DIY Office on a Budget


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DIY Office on a Budget | Cheap Home Office Ideas | Budget Ideas for a Home Office | Home Office | Work at Home | Improve Your Office Space

I’ve been promising to share pictures of my new office for what seems like forever now, so I am pretty excited to finally be able to say my little space is finally finished! This is where the magic happens, folks! 😉

All joking aside, I can’t even begin tell you how great it feels to finally have a space of my own to work in. Our three bedroom house didn’t have any extra space for a separate office, so my previous workspace was smack dab in the middle of our living room. This worked for awhile, but after my husband left his job last April to be the stay-at-home dad, we discovered that a little space is necessary sometimes.

After a few months of frustration, Chuck gently suggested it might be time to find some sort of office space, and in August I found an affordable little space for rent in a downtown building about a mile from our house.

I was excited at the prospect of making a space totally my own, but also overwhelmed by the cost of purchasing a whole room full of furniture. The first thing I did was create an inspiration board of ideas for how I wanted my space to look:

The first step to decorating my office was to make an inspiration board with the yellow, teal and orange color scheme I wanted to use.

I didn’t have time to search endlessly on Craigslist, so I did the next best thing:  I took a little trip to IKEA! Because the space was fairly small (and since the closest IKEA is almost 2 hours away) I first made a floor plan to scale (okay, Chuck made me a little floor plan to scale–sometimes it is nice being married to an engineer), then made templates for the furniture I was thinking of getting. (The measurements are listed online)  Once I was sure it would all fit, I made a list and headed to IKEA. It was pretty daunting to manage 2 flatbed carts full of furniture all by myself, but with a little help from a few very nice employees, I managed to get everything I needed loaded into my trusty Tahoe. All in all, I think spent about $750 at IKEA on 2 desks, a printer cart, a supply cart, a bookcase, 3 bookshelves, a desk chair, curtain rods, a file cabinet, a wall clock, and some picture frames.

Of course the main reason all that furniture is so affordable is that you have to assemble it yourself! Yikes! It was quite the project and another reason I am grateful to have such a handy husband! My assistant Kalyn’s awesome husband pitched in to help with the assembly as well, which made it go a lot faster!

My office got a bright makeover with a yellow rug, yellow and green floral curtains and teal accessories.

With the furniture in place I was ready to accessorize, and truthfully that is the part that took me awhile. I fell in love with this Robert Allen Kiki Piñata fabric after seeing it on Pinterest and knew I wanted it for my curtains. I whipped up one set in no time flat, but the second set took me almost 5 months to finish! The gorgeous rug I got from was one of the most expensive parts of the whole project at just over $200 (no longer available in the 5×8 size), but it covers up most of the ugly brown carpet and makes the room such a bright and happy space that it was worth the splurge.

I used fabric to decoupage this serving tray--perfect for coffee and jotting down some notes in my notebook.

A super soft chevron throw keeps me toasty warm in my office while I work.

Other DIY projects for the space included sewing a cozy chevron minty throw, (which has gotten a lot of use on cold mornings), and making a fabric covered tray to accent the ottoman. I also painted the fronts of my file cabinet with chalkboard paint, which turned out really cute! For the bulletin board, I simply used spray adhesive to attach fabric to an old cork board, then covered the whole thing in Mod Podge and painted the frame.

My documents and magazines got organized into green and orange containers on my file shelf.

Chalkboard paint is an easy solution for decorating cute file cabinets.

My girls each colored me a picture for my new office using oil pastels and I loved them so much I ended up framing them in my IKEA frame. I also found a space to hang my chevron chalkboard wall art!

Artwork from my daughters looks bright and cheerful in frames, atop the book shelf. I added a few accessories including a reed diffuser and business card organizer.

I created this simple chalkboard art, which is easy to update and change with any message.

To jazz up the second desk space I created some cute motivational printables, then clipped them to inexpensive clipboards for some very cheap and easy wall art.

Motivational printables on clipboards above my desk keep me focused and energized while I work.

These cute motivational printables were easy to hang on clipboards and make cute office wall art.

