Day 3 - Office Clutter

Welcome to Day 3 of the series, 31 Days to a Clutter Free Home.

Today I'm going to repost a post {with a few edits} from back in August that deals with paper clutter and condensing our home office from an entire room down to a small computer armoire. I'm also linking this up to The Blooming Hydrangea today for the Roomspiration Link Party Closets & Nooks edition.

This is what our home office once looked like. It was a hodge podge of cheap hand-me-down furniture, plastic containers, a dumping ground for random papers and other miscellany, a mess, really.

These photos were taken partway through my pregnancy with Levi. When nesting hit, I decided to attack this room. I spent days, maybe even weeks, sorting and purging. After all, I was making up for 7 years of neglect. This was the room where the door was usually closed. Where we just shoved everything to make the rest of the house look "nice" when someone was coming over.

I hated being in there and it showed. I never went in to do anything, sort, file, purge, etc. So I ended up getting rid of tons of stuff. I searched online for all sorts of tips on decluttering paperwork. I found sites like this with helpful info on what papers you can really throw away.

I had to make a decision to be absolutely ruthless. I threw away cards, letters, love notes, credit card statements, receipts from 12 years before, all my college class notes and paperwork related to my short 4 year stint as a Civil Engineer, etc. We had always pretty much kept EVERYTHING so both of us had A LOT to go through. I did allow myself to keep one file box full of momentos like cards from my sweet grandmother, who has passed away, but for the most part I forced myself to part with lots of stuff. It was a rather cleansing experience, honestly. I knew that once I had a baby and moved onto a new stage in my life, I would not have the time to go through all of that stuff and it was time to wrap this time of my life all up neatly in a box, saving just a few items that would remind me of my childhood, teenage years, college years and young married life. Nowadays it is fun to look through those items and also nice that I no longer have an entire closet devoted to the past. It is nice that our closet is "living in the present" now.

We burnt tons of boxes and trash bags full of papers, the junky Sauder computer desk (that I had gotten for free from a coworker). In the end it looked better but I still didn't like being in there.

So when we finished remodeling our Great Room, we decided that we wanted to have our computer in there since we don't have a TV and like to sometimes watch movies on our computer. And that would free up our spare bedroom for guests. However, we did not want our messy home office stuff to be strung all over the Great room. At that point, we had our computer set up on an antique wooden table and were still using the beige metal filing cabinet. Those two pieces of furniture would add NOTHING to our Great room. They would just make it look cluttered.

That's when we got the idea of a computer armoire. We could keep our computer and all our files inside it and then shut the doors when we didn't want to see it. But that meant even more purging would have to take place. So once again, I went through our files and office supplies, and determined what else we could live without. Eventually I was able to let go of even more stuff.

So nowadays, this is what our home office looks like! You can't even tell it's there, can you? That's the idea.

All our office related stuff is stashed neatly in this armoire in the corner of the Great Room.

I purchased this computer armoire off Craigslist. It is VERY sturdy and I'm very satisfied with it. This is a piece of furniture that "works very hard" for me. That is what I love most about it. And it forces me to keep on top of paper clutter or it won't all fit inside this bad boy and then it starts taking over our Great room, which is totally unacceptable. Here's what it looks like inside:

On the inside of the left door is a bulletin board. I ended up holding this magazine file up with thumbtacks to contain our "Items to File" pile. Underneath I have a little coupon organizer (also thumbtacked to the bulletin board) to file random notes that I'm saving and to do lists.

On the inside of the other door is a dry erase board and 2 slots for papers. In the top one is an accordian file from Target (so pretty, huh?) that contains our bills and budget forms for our weekly "Budget Meetings".

And the bottom contains my planner and notebook of blog post ideas.

Above the computer are some cute little cubbies. I have a clear drawer organizer in one cubby containing all types of office supplies (post its, staples, paperclips, etc.) and underneath is a little drawer for our stapler, calculator, printer ink cartridge, video camera, etc.

Next to that are cubbies containing mailing supplies, writing utensils, receipts and other miscellaneous office supplies.

On top of the computer tower is a little purple container 
that holds extra printer paper.

In the far right cubby is one thing that I'm particularly happy with. I had all kinds of miscellaneous cords and batteries for cameras, ipods, etc. I had them all in a drawer at one point and they were always mixed up. I decided on a whim one day to use some little Gerber baby food bowls with lids to contain all that clutter. The 4 containers fit nicely into this cubby alongside the 3 hole punch and rulers, etc.

And the clear lids make it very easy to identify which container I need.

Next to the monitor is a basket of movies and a jam jar that holds pens and scissors.

Underneath the pullout keyboard tray on the left is a shelf for our printer and a file drawer. On the right is another box of files and a cute green box for checks. I'd love to have a cuter file box but this is what I have for now. {I have since purchased a green KASSETT box from IKEA to replace the ugly file box.}

I am so pleased with our new system. It is very handy to have the home office in our Great room where we can all spend time together and condensing it to a small armoire was a fantastic idea because it forces me to keep the amount of paperwork clutter in our home to an absolute minimum.

I always loved ideas of "Cloffices" (closets turned into offices) like Jen's from IHeart Organizing

or Elizabeth's from The Mustard Ceiling

or Ange's from The Blooming Hydrangea

but I personally did not have a spare closet in my home to turn into an office space. For me, the computer armoire was the best solution. I'd also love to someday beautify it a bit more like this armoire I found on Pinterest:

I could line it with fabric, wrapping paper, wallpaper, etc. or even just paint or stencil it. Anything to really make the background pop and make it a more fun space to work in. But for now, we're just rolling with it the way it is. And it works really well!

I just can't believe this amazing transformation only cost me about $120 ($100 for the armoire from Craigslist, $13 for the accordian file from Target and $7 for the green box from Walmart). The rest of the containers I already owned.  What do you think? Are you ready to tame the paper monster that is your home office? How refreshing would it be to reduce your paper clutter down to a small armoire or closet? Or even just to get it put away so it's not taking over your kitchen table or nightstand. Now is the time to say goodbye to all that junk and HELLO to your reclaimed space.

I linked this up to Amanda's Serenity Now Weekend Bloggy Reading Link up Party and it was also featured on Jen's blog back in August!


Ange said...

You know how much I loved this the first time I saw it! I am so glad you linked up today! :) Are you still loving it?

Jean @ Flower Hill said...

I love this! A great space saving solution! I'm always looking for creative ways to organize in a small space!

Curtis Pilon said...

Office clutter is one of the principal contributors to office chaos, aside from deadlines and broken coffee machines. And here you show that it can be avoided. Your before and after picture comparisons look amazing! Whos says one cannot be efficient and stylish at the same time? I never thought of a dresser/wardrobe can be modified as an open up office. If only we can arrange data clutter in computer files the same way we organize paper files... that would be the day!

Curtis Pilon @ SpectrumInformation.com

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