Office Progress: How To Build A Wooden File Storage Stand

What’s one thing that every office needs? Bingo – a lava lamp.

Ok, I kid, I kid. What I meant to say was “file storage.” And ours is no exception. We made a nice leap forward on the storage front with our hacked Ikea bookcase, but the desk I built was seriously lacking any place to stash papers and such. So after failing to find a perfectly sized file cabinet at our local thrift stores, we spotted a pair of simple embossed gray file boxes at Target (for just $14.99 a pop) that had our names written all over them.

Here they are sitting on the floor of our very much a work-in-progress office a few days ago.

I’ll give you a close-up of ’em later in the post, but basically they were just about the perfect amount of hanging file storage for us (you know, the kind of boxes that have those rails that hold folders that you can use to label and categorize your papers?). Plus, with two of them side by side they were the beginnings of a perfect spot to stack the white Ikea storage boxes from Sherry’s old office that contain our receipts and our modem (we paid Comcast $28 to move our modem into the office so we’d have the strongest wireless signal in there).

But… it wasn’t the prettiest setup. And having to lift the white storage boxes every time we wanted to access the file boxes was a quick way to ensure that we’d never actually use said file boxes. So with my carpentry mojo still in full force, I decided to tackle another building project. And this time I wanted to create something to optimize our storage and file box sitch.

Once again I opted to rely on the Kreg Jig (can you tell I’m addicted?) to connect all the pieces. The pieces in this case being two $10 pine boards intended to be stairs (I bought them because I liked the finished-looking rounded edge). I’ll spare you all of the construction details this time around (just trust me that it was actually quite similar to my desk and shelf building projects). About three hours later, I had this little guy:

He was perfectly sized to fit the two file boxes snugly in the bottom opening while the two stacked Ikea storage boxes could be slipped in and out of the cubby above them (with plenty of room for the modem cords in one of those white Ikea storage boxes to feed out the back). We even left some room on top for a few miscellaneous items like our external hard drive and the radio that we like to listen to from time to time.

We brought it in unfinished because (1) I wanted to make sure I had measured everything correctly and (2) we weren’t quite sure whether we wanted to paint it white to match the desk or stain it dark to match the chairs (which are free leftovers from our existing dining set, since we substituted two of them for a bench a while back).

And once we had it in place… well, we actually decided to toss out both of those ideas. Instead, we opted to paint it the same soft aqua that we used on the back of the bookcase (Mythic’s Adanna Aire). Just for fun.

You’re probably noticing something else in that pic, sitting on the desk itself. It’s another little file system that we also picked up at Target. It’s actually intended to be used as storage for scrapbooking, but we liked that its shelves were a great size for our notebooks, bills to pay, and even the books that we’re currently reading. Plus, because it’s deep enough to store those big scrapbook sheets it creates a nice wide surface on top for us to place other items that we like to have on hand. Stay tuned for those accessorizing details in the coming weeks (for now we’re tackling the big things like larger storage, toy corralling, art, etc).

But back to the action under the desk. I promised close-ups of the file storage boxes so here’s a pic illustrating that we achieved our goal of making it easy to slide the boxes out and actually access our files. Then we can either pop open the top compartment which will be good for storing cables, cords, scissors, stamps and more (it stays closed thanks to a magnetic strip)…

…or flip the whole thing open to access our hanging files like insurance info and hospital bills (sigh).

And the subtle overlapping circles detail on the outside (and bolder version inside) is a nice touch – especially for the $14.99 price tag.

In general it’s a pretty simple update, but it’s already making a huge functional difference for us (since we’re using this office on a daily basis even while it’s a work-in-progress). Now we’ve got a place to stash paper and better manage the clutter on the desk. And we like that it’s helping to turn the long two-person desk into two distinct workspaces for me and Sherry.

But the room is by no means finished. In addition to simple things like wrangling our wires and cords, figuring out where to put our printer (and if we’re even keeping our current one), we’ve still got to decide on what the heck we’re gonna put on that big blank wall that we get to stare at all day long. Well, when we’re not staring at Clara.

Oh and in case you’d like to see the new setup in action, here’s how we get things done around here lately:

And we wouldn’t have it any other way.

