A recipe for a great tasting home office.

A glimpse into my home office.

One thing that always seems to be a problem is keeping organized in my home office.

I am a cofounder of a design firm responsible for designing and developing really cool looking websites, logos, and more. At the moment, there are three people in this small 10’x12’ room and to make matters worse, there are 5 computers in here that turn it into a living hell because of the heat, but that’s a story for another day. We plan on moving into a office space soon (and will post about it) but until then, we needed to think of ways to stay productive and organized. Here is what we did:


The Main Ingredients


2 Ikea Desks
3 Ikea Lamps
2 chairs
1 Futon
3 West Elm square block shelves
1 West Elm spine bookshelf
1 small book shelf
and a bunch of miscellaneous things






The Recipe

The most important things to me in an office environment includes looking good, easy access to  music, movies, books, and a place to rest... oh... and getting work done (cough cough). This played a crucial role in planning the space.

Everything we bought for this temporary office had to be pieced together like a puzzle so we have enough room to move around freely and it had to be cheap (it’s a temporary office; remember?). With that and a modern/tech color palette in mind, we made some measurements and headed out to do some shopping. We came back with the main ingredients listed above.

Step 1
The process that takes the cake in my opinion is starting with an empty plate. As a graphic designer, there have been many instances where I have to look at a existing website and redesign it so that it can accommodate new content or focus on certain content that already exists. It can be very overwhelming to start with something already there. Starting with an empty plate allows you to re-think the hierarchy of certain things and it allows you to play with new ideas on how things can be presented/positioned.

Step 2
To get started, place the largest furniture in the room first. The desks were placed in the room side by side. At about 60 inches each desk, it was a perfect fit giving us room to roll around in our chairs and walk around without bumping into anything. Another perfect thing about these desks is that you can switch what side the cabinets are on. Positioning them to the center of the room allowed more space in between us while working. We placed 3 computers on the desks; the 2 machines on the ends are for work, and the middle is used for entertainment (music and movies).

Step 3
It made the most sense for us to put the futon parallel to the desks on the opposite side of the room. This way, we have enough room to pull the futon out for those late night projects and also so we can sit back and relax while watching a movie without the need of re-positioning anything.

Step 4
We put the small bookshelf on the side of the futon so it can act as both a DVD/Book shelf and a side table for one table lamp. A larger bookshelf was placed perpendicular to the futon making it very accessible to everyone.

Step 5
Everything else was meticulously organized into the closet. The closet consists of a small filing cabinet, paper trays, multiple types of paper, a printer, scanner, and many books. We keep the printer and scanner in the office and only take them out when needed for two reasons; they are ugly, and they take up a lot of room. The filing cabinet is out of the way and in the closet keeping the mess of papers off the floor or on the desks and into the closet. On the shelving in the closet, we have placed boxes for receipts and miscellaneous documents, as well as books, magazines, and extra storage.

The small things that make a big difference

The light by my desk can sometimes be blinding. The fix is simple. A card acting as a shade on a note holder.
The lamps we bought at Ikea are blinding but they look so cool. To fix this problem, I simply bought a few note holders from target and placed a piece of card stock to act as a lamp shade.

The entertainment system ended out to be a Mac Mini because of it’s small size. It fits right on top of the desks and doesn’t take up much room at all. The speakers connected to this entertainment system had to be placed with saving space in mind. For this, I used two block shelves that I screwed onto the wall. The two Klipsh speakers rest perfectly on them in two corners of the room. The sub woofer fits snug in a desk cabinet.

If you noticed, I said I used two block shelves, but purchased three; this is because the third one has been screwed on the wall next to the futon. A nice thing about the entertainment system is that it is all wireless. The mouse fits comfortably on the block shelf allowing you to control the music and movies without having to get up (lazy or genius?).

Below the futon is plenty of space. On days where we have a lot going on, it’s the perfect place to put things temporarily (sometimes, not so temporary). For the future, we may make trays on wheels that roll in and out from under the futon.

The rest was, for the most part, decoration which completed the project and made it our working environment today. There are still some things we would like to do with this temporary office. Things like finding out what to do with the walls, figuring out other ways to organize papers, and most importantly, making more room for our third and newest co-worker.

I’m sure a ton of you Curbliers have run into the same situation yourselves and I would love to hear about what you did to solve the problem of organization in the office place.

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bravelittlesoul on Jan 03, 2007:

Wow! So sleek. Great tips...this article is a keeper.

timbenzinger on Dec 31, 2006:

Thanks for the feedback guys!

Bungalow: I love my spine bookcase! Makes me want to pick up a book everytime I walk by it.

jflogo: I am very tempted to do my room next (or move and start with an entire new canvas)

inkyR: The home office actually used to be a bedroom. I used to have a small corner of the living room and then decided, "It's time to expand". :-)

Stafanharwig: When we created the office, there we only two people. Now we sit with the delema a trying to figure out how to comfortably fit my other co-worker. At the moment, we bring in another chair and set up either a small table with a MacBook Pro on it or we move the wireless keyboard from the Mac Mini and place the MacBook Pro their to work with (Mac Mini's aren't the best when 8 hours of the day is spent in photoshop). We are actually looking at a nice and roomy office space now. This morning I drove up to a recently renovated warehouse that has been converted to office/studio space. It's beautiful; hardwood floors, tall and large spaces with huge windows. I will post about that soon (hopefully we will be moving to better fit our 3rd co-worker in the next few months).

Thanks again for the comments!

stefanhartwig on Dec 31, 2006:

I like it very much, but where does the person in the middle desk put their legs?  I'll second the spine bookshelf though.  That rocks.

inkyR on Dec 31, 2006:

This is pretty cool. Because we rarely eat in the dining room and I needed space for an office, we're converting the dining room into an office. It's interesting to see how other people create a home office in a not-necessarily-office space!

jflogo on Dec 30, 2006:

=0* * ... screw office, i want that as my room.

1932Bungalow on Dec 28, 2006:

An OCD designer's dream! Think the spine bookcase would be great for my home office to house all the design books. Thanks for the inspiration.

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