The lamp and desk calendar were both found on clearance at Target, the orange and green boxes were purchased (on sale) at the Container Store, and the other accessories & furniture were gathered from around my house. Overall, I spent about $1200 on furniture, fabric, and office supplies.

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What are your best budget decorating tips?


  1. February 17 at 08:09AM

    Wow… that looks fantastic!!! You just gave me a few great ideas!!!

    • Ruth Soukup
      February 17 at 05:28PM

      Thanks Danelle! 🙂

  2. February 17 at 08:49AM

    Great job with the room! Love the colors. I also live 2 hours from Ikea but it is worth the drive, they have some great products at great prices!

  3. Jen
    February 17 at 09:17AM

    Looks nice and great, very pretty. But man that’s ALOT of money to spend when neither of you are really working. I mean I know you blog and all but I can’t see it’s THAT much for you to live on with a family and now renting space. goodness.. Mor epower to you.

    • Sabrina
      February 17 at 09:59AM

      That was a really rude and presumuptious comment!

      • Jen
        February 17 at 11:13AM

        No I’m being honest. Ruth has said before she appreciated honest comments. It is her life to live how she pleases and as I said MORE POWER TO HER. Not everyone is able to do what she does. So great for her!

        • Sabrina
          February 17 at 01:07PM

          Explain it to yourself however you want……. Your comment was still rude!

          • Laura
            February 17 at 09:40PM

            Not really rude. A lot of people couldn’t begin to go shop at Ikea for anything new. I’ve used second-hand file drawers and slabs of MDF to make a desk. I’ve seen up-cycled old doors across various bins and shelves and file drawers, to make a desk. Shelves from yard sales, bricks-and-boards…

            I, too, would have liked to have seen what our blogger could have done on a true shoestring.

            • sabrina
              February 19 at 12:39PM

              So why not just say that you’d like to see what could be done on little to no money? Rather than wow, that’s alot to spend when you “aren’t working”….. which if she’s renting an office, than I’d say it’s safe to say her blog is a full time job and I think it’s a little assumptious and rude to say other wise – like telling anyoe else that works full time, wow do you “really” have the money for that?

    • Rachel
      February 17 at 02:56PM

      It is amazing what some bloggers make. Check oh They post their blog income. Anyway I agree with your comment though.

      • Jen
        February 18 at 09:27AM

        Thanks Girls. I wasn’t trying to be rude, I’m jsut a very honest blunt person, I say it how it is. sometimes it comes across wrong. I’ve tried the blogging thing, and I just never seen the income like this. So I would guess alot of income comes from other resources as well. Great for Ruth. Hope she keeps it up!

    • Victoria
      February 17 at 05:07PM

      The incorrect part of your comment Jen is when you say “Neither of you are really working.” After taking a look around the blog it looks like Ruth’s husband is very active in their home and just as you would never classify a “stay at home mom” as not really working you should probably avoid the same sentiment for a stay at home dad.

      More importantly you utterly degraded the career path that Ruth has chosen and have made big assumptions about how much Ruth earns for her hard work. It is VERY obvious by the professional quality of this website that Ruth spend HOURS (I would guess more than 40 per week but I don’t know for sure) per week on this site creating content (not limited to just her posts) for viewers like us. It is also evident in this post that she has an assistant. I would guess that that assistant is paid which means that Ruth has turned this blog into a good enough business to hire an employee. If you run a business with an employee it can be very difficult to work out of ones home and would make a lot of sense to move the business to a separate location.

      There is a line between honesty and uninformed speculation. I believe you crossed it.

      Just my thoughts. Keep up the good work Ruth.

    • Ruth Soukup
      February 17 at 05:27PM

      Jen, for what it is worth I did not at all take offense to the question. Blogging is one of those very odd occupations that most people don’t really “get,” including many of my close friends and family. Before my husband made the move to become a SAHD, we took a long hard look at our finances to see if we would be able to afford it, and we ultimately decided that a better quality of life was more important than his income. We live pretty frugally, stick to a cash budget, and are 100% debt-free which does give us more leeway. That said, I do earn a full time income from this blog, and it has grown to a point far beyond what I can manage all on my own. (I talk more about my helpers & what they do on my about page here: We also weighed the pros and cons of having to pay for an outside office space, but again decided the benefits outweighed the costs, especially since in our deed restricted community I am not actually allowed to have outside employees come to work at my home.

