File Storage & Office Organization In An Effektiv Ikea Cabinet

We haven’t given our office any love in the entire eight months that we’ve lived here (other than deciding that it was no longer the dining room and shifting that into the old formal living room nearby). Pretty much our moving day MO was to: plop old office furniture down, work away, and ignore the fact that the rug’s crazy-off-center and you can bump your head on the old dining room chandelier. Sad times.

But the lack of love given wasn’t for lack of trying. We’ve been keeping our eye out for two similar/identical secondhand filing cabinets for, oh, eight whole months. So we were starting to lose hope after about twenty five visits to all of our favorite local thrift stores without finding two of them:

  1. that were the same height or depth (we ideally wanted to put two of them next to each other to make a square cabinet)
  2. that were even remotely operable (it was crazy how many were so dinged and dented that they hardly opened)

We even checked out online office supply shops and local places like Office Max, but a lot of the filing cabinet options that we found were upwards of $100 a pop – and we wanted two). Then on our recent trip to Ikea (for these shoe cabinets), this piece of furniture caught our eye as we strolled through the upper level:

It’s an “Effektiv” (hence the bad pun in the title of this post). And we decided half of it (it was actually two of them pushed together) would be the perfect solution for a little “situation” that we have going on (no not that Situation):

Yes, that’s a printer-paper-camera-bag-shredder pile right on the floor that’s sheepishly tucked out of view behind the sofa (but not completely out of view from a few other angles). And yes, Clara loves to push buttons and throw paper and cause general pile chaos. So something had to be done. Like yesterday.

Even though the Effektiv system has LOTS of customization options, we went for something very similar to what we saw on the showroom floor (just half as wide). I annoyingly lost the receipt (bad blogger) but it was in the neighborhood of $150. Which isn’t too bad considering some of the “heavily discounted office surplus” options would have been $200+ for the double-wide equivalent. Even the cost to build it all myself probably would have been in the $150+ range after getting all the drawer slides and hinges and file fittings (and I worried it wouldn’t have the same durability that I’d get from something made by experts since it would be constantly opened and shut). Oh and that price included one base, two shelf pieces, and the various interior fittings for a double wide file drawer on the bottom and concealed storage for things like our wireless printer and stacks of paper on the top double-doored shelf.

We figured it’d be a good piece to anchor this empty wall (opposite the wall with the desk, next to the doorway to the kitchen) while also adding some functional storage.

One by one, I assembled each of the three pieces and screwed them on top of one another. It was a thrilling process I assure you, so forgive me for glossing over it so quickly.

Oh and as for the vent on the right of it, luckily it has those angled registers so the air gets directed out at an angle that allows it to flow right out the side and into the room. There’s about a 4″ gap there (even though it looks a lot smaller in pics due to shadows) so it’s great thus far (we can feel the air easily coming out, so it’s not getting trapped or anything). Whew. Otherwise we’d just close that register because there are a few others in the room.

The beauty of this piece is that it slipped right in under the chair rail and fit pretty nicely width-wise too (we didn’t have the wall measurement with us, so we’re beyond relived that it wasn’t an inch too wide or something). It was offered with lots of customizable options – drawers, cabinets, hanging file systems, solid doors, frosted fronts, etc. We knew we wanted the upper shelf to work as a cabinet (to store the wireless printer & reems o’ paper mess) and the lower one to house a ton of hanging files (we have a surprising amount of paperwork due to being “our own business”). For some reason I’ve become addicted to hanging file storage and the two little file boxes slipped under our desk are, well, not doing it for me at all (they’re only about 7″ wide).

We went with basic white doors since they were the cheapest option and provide the easiest blank canvas in case we want to paint, wallpaper, stencil, or even O’verlay them with these cool things down the line for a more interesting (read: less Ikea-ish) look.

When it came to the interior fittings, first I put the file system in the bottom. It consists of a metal drawer/frame, a heavy weight in the back (to keep it from toppling when the drawer is pulled out) and a flat white cabinet face that will attach to the front. We also anchored it to the wall with an Ikea-provided kid-safe anchor system, just to be double safe.

Then the top half just consisted of putting on two cabinet doors, so the whole thing went from this…

…to this…

You’re probably wondering about our knob dealio. We decided to skip the ones from Ikea and go for a more homemade handle. We thought something rustic like casual string was a nice contrast to the sleek lines of the rest of the piece.

Okay, I’m totally kidding. The string was just temporary (since I learned the hard way that it was impossible to open the doors without prying them open with a flat head screwdriver without it).

