graphic design work, home decor work, holidays, paper craft, recipes, entertaining, fashion, you name it. And because I wanted the binders quickly at hand, and therefore exposed, I invested in some really great-looking ones from Russell and Hazel:

— Clear your mind with a pinup board:

I think this is one of my all-time favorite solutions in my office. It is the simplest thing in the world, but what it does, and symbolizes, is enormous. Often times when I am trying to focus on getting a task done, my mind is racing all over the place with side ideas that have absolutely nothing to do with the DEADLINE I should be focusing on. So, I "throw it up on the wall".

That intriguing postcard, seasonal inspirations, a new idea for my work with AIGA Boston, an idea for yet another side business, the charity I want to start "someday": it all goes up in some form on the wall. It gets it out of my head at the moment, but it is not forgotten. When I can take a breather, I simply go peruse the wall and get inspired by something on it.

So, if you've ever made a move at one time in your life to take things into your own hands, or were laid off, but decided to make the most of it, here's to you. And to fulfilling your life long dreams, professionally and personally, one file folder and inspiration binder at a time.

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August 31, 2009 at 3:34 PM  
Blogger REBECCA RIVERA said...
Love your office and your design sensibility. Thanks for all the specifics on how to get organized. Inspiring stuff!

August 31, 2009 at 5:33 PM  
Blogger Ashley said...
I <3 you! Are you hiring??

August 31, 2009 at 6:35 PM  
Blogger Jodi said...
I wish, Ash! Not yet, but you'd be the first to know! ;-)

September 22, 2009 at 10:36 AM  
Anonymous Elaine said...
Your office looks so great. I want your office coffee!!! I would like to sit in the red chair and read magazines and chat with you while you work.

September 22, 2009 at 11:28 AM  
Blogger Jodi said...
Elaine, I'd love it. In fact this chair is awaiting brainstorming pals, so when in town stop by!

September 24, 2009 at 7:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...
where ever did you find that awesome red chair?

September 25, 2009 at 12:19 AM  
Blogger Jodi said...
The red chair is actually from IKEA. I originally just wanted something inexpensive to spruce up an office I used to work at, and after I left that job, it found its way home to my loft space. :-)

September 25, 2009 at 2:43 AM  
Anonymous Lila said...
Everyone thinks I'm nuts with the inspiration binders, but they are one of my organizing secrets! I started using them years ago, because I was just sick of seeing all my clippings and doodles cluttering my workspace. I even have a folder for take out menus!

September 28, 2009 at 8:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...
Your office is amazing! gorgeous colors, so organized and just pretty!

I too have inspiration binders with pages of sheet protectors. It's like having my own personalized magazine!

December 4, 2009 at 1:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...
Jodi your space is very cool.

I have a side question for you.

What steps did you take to jump into a freelance lifestyle from your fulltime job?

August 21, 2010 at 6:20 PM  
Blogger Benny said...
Very nice office! You inspired me to change my home office. I love those Pantone cups.

August 21, 2010 at 11:30 PM  
Anonymous Michael Buckingham said...
Great looking space...always wanted a loft. I'm moving my office back to my home as I just like the convenience so much better. The office space was great, but it gave to rigid of a schedule and took away my flexible lifestyle.

How did you make the pinup board?

August 23, 2010 at 2:04 PM  
Blogger Jodi said...
Thank you, everyone! I'm glad I shared this and it is inspiring you. It just comes down to the fact that a space you love being in very much effects how great your work output is.

August 23, 2010 at 2:10 PM  
Blogger Jodi said...
Michael, there is a tiny link in the story about how I made the pinup board on another post here: http://ourhaus.blogspot.com/2008/04/off-wall.html Working at home on your own terms is amazing. It helped me, as a person, in so many ways.

August 23, 2010 at 2:38 PM  
Blogger Jodi said...
To answer your question about jumping from full-time to freelance. I wasn't as methodical and totally mapped out as I thought I might be. I am not the type to just "wing it" on much of anything. But I had really had it one day and that was it. I was living life in a way I hated and that sadness was my motivation. But here are my tips: 1. Use LinkedIn and Twitter like crazy. Don't just ask people for favors. Use it as a way to be your own PR machine and get people interested in what you offer and keep updated on what things you are accomplishing. 2. Get an accountant that shares your vision. Get advice up front on taxes and such. It's not as scary as it seems. Don't let this mysterious thing called money stop you from taking risks. That is the toughest part, letting go a little bit. I'm still trying to do that 3. Be very involved in local professional organizations that apply to what you do and also some that are related but not the same. I am involved with AIGA Boston and I love it. 4. Present yourself like a top brand. That means the resume, the web site, the business cards—EVERYTHING should be written well, spell-checked, designed, appropriate to who you are as a professional. Strive to not be a dime-a-dozen offering. Make it your duty to find an area of expertise and talent within yourself and go deep on it. Make that clear to people. 5. freelanceswitch.com is a good site. There is a lot of great information and networking to be had online. 6. Lastly, when you don't feel like getting up and doing it "today", hum the Rocky theme song to yourself and push yourself forward. :-)

October 22, 2010 at 1:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...
Thanks for information !

April 26, 2012 at 3:04 AM  
Anonymous Brad said...
Very cool home studio! We are rebuilding ours at the moment so you have given us a few ideas to work on, thanks!

January 16, 2013 at 5:49 AM  
Anonymous Office Space Specialist said...
Your rule of thumb is absolutely true. One should set up a space where they feel comfortable working. Glad to know you have that cosy office where you love to work. :)

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About Us

Christopher Scott and Jodi Vautrin are the husband and wife team behind Ourhaus, where they chronicle their adventures in home improvement, decorating and travel. After purchasing a unique loft space just a few miles north of Boston, they began photographing and writing about their projects and it blossomed into a creative outlet and platform.

When they’re not home improving, Jodi spends her days as a freelance creative director & designer with a focus on user interface and interactive design, and is an entrepreneur at heart. She serves on the board of AIGA Boston as Vice President of Emerging Ideas & Events.

In his professional life, Christopher is the Technology Director for a multi-service ad agency based in Harvard Square. In his private life, he enjoys tinkering in all its forms, whether it's rebuilding the Ourhaus home network (again), fooling himself into thinking he knows how to fix home appliances, or trying to unravel the mysteries of the guitar. He also flies planes, performs open heart surgery and sings at bar mitzvahs (though not all at the same time).

They share their “haus” with their adorable, highly food-motivated chocolate lab, Lucy.