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.
a captain's wife says
I actually burst out laughing at that last pic.
L-O-V-E how it’s coming along! Thanks for the idea with the file storage boxes! I have the same problem and I think I’ve figured out how to solve it! I also love those flowers on the wall!! Where did you guys get those?
Here’s the link to our white wallflowers for you. Hope it helps!
Katherine O says
I love the file boxes from Target. I’m a big fan and recently bought the hanging letter sorter. Alas, I do not yet have an office area – I’m an aspiring photographer and a student – but hopefully soon. I’m taking cues from you guys, as always! Love the site and love this office project, since it’s one I’m about to tackle in a very small apartment.
Just wanted to tell you guys I made a headboard yesterday for our guest bedroom and I looove it! We had 3 curtains and only needed two so I used the extra to make the headboard and it worked like a CHARM! Couldn’t have done it without your tutorial!
You guys are GREAT!
I need to organize my closets — any tips?
Yup, check out these two posts on that exact subject:
Hope it helps!
That picture with Clara is the cutest!! You gotta do what you gotta do, right? Love it (and the office too, of course).
I like how the scrapbook organizer divides the two work spaces. And it makes it harder for Sherry to reach over and playfully smack you from time to time.
Mandy Ford says
Looks great! I love your storage ideas. We need some major help with that in our house. :)
Lauren F. says
Love it. My hubby and I are both off from work today and I was just telling him how lucky you guys are to both work from home! Can’t wait to see what you do with the rest of the room!
Well I know you said you didn’t want to bore us with the details of building the shelf, but I’d be interested. Dimensions, maybe?
I haven’t seen those file boxes at Target but you know I’ll be getting some! I designed my wedding invites last year, and I used the same circle pattern, in grey no less. My husband is a bit sick of the pattern, but I don’t care!! Love it!!
The little storage shelf is 21″ wide by 22.5″ tall by 12″ deep (the depth of the pine planksI picked up). 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!
Any info on the actual file boxes would be great! I really want them.
Thanks again for all you do!
Just scroll back through the comments for lots of info. They’re from Target and not available online. Hope it helps!
Amanda Z. says
Being the graphic designer mac geek I have to ask this question: Where did you find your screensavers?
Hey Amanda Z,
Mine is from realsimple.com and John’s is from here: http://blog.pixelbreaker.com/flash/polar-clock-v2
Looks so great! Love the aqua paint-job. I was going to make a quick suggestion to anyone wanting to duplicate this project for a room with carpet: if you put a bottom on the shelving unit, the boxes will slide out a bit more easily. (I think I’ve been hanging around Knock-Off Wood a bit too much.)
Best picture ever! John, you’ve officially made the transition to lounge furniture.
Looks great! Cute picture! Quick question. Where do you keep your paper shredder?
That’s actually in the den tucked behind the sofa (between the sofa arm and the fireplace so it’s invisible from nearly all points in the room). Hope it helps!
I say upgrade to a wireless printer and put it on the bookshelf if it will fit.
Samantha @ i heart mini. says
Have you guys heard of Sweet Frog? It’s a fairly new Frozen Yogurt Bar in Short Pump, and they have those flowers going up their walls (along with Ikea’s Urban chairs as their seating, and the Knappa chandeliers hanging everywhere!). My friend and I laughed when we realized it was the same thing you’re using in your new office :)
Oooh, Samantha – we haven’t heard of Sweet Frog but frozen yogurt sure does sound good about now!
Love the whole remodel. Don’t know if you have mentioned it yet. I was actually curious where the flowers scaling up the wall are from?
Here’s the link to our white wallflowers for you. Hope it helps!
You’ve convinced me…. I absolutely must have the Kreg… Our office is currently a explosion of paperwork and random items… We must get organized, and fast. Both my wife and I are currently students at ITT studying Drafting and Design. If we can make a 3D model on the computer, we ought to be able to use our Ryobi to put a few things together.
Great job! And the last pic is SO sweet!
Handy Man, Crafty Woman says
Love how it’s all looking so far! Those file boxes are great.
Not sure I know of anyone more adorable than the two of you! What a sweet picture! And the clean cut lines of the shelf and cabinet are visually pleasing to an organizational freak like me!
