An Office in a Drawer

You’ve seen my desk before, but today allow me to share a photo of the rest of my office:

Office in a Drawer

Whenever I can, I try to think of my experience living here in 850 sq ft and share what I’ve learned with other apartment dwellers. One of my small space solutions is paring down office clutter and keeping a streamlined system of the most useful items! I certainly don’t have a spare room to function as an office and guest room anymore, so I decluttered a lot of things I used to think were office essentials.

Items I now consider essential for my “office” are as follows:

  • Pens, Pencils, Sharpies
  • Stapler
  • Envelopes
  • Sticky notes
  • Blank paper (printer paper and lined paper)
  • Checks
  • Stamps
  • Tape (scotch tape and packing tape)
  • Ruler
  • Blank cards for all occasions
  • (Honorable mention: three hole punch. Not a necessity, I find it useful.)

I know the list will be different for many people, but even working in an actual office for a year, I still feel like this minimal list will meet the basic needs 99% of the time.

Having a dresser smack dab in the living room is something many might consider unconventional, but I am really pleased with how well it has functioned in storing all kinds of things. I highly recommend it as a storage solution for those living somewhere small. All of my dishtowels, cloth napkins, and placemats are in one drawer. Packing and shipping materials for my Etsy store live in another drawer (along with some random board games). Anyway, today I am going to focus on the top right drawer and share with you how I maximized the space to hold all of my office essentials.

Slightly messy office drawer

Every now and then, it’s good to reorganize a space like this. Even though I threw away very little, it’s a good refresher to know where everything is and to straighten up a little bit. I started by taking all of the items out of the drawer:

Items that live in my office drawer

As you can see above, my desk is made up of a wooden top and a set of two legs. There aren’t desk drawers to speak of! The crate turned on its end holds files and techy gear (charger cords, software CDs, etc). Everything else lives clear across the room (oh, the horror of getting up and walking across the room!) When I do need to make the interminable trek of about 12 feet, it’s nice knowing that everything will be exactly where I expect it to be.

So, I set about putting everything back into the drawer in a orderly manner. I even emptied out the white box, and placed things back into it thoughtfully. Seldom-used items like a box full of new checks are on the bottom layer, and frequently used items like tape and stamps are easily accessible. I condensed two of the boxes of envelopes. A few things like the swiffer and the cube with prom photos on it (!!) got moved to other places in the apartment. I do have a separate craft drawer in another room, so from there I took out this woven box of notecards for all occasions and replaced it with a ream of printer paper and some lined paper. Those are essential, but I found I don’t use access as often as I use these cards.

Everything got put back in neatly:

Office drawer organization

Office drawer organization

Don’t have a spare dresser in your living room? Go back and look at the list at the beginning of this post. All (or most) of these items would fit very easily in a milk crate, in a paper box, in an under-bed box, or even in a kitchen drawer! It’s easy to run a tight ship if you simply keep just the essentials on hand (and avoid the siren song of the school supply section of Target in the fall).

I’m certainly no expert on eliminating clutter altogether, but in this realm I think I’ve got it whipped.

Any things you consider essential that aren’t on my list? Do you have a smart way to hide boring stuff like office supplies? Please share in the comments!

My Dream Office

Sorry I didn’t get a post up yesterday (my loosely-adhered to schedule is MWF). I was going to continue that sentence with a “but it’s because I…” excuse, but I don’t have any! I spent yesterday cleaning up after having a friend over this weekend and ordering our family Christmas cards.  One of the nice things about being a blogger is being able to set my own schedule… and that includes staying up late at night putting together my dream office on Pinterest!

Quiana at Harlem Love Birds has touched on the idea of multiple profit centers and I love the idea. Perhaps you could call it restlessness,  but I have always liked multitasking and the idea of doing a few different jobs (some from home) has appealed to me more and more in the past year or two.

And if that’s the case… well then, don’t I need a fabulous office to spend my waking hours in?

I daydreamed about it all day, then I went on the internet and pulled all the elements together, and now I’m ready to show the world! …Of course, in my fantasy, I have a whole room to set my office up in, instead of my current nook.

Desk: I love the sturdy simplicity of this Crate & Barrel Sentry work table. I know that according to Pinterest, bloggers should have white parsons desks, but I think the medium-toned wood would hide scuffs and dings better, and continue looking good for the long haul.

