Transform Your Office into a Den of Creativity for $200 (or Less)

Every child is an artist, singer, painter or dancer. Before they reach 8 years old, many describe their top passions with some form of creative expression. Of course these are not delusions of grandeur. These people, though they may be young, are generally packed with an unashamed passion for art and creativity.

Oddly, when these humans reach adult age, they say things like this:

  • Oh, I’m just not a creative type.
  • That is what we pay “creatives” for.
  • I don’t have time to do any of your creativity exercises, Jeremy.

That last one may be a little more personal. I don’t like to argue, but I do find it odd that humans in early form are creative geniuses and humans in adult form are suddenly creative absent.

Let this be known: You, no matter your station, background or talents, are a creative being.

But telling you this is not what this little post is about. What I want you to know is that it takes a less energy, investment and money to be creative – in your current workplace – than what you think. And it also takes little to get others inspired to chase down their creativity.

We experienced this recently at Kolbeco. This past summer, we transformed a regular lounge area into a den of creative craziness. How did we do this? It was actually quite simple: We painted the wall with whiteboard. Since that time, we have seen new ideas born, new relationships formed, naps napped and more (noncreative) people participating in creative notions.

[I am not a shill for the roll-on whiteboard paint industry people. Though their lobby is strong, I have not yet succumbed to their political pressure.]

Whiteboards are not a new invention. The idea of expressing an idea on the wall in a collaborative space has been around since the days of Troglodytes. And I know that it sounds way too simple. And I know that all marketing agencies have them. And that is exactly my point. Humans (nearly all of us) have basic needs. Creating an intentional space for that collaboration to take place is what the whiteboard signifies. And it cost a weekend and a few hundred bucks.

Here’s how we did it:

  1. So Many Ways You Can Whiteboard

We wanted a space that would be warm. A place that more clients would feel welcome and that would be flexible in setup depending upon the needs. Ideally, we wanted to see a magnetic whiteboard that would take up most of the space along the wall. We investigated options for pieces of whiteboard or whiteboard film. In the end, we settled on an epoxy whiteboard paint and trim made by hand. This offered the most flexibility, and it was also more flexible.

  1. Mishap Part 1

We purchased the magnetic and whiteboard paint and got to work measuring and taping the wall. We sanded the work area and began with the magnetic paint. The box claims this paint allows you to “Create a fun and unexpected way to hang- notes, photos and more.” Apparently by “and more” they mean create an uneven and not very magnetic surface. Either it was user application error or the paint is not all it is cracked up to be. But we had a nice, even charcoal gray colored square on the wall. (I don’t recommend it.)

  1. Another Mishap

The whiteboard paint people are also a bit optimistic in the strength of their product. The epoxy comes in two cans that you mix together and apply with a roller. We mixed together the product, a bit more than we needed for the surface size, and rolled on the paint. After allowing it to dry we found two things: 1. The not-so magnetic paint showed through the whiteboard epoxy. 2. The epoxy was rough.

Lesson: Though box recommends using only one coat and says it will cover any color wall, use twice the amount they recommend and roll it out thick on the wall. When the epoxy sets, it will be smooth.

  1. Roll and Trim

We rolled on a second layer and trimmed out the whiteboard with little to no further trips to Home Depot. The only issues we ran into were my slow arithmetic.

  1. Furnish

We upcycled some of the elements we already had in the office and purchased a new rug to make the floor into a possible seating area. This flexibility has come in handy for when children visit the office or when the adults want to act like children.

  1. Create

We have allowed this space to serve as a gathering place for our ideas – for stepping out of our office confinement and into the solace of creativity.

KolbeCO-DH meeting pic 2

It is not going to win any awards for feng sui, but it has lead to more client inspiration. We even had a client sitting on our conference room point directly to it. “There,” he says. “I want to use that to draw out what our website can look like.”

The physical world and environments we structure impact our minds and emotions in the most primal way. So our lesson for you is to try it out. It does not have to be perfect or win awards. But our experience has taught us that being intentional with your environment can unlock the creative child inside you.

What simple changes or additions can you make to your office? Send me a message and let me know what you try out.

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