26 February, 2007

Organizing Your Home Office

In my quest to become everything that is Martha and enjoy all the “good things” in life, I have realized that in order to do that, I must be organized. After all, Martha is nothing if not organized. And quite honestly, there are lots of areas in my life that are perfectly organized. The mini monograms closets and drawers, their rooms, their toys, which I will touch on later, my photography, my dishes and china, my pantry, and even my Christmas ornaments. However, other areas that would get a “needs improvement” mark by them on a report card, would be my closet, our 3-car garage which we can currently only fit 1 car into (but truly since it’s my car so that one doesn’t really affect me all that much), and my projects (to be truthful, I would probably get a “deficiency” in those areas, but unless you attended my prep school, you’re not likely to know what that is). You would think I would be super organized with as many projects that I tend to take on so skimming the aisles at Target by myself on Friday night (this actually, was a treat for me believe it or not), I came upon the most adorable, must-have striped little 3 ring binder in the back to school section. And don’t act surprised that I was in the school supply section because if you know me, and you certainly should by now, you know that I love stationary and all things paper in general so I just HAD to check it out. So anyhow, back to the binder. It just sort of leapt into my cart and gave me the idea to use it as my project folder to keep my projects ideas organized. You see, when I see something on a show that I love and want to do, I write it down or go to the show’s website and print up the project. Or, if it’s in a magazine, I rip it out. It doesn’t even have to be a project, but even just a picture of things I deem as good things. But I’ll admit, I’ve got ripped pages stuck in books all over my computer area and it’s really a creativity crusher as far as I’m concerned. But again, I digress (I told you my ADD can be annoying). So after getting this adorable binder, I hopped on over the Office Max and also picked up some sheet protectors and the rest of my Friday night was spent organizing my project folder. It has surely given me a renewed burst of creativity and I found all these fantastic projects and ideas that I can’t wait to pass along!.

So I thought to myself, “while I’m at it, I might as well organize my dream house folder.” This is a folder that’s crammed with sketches and ripped out pages and ideas that I want to include in our next house. Moldings, doors, windows, cabinet finishes and kitchen layouts. And also inside my Dream House folder, I have a sketch of my “dream room.” It’s my sewing/crafting/wrapping room and in my dream world, Martha herself would even come help me design this room. And while I’m at it, let’s throw in an embroidery machine in there too. This little number should suit my needs just fine, thank you. Oh, and don’t forget the “NO MINI’S ALLOWED” outside the door (think No Shoes No Service! Or better, GUARD DOG ON DUTY!)

So, in my paper organization efforts, I realized that you too, may be interested in changing up your home office, sewing/crafting room, or just taking notes for some ideas. Well, even if you aren’t, I at least know that Chloe is. So although my little sketch is specifically for a creative-type room, my set-up can also serve just as easily for a multi-purpose home office as well. You can enlarge the photo to see what I've got planned. But let's get into specifics.


For my own use, I realized I need my crafting/wrapping/sewing room to be multi-purpose. So for that reason, I really like this modular office system by Pottery Barn. Not only is it available in several finish options, but you can literally create it to fit your own personal needs and design ideas. Who wouldn' t love that? So putting my system in the corner with two longer desk areas on eash side will allow me three chairs. One area on the far left to keep my sewing machine set up, my computer area in the center (for my blogging, no doubt!), and the desk area on the right for my photography. All the file cabinets underneath supporting my work top, will be used for fabric storage, craft supply storage, photography proofs, etc., and there will be loads of wall storage. But you'll also notice that I've put a center island in the room too. This is to be at countertop height for standing, but will also have a few stools around for the mini's and myself (when they are invited in, that is!) to do some art projects together. But ideally, this will be my wrapping station. Don't tell me wrapping large gifts on the kitchen table doesn't bother you like it does me, so that's what this area is for.


But look, I realize this system from PB or even from Ballards can be a little pricey and might not be in everyone's price range. But you can still have this design and look if it's something you want. Just hop over to Home Depot or Lowe's, put up a few unfinished wooden doors. Yep, Doors! By painting, staining or finishing to your desired color, attach some decorative moulding along each edge to finish it off, and buy some nice wooden file cabinets to match (or paint to match). Place the finished doors on top of your file cabinets in the same way the Pottery Barn system would assemble, but make sure you place the hole (from teh door handle) towards the back for lamp and computer cords. Easy as that.



