His Desk, Her Desk: Decorating a Home Office

by Marlene Alexander

Ever wish your desk could look as spiffy as the ones you see in those magazine layouts? No desk that is used with any frequency is going to stay pristine for long, but with a bit of help from the dollar store, the humble home office desk can aspire to a subtle sophistication all its own.

For a masculine look, we chose dark colors and two ornamental pieces. The elephant has the look of carved wood and we liked the faux bonsai plant to add a bit of greenery to the workspace. The rest of the items are such as you might find on any desk.

  • plastic magazine holder
  • digital desk clock
  • 4 x 6 picture frame
  • tape dispenser
  • wooden box with faux leather trim (for stamps, etc.)
  • mesh note paper holder
  • mesh pencil tray
  • Day Runner agenda
  • electronic desk calculator
  • ceramic mug

Each of the items mentioned above was $1, making a total of $12 spent. Every so often, we can be seen standing in an aisle at Dollarama with our mouth hanging open. How did their buyers get their hands on Day Runners that can be sold for $1? You have to nab these finds when you see them because they won't last long and aren't as likely to be restocked as other items.

The same desk, outfitted from the female perspective, might look something like this:

The 8 x 10 inch white board came with a dry erase pen, but it was so dry we had to toss it. Instead, we bought a pack of three different colored dry erase pens, each equipped with an eraser and a magnet in the lid. A 9 1/2" tall vase holds a spray of faux orchids and the books have been corralled by a pair of metal bookends. These can do double duty as a place to park the magnetized dry erase pens or dress them up with favorite ornamental magnets. The clock has an antique-look face and is approximately 4 1/2" in diameter. It can be hung on the wall but we chose to make a desk clock out of it by using a small plastic plate holder.

A pretty ceramic vase was pressed into service as a pencil holder. We used some tissue paper in the bottom of it to make its depth more advantageous for holding writing instruments. The small decorative gift box is a great place to store tape, stamps or push pins. The painted wooded frame holds a 4 1/2" x 3" picture and a refillable journal and printed "latte" mug complete our lady's desk accessories. Everything here totals $11.50. The vinyl-covered journal cost $2 at a dollar-plus store and the plate/picture holder came in a set of two for $1.

Create an attractive and useful workspace that suits your own particular likes and needs. You don't need big bucks, only a trip to the dollar store.

Marlene Alexander is a writer living in Ontario, Canada. For more on dollar store shopping, visit her website at DollarStoreStyle.com.

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