I wasn’t kidding about passing on all of the Ikea hardware options though. We tried to like something. Really we did. But nothing was really doing it for us and we thought knobs from somewhere else might give it a little more character and make it work with other things in the room (like our $35 thrifted lattice desk chairs). Note: of course we have about ten million other changes we plan to make in here (slowly by surely) when it comes to the furnishings, lighting, etc.

But back to the hardware. Yeah, we’re hoping that adding some non-Ikea knobs or pulls could help to make the whole thing look a smidge less Ikea-y (as would eventually painting, stenciling, or wallpapering the fronts, sides, top or the whole darn thing). But we’re not gonna do any of that ’til the whole room is further along. Because who knows, once the room is painted (stenciled? wallpapered?) the piece could look best in plain ol’ glossy white (and we’d be kicking ourselves for having jumped the gun). We already found some pretty cool Anthropologie-ish handle options at a place that rhymes with Schlobby Bobby though, so once we make a final decision and screw them in (which always freaks me out by the way- is anyone else totally intimidated to drill right into new furniture?) we’ll be back with updated pics for ya. Hopefully within 24-ish hours.

Oh and since there have been a bunch of Clara video requests, we thought we’d share her latest party trick: animal sounds (although Sherry forgot piggy and doggy). You’ll note that she’s holding a fabric ruler from her tool kit the whole time. Looks like the girl’s ready to help me measure and screw in my hardware:

Has anyone else added some functional office storage recently? Did you have better luck hunting down something secondhand? Do you also have a deeply rooted fear of drilling holes into new furniture to attach hardware? I must measure things fifteen times just to be sure I’m not hanging them an inch off center or something.


  1. says

    I’d been wondering about the home office; I know it had been mentioned in 2010, but I really hadn’t seen anything about it since there. The Effektiv set looks really nice in that corner! The string was a nice fake-out! ;)

    As far as Clara’s animal noises go: d’awww.

    I guess my only question is if you’re worried about messing with the room’s air circulation by putting something in front of that vent there? That’s the only part that makes me nervous about that placement. In fact, you guys tend to have really good luck with IKEA things being just the right size — here, the laundry room…

    • says

      Luckily that vent has those angled registers so the air gets directed out at an angle that allows it to flow right out the side and into the room. There’s also about a 4″ gap there, even though it looks a lot smaller in pics due to shadows. So far it’s great and we can feel the air easily coming out (so it’s not getting trapped or anything). So grateful! Otherwise we’d just close that register because there are a few others in the room.


    • says

      Ahhh, okay, that makes sense. Yeah the angling doesn’t really show up in the pictures! *laughs*

      Oh! I remember the other thing I wanted to ask: how do you survive not having a ceiling fan in that room?! You guys are in Richmond, VA, right? I grew up in Texas, and I know a Southern Summer is nothing shy of intense. (Though, you know, a pretty chandelier isn’t something to just go about replacing — not when there’s ORB around! Hahahaha.) If we hadn’t had ceiling fans in the den of the house I grew up in, I don’t think it would have been bearable!

    • says

      We have central air, and definitely use things like table fans in the bedroom while we sleep, but I think we just grew up in households with the whole if-you’re-hot-take-off-a-layer (and if you’re cold put on a sweater) rules. So we just wear thin tees and shorts with our central air set to around 84 degrees and we sweat to the oldies. Haha.


    • says

      *laughs* Fair enough! I just moved to Manhattan and I’m realizing that the strip-down-layer-up rule is much more common (read: economical!) here. Not that we weren’t running around in cutoffs and wifebeater tanks back in Texas, but you know. Fans are awesome.

      May I ask what your plans are for this room, if any? Off-center rug aside, I really like that chair rail. It looks well-made and breaks up the wall nicely.

      Aaaaand since it feels like all I do is ask you questions, feel free to ask me anything! :D

    • says

      Oh gosh, our plans are to take it one day at a time and try not to get overwhelmed! Haha. We’re not those people who know every step of a makeover going into it. We sort of piggyback one decision over another, so we have no idea about window treatments (probably roman shades though) or even paint colors yet. We do plan to keep the chair rail though- at least at this point we do. Haha. We change our minds a lot though!


    • says

      Yeah, with a whole house, I bet it would be really easy to just feel incredibly overwhelmed. But hey; your method is obviously working for you guys, and the flexibility is awesome — it means you can do things like have recycling bins be shoe racks! (Which, ps: still totally awesome.)

