Whip Your Workspace into Shape

Friday: The Office

These must be the Mecca of the craft and office worlds, but if you have the space then take note of the boxes, files, and systems used here. I especially like Michelle Adams’ hanging fabric samples!

Craft room photograph from this Flickr stream. Michelle Adams’ home office by Patrick Cline from Real Living Australia via Flickr.

Hidden Offices

Closet office photograph from this Flickr stream. Chest office from Martha Stewart.

*If you have an unused closet then you have the perfect space for a home office. Plus, you can pull the door shut and swing the chair into a corner when you’re not using it. I also like the sliding cover on the top shelf, because even if you leave the doors open while you have guests you can still maintain some privacy.

*This chest idea is awesome, isn’t it? All you need is right there, and if you put wheels on the bottom you can wheel it up to any surface you might be working on. Go to the tutorial on Martha to see how to convert your own.

Small Spaces

Craft table photograph from this Flickr stream. Entryway desk photograph from Real Simple.

*The craft corner on the left would be great if you have a bare wall that seems awkward for most other uses. The clear drawers below offer lots of storage while the contents are completely visible. I also like the wrapping paper holder bit just to the left.

*This hallways desk is such a creative solution to the limited space issue. If you have an entryway but no bonus room, just swing one of these side chairs around for working and keep everything stored in a basket below.

CLICK HERE for the rest of Nicole’s office organization ideas after the jump!

Alcove office photograph from Ideal Home. Tray photograph from Real Simple.

*If you don’t have a readymade gap like this one, you can still make an alcove office by altering a spare broom closet. Just remove the door and frame and fit with shelves.

*If you cannot devote a single space to your desk, just keep a tray with your supplies so you can work anywhere in the house.

DIY Solutions

Photograph from Ideal Home.

*Amazing what people use chalkboard paint for! The hardest part of this project might just be taping off the squares. Otherwise, it’s paint, let dry, and put it to work! I know I definitely wouldn’t forget anything with this larger-than-life calendar.

Envelope project from Martha Stewart and jam jar from Real Simple.

*I’m going to tackle this easy envelope DIY today! Here the stylists have glued envelopes (sans flaps) to the inside cover of books, but you could also make a poster of these or affix them to a bulletin board. Just add labels for convenience. You could use them for mail, receipts, kids’ lunch monies, or even sweet notes to each other.

*This cluster of tall and small jars looks so clean and streamlined. I want to make everybody in the house eat up our jarred goods just so I can get rid of my metal mesh pencil cup! You can use that goop be gone gunk (available at home goods and craft stores although some supermarkets might carry it) to remove the label and then give them a good washing.

Can photograph from . Shutter photograph from Homes & Gardens.

*Here’s another from the kitchen project. While this would be tops for mail organization, you could use this for receipts and such, too. These are pushed up against each other so they don’t roll. But if you only have a couple just get some of that blue putty teachers always used to put up their posters and stick ‘em down! I also like the little bowls on the desk. A cute idea that probably involves making use out of a forgotten dish.

*This is just so fun! You’ll most likely have to scout out a shutter (I’m guessing most of you who have shutters don’t want to remove them from the house), but I’ve actually seen quite a few at yard sales. In this example, the stylists have designated spots for outgoing mail, receipts, and other notes. Would have certainly served me well when I was digging around our flat trying to find the Taylor Swift tickets—on the day! (Don’t worry, I eventually succeeded.)

This week at Design*Sponge has been fabulous! You all are so much fun to blog for and interact with, and I really hope to see you over at Well Worn. And a huge thank you to Grace! I couldn’t have asked for a sweeter blogstress!


  1. Pooja says:

    Wonderful post!

    I am moving into a small apartment of my own soon and these ideas are just what I was looking for.

    Wanted to point out, though, that the link to the Martha Stewart tutorial is wrong.

    Thanks again for the lovely ideas!

    1. grace says:


      the link is working fine for me- it takes you to a slideshow with a how-to link under the text.


  2. EB Finds says:

    I am just getting ready to dig into my office and get organized for the New Year, so this is great inspiration. I LOVE the chest office,and think it would be pretty easy to do yourself, especially if you have a handy husband!

  3. Nicole says:

    I absolutely love the chest office idea! I’ve been struggling with how to organize my husband’s business stuff in our living room, as that is his work area most of the time. There’s no room for a desk, and we already have a bench with baskets underneath it for most of his storage. This chest idea is ideal, though, as it would hide all the paperwork and make everything look a bit more ‘clean’. Thanks for the post!

  4. Awesome!

    I totally need to re-organize my office, so this post came at the perfect time.

    Thanks for all the good ideas!

  5. Gina says:

    This has been a wonderful series. I have saved all your posts and look forward to referring back to them for inspiration! Thank you so much for all your hard work!

