When you live in a small house or apartment, space is a precious commodity!
It’s something you’re constantly trying to hold onto, and bringing one more thing into your space seems to create an organization disaster! In our small (but cute) 1925 Bungalow styled house this has always been the case. So, years ago when we needed an office space it was a no-brainer to convert a walk-in closet off of the dining room into a small home office.
Over time, however (as you can see in the photo to the left) this space too became a cluttered disorganized mess as more and more things were brought into it. On the top shelf you’ll notice it being overrun with books, binders, stacks of miscellaneous things, and outdated manuals and reading material. Even a portrait my mother drew of my sisters as children is being hidden by the stacks of disorder! The desk has become an unusable hodge-podge of whatever couldn’t fit somewhere else; boxes of gardening seeds, routers, an external hard-drive, papers, even more binders, and miscellaneous this and that. The bulletin board, once sufficient for posting info, now seems too small for the space and isn’t being used to its fullest potential. (What you can’t see in the photo is additional boxes of papers sitting on the floor next to the desk, a cardboard drawer set on the sidewall shelf, and a lower bookshelf with phone books and outdated software sitting on it.)
Besides the disorganization and clutter of the office, it also lacked inspiration. There was nothing about the office that said much of anything except, “I don’t have time to figure this all out!” The office we had once loved, had become overwhelming and lacking of imagination.
SO now that you know the problem, here was my solution!
The key to reorganizing a space is to not put everything back into the space simply because that's where it began. You have to actively go through what was there to know whether it’s worth sparing the much needed space commodity. In this case, that meant getting rid of manuals for out-of-date software, purging things that were no longer being used, relocating crafting magazines and supplies to the art studio, and shifting around what was there to make the use of space more efficient. I also took this opportunity to take a couple of trips to a few stores to get some things to add a bit of personality to the space, as well as some new storage solutions, bulletin boards, and a new 12-outlet power-strip.
Design tip: When it comes to revamping a space you really don't need to buy much, you just need to buy smart and be resourceful. If your on a budget (like we were) try to stick to necessary purchases by making a list before you go shopping and sticking to it. With the few things you see above (plus a quart of blue paint, branches cut from the lemon tree in our backyard, a new clock, basket and two small plastic storage containers) I was able to change the entire feel of the office in just 2days!
I started off by choosing a new paint color for the upper portion of the wall that would brighten up the space a bit and bring in some much needed pizzazz! What I ended up choosing was a beautiful blue paint called Safe Harbor, sounds peaceful doesn't it? Though the color kind of reminds me of peacock feathers for some reason... majestic and a bit elegant. With the amount of wall I was going to be painting a quart was a sufficient amount of paint.
Next I took everything out; I cleared the shelves, the desk and the floor, wiped down and dusted off everything, and mopped the floor. Then I taped around the ceiling and the white trim with painters tape, painted each wall with a few coats and left it to dry for a few hours.
After allowing the paint to dry I removed the painters tape and started to move some things back into the room. As I said before, it isn't necessary that everything that began in the room to be brought back into it, so with this in mind I made careful decisions about what was in and what was out.
At this point I started with the top shelf and made my way down to the floor. On the top shelf I reconfigured the wooden storage boxes we already had in a way that allowed for more shelf space by stacking two of them and moving what we use most to a more accessible location. Also I hung my mother's drawing that before had been sitting hidden on the shelf behind clutter on the wall so it could be better appreciated. Then rehung family photos on the side wall that cannot be seen in the "before" photo above. Next, I took a seashell filled jar (we honestly just happened to have sitting on a closet shelf) and placed it on the highest storage box to create interest and height in the room. Then we cut a large branch from a lemon tree in our backyard and trimmed it into a natural sculpture to bring some earthiness into the space. It's amazing how serendipitous things can turn out...see how the branches frame the drawing on the wall? Purely accidental, though beautiful! I then added an antique real-feathered badminton "birdie" for a bit of playfulness next to the "sculpture" (also something we just happened to have lying around).
One of the coolest things you can do when you're "revamping" a space is to take things you already have and love from one part of your house (that may or may not be being used) and re-purpose it in the new space you're creating. Not to forget to mention it's completely free and gives your things a new lease on life.
After some much needed sleep the project continued! Day two started off with further organization and purging, a bit more cleaning, and some planning. Once the office was to a point where everything that was going to be going back into the room was back in the room, we planned what else was needed to make the space sparkle. Because of our love for gardening and nature we decided to continue with this theme (like the adding of the branches and seashells). I knew from the beginning that I wanted to create a way that the routers could be used but not seen. I also knew that I wanted to replace the cardboard drawers (unseen in any pictures, sorry!) with something more up to par with the rest of the revamp, as well as a new clock that worked, some crafty tidbits, and a longer bulletin board. For this we took a trip to one of my favorite stores Michael's! We also stopped by an office supply store, and Target. What we ended up with is what you saw above in the photo of our shopping finds, but what was done with what we bought you have yet to see!
Let's start with the unsightly router problem. Remember seeing that beautiful cream box? With the butterflies, birds, and bird cages on it?? Of course you do it's just above what you're reading. Well that became the new home of the routers.
I simply cut a large rectangle in back of the box with a box cutter (go figure), and waalaa... router home. I tried to make the opening as large as possible for the size of the box to create ventilation. I then placed the the larger of the two routers in the box and plugged in all the cords through the new opening.
Next I placed a "U" shaped divider over the router and placed the smaller router on top of that, then plugged all of its cords in through the opening as well and positioned it on the desk. The "U" shaped divider is really a temporary solution by the way, it will eventually be replaced with something else more permanent, and preferably not cardboard. Also what you can't see is that I used electrical twist ties to organize the cords below the desk so that they all flow in the same direction and don't get tangled.
After finishing that little side project I worked on dressing up the lemon tree branches. I did this by threading little charms on white string and hanging them like ornaments from the little limbs. The largest one, seen in the picture below simply states "Grow"... which I believe is a great word to live by. I also clipped little orange accent birds to the branches as well.
Next, hung and embellished the new cork bulletin boards. Hanging them was relatively easy... though making sure everything is level and the spacing is just right can be a bit tricky. I then tied the keys we bought on a line of white string and hung them across the two boards using clear tacks, taking care to make sure the words engraved on them faced forward when hung.
I then added a few more things to the bulletin boards like cards from loved ones, a snapshot of my mom from the 70's, an inspirational saying, a growing chart for vegetables, cute little ladybug pushpins, etc. After that I organized things on the desk and brought in a blue lamp that use to be in the living room, though seems to fit in here much better!
Lastly, I organized things on the side wall shelves. I adding the newly purchased basket with two storage containers hidden inside which conceal office supplies; reorganized books and packs of unopened printing paper; and added the cute ceramic blue bird which sits on top of re-purposed little boxes we use to store gardening seeds that are labeled with the types of seeds that are inside.
And with that I was done!
From disorganized and cluttered, to orderly and inspiring, I was able to give our small home office a beautiful two day make over!
I hope this blog has inspired you to take on a remodeling or revamping project of your own!
Have a lovely day!