Let's say you don't have a whole lot of room though, and only have space for, say, a cabinet. Then keep on reading, because I stumbled upon this brilliant craft cabinet. You can convert an unused armoire or even pick up a new one at your unfinished furniture store like this, and convert it into a fabulous craft cabinet where everything is self contained. Brilliant, right? I love how every square inch of this cabinet is utilized from the inside of the doors to the very top of the cabinet. This is very do-able too. All it takes is a little thinking and brainstorming about what your specific needs are. Really take time to walk through the aisles of your local home improvement store or office supply store, picking up cork and hanging file folders and magnetic strips that you install on the inside of the cabinet.


I totally understand if you're happy with your current desk/worktop set up, and you're just looking for storage options. If it’s possible, consider skirting your desk and filing area. You can either sew a gathered or pleated skirt (like a bed skirt for your desk area) and then back it with Velcro to put it around your area, or even just use the electric stapler to gather a skirt around and hide your desk area and dress it up a bit, then using the hot glue gun, apply some fringe or trim).I promise nobody will be the wiser if you hide the staples and you can count on me to keep your secret. If you’ve got a cluttered desktop, get everything off the top. Sort it by type of product or its use. Stationery in one pile, blank paper and notepads in another, pens and pencils in another and so on and so on. Find cute boxes in solid colors to match your room décor and put your items in those boxes. Or if you’d like you can always revisit the decoupage idea and decoupage a box or two with leftover fabric to match your room as well. Go to your local home improvement store and pick up some inexpensive shelving. But don’t just look in the “Shelving” aisle. Go to the back where the lumber and moulding and trim is sold, and they also have pre-cut unfinished hardwood shelves and decorative brackets. Pick up what you need and paint or stain then, hang them on the wall and use that to keep your products-organized in their nifty baskets or boxes- off the desk area. When we originally bought our house, I wanted to have built-in’s put in the bonus room/play room. But then when we moved in and I started decorating, I decided I didn’t want to make the room seem smaller (even though this is a huge room as it’s over our 3 car garage), so I came up with this shelf system. Since my ceiling is angled, I off-set and staggered my shelves. These are just simple white wooden shelves which we picked up from Home Depot or Lowes (unfinished), and added some decorative wood brackets to them. I painted them all white, and bought a bunch of baskets. This can work for you as well, in a home office situation, particularly where you are trying to get things off your desktop and make it less cluttered.


As to how you should hang your shelves, Be creative! Open up a catalog or magazine and rip out pages of how designers and other people have arranged wall shelves.

Mel also mentioned Cavallini file folders a while back, and lucky for you, I found them discounted at Art Supplies Online (at a really fabulous price, people so stock up!). I think we can all agree that anything preppy on sale is a very good thing, and that certainly include these lovely little folders. Don’t forget you can also check out the large preppy and colorful assortment of file folders at See Jane Work (check out the Caspari Weave and Caspari Stripe patterned folders in particular). By now you should all be very familiar with this site because you’ve read about it here on my blog, but also over at the Preppy Princess’ old place. Bottom line, it’s a great shop with creative catchy little products and organizational ideas. You can purchase their products which are fab, or easily recreate some of their looks much less inexpensively. For instance, you can always pick up less expensive but still colored file folders at your local office supply store, such as Office Max and customize them yourself. Pick up some pretty scrapbooking paper, cut it to size, and print up and label the front of your files with a pretty font.




Also, Pottery Barn is having some pretty good sales right now. For instance, you can check out the Franklin Craft Center or Wall Mounted Craft Organizer. See this Ribbon Organizer? Sadly, so it’s no longer available (although check the outlet if you have one near you), but this would be VERY simple to make. And what I would do is hang it on the wall in lieu of keeping it on the desk. A few of these hung on the wall over your workspace, interspersed with some nice looking shelves and baskets or decorative boxes holding your desktop clutter, will also serve to add color and focus to your wall. You know, you can also pick up some decorative wall mounted paper towel holders to mount to the wall to hold your ribbon. Go to your local home improvement store or home discount store (Tj Max, Marshalls, HomeGoods) and pick up some decorative iron holders. To switch things up and make it a little more eye appealing, why not pick up matching Toilet paper holders? Obviously shorter in width than a paper towel holder, this can also be put into the mix for different sizes. Other holders to consider for your ribbon? Well a bathroom towel rack would work just as well, provided the bar is narrow enough for the ribbon. Designed to hold paper towels, bracket-mounted wooden dowels hang inside one door, skewering colorful spools of ribbon, string, jute, and cording you just unroll and snip to length.

Hopefully this should give you some good ideas for your own home office or crafting space. I know this was something a few of you were interested in and it's difficult to know everyone's exact needs. But sitting down and making a list of what you need to organize will really help you pull it all together. Good luck!

22 Comments:

Mrs. P said...

Love, love this post!!!!

Mel said...

Dare I ask how much that embroidery machine is? It looks fabulous!

Melissa said...

Fabulous ideas MM! That was quite a post - thanks for all the effort you always put into writing such great posts!

J said...

I just started writing a post on how cluttered my closet and bedroom have become and I am defintely going to buy binders tomorrow to sort out projects so I can get rid of the stacks of magazines lining one wall!

sle said...

No kidding, here I sit in my home office up to my knee's in "where am I going to put this" and its MM to the rescue!

Britt said...

Wow, that is all great stuff - coming from someone who still lives in a small house/apt, I love the cabinet craft corner, it bothers me that I have fifty million little boxes and bags with random ribbons, glue etc. It all needs to be organized!

cape cod mermaid said...

Always looking for new organizational ideas! Thanks for the great post!

Fairfax said...

Momma... when I moved back to the States from Wales, a friend gave me 12 nesting boxes with the London underground map on them. All of my art/craft stuff is now in identical boxes, with Brothered labels on them identifying the contents. My small stab at organization!

Erin said...

I desperately need to get organized...I have half-finished projects all over the house. Thanks for the tips!

Bossy Bar-Wife said...

I love this post! I am getting so inspired to work on organizing my spaces.

BTW-- I totally know what a deficiency is, having been on the receiving end of more than one!

Preppy Wedding said...

Great ideas. This is going to be my first big home project after the wedding!

Curly said...

I'm in the process of trying to re-organize my home office...GREAT ideas!!! Thanks for all the hard work you put into each post!

Curly said...

I'm in the process of trying to re-organize my home office...GREAT ideas!!! Thanks for all the hard work you put into each post!

Kerry said...

hmmm... we are eventually turning a wasted space of a sitting room off our bedroom into my closet/laundry/sanctuary room (it's a big wasted space right now) and this is a post I will be needing - thank you!

CJ said...

I love the craft cabinet and have been searching for a good storage solution for my scrapbooking. Where did you find this one? I hate to take out the do-it-yourself part, but I think (for the cabinets sake) I should focus on my other decor projects and my scrapbooking. :)

Susan said...

This is inspirational, MM, especially since we will be moving into a much smaller house soon - "organization" will be our mantra!

Monogram Momma said...

I'm glad you guys liked these ideas! My favorite is using a towel rack to hold your ribbon. ;-)

CJ, I found that cabinet online, but look in your phone book for an unfinished furniture store and they typically have a great selection of different sizes and types of cabinets like this at GREAT prices. You can pay them to finish it for you, or you can buy it unfinished and finish it off yourself.

Oh, and Bossy, there is no way you received a Deficiency! I happen to KNOW that your GPA was a lot more attractive than mine was! ;-)

Susan said...

Great post -- thanks so much for all of those ideas!

Christy said...

LOL...our minds are on the same page. I did a post on my blog re: this exact same thing. In fact, we even have a couple of the same pics from PB. You gave me some good ideas that I hadn't thought of though. I'm also doing some more searching for other organizing gadgets and ideas to add to everything I have so far. I also do binders with ideas. I love notebooks so I usually buy them just for the fun of it. I wish they would stop coming out with cute ones! I have one binder with home decorating, one with crafty ideas and one with home and beauty solutions.

FluteLoop said...

I love your blog! You have such nifty ideas. I have so much to organize and you post has given me several good ideas!

julie (jane's apron) said...

just found you from "fresh vintage"...I love to organize stuff (and READ about organizing stuff)...thanks for the great ideas!

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