  6. Daniella says:

    I love this post! So very helpful… I don’t have an office room since it’s all open space, so loving the desk with chairs on each side idea…

    I would love to know where that blue desk is from? Any idea?

  7. Saving this as a favorite…so inspired here.

  8. These are such lovely spaces and must be so relaxing and inspiring to work in. My office space used to be a man cave until I requisitioned it ;-)
    I am slowly whipping it into shape and there are some great ideas here to make it really great!!

  9. cshteynberg says:

    This is great! Thank you. Another thing that I recently did in our office/guest room/dressing room, is cover our really ugly metal filing cabinet with an unbleached cotton covering that I sewed. I placed a nice table lamp and a tray on it and now it functions as a side table by the futon, and as filing storage. The linen-look of the unbleached cotton also dresses up the room nicely, but the files are still easily accessible.

  10. Desi says:

    I love all these spaces, but it seems like when I see office space like this no one has a comfortable chair in site. What’s up with that. No one is/should sit on that stool in the second set of photos for more than 5min.

  11. kate endle says:

    This post couldn’t have come at a better time! I just reorganized my whole studio (getting ready for 2010!) and this post gave me some great ideas. I’m a collage artist and the organizational system for paper scraps is intense! Thanks for the inspiration.

  12. Nicole says:

    Hey all!

    Daniella: I’ll look into the table question and let you know if I find anything.

    Desi: I totally agree, but I don’t think I would mind the stool for a craft space as I often craft standing up. Personal choice, I guess!

    Nicole x

  13. Szig says:

    I am fairly certain that the chalkboard paint wall calendar is from an old issue of Martha Stewart Living. I remember the article had several innovative ideas for using chalkboard paint as well as the recipe for mixing the different colors and making your own DIY chalkboard paint.

  14. Szig says:

    Following up – it was the January 2007 issue of MSL.

  15. Emily says:

    Jars–I found babyfood jars work GREAT for small things like paperclips and they’re really cute once clean. I’ve also used pretty labels (Martha Stewart has several at Michaels) to label them.
    If you have ReStore, the habitat for humanity thrift store, that might be a place to check for shutters and things of that nature.

  16. Nicole says:

    Szig: It may have been a Martha thing. Ideal Home is a UK mag, and they often have reciprocal deals/connections with American mags for some content.

  17. Jessica says:

    That giant calendar is such a great idea–and if you made your own chalkboard paint you could do it in any color (though I really like the traditional look of the one in the photo).

  18. riye says:

    I agree–this has been a fantastic series. One of my favorites. :-)

  19. kara says:

    The last picture on the left…are those paint cans holding the mail? It looks like it, quart size? I love this idea and want to get to it ASAP, luckily I have some paint cans around the house just waiting to be cleaned out.

  20. Franzi says:

    so beautiful ideas!

  21. Kristan says:

    Another fabulous post!! Personally my fave is the craft table photo — only I’m not a crafter, so that would just be my desk. I also think the tray is a good idea. And I have ALWAYS loved jars — they’re so multi-purpose! :D

    When I was setting up my “writing nook” in our living room, I went on Craigslist and found a bunch of old students desks for cheap (like $15-$30). I loved their “retro” look, and the nostalgic mindset they put me in for school and learning and writing. I did end up buying one to use.

    My only thought/concern for some of these ideas is the ergonomics. With that school desk, I found that my adult-size body didn’t fit as well as it used to. (I mean, it literally fit, but kids’ bodies are more flexible and tolerant about sitting and working on rigid surfaces all day. We also had recess!) So I think people who are using these spaces as PRIMARY workspaces might need some ergonomic “hacks”. But that’s probably easily achieved… :)

  22. LesleySW says:

    I love, love, love these spaces. So cool. Organization is always so inspiring.

    My problem is I just can’t keep my office space organized! I’m too messy.

  23. i’m really loving that chalkboard idea, super cute!

    xo katherine aka. urban flea :)

  24. Quinn says:

    oooh la la!! I need to get my workspace looking as sassy and inspiring as these pics. Thanks for the ideas!

  25. This chalkbord wall calender is the coolest thing I’ve seen lately! I think I’m in love :D

  26. juel says:

    I tried the chalkboard calendar and am really happy with how it turned out!!


  27. Erin T. says:

    This was my favorite post of them all! Thanks!!

  28. Great ideas! I honestly think desk and office organization is the hardest.

  29. Beth says:

    A lot of inspirational photos there, that is one of my (many) New Years resolutions.

    Is it just my eyes or is the text really tiny when you’re typing a comment?

  30. Sarah says:

    is there a “how to” for the chalkboard paint calendar?

    thank you.

  31. Katey Nicosia says:

    Teehee! The room on the left in the very first picture is my old craft room. :) This is Katey from one good bumblebee, by the way. :D


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