As someone who only OCCASIONALLY works from home and has a now 17 month old, I highly recommend looking into some vertical storage that is off the floor. The days when little hands will be exploring everything in their reach will be here before you know it. Something above the desk would be great. Good luck! Your office is coming along nicely :)
Thanks for the suggestion Tuli! It’s definitely on our list of things to consider for that space!
Nice job on the color too, it’s very calming.
Mary Kath says
The wallflowers are also available in a few different colors on Amazon.com! The next room I am going to “re-do” is my home office, also. I am always looking for ideas on making two separate office areas (one for sewing, one for the computer) for one person. In one room!
Anyway – your room is looking great!
cassie @ hi sugarplum! says
That looks very clean and chic….I picked up the Liberty of London for Target file boxes a few months back. Haven’t actuall implemented a system yet though! :)
I love the size of your laptops…do you mind giving me deets on them? And are you happy with them?
thanks!! xoxo, cassie
They’re MacBooks and we love them! We buy them refurbished through apple.com to save a few bucks (and there’s never a glitch to be found!).
Thanks for the dimensions, John! You’re the best!!
Could you post a link to the file boxes? I can’t seem to locate them, and they are perfect for what I need!
They’re not online- just in stores! You can scroll back through the comments for more of a description as to where to find them. Hope it helps!
Lindsey S. says
Question: what about a printer? I’m currently relocating my office to my bedroom since we’re transforming the office into the nursury, but haven’t figured out a way to hide the unsightly all-in-one printer. Do you guys use a printer and if so, where will you put/hide it?
We still have to tackle the printer but we’ll be sure to share those details in the coming weeks. We’re considering the purchase of a new wireless printer so we’ll have to figure out exactly what we want and go from there. Stay tuned…
andrea melberg thompson says
I can’t wait to see what goes on the wallbehind the desk down the road. I am picturing something with corkboard, and something metal for magnets, and shelves all combined in your own perfect way for something very cool and functional!
Take Care and thanks for the continued inspiration!
This is off topic, but I noticed that you guys have been using that Freshaire paint on recent projects instead of others like Glidden, Behr, etc. Is it just because you have it on hand, or are you trying to use no VOC paint from now on? We are about to paint our whole house and have been reading everything we can about paint options and low and no VOC lines. Which do you think is best but affordable? Would you still use Glidden and the like, even though they are low VOC? I’m paranoid about the potential for off-gassing, even with the low VOC kinds.
Now that we have a bambino we’re all about avoiding VOCs completely whenever we can. Some of the no-VOC paint that we use is great because it’s already on hand, but we definitely aren’t afraid to invest in more as we go whenever the need arises (all in an effort to keep fumes out of the house). We love Olympic’s no-VOC paint line at Lowe’s as well as Home Depot’s no-VOC Freshaire line when it comes to getting quality fume-free results without breaking the bank. Hope it helps!
Jessie (Bites and Pieces) says
I love those Target file boxes! I am going to have to go to my local store to see if I can find some for myself. The office is coming along nicely, I really love what you guys have done so far. :)
I love the sleek clean lines and uncluttered feel of your office. I am struggling with redoing our office and would like to do something similar to your set up. My question is where do you keep all your miscellaneous office supplies, i.e. paper clips, pens, highlighters, stapler, 3 hole punch, etc.?
Stay tuned for those details in a later post. We’re tackling some of the bigger storage issues first but our big reveal will definitely include all that info!
Does your office double as a guest bedroom with a pull-out sofa? We are considering this option, but wasn’t sure how guests would like the sleeper-sofa. Any thoughts would be welcomed! I just found this site and LOVE IT!
Yes it does! For a lot more info you can check out the link on the bottom of the post in italics that mentions the sofa bed (there’s even more info in the comment section). Hope it helps!
The office looks great! Is that a library book I see? I recently wrote about some library love.
Does anyone else see the very tiny smiley face over to the right of our shop in the footer??
Good eye! Yup, that’s totally a library book. We love the library (it’s free and we don’t have to buy and store tons of books that we’ll only read once). And as for the smiley face, everyone should see it. It’s actually how WordPress tracks our stats (charming, huh? we think it’s adorable).
Hey what screensave is Sherry using on her computer? I’ve never seen that before, but I really like it!
It’s from realsimple.com. Hope it helps!