So that’s the scoop on our end. How about you guys? Have you spotted or created any simple file storage systems lately? Or any other clever, sneaky, or beautiful ways to wrangle all of those papers, bills, mail, etc that tends to pile up? Please do share, because even if we can’t use ’em in this room, we may just file the ideas away for a rainy day. Pun intended.

Psst- Wanna follow the entire office/guest bedroom/playroom makeover? Click here for the intro post, here to read about the big sleeper sofa hunt, here for the DIY desk play-by-play, here for the homemade light fixture project and right here for our hacked Ikea bookcase.


  1. Denise says

    Awesome, very clean and simple and functional work space. Love, love, love the last picture. My kids are big now so we cannot do this no more but we have our miniature dachshund on our laps while in the computer as well.
    Beautiful space!

  2. Lisa says

    You guys need some big flat panel monitors to go on the blank wall, and some comfy desk chairs! I love office spaces that look pretty, but I’m all for function and ergonomics in workspaces.

    • says

      Hey Lisa,

      After putting in about three weeks of 8-ish hour days we’re happy to report the chairs are actually quite comfy! We even picked up some seat cushions but ended up returning them because the chairs are more comfortable without them! We’re all about function and form, so we promise we wouldn’t sit on chairs that hurt for 50+ hours a week! Although we are still on the lookout for ways to add more textiles to the room (so if we found comfier cushions we just might make them ours…). Hope it helps!


  3. says

    I love the subtle circles on those storage cubes – we’ve been looking for some reasonably-priced, but still trendy, solutions too. Looks like we’ll be making a Target trip this week!

    PS – That last photo – ADORABLE.

  4. says

    Hahhahah…laughing at the last shot with all the babies huddled up.
    Seriously though, paper storage is a nightmare for me. We have so much of it. I am looking for ways to streamline and keep it looking good to. Thanks for sharing your storage tips. Liking the aqua DIY shelf.

  5. neena says

    looks like a great place to work…. i could definitely use those storage boxes.
    and that last photo, love love love…

  6. miss j says

    Just love that last pic of John with Clara in the baby carrier and Burger on his lap. Hilarious.

    That file holder is really making me wish we had Target in the UK. Gorgeous, practical and cheap is a winning combination.

  7. Lisa says

    Love the last photo! And I’m glad to see someone else making good use of an Ergo. I LOVE the Ergo, and am so sad that my son no longer fits in mine!

  8. Julia says

    Have been waiting forever to see that whole desk space in action… love everything, as always! :) Don’t know if you guys are intending on revealing the details of your filing system at some point (how you do it etc.) but would definitely be interested if you did. I can’t figure out for the life of me the best way to file anything!

  9. TG says

    The office is coming along beautifully. The big question: How do you and Sherry tame your paper tiger? I am having thew worst time with that.

  10. Kathryn says

    I work 8 hours from home too so when you said the chairs are comfy I perked up. If you guys don’t mind me asking where did you get them? I’m in the market for a new chair. Since my old one isn’t working out. Can’t wait to see the final product of the office.

    • says

      TG – If you’re wondering how we keep from letting paper clutter take over our house, we try pretty hard to only keep what we think is important and might be needed again later. It also helps that we deal with mail and bills almost immediately when they arrive, so we don’t have statements and stubs piling up. Plus with so much online these days we’ve gone paperless on a lot of our bills and bank statements. Hope that helps!

      Kathryn – Our chairs are part of a dining room set that we scored at Target a couple of years ago. We don’t know if they still sell them, but we’d bet any of their dark stained, clean-lined ladder back chairs would be fairly similar.

      Rebecca – Good question! A lot of my family has asked this and it’s a bit hard to answer. I’m totally enjoying it, but since the addition of Clara to our household has been such a major shift in our daily routine, our version of “working from home” is not the traditional eight hours behind a desk that I would’ve experienced had I made the transition before baby. So while it’s been great, it’s just hard to compare to working from the office because it’s just so different than anything I’ve experienced before. But I can say I’m extremely grateful that I’m not counting down the days until my paternity leave would have ended because that means I would have to leave my little bean.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *