Shabby chic attic earns home office honors for Rhoads

· 6 min read

Shabby chic attic earns home office honors for Rhoads

Trudy Rhoads

An office tucked above and away from distractions has earned Husker Home Office of the Week honors for Trudy Rhoads.

An office associate in student accounts, Rhoads’ attic office has been functional in many ways but has also presented quite a few challenges. The temperature, for instance, has ranged from 33 degrees to 123 degrees since Rhoads made the switch to remote working in mid-March.

Despite the challenges, Rhoads is tackling the task of renovating the attic into a perfect space not only for her work, but as a creation space for her many hobbies.

“I believe that an inspiring work space allows me to see different angles of an issue than the norm,” she said. “To combine work and hobbies is natural to me, making me more alert and responsive to new procedures with my work and more methodical and logical in my creations.”

The Husker Home Office of the Week award was launched April 10 to showcase how faculty and staff have adjusted to working from home as part of the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s response to COVID-19.

The award repeats weekly until employees return to campus. Details on how to enter are below.

Read on for Rhoads’ takes on how working from home is progressing and a few tips for other faculty and staff to consider.

Why does this space work for you?

Working from home, and having an office set up in our attic, has worked out great for me. When I began working remotely in March, the attic was uninsulated and unfinished. As I wasn’t prepared to begin working from home, I originally set up the space with what I had. That meant my desk was an unused door, resting atop four big totes.

The room is still unfinished but has changed a lot since March. With the advice and guidance of my hubby, the space has become much more workable. I have insulated the space and built double doors to block off this part of the attic. The doors will eventually have artwork painted on them. The walls are covered with shiplap.

As finances allow, I add to the work space. The next big purchase I hope to make is an air conditioner. I have traded my door/tote “desk” for a desk my hubby and I designed and built. When the room is done, it will be multi-functional as not only my work office but my creation space for the many hobbies I do. I enjoy making quilts, teddy bears, doll houses, woodworking creations and more. I plan to build a coordinating second desk, which will have an expansion top to double the surface that will be used as my sewing desk.

The to-do list will keep me busy for months (years?) to come. I need to add another ceiling light, a couple of more outlets, trim and baseboards, shelving and the list goes on and on and on and…well, you get the idea.

What tips for a successful work-from-home day do you have for fellow employees?

I think it is important to have a dedicated spot that makes you realize “this is my work space,” even if that separation becomes functional as something else later in the day. You need to have the mindset that you are at work. It would be easy to sit on the couch, laptop over my knees, but then I would be distracted by the homesteader YouTube shows my husband is watching. Being downstairs would also put me closer to the snacks, which I don’t need. By being up in the attic, at least when I get snacks — I also get my steps in for the day.

What is your favorite item in the home office space?

In March, to one side of my work desk was a small table where I placed my sewing machine. This allowed me to take advantage of break time to sew face masks for neighbors, friends, family, church members and university employees. I sewed masks until I ran out of supplies, then friends gave me more supplies. I was happy to do what I could for others who also are feeling the stress of our time and wanting to stay safe. Hard times require special treatments.

While I work and sew, I listen to music and sing along as loud as I want — and no one is there to die laughing when I hit a wrong note. You can’t do that in Canfield!

Since I didn’t take everything out of my Canfield workspace, I have had to improvise — and some of those things have become my favorite things about my workspace. For example, to hold pens and pencils, I am using a delicate little tea cup that belonged to my late mother-in-law. This cup sits right next to a portrait that I made of my dad when I was in seventh grade. When he died this April, his wife sent me the portrait.

What do you miss most about your campus space?

While TEAMS messaging, Zoom, email and phone calls all get the job done, I miss walking into someone’s office space and just chatting through an issue or discussing what we did over the weekend. Many projects require interaction, and during this time of remoting, that interaction has become more challenging. I also miss the in-person interaction with the students and parents. I still handle email and phone calls, but it is not the same.

What is something you’ve learned working from home that you hope to integrate when you return to campus?

I think what I want to take back to the office is the flexibility, innovation and cooperation that remoting without much warning has required. It is easy to see things from your own perspective, but it is important to not only see but understand other points of view.

To be considered for the honor, submit photos of your custom space via email to along with answers to the the questions below. The award winner will be notified on Thursday, with their space appearing in the Friday edition of Nebraska Today. For more information, send email to

Entries for the “Husker Home Office of the Week” must include your name, university position, home department, phone number (for contact, if necessary), years employed on campus, home address (to mail the award), and answers to at least three of these five questions:

- Why does this space work for you?

- What tips for a successful work-from-home day do you have for fellow employees?

- What is your favorite item in the home office space?

- What do you miss most about your campus space?

- Is there any process/concept/idea that you’ve experienced working from home that you hope to integrate when we return to campus?

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