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My Total Office Makeover: Done!

by on Jan 27, 2011

Welcome to our blog series, My Total Office Makeover, in which Curbly’s editor-in-chief, Chris Gardner, realizes that as a full-time design and craft blogger working from home, he’d better transform his second bedroom into a space where work can actually get done, and look pretty cool while it happens. 

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Part VII: The (Big?) Reveal For a year and a half, I had a spare bedroom that was more-or-less the kind of of place where you shut the door when you had company over. Heck, I didn’t even like spending time in there, opting to do most of my work on the sofa instead.

So, I toughened up, made a few trips to the hardware and craft store, came up with a few original IKEA hacks, vowed to keep my space organized, and created a space where I spend more time than in any other room. Sometimes I even entertain in here!

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If you haven’t been following along, I came to point in my life where I was a bit of a sad sack, fulfilling more single male stereotypes than I’m willing to admit. As a full time online journalist and how-to creator (I’m the editor-in-chief of Curbly and the guy behind the crafting for guys site ManMade), I needed a place to not only do computer work, but experiment, execute, and photograph all sorts of DIY and craft projects.

So, my priorities were:

  • Multiple, adaptable work surfaces, including a
    • A dedicated desk for my music and film editing gear, including a place to permanently house my media desktop computer and essential equipment
    • A general work desk where I’d store most of the home office supplies, most often use my laptop, pay bills, and do sewing projects
    • A large table top for “clean” crafts and art (no paint or sawdust), that could also serve as a fabric cutting table, and house a light box.
  • Bookshelf space for my non-fiction library. The others stay in the living room, organized by color, but these need to be appropriately arranged so its easier to locate individual works
  • Ample storage space for craft supplies, including sewing and fabric, paper crafts, drawing and painting, yarn and fiber arts, photography, and video
  • A flat file system for storing and protecting paper
  • Safe, accessible way to hang my guitar and stringed-instrument collection
  • Large inspiration boards to collect my favorite visual pieces
  • Clean white surfaces close to the large window to take well-lit step-by-step photos, and window treatments to maximize natural light for photography.
  • A space for my Eames lounge

Mission accomplished!

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Care for a tour?

Tips to organize your workspace.

I have three main workspaces. The one above houses all the things that are permanently wired up: desktop computer, external hard drives, speakers, musical instruments, and other media gear. I created the custom mounted shelf on top from scratch; you can find the how-to instructions here.

You can see the room’s only window in the photos above and below. I created a very-functional roman shade out of plain white linen that acts as a diffuser in this space, allowing good natural light for taking step-by-step photos.

Workspace table with yellow color tattoo light, pen holder and book at top.

This adjustable drafting desk was created with a basic IKEA table top, adjustable legs, and some ingenuity. I do most of my art and craft work here: drawing, paper and stencil cutting, and some sewing. I love having the transparent surface to do image transfers and tracing. If I’m taking on a big sewing project, I’ll flatten this table to use as a cutting surface, and do the sewing on my computer desk. It’s nice to have one chair in this space, and be able to turn around and access two work surfaces.

created at: 01/27/2011 This is my main desk, where I set up my laptop to write, edit, process photos, pay bills, etc. I have several in-and-out trays to keep me organized, and use the IKEA ALEX system as a flat file for storing paper and artwork, and the smaller drawers to house office supplies. In the winter time, I stash my little mod Honeywell space heater under here to keep my toes toasty.

"Notice Board in an Office with information"

To keep me inspired and keep track of lists and important papers, I made this faux bois wood grain magnetic board and tool organizer:

A line of scissors attached to a magnetic strip on the wall.

And to surround myself with sketches, ideas, and the amazing work of artists I admire, I whipped up four large hand printed inspiration boards for under $20.00:

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Different types of gift cards placed on wall.

I knew I wanted to keep my walls and furniture white, and have pops of color come in from the accessories and the books in the space. The neutrals are mainly gray, and the accents in yellow.

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This is just a standard spool organizer from the craft store. I removed the legs, painted it yellow, and store it on hooks that allow me to remove it easily to wherever I’m sewing.

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This rotating tool caddy came from the art supply store in black, but comes to life with the same paint as the spool organizer and the articulating desk lamp above.

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I needed ample, but concealable storage for all my supplies and tools, so I lined the space between my desks with shelving, and invested in plenty of well-labeled boxes.

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Whereas I used to work on most of my projects in the basement, nearly everything that doesn’t involve paint, ink, or sawdust is now done in this space.

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Thanks for visiting! If you have any questions or tips, please let me know at [email protected].

Otherwise, please post in the comments below and let me know what you think!

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