5 Quick fixes for a drab office from GSA

Dianne Juba, Interior Design Program Director, GSA

wfedstaff | June 3, 2015 4:46 pm

By Suzanne Kubota
Senior Internet Editor

The General Services Administration is running a pilot program to update government offices in an effort to make them more productive, healthy and collaborative. And they’re doing it on the cheap.

Think of it like “Extreme Makeover Home Edition”, but for federal office space. In fact, Dianne Juba, interior design program director at GSA, told Federal News Radio the program was inspired by the slew of decorating shows on television.

“Well sure! It seems interior design is moving in that direction,” said Juba. “Everything is quick and dirty and get your hands dirty, get on it and get it done quick and kind of a low-cost, no cost concept. And it did inspire us.”


Doing more with less is a common theme on the shows, and increasingly across government. “Why can’t that apply to federal office space and how can we make it a viable option to them,” asked Juba.

The Workplace Transformations project lets agencies tap into GSA as a resource, offering free design services. “If they have a little bit of money and a little bit of time and patience,” said Juba, “we’ll go into their space and make it over using our five principles that are outlined in our new video.”

Here are the five principles, according to the video, and some selected comments on them from Juba:

  1. Declutter – Embrace the paperless office, get rid of unused items, make sure you have storage for what’s left behind.
  2. Let the light in – Remove heavy window treatments and arrange furnishings to maximize daylight
  3. Repair and repaint – Repair hardware and furniture, clean carpets, paint walls keeping colors light to make it seem larger.
  4. Consistent look – Mismatched furnishings, photos and signs feel cluttered. Limit design styles and personalization. Consistency increases professionalism. “You don’t want to take away people’s opportunity to make their workspace feel personal.” Photos of family are good. Entire beanie baby collections, noted Juba, are bad. “The tack boards are not an opportunity for a family photo album.”
  5. Artwork highlighting mission – Hang art that promotes the work that you do. Be selective about the items you choose.

These same principles apply to a home office makeover just as easily, noted Juba. W well designed workspace boosts productivity and morale whether at home or at work. They’re an “inexpensive way to improve and take pride in their space,” no matter where it is.

Fresh space at GSA’s south lobby of 1800 F St. (GSA photo)