      I was reading this entry over at Centsational Girl, and it made me curious: how do you and John work to balance your tastes against each other? Naturally, this not being your first home reno/redecoration project, you’ve worked out the worst of it, but I definitely feel like your rooms aren’t screaming feminine! or masculine! in their entirety at me. How do you do it?

    • says

      We just have one rule: we both have to like something to get it or make it or do it. So John doesn’t cave to me if he doesn’t like something and vice versa. It keeps us from holding things against each other or feeling like we’re not as at home as the other person. It definitely takes longer to get full mutual sign-off on everything though, haha. But we’re happy to take our time in exchange for ending up with something we both love.


    • says

      Plus, I’m sure, if you both agree that you like something, then the room ends up pulling together much better. Does this apply to everything — art, paint, upholstery, colors of lamps, etc? Clara’s baby clothes? ;)

    • says

      Yup, our “full agreement agreement” goes for every purchase or project. Well I guess except for our own clothing since John doesn’t ask my permission to get pants he likes, etc. But for Clara, we definitely chat about if she needs a blank and make sure we both think it’s cute (and will match other things she has).


  2. Marianne says

    Way to get to work on the office! It seems that’s always one of the last places to put together! I had to say also, I laughed out loud at Clara’s little half-scoot-half-slide things she did at the end of the video! Too stinkin’ cute!

  3. says

    you were really lucky… we usually get a little short of inches when buying things because they look like they would work in the space without the measurements…

    good luck with the knobs hunting…

  4. says

    Great amount of storage in there, and it fits in the corner perfectly!

    Just wondering – do you have a nice view out of the window in front of your desks? I thought it might look nice to have the sofa on that wall and your desks under the front window, but I thought there was perhaps a reason you chose to do it that way round.

    Anyway, it’s coming along nicely.

    Also, did you see Katie’s ORB light fixture? LOVE.

    • says

      We’ve tried it a few different ways in the past and actually plan to try our hand at more furniture rearranging in there soon! The view out the side window is of bushes and trees as is the one out the front, but the front one is brighter since there’s less of an awning (the side one is through the carport). Oh and as for Katie’s fixture. Yes. Amaaaaaazing! So in love.


    • Heather W says

      Have to share this is too funny! I saw Katie’s post this morning regarding the light fixture and thought how lucky she got to find for $10 and it looks so good and would love to find one similiar etc. etc. So, as I am going down my my stairs I look up and realize I have the exact light fixture hanging over my landing! (it was there when we bought the house and I have been wanting to change forever but lights are expensive that size) I know exactly what to do and already have my can of ORB and will save a ton of money!!! I still can’t believe it.

    • Heather W. says

      I know right! I can’t believe I have a complete tutorial to use to do it too. Wow, it must be my lucky day! I will be pinning it for sure.

  5. Veronika says

    Oh wow! Love the Clara video! Sorry it totally outshines the new Effektiv situation! lol
    She grows so fast! Lot’s of love for Clara!


  6. Cheryl M says

    LOL ….. you had me for about a second with the string! I thought oh God they’ve lost it!!

    Hope you find some awesome knobs/handles to take it from Ikey to I Likey!

    and yeah putting holes in new furniture freaks me out too!!

  7. says

    Oh jeez, I thought you were serious about the string!! It’s early, and I need more coffee, but I thought , oh god, really?? really?? string?

  8. Amy says

    I like it but it looks like it blocks a vent. If you have a secret for getting around vents I’d like to hear it because they are the bane of my furniture arranging existence.

    • says

      Luckily that vent has those angled registers so the air gets directed out at an angle that allows it to flow right out the side and into the room. There’s also about a 4″ gap there, even though it looks a lot smaller in pics due to shadows. So far it’s great and we can feel the air easily coming out (so it’s not getting trapped or anything). So grateful! Otherwise we’d just close that register because there are a few others in the room.


  9. says

    I currently have all my files in an old wooden toy chest. I love the chest but it’s just not working at a file solution anymore – I’ve been looking for a second hand one to jazz up nicely but maybe I should check out Ikea.
    Do we get to see the finished product with the doors and drawer open?

  10. Sara says

    Ikea is the best! What do you guys have written up on that mirror though? Do you just use it as a dry erase board?

    • says

      It’s a new one we got from Ikea when we got our shoe cabinets. It’s full of fabric tools (hammer, saw, tape measure) and even comes with a tool belt. I think it was $6 or less. She loves it! We also got a fabric animal set (she loves the goat for some reason). Haha.


    • Amy says

      I’m the one who told you about that over at Baby Center. I’m so glad Clara likes it! My 20-month-old adores his.