February 10, 2013

Nesting: The office makeover!

When we first moved into our house, I spent a lot of time making things exactly the way I wanted them. We had lived in an apartment for several years prior, and of course, there's not much room for "creative expression" there. Being a pretty big fan of serious color, the white walls about did me in!

Now that we've been here for nearly eight years, bringing Meili home was a good time to reconsider how everything was working. You know how the last month or two of being pregnant seems to initiate a certain desire to get your entire house cleaned up and in order? Apparently, it works that way with adoption too. Only the "nesting" urge started about eight months ago!

And, I decided to reorganize pretty much the ENTIRE house.

I went through everything. Toys, clothes, furniture, even tackled the very overwhelming storage room. It's been a several month process. But well worth the effort.

One of the main things we decided to do was switch some rooms around. We have 3 bedrooms on our main floor and two in the basement. Our girls were sharing the smallest bedroom upstairs and were starting to grow out of it. Madie had one bedroom and our makeshift office was in the other. When I started analyzing how our house was running, I realized that with our at-home work, both Jon and I were spending a significant amount of time in there. It was also becoming a "catch-all" room and wasn't well organized. We had "office related" items all over our house: mail in the living room, school papers in the kitchen, photography and design stuff in our bedroom. We really needed a dedicated, well-organized office space.

I had wanted to wait until the room was completely finished to show it off. But I'm still waiting to find a few perfect pieces for a price I can afford. So I decided I'd just show it anyway and explain my plans for those last few pieces. Maybe someone can help me find them!

I'm a little scared to show you what we started with.
It was bad. Really bad.

See? Complete disaster. Just walