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.
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.
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.
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!
Jessica @ How Sweet says
I love the file storage boxes! They are actually pretty, too. Glad you guys are able to get some work done. :)
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.
Pine Tree Home 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.
liz @ bon temps beignet says
I love that Ikea box and your custom storage is awesome. I thought for sure that y’all added the lining, but I guess Ikea is stepping up their design game.
looks like a great place to work…. i could definitely use those storage boxes.
and that last photo, love love love…
Great job on creating to seperate work spaces and making the whole thing look sleek and stylish.
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.
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!
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!
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.
Kate @ Twenty-Six To Life says
That photo of John is priceless!
I love that you guys opted to paint the new little storage shelf blue instead of white. It’s a great pop of color between the white desk and dark chairs.
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.
You haven’t told us yet how you like working from home. Thoughts?
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.
Kristin Eldridgde says
Your office is turning out great!
I was just wandering if you were going to figure out how to hide those wires.
I picked up a Target storage ottoman on sale (they still sell them). For less than $10 I got wire frames to make hanging files. They fit perfectly in the storage ottoman, and it gained me extra seating plus 2.5 feet of hanging file storage.
I also used fusion tape to make covers for open storage out of cute napkins. I hung them with velcro dots. They helped me make a tiny home office space next to my kitchen table in my big open loft. I have storage for office supplies, a few file-sorting shelves, and my diaper bag, all hidden from sight.
Hope this helps someone!
Amy of the $100 stainless backsplash :)
My idea is to put two large mirrors up on the wall above your desk to open up the space and reflect the light from the window. I snatched up one of these large round mirrors at IKEA for only $29.99 (on sale from $79.99 http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/00139323). I plan on spray painting it black this weekend!
[email protected] says
Pretty boxes, and a great solution for stacking them. Your office is really coming along! Love that Clara and Burger both want in on the blogging action. :)
Are these the same two extra dining chairs that were used in the basement? Or do you have 4 extra chairs? (Just curious if the basement is now chair-less or if you had a lot of chairs with your dining set…). Thanks! :)
Good memory, Meredith! Those are the 2 chairs that were in the basement, but they’ve now been replaced by two other spare chairs that used to sit in the office when it was only a guest bedroom (they’re two modern white chairs that go with the other two that are in the sunroom around the pedestal table). So funny enough, the basement still has its chairs!
Michele – We tried to find a link for those storage boxes on Target’s web site but had no luck. If you head out to Target you can find them in the aisle near the office supplies. We’ve seen them in a couple of stores around here (as recently as yesterday) so you should have no trouble finding them in person.
This set up looks fantastic. I love the boxes, and they would suit my needs perfectly, but I can’t find them on target’s website. Any chance you have a link for them? Or the brand?
Hmm don’t think that link was working for the mirror. It’s called MELBU and it’s $79.99 on the website right now (but its on sale at the Minneapolis IKEA right now–hopefully others)
Tracie @ Gurtler + Home says
Those look so good. And P.S. I love that last photo.
The latest updates are looking great. You guys inspired me a while back with those white Ikea storage boxes. I implemented your ideas with 2 boxes for receipts (one for Home Depot/Lowes and one for all other receipts), plus I took it a step further with the stand-up magazine holders from that same Ikea line. I have one for catalogs, one for coupons, one for items relating to current projects, one for inspiration pictures, and one called “To Be Filed.” It’s so easy to quickly sort all my paper clutter into those categories, and every now and then I’ll take the To Be Filed box and actually put it’s contents into long term file storage. All of these boxes live on the bookshelf in my first floor office for easy access. Sure beats having piles everywhere! I love my new system and would never have started it without your ideas!
Great idea! It looks so nice, too. It’s pretty annoying when something looks good but isn’t actually functional, and it looks like you totally hit the jackpot on both! Cute pic, too :-)
Love the way the office is coming together! And it looks like the rug in there has the circle design like the storage boxes, very cool indeed. Since we’re talking about storage, do you guys have any tips on what paperwork to save and what to throw away? I need to tap into your minimalist thinking when it comes to storage. I always save way too much and end up never looking at it again. Thanks!