Sunny's Life in Rehab says
As a matter of fact, I’ve done several storage/file projects, all from stuff headed for the garbage. I’d be too thrilled if you took a peek:
I’ve been watching your office redo with a lot of interest because that’s pretty much the function I need, as well as it serves as our music room. Keep going, I love everything you do. And that photo of John smothered in Clara and Burger is priceless!
Love the photo, especially how Burger has a)inserted himself into the lap so that he won’t miss any affection, and b) looks tired, as if Clara has been keeping him up at night too.
I’ve got to snag some of those file boxes. I like to have one file for every family member’s stuff… and the files are now too small. A file box for every family member seems like a good plan. And a file box for the kids school work that they keep is also a good idea.
Office is coming out great! I have those exact wall flowers in my office!
Just a random questions, but do you use a desktop blogging software or do you go through wordpress.com or .org?
We do all of our blogging through WordPress.org. And so cool that we’ve got the same wallflowers!
Hi John & Sherry!
I have been excitedly following your office/guest room remodel and taking notes as I have a similar sized room with the same needs. I am drawing up a to-scale plan for the room and would love to see how your space looks when the sofa bed is open. Could you add a whole-room photo with the sofa bed pulled out in the future? I would greatly appreciate it! (and if I somehow missed such a photo, I apologize in advance).
Thanks so much,
Stay tuned for the big reveal where we’ll show the bed folded out and functioning as a full fledged guest room. It’s a few more weeks away (since we still have so many projects to tackle!) but we hope it’s worth the wait!
Today, Knock off wood posted a modern nightstand set similar to West Elms’. I think they would be perfect for file boxes or hidden drawers to store tall or large items elsewhere in the house.
This is a little off topic but seeing your office makes me think about it: I am a social worker at a high school and just got my new office. It’s completely empty and I’m ready to make it over into a great place for students and families to come hang out, relax and feel comfortable in the midst of crisis. Any ideas from you or your readers about great ways to keep my office storage from looking too stuffy, my seating comfortable and the environment all around comforting….all while still being cool enough for the high school?:)
Anyone have any ideas for Ashley? We always think textiles make a place feel cozy and warm (playful and punchy pillows, breezy window treatments, even framed fabric as art). And of course the right wall color can make the room (if you’re allowed to paint tape up lots of swatch cards first to pick the perfect hue). Good luck!
I had to laugh when I read the title of this post (File Under “S” for Storage). My husband often makes jokes about my organizing habits. When we got new towels over the weekend, he promptly reminded me to file the receipt under “B” for bathroom – not my filing method at all but it cracks him up how I save those things!
Also, I’m not a big Walmart shopper but noticed yesterday they have a sleek new line of home office storage products. For a minute I felt like I was at Target!
Krista H says
Where did you get the flowers on your wall? I LOVE them, and this is the second time I’ve seen them this week on a blog. I think I might just have to invest in some for my little girl’s room or scrapbooking room.
Here’s the link to our white wallflowers for you. Hope it helps!
Wow, that looks really great! I’m looking around at my once-loved work area now and giving it dirty looks.
Michelle B. says
I love it, the office looks great! I’ve been looking for file boxes like that … think I’ll have to make a Target run :)
What type of baby carrier are you wearing in this photo?
It’s an Ergo with an infant insert. We both love it!
From the other comments, I know you guys have the felt pads underneath the chairs, but are you planning on adding anything under the file boxes to help with them sliding on the floor?
Nope, they’re actually very soft sort of laminated cardboard boxes, so they slide really well on the floor. There definitely won’t be any damage to either surface from repeated use. It’s hard to explain but maybe when you see them in Target and touch them you’ll see what we mean. Hope it helps!
that pic of you, clara and burger is PRICELESS!! love it!
you are quite the multi-tasking/work from home daddy! you GO!
and…i’m excited to see WHAT you do to those wooden chairs…there is NO WAY your bums will sit on those all day!
i’m thinkin’ you’ll def be sprucing them up with some added padding for sure!
cheers and LOOKS GREAT, you four :)
The CasaCullen Crew
Hey CasaCullen peeps,
Our bums actually like those chairs! The funny thing is that we picked up some cute green padded cushions and while they looked great they actually were less comfortable than the chairs were without ’em! Isn’t that crazy? 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…). Time will tell I guess!