I’ve worked out of the same 100-square foot home office for the past 12 years, and while my location hasn’t changed, life sure has. Instead of running one website out of that office (thebalance.com), I now run two websites and an Etsy shop out of that space, and I share it with my husband. He quit his job two and half years ago to come work with me.
That’s a lot to cram into one tiny room, and it’s made organization a challenge.
But we make it work.
Right after my husband quit his job, we found two matching desks in a curb pile. Talk about a sign that you’re doing the right thing. We hauled them home, and have been using them ever since. They’re nothing special, but they match and they don’t take up much space.
Our chairs, however, do not match …
I have a crazy ball chair …
And my husband has a nice leather chair that we rescued from a curb pile. He spotted it when he was working as a driver’s helper for UPS last Christmas, and called me to come pick it up.
I’m not a big fan of sitting for long periods of time, so I also have a bike desk that I like to pull out and use.
We lost a lot of storage space when we added a second desk, so I began to scheme ways to better utilize our vertical space. I already had a shelf and clip board over my desk that was working well, so that left me with three walls to work with.
On the wall next to my desk, we added a wood shutter that we rescued from another curb pile. It gives me lots of room to clip my calendar and important papers.
To create more book storage, we built a shelf over the entrance to our office. It’s a hack of a shelf that I saw in a Restoration Hardware catalog. Get the instructions here. It holds frugal living/homesteading books that I keep for reference, books and magazines that I’ve contributed to, writing contracts, my labeling supplies and a few other odds and ends. This shelf has worked brilliantly for us.
And that leaves one wall. So far, we’ve just used it to hang artwork. I’ve been staring at that same picture for 12 years, so it’s definitely time for something new.
This is a keeper, though. It’s all cards and pictures that the kids have made for my husband. He’s such a great dad.
Over the past year, I’ve been trying to come up with ways to tame our desk clutter and to store all the new supplies that have entered our office.
You may remember when I created jars for our receipts. That’s been such a huge improvement. We have one for our business receipts and one for all of our cabin reno receipts. Just having a specific spot to drop receipts keeps them from piling up on our desks. Print your own receipt jar labels
And we recently figured out how to store the washi tape that we use to decorate our Etsy packages. It was just one of those happy accidents. I bought a broken lamp for the shade, and after my husband snagged a few parts that he needed to repair another lamp, we were left with the base. He stuck our washi tape on it, and suddenly we had the perfect washi tape rack. See those little white tabs on the ends of the rolls? Those are bread tags. They keep us from having to find the ends each time.
A couple weeks ago I came across a small file box and hardware organizer at a junk shop. Both had seen better days. They were dirty. They were rusty. They were beat up. But, they also looked like just the thing to organize all of our office smalls. So I paid $20 for the pair, bought some spray paint, and got to work on them.
After a fresh coat of paint, they both looked a lot better, but the plastic drawers still looked rough. They were heavily etched, and even after a trip through the dishwasher they still didn’t look very clean. So, I spent some time brainstorming, and I ultimately decided to decoupage some scrapbook paper to the fronts of the drawers. This did two things: It made them look a lot better, and it made them durable for the long haul.
I’m still moving in and labeling the drawers, but it’s already working really well for us. There’s a drawer for pens …
A drawer for our Etsy stamps, a drawer for our flash drives … a drawer for everything! I haven’t even assigned a purpose to half of them yet.
To create matching labels for the file drawers at the bottom, I cut out pieces from the same scrapbook paper that I decoupaged to the other drawers, and laminated them by covering them front and back with a piece of packing tape. Now, if I need to relabel the contents of the drawers down the road, my label tape will peel right off.
Our office still has areas that need improvement (it probably always will), but it’s a comfortable space to work, and I love that everything has a story behind it.
Oh, and in case you’re interested, this is the color that we used on the walls. It’s Red Cent by Sherwin Williams. But, I have to tell you, this chip isn’t a very good representation of the color. It reads sort of red/mauve-y, and I’d describe the color as a dark terracotta. It’s pretty much just like it shows in my pictures.