Is your West Elm desk still in the family room?
Love seeing “the fam” at work at the computer! You gotta frame that one . . .
Nice job! I love those target, made for scrapbooking, organizers. I bought a similar one on clearance, and I love it!
That last photo is so funny! Thanks for sharing:)
Love it! You guys are fantastic. I’m a huge fan of your blog and check it secretly everyday for your helpful updates and ideas! Keep it coming.
I noticed you have lots of wall space above your new desk. I’m a big fan of using vertical space. Have you checked out shelving at the Container Store? They make Elfa shelving that goes right into the wall. I’ve done my own version, cause their stuff is too expensive, but it might give you a brilliant idea for more organization and storage:
Thanks for sharing all your hard work and ideas with us!
So cute! Loving the aqua, good idea. I’ve been hunting for a living room sofa/console table forever. I wanted something dark wood, with storage but not bulky. So many things had ornate metal scrolling legs or glass tops or were $400+! I finally found this adorable vanity from World Market. It was a little more than the bargain I was hoping to find (for being a “member” I snagged a discount coupon though) but it’s so cute with awesome hidden storage (and even a mirror for on the way out the door lipstick checks) I had to get it. I also liked that it could be easily used in a multitude of rooms!
I highly recommend buying a wireless printer. Just put a wireless adapter in it and you can place it anywhere in the house. We store ours in our finished basement since having it by the family laptop on the kitchen desk would be untenable. It’s just a quick trip downstairs to collect our printed material. Really, how often do you print?
Loving your office progress so far. I have been struggling with the paper mess in our office for years now, and your solutions look so inspiring. And that DIY shelf is just awesome. I wouldn’t mind a tutorial for that at all provided you don’t mind of course.
You guys are the cutest family I see online! Very, very cute!
Here’s the quick version of how the shelf was made: I basically just bevel cut the sides and the top (using a circular saw set at an angle) to create a U (using the Kreg Jig to secure the top to each side) and then measured, cut and added the middle shelf in the same manner. Since I was building the whole thing upside down for the most part, I used some leftover wood (and a paint can) to create a spacer that the middle shelf could sit on so that it was stable and level while I screwed it in to the sides. I also set the middle shelf back a bit about an inch so I didn’t have to worry about beveling those edges. I ended up adding two short 1×2 boards at the back for added stability that were just cut to size and screwed directly into the pine boards. If you’re looking to get a better sense of how I attached each piece, reading the other posts about the Kreg Jig should give you a pretty good idea of how that worked. Just a few pilot holes drilled, clamped things in place and driving the screws it tight!
Hope that helps!
Do you have a link for the scrapbooking shelf that you have on the desktop? It looks like it may fit a specific need in our house, but I’m curious about the dimensions (we need something big enough for 11 x 17 papers).
Stephanie- We couldn’t find that on target.com either but it’s in the aisle at Target near the scrapbooking and photo albums. Hope it helps!
Rob- So true! We don’t print very often at all and love the idea of a wireless printer.
Kris- We have definitely considered adding even more storage to the wall- it’s definitely an option we’re thinking about!
Cheryl- Yup, we’re keeping that West Elm desk tucked into the corner of our den for writing letters and checking email on the weekends when we don’t want to be holed up in the office. We actually envision it working really well as a homework and drawing desk for Clara when she’s bigger. Since it’s out in the common area near the living room, dining room and kitchen it’ll be easy to keep an eye on her!
Patti- We try pretty hard to only keep what we think is important and might be needed again later (everything else gets shredded right away). 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 (and we’re comforted knowing that if we shred something we need, we can usually find it online anyway). Hope that helps!
I love those storage boxes from target, I have two pieces from that set, the larger (squarish) desk caddy and the mail/file holder to corral all my boyfriends paper that used to just be stacked on his desk.
