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JFCS therapist and 1st-Rate thrift store create cozy office on shoestring budget

Anjulie Pfeifer wanted her office at Jewish Family & Children’s Services to feel homey. (Micheal Romero)

Visiting counselor Anjulie Pfeifer’s office is like visiting grandma’s house. Or going to a hipster coffee shop. Or seeing Smokey Bear’s cabin.

At least that is what her clients at Jewish Family & Children’s Services say when they walk across the threshold of her office.

Scenic paintings line the walls, board games are stacked atop the coffee table and an old TV cabinet houses books and a working old-fashioned radio.

But it is probably the soft orange sofa with a quilt-like flower pattern design that gives the room its overall feel.

“Everything came together around the couch,” Pfeifer says. “To me it looks like it is exactly pulled from the 1970s and nobody ever touched it, like it was in a bubble.”

As a new counselor with her own office, Pfeifer wanted to create a space for people to relax and feel comfortable opening up in.

“When people are sharing their hearts, you want them to be somewhere that feels warm and cozy,” Pfeifer says.

But as comfort level varies among patients, Pfeifer needed the components of the office to be versatile for patients ranging from age 10 to age 50.

“It has to be a place to clear the table and play some board games or do art projects,” Pfeifer says. “And then in another session be a firm place to cry your heart out.”

Nearly everything in the office came from the  1st-Rate  2nd-Hand thrift shop and cost Pfeifer less than $100.

The orange sofa that anchors the room cost only $10 and even then, it wasn’t her first choice.

“We have these beautiful blue walls in all of the offices and I didn’t know if the blue with the orange would be too extreme,” Pfeifer says.

Andie Cohn, co-president of the board of directors for 1st-Rate 2nd-Hand, aided Pfeifer throughout her shopping experience and understood the doubt that she had about the success of the couch. 

“It was definitely a décor risk,” Cohn says. “She wasn’t sure if it would be outrageous or if it would be fabulous.”

But after much deliberation she took the couch, and every other piece of furniture she bought in that one trip seemed to complement its energy.

“I think it paid off, I’ve heard someone say it feels like you’re walking into your grandmother’s living room,” Cohn says. “It makes you feel more like you’re in a home setting than in a therapist’s

Pfeifer feels successful in creating a warm space with inviting fall season tones of brown and orange that allow her patients to be comfortable.

But she isn’t quite sure if the fall colors will need to change when spring rolls around.

“I would like to because it is fun, I like to decorate,” Pfeifer says.

For now, the setup of the office serves its purpose, but she is open to the idea of change because she knows just the place to look.

“I don’t know if I’ll have to do an office overhaul, but I do know where I will go, I’ll head right back up to the thrift store,” Pfeifer says.

All sales from 1st-Rate 2nd-Hand Thrift Store, a nonprofit, benefit more than 20 local Jewish organizations.