Transforming My Home Office

I recently wrote “When A Piece of Furniture Has To Go.” You can subtitle this post “When Another Piece of Furniture Has To Go”.

I’m referring to my desk. Not the desk where I spend most of my time working on my computer, but the desk I’ve had since I was a child. It also served me well through many years of adulthood. It was a place to pay bills and write letters and sign school permission slips. But that was before life became electronic. It’s not a good desk for a right-handed person to use a computer. So in recent years I mainly used it as a place to dump my mail, and for storing a multitude of office supplies and other items in its capacious drawers.

When I set up my home office many years ago in the corner of the living room, I put this desk at a right angle to my computer desk (which is to the left of what you see in the photo). That gave me easy access to the office supplies in the drawers. I also put a decorative file box on top for frequently-accessed files.

Spending so much more time at home during the last six months has attuned me to the ways in which my home’s setup could be improved. I started thinking that this desk took up a lot of floor space for something that was essentially a storage cabinet, as well as a paper magnet that frequently looked messy. So I decided to give myself the same type of advice that I give my clients: let the desk go.

First, I had to figure out what to do with the contents of the drawers. Fortunately, I have lots of storage space elsewhere. The end tables next to my sofa have drawers in them but were not being efficiently used. I cleaned out those drawers and either tossed the contents or found storage for them elsewhere. Then I moved some of my office supplies from the desk to those drawers. I measured the drawers and the contents, and then purchased some drawer organizer trays from The Container Store so that things wouldn’t shift around when I opened and closed the drawers.

I also redeployed some plastic drawers that were on the printer table next to my desk. I was using them to store different weights of paper. However, I rarely use anything but all-purpose printer paper anymore. So I transferred the other paper into a closet and put more office supplies in the drawers. I labeled the drawers so that I could easily find the new contents.

What about the decorative file box that sat on top of the desk? It was really a bit of an indulgence, because my file cabinet is about six steps away, right in my living room. I emptied the file box and distributed the contents into the appropriate drawers in my file cabinet. Then I offered the file box and its matching decorative folders on Buy Nothing, and they were gone by the end of the day.

The next step was to donate the desk. I took a few photos and submitted them to HousingWorks, one of the charities here in NYC that picks up furniture. They only accept furniture that is in really good condition, so while I was waiting for the pickup at the end of the week, I polished and touched up the wood, and vacuumed out the drawers. I was so happy when they took the desk away!

So now the desk was gone. But I still wasn’t satisfied. Now the little blue printer table looked shabby to me. It was originally the table for my hamster’s cage and all of his supplies. It was time to upgrade to a nice piece of furniture, one with doors so that I could hide away the plastic drawers and other supplies.

I looked on-line for quite a while before I found the perfect piece. It came from Macy’s and it took my daughter and me two hours to assemble. It matches my living room décor and is the right size for my printer. It has enough storage space inside to fit not just the plastic drawers, but also some other items that had been cluttering my computer desk.

As I enter my 15th year in business as a Professional Organizer, I feel like I finally have an attractive and efficient home office setup that is worthy of the rest of my living room.


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