      If you are interested in learning more about earning an income from blogging, I have actually written a book called How to Blog For Profit (Without Selling Your Soul). It is available on Amazon here:

      Hope that helps clarify just a little. Again, I was not at all offended by your honest question. 🙂

      • Jen
        February 17 at 08:02PM

        Thanks Ruth. I appreciate that and I wasn’t trying to be rude. I just never honestly knew you could earn liket hat with a blog. that’s all I will check out your book, I find it fascinating you can do this full time. thankyou for your time, I hve followed you for a while now and while I don’t agree with everything I do like a lot and I know you appreciate honesty, if it’s not positive. I’m the same way.. Great job!

      • Deb
        February 18 at 09:19AM

        Hi Ruth, this dialogue has peaked my interest. I’m curious for a few things, 1) you said you are 100% debt free, which helps obviously. Is that including mortgage, car loans and student loans? 2) would you be willing to write a post on how you attained that? I’ve tried David Ramsey and while it worked for some, it didn’t work for me completely, it did help some and i didn’t agree with all his ways. 3) How do you handle the medical insurance option? I currently work full time because I need to carry medical and my husband does not make much money.

        Thanks Ruth. I’ve followed you for almost 4 years now and have watched your blog grow, while Jen was very blunt, and I do agree I don’t agree with everything either, there’s quite a bit I do like! I’m going to check your book out and see if this blogging thing is something i can do part time, even if it’s just to earn a few extra bucks.. I’m just afraid you have to put alot into it ahead of time, which I don’t have…

        • Ruth Soukup
          February 18 at 12:07PM

          Hi Deb, yes that is including our mortgage and everything else. We paid off the remainder of our mortgage last month but I haven’t written about it because my husband feels weird about making a big “debt free” announcement. We love Dave Ramsey and use his cash budget plan each month, and we also both drive 10+ year old vehicles that are both paid for. We actually shared a vehicle for a long time, but when my husbands sister died last October we inherited her car.

          Blogging does take a LOT of time, and as I explain in my book I did it for several years without making much money at all, and almost everything I did make got reinvested into paying for blog design, hiring helpers, and attending conferences so that I could learn as much as possible. It has paid off, but it is definitely NOT easy money! 🙂 However, the book is only $4.99 so it is worth a read to see if it would be a good fit!

  4. February 17 at 09:20AM

    Your space looks amazing!!! Congrats on getting it all done, and for so little too!! Love all the colors and mix of patterns. You are truly inspirational! You give a great deal of hope to those of us just starting out blogging for profit… Keep up the great work and motivation!!!

    • Ruth Soukup
      February 17 at 05:33PM

      Thanks Suzanne. Blogging for profit can definitely be a lot of hard work for not a lot of payout in the beginning, but stick with it! Your first “real” paycheck will make it worth all the effort! 🙂

  5. February 17 at 09:43AM

    I love your work space. It is colorful! Now iam inspired to do something with mine.

  6. February 17 at 10:13AM

    I love it! What a cheery, fun place to get work done in. I bet your girls will like visiting you on occasion as well. 🙂

    • Ruth Soukup
      February 17 at 05:34PM

      They love visiting and especially love the spinning chair! 🙂

  7. February 17 at 10:32AM

    LOVE! Thanks for sharing your space and letting us see what you did with it. I work from home and want to make-over my office space to give it a little more color and personality. Your post has given me lots of ideas – I especially like the clipboards. 🙂 XO

  8. February 17 at 12:04PM

    Thanks for sharing your “space” with us! Such cheerful, happy colors!! Having the right environment for getting (and staying) in the mood to focus on work or projects really helps.