Chair: I have been pining away for this West Elm Spindle chair for months, and it is currently marked down. Perhaps I should me-gift it to myself sooner rather than later…

Supply cart: I’ve checked out this IKEA RÅSKOG in person– it seems sturdy and the wheels roll smoothly. The teal color is just beautiful. It will be perfect for holding note cards, design catalogs, and other items that would otherwise clutter up my desk top.

Couch: I will use the couch given to me by my grandma. The one pictured is similar. (This will allow us to get a more nap-friendly couch for the living room).

Storage Cases: I have long promised myself that when I have an office, my college textbooks (which I can’t bear to part with) will live in a smart-looking storage setup like this. I’ll keep books in the bottom part and pretty seasonal decor items in the top part, ready to be pulled out and distributed around the house on any whim.

Rug: I have had my eye on this fluffy Istanbul rug for some time now. I am not a shoe-wearer if I can help it, and I think the yummy texture would be just the trick to keep my creativity flowing.

Paint: It is so hard to tell paint colors over the computer screen, so I’m not going to tell you what brand and shade this yellow is. To pick the perfect color, the best plan of action is to buy a couple test pots and paint swatches in the room. Evaluate how it looks with other items and make your decision after careful consideration.

Accessories: Curtains, Clock, Nespresso machine (wink), Rifle Paper Co. calendar, Sputnik Chandelier, Art.

I think in an office like this, I could be very productive indeed!

PS: If you want an inspiration board to get the ball rolling on a room of your own, be sure to check out the Design Services page! 

The “Office” in Progress

My old office was a large bedroom which doubled as the guest room.  My new office consists of a $40 desk, two bins, and one dresser drawer. Here’s the surprise… I get more work done at the new one than at the old one! The new desk is an appropriate height–the old one was a vanity, not a desk, and several inches taller– I can now type longer without arm fatigue. Ergonomics for the win!

So, here’s the blank area now inhabited by my mini-office. I left the picture woefully un-cropped because here you can see the entrance to the kitchen (right) and the hallway with the front door (left). Context, people. It may not be pretty but it gives one a better sense of space.

Above you can see the desk legs nabbed at IKEA for $10 each. The desktop came in at $20, so the total was $40. This is perfect for a temporary solution. Ideally I want something with a file cabinet involved… and drawers… but for now the thin legs are perfect for the small space–anything heavier would make the corner look too crowded.

I spiffed it up a bit by hanging my colorful Morocco canvases and adding a ceramic version of Mosey. I like my vintage inbox/file divider, but need to thin down and reorgainze some of the folders. I’d like to hang a magnetic square in the blank gap beneath the Moroccan mirror canvas to create a little bulletin board. My mother sugguested thrifting an appropriately sized cookie sheet and hanging it on a cute hook. I will see what I come up with :) If not, there’s always The Container Store… Man, do I love living in a city with lots of stores in it!! 

If I wasn’t renting, I would probably wallpaper this little section with something cute. I might try hanging fabric or something a little ways down the line, after I have given other parts of the apartment some attention. So stay tuned…

I love this little nook for the desk. It fits perfectly. I told Libby that I was searching for my favorite nook of the new apartment, and although I need a more comfortable chair, for now, this nook is the front runner. :)

Be Our Guest

The guest room/office was the room of the house to come together most quickly once we moved in. The large window and unfortunate placement of electric outlets are two factors that really limit the furniture arrangement, which (and also for security’s sake) is why we chose the back room for our bedroom.

I love the mix and match of all the pieces together, yes, even the cheap birch veneer bookshelf from target which looked better in our old loft with its lighter color palette. The light “wood” does help keep the room from being too heavy with the gray walls (paint color name unknown), the dark floors, and the dark-ish desk. Gotta have somewhere to put books (and this isn’t all of them!)

The above shot is what you see when you step into the room. On the right is a tall-ish 5 drawer dresser, and past that is another window (with a tablecloth hung as a temporary curtain. oh the shame) and a closet large enough to house Mosey’s crate. I love that my pup is crate-trained; it sets my mind at ease that he’s not destroying my books, shoes, rugs, etc while I’m away. He’s not prone to this kind of behavior in general, but who knows what the mischievous little guy could get into all day with no supervision. Anyway, I’m glad the eyesore crate is hidden in the closet, which we affectionately call “Mosey’s room.” Anyway, no photos of that corner of the room. (Edit: Okay, fine, here’s a glimpse into Mosey’s World).

