Cheap Challenge: $50 Desk Makeovers!

You probably know its facets and features better than you know your best friend’s. It’s been witness to some of your most genius moments, as well as your most brain-dead. You spend a quarter of your life in front of it. So, if your desk at work doesn’t make you happy, you’re doing it wrong. However, an office space makeover doesn’t mean selling your soul to Dieter Rams and Brookstone. For just $50, you can take the barest of corporate spaces and transform it into a nook that feels more like you. We had three of our editors hit three shops — IKEA, Kmart, and a run-of-the-mill dollar store — to give a sad setup a bit of a lift. Go ahead, pick a favorite.

Chloe Daley, editorial production assistant — The Dollar Store

“Some people thought I got the short end of the stick having to go to the dollar store, but secretly, I was pumped! The 99 cent store might be one of my favorite places to shop, because it’s full of so many treasures. I wanted to go a little crazy and create a very whimsical, colorful space for an illustrator or designer. I decided to keep the clipboards their natural color, but they could easily be painted and used in kitchens or laundry rooms, too! I couldn’t find a un-tacky container for holding papers and magazines so I ended up just covering one in brown paper to keep with the theme. Also, I might go back and get more of the polka-dot drinking glasses for my kitchen — they’re such mood-lifters!”

Diana Nguyen, senior editor — IKEA

“My personal aesthetic is clean and modern, and, lucky for me, so is IKEA’s, plus it’s known for being super-affordable. Easy-peasy, right? So wrong! A four-hour shopping excursion through a labyrinth and $1 ice cream cone later, there were a few extra items I wanted (a perfect $5.99 rug) but couldn’t afford. Thankfully, frames are a great and cheap way to infuse personality (with my favorite fashion editorials, a personal photo, and a collage of cartoons from my bible, The New Yorker) into the mix. With a neutral color palette, the pops of color in the frame and the orchid were worth almost a fifth of my budget. Minimalism all the way!” 

Kristian Laliberte, senior editor — Kmart

“I wanted to create a desk aesthetic for a creative, very visual person. Obviously, some of the clutter of my own life carried through. I’m not a fan of spare spaces — I like being surrounded by a lot of ‘stuff.’ I was really surprised by how expensive Kmart was, to be honest! And, the Astor Place location felt a little depressing and confusing. It was hard to have a real strategy in place, because I am unfamiliar with what Kmart sells — while I had this colorful vision in my mind, it took some effort to find all the moving pieces. I ended up discovering a whole plant section in the basement, though, and the violets were only $1.99, which was one really amazing bargain I found. I’ll be shopping there for plants more often in the future!”

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