  9. February 17 at 02:18PM

    LOVE the chalkboard drawers! That’s a great concept. We just moved & I am trying to set up our two very small rooms we are using for school. I love how Ikea does such a great job making small spaces work. I finally made it to the Orlando one last month, and only bought food stuffs! LOL Thanks for sharing your great space & hope it works perfectly for you! 🙂

  10. Stephanie
    February 17 at 03:51PM

    Love your new creative space!
    Where did you find the 2nd desk? (the one with the baskets)
    I’m looking for one similar for my older daughters tween room makeover. 🙂

    • Ruth Soukup
      February 17 at 05:36PM

      Both desks were from IKEA. It is actually 3 pieces–2 base pieces and the tabletop. The baskets were from Target but I bought them a few years ago.

      • Stephanie
        February 17 at 08:28PM

        Ok, it’s off to Ikea we go. 🙂
        Do you remember what the name of the desk base is? Sorry for all the extra questions, but I can’t find that particular combo on their website. Thanks for all you help!

        • Ruth Soukup
          February 17 at 09:33PM

          No I’m sorry, I don’t remember the name and I don’t see it on their website right now. It seems like the whole page of tabletops and legs is gone but maybe it is just a glitch because I can’t imagine that they would have gotten rid of them all. I’m pretty sure it was some sort of Swedish name if that helps. 😉

  11. Stephanie H
    February 17 at 03:53PM

    Love, love, love it! Ikea makes everything so affordable. We are 4 hours from the nearest Ikea so it is always a big haul when we go!! Probably a good thing I dont live closer to one! I too work from home and my office needs a make-over and I love all the bright colors, which will be great since my office is in our basement with no windows. 🙁 Enoy your new space!!

  12. February 17 at 08:24PM

    Beautiful, l love how colorful it is!

  13. Alisha
    February 18 at 01:02AM

    Ruth – it is LOVELY! Congratulations….I hope you enjoy every moment in that beautiful new office. You have worked so hard and deserve every bit of success! And honestly, I think $1200 is terrific, considering you were starting from scratch in a new space. (And besides, you “Spend Less” on a daily basis….”Living Well” is part of the deal, too!) 😉

  14. February 18 at 08:05AM

    That looks fantastic! What a happy, energetic space to spend your work day in!

  15. February 18 at 08:48AM

    Wow Ruth! That looks amazing! I’m sure it’s a space that you will spend a lot of time and it certainly looks like you’ll be invigorated with those beautiful colors every day when you show up. Beautiful!

  16. February 18 at 09:29AM

    Your office turned out beautiful – so inspiring! I LOVE the chalkboard fronts on your file cabinets. So fun!!

  17. February 18 at 09:34AM

    I’m in the process of cleaning out and reorganizing our office and your post has some wonderful ideas! Thank you. 🙂

  18. February 18 at 11:19AM

    Love the colors. I’m a big fan of colors. Looks like Ikea has some great items.

  19. Julie
    February 18 at 12:29PM

    This colors are happy and cute. For a professional office the budget is on the low side. But $1200 for a home office I would not consider budget. I was thinking more like $500. Love Ikea for basic furniture

  20. February 21 at 03:13PM

    Love your space Ruth! It really looks great and I love that you created a space that you’ll enjoy working in.

    I went to Ikea yesterday and they are closing out lots of merchandise so there are tremendous bargains to be had there right now (at least at the Atlanta store).

  21. February 23 at 05:32PM

    Love this office! You have so many creative ideas and prove that it is not necessary to spend a bundle to do it! Bravo!

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  24. Kristina
    August 4 at 07:04PM

    Can you please tell me which desk you purchased? I saw you said that you bought two of them but I only see the one. I really like the open shelves on the bottom and floating shelves on the wall!

  25. December 28 at 10:38PM

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  26. Sandra Silverberg
    May 23 at 03:05AM

    Wow Great blog!

  27. August 23 at 04:22AM

    Really good article Ruth 🙂

    I know from my own experience that working in a fun and dynamic office environment can make such a difference to my productivity in the day.

    I think its incredible how compelling your designs are despite the budget you were working with.

    This just goes to show how DIY can be achieved when you use a little creative flair and stretch your imagination.

  28. October 30 at 03:17AM

    Great post! We can relate to this so much! great article, I personally love Ikea and getting stuck in after I get home or to a job from there. keep it up!

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