This upcoming Fall season will bring some big changes to my home along with the cooler weather – the arrival of our first child. Along with the usual activities inerrant in this new chapter (baby shower, birthing classes, trying not to panic, etc.) comes another, more elusive action item on my list: downsizing our stuff to make room for baby.
When you think about it, babies come with a lot of baggage. They need their own room, toys, safety gadgets and other paraphernalia – all of which need space. The end result is that my sleek home office has been completely dismantled to make room for this tiny being who, I’m told, will weigh about the size of pumpkin.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but I loved my office. My desk was a massive butcher-block slab placed on top of two bookshelves. It was clean and tidy and had lots of room to spread out. I had minimal office supplies and clutter other than what I needed. Last week, the desk was dismantled and I was left looking for a more creative solution for my home office space.
Home Office Organizing Solutions for Small Spaces
We have a large dining room table that works well when I need to spread out and really work, so I didn’t need to replace the large workspace. I did, however, need a place to put the printer, files, office supplies and other sundries. I also needed a landing spot for paper yet to be dealt with – someplace where it could land before acting on the item, filing it or tossing it. This space ideally needed to be tucked away somewhere, but still easily accessible.
The solution presented itself in the form of the guest room closet. I know, not the sexiest office space out there. But once I realized that what I needed was an organized landing zone rather than an actual office space, the solution clicked into place.
I started by creating a surface area. We used one of the bookcases from my old workspace, along with a large piece of plywood sitting on top – a smaller version of my previous desk. While minimal, this area is large enough to set my laptop down when printing, and to hold my Quick Sort file. The bookcase has two shelves below, which create space for the printer and two file trays.
We then cut half of the hanging rod away, leaving the other half of the closet available for hanging storage, and added a shelf to give some extra storage space for office supplies. I purged and organized about half of my office supplies (these items included: empty binders I was saving for an unforeseen project, office manuals and books that were out of date, about 1,000 pens that don’t work, and a thorough review of my file drawer).
The Key to Organizing Small Spaces is in the Details
I then added a lamp that had been kicking around the house, to give the space some nice light and ambiance. Command hooks were added along the inner wall to hold up the printer cable so that I could find it easily when I need to plug in my computer. I labeled my supplies and files, and added a wastepaper basket along the side.
The last touch was a bulletin board on the wall – mostly as a decorative aspect, but also as a place to pin the smaller items that I reference often. I also added a desk protector decorated with some personal photos to cover up the ugly plywood and make the space more personal. I have a folding chair that tucks away to the side of the desk for when I need to sit down and work.
File Storage: Minimize and Simplify!
As for my long-term file storage, I ditched the filing cabinet I had been using before, and opted for a simple filing box that is cleverly set into a woven basket. It blends effortlessly into the room, and allows me to access my files quickly and easily. It also serves as a visual management tool; since I only have the one box, I am forced to purge twice a year in order to make room for new reference paper. Read more about organizing your home office papers.
Though it is a far cry from my office of old, I find that this new space does the job! It functions perfectly as an organized, simple solution for my home office needs, while taking up minimal space in my home.
Reorganizing Doesn’t Need to be Expensive
The supplies needed for this project were also minimal: a piece of shelving and brackets purchased from the hardware store, the bulletin board and the filing box were the only necessary purchases, totaling at about $45. The other items were simply recycled things that I already had. Often, these simple organizing solutions can reveal themselves if we only look around the house. Remember: its always better to do the work first and buy organizing products at the very end – you’ll be amazed at what you already have around the house.
Are there any rooms in your home that need downsizing? Have you ever converted an area into a smaller space? Please share your stories in the comments below!