Thanks for all you post – so much inspiration for me! Regarding file storage – I have finally started keeping digital files of all of our household stuff. Most of my bills are available by email – then I download the .pdf and drop it into the appropriate folder. Paper bills are scanned and then filed. I do almost all of my bill-paying online, and since I only need to reference information, I take a screenshot of the ‘Thank you for your payment’ screen from my bank (it will usually have 2 or 3 payments being made listed on it), and then copy that into the same folders.
This saves a lot of paper, a lot of hassle and no more piles around! I was terrible about filing my papers, but I have kept up with this for 6 months easy peasy!
I love the storage! It looks like it belongs in the room, not simply files and storage in the office space. Can’t wait to see the final make-over.
Awesome! I’m actually surprised to see that you both use laptops. I would have thought for all your web/photoshop/photo work you’d have big screened imacs or something? Isn’t it frustrating to work on such a small screen. Although I guess a laptop would come in handy for when you want to work anywhere in the house – or on the go.
Anyway, just a curious thought of mine – as I can’t live without my imac :)
We LOVE our laptops. Not once have we wanted a bigger screen since the portability and the power in our little MacBooks definitely does the trick. It’s totally a personal preference thing though, so we can see how you love your iMac just as much!
Alicia Damron says
What a lucky little girl to have both her parents nurturing her and she doesn’t even know it yet! I love the setup, you guys are inspiring the way you make every inch count.
John, great work on the shelf. It looks professionally made. That little lip on the back is a nice touch to make sure the modem doesn’t slide back too much.
luv-luv precious pik of John, Clara & Burger
Storage for all messy office stuff (pencils,pens &)can go in those snappy decorativee boxes w/ hinges on back.
They cover a multitude of mess but can still stay at easy to reach area and collecting them can become quite addictive.
I agree with Lisa! I totally love the Ergo. That’s so funny–I was very engaged in learning about your storage solutions until I saw that picture of Clara lounging in her infant insert and all I could think about was baby carriers! Haha.
heather s. says
I’ve seen those boxes at Target and contemplated getting them myself. I love the pattern on them (they also have cup holders and other paper holders in the same style for anyone else wondering about them).
Stephanie – if they are the same scrapbooking paper boxes that I think they are, they fit 12×12 papers.
Looking great, Youngsters!
Thanks for sharing that tip for Stephanie!
I love that file box! I got one at Target a while back that was a little more bold and didn’t have the top storage compartment. I wish I had waited, I like that one so much more! However, I do need more hanging storage so maybe I’ll have to stop and get one.
The office is definitely looking lovely. I wish my (and my husband’s) office looked like that! You seem to tuck so much in to a little house, I wish I had your skills.
OMG. That last picture is the sweetest thing I’ve ever seen!
Your office is coming together beautifully. I study every last detail for ideas to deal with my ever-expanding files from 45 years of marriage and 40 years in the same home. Both we, and our house, seem to require more maintenance lately and the paperwork that goes with it. Our files for our investments have fortunately grown larger and larger over the years too.
It is time to rethink our guest room for additional file space.
marybeth @ www.babygoodbuys.com says
Your picture holding the baby and the dog is so funny! It’s absolutely the same thing I’ve done many, many times. Tiny babies and tiny dogs are awesome :)
Just curious if you have done anything to the bottom of the chairs to prevent them from damaging your hardwood floors? I did some serious damage to our floors at a rental before from chairs like that at the desk and I’m just curious if there is a good way to prevent it.
Yup, we added simple little felt pads from Home Depot. We actually had done that back when they were part of the dining room set- works like a charm!
Knowing that you’re big Ikea fans, I wanted to recommend this http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/50035115 cable management system. It and some zip ties recently turned my home office into less of a stangulation hazard for my two little ones.
I’m eagarly awaiting your ideas for wraggling the toys. I’m plannign for my own playroom makeover and need some inspiration!
I’m so envious! June would never let me SIT AND USE THE COMPUTER. Seriously, she made me stand. Oh yeah, and basically bounce constantly. . thankfully now I can distract her with TV. Thank god for Yo Gabba Gabba.