I recently moved into my new office at Southern Sentinel! I am branching out into news reporting in addition to writing the column.

Naturally, I was excited about my new role, and I posted about it on The Little Mrs. FGG’s Facebook page. Readers who follow my page didn’t ask, “What will you write about?” Nope! They asked, “When can we see your new office all decorated?”

They, in addition to my new bosses, knew it would be totally “off brand” for me not to transform the bare office first. Decorating the office is content for my column!

So, here it is.

Hope and I made this former “blank slate” office feel like home away from home. Yes, I brought my personal assistant to work with me to get all the furniture moved in and set up! Totally normal, right?

(We came in several hours before I was actually scheduled to work to decorate).

I love not spending money if I don't have to. I already had all the decor items and furniture we used (mostly, from our Pine Street home).

It was my intention that my office at the Sentinel would be classy, welcoming, and comfortable for visitors. The 1920’s Harvard pennant my mother bought me when I began my Journalism master’s program earlier this month set the tone for the transformation. Hope and I took cues from the antique style of the banner and the color of it to transform the space.

We added richness with the maroon tones of the fabric and dark wood antiques, and peppered the office with pieces designed to start conversations, such as the vast collection of antique books, including FGG’s great-grandmother’s Girl Scout handbook, three 1862 New York and Richmond, Virginia newspapers discovered at our Pine Street house, antique art, and family photos.

I also wanted my office to remind me of how far I have come on life’s Journey and for it to be a celebration of my accomplishments. In addition to the predictable degrees hanging on the wall-- I opted to display some unexpected personal accomplishments, such as my National pageant crown and other crowns and banners (on and around an antique 17th century secretary I brought in from our Pine Street house). It's okay for your office decor to say, "I love me"!

My new office is a happy space that lends itself to creativity because it is creatively decorated. In fact, I’m sitting in the maroon chair writing this column, listening to music, with all the overhead fluorescent lights turned off, just enjoying the ambience created by the warm lighting of the lamps.

I think Hope and I nailed it. We brought fun to my office, infused with style and history.

After all, I have family history with the founder of Southern Sentinel, Captain Thomas Spight. He was my father-in-law (Frank)’s great, great uncle. My father-in-law’s sister, “Ginger,” was named after Capt. Spight’s wife, Virginia Barnett.Capt. Spight founded the Sentinel after the Civil War in order to make news available to the people in Tippah, giving “the Southern side” of what went on during the reconstruction. He went on to law school after the War, where he was wounded in Atlanta. He was also elected to the state legislature, then to Congress for two terms.

The Sentinel was founded in the family store in the upstairs of where Studio One is on Ripley Town Square. My father-in-law’s great-grandfather, A.G. Barnett, Jr. owned that building. Having a family connection to the Sentinel makes being here even more significant and special for me. Sitting here, writing in my office, I think about how important my job is: to communicate to the public what they need to know in an unbiased way. I do not want to let Captain Spight down. Here in my office, I will reflect on how I can best serve the public for whom I write.

Some "takeaways" from this column if you are faced with decorating an office space:

1. Don’t be afraid to use non-office furniture to give your space a rich, comfortable feel.

2. If you can’t paint, find large frames or art pieces to cover vast amounts of wall space. There are also removable wall decals and removable peel-and-stick wallpaper options on the market.

3. Don’t spend a lot of money. Use what you have, or what you can pick up inexpensively, to decorate your space.

4. Think about the function of your space. Do you need storage bins to hide office supplies? Seating for clients/meetings? How can you achieve these goals decoratively? Look at Pinterest for inspiration.

5. Bring in additional lighting so that you don’t always have to have overhead flourescents on.

6. Add unexpected, personal touches and creative conversation pieces that might not necessarily be considered standard office items.

7. Celebrate yourself! You have a job because of who you are and what you have accomplished. Display your awards, diplomas, degrees, and prizes with pride. You will set yourself apart as an expert the moment visitors walk in, and also give visitors a glimpse into who you are.

With all these personal items in the new office, I joked with Tim Watson, “It’ll be really awkward to move all of this out if I quit or get fired this week.” He joked back, “Just leave everything here.”

I have found my tribe. Hahaha.

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