To add a little interest, I covered the dresser that holds some CDs, some books, and most of my sewing supplies, with a beautiful scarf I picked up while in Morocco. I love the way the blue and rich red play with the wood tones of the dresser and the wall color. The water bottle filled with sand is from Morocco–the fascinating red sand from the Sahara desert. My goal is to have one drawer in this chest of drawers empty for guests to use. I am creeping closer to that goal becoming a reality.

Unfortunately, we only have a twin bed and neither of our couches really lend themselves to being slept upon. Let’s take up a collection for an aerobed! Then more people can come visit!

I love being in this room in the afternoon when the light pours in. And so does someone else: this is how he waits for “dad” to come home from work while I work on the ole blog :)


  • Bed, hand me down from Angela‘s family (mattress mine from high school– well renowned to be the most comfortable ever, by the way)
  • Comforter, from Target (“pebble” design)
  • Vanity-turned-desk, free from the re-use shed at the landfill
  • Light-colored bookcase, the cheapest one Target offered ;)
  • Foot locker, hand-me-down from my mother’s college days
  • Dresser (not pictured–to the right of the door leading into the guest room), Salvation Army
  • Chair, hand-me-down from mother-in-law. Its match lives in the kitchen.
  • Curtains, IKEA. Should have picked up two packages so I’d have something to put on the window I didn’t show you.
  • Zebra Rug, Urban Outfitters on clearance (yay!)

Here’s an off-topic bonus shot: our front walk-up.

Luckily, in the few short weeks that have passed since I took this photo, the tiny plant at the base of the bricks shot up and bore beautiful purple flowers. The grass has filled in, as well, and we’ve done some work on the flower bed.

I have big ideas to make this space a little more inviting, which I plan on doing this spring/summer, including:

  • A bench
  • Flowers
  • Lights?
  • Possible outdoor rug?

I’ll continue doing more detailed posts about each room of the house, and with any luck you should be seeing more of the front walk-up. I really do want to transform it! 

PS: I love comments! Just a hint ;) 

Finally: The Office

It only took me a year to get this room in order.

That’s not entirely true. It took me like three days once we moved the bookshelf into the room. Finally, I had a place to put things other than the floor. Once I got rollin, I filled up a huge garbage bag with trash, organized things, and finished cleaning up the room. By the way, we found this shelf for free at the transfer station! Kind of like this and this… good things come from the dump :)


The Easiest Part: Putting containers on the new bookshelf that were already appropriately-sized.

The Hardest Part: Dealing with piles of “important” paperwork that are worth keeping around, but which have no real place to file them.

The Most Fun Part: Hanging a long branch over the off-centered window and creating scrapbook paper bunting to balance the space. Since the window’s frosted, I enjoyed making an alternate window treatment without using cloth :)

Organization Perfection

One of my current goals (I have a lot of goals, okay?) is getting my office to look more like a “room” than “that space behind the room divider where they shove stuff they don’t know what to do with.” Especially as I try to blog more consistently (every day if I can) I have found myself spending more and more time in this cluttered area.

Last night was a big deal! I did some major rearrangement and reorganization. It’s your lucky day… I dug around on my memory card and came up with a “before” picture. It is actually from quite a while ago. I think I took it back in September when I was taking pictures for my room divider post, to show what was going on behind the room divider.

Redoing the cabinets is on my list of New Year's Resolutions.

Not a ton has changed. The shelf I’m about to show you is over there on the left, covered in a blue piece of fabric because the “organization” on the shelf itself was, as they say, a hot mess.

I pretty much swapped the positions of the green chair and the shelf. This makes the office seem much more “roomlike.” Also, several rugs have been added which adds to the eclectic nature of the space. Once I do a little more in here I’ll share more pictures.


The blue tote now contains our power tools (2 cordless drills, a dremel, and attachments). The boxes below that contain an assortment of things–one contains cassette tapes and vhs tapes for example. Also featured are sewing patterns. The two boxes on the top (one black, one white) hold CDs. Doug and I each have one and we got our most-listened-to CDs from our collection and put them in an accessible place. The rest are in a cabinet elsewhere.

Speaking of tapes, I am currently listening to an Emmylou Harris tape (including a rendition of “Mr Sandman,” a song that reminds me of Back To The Future every time!) on that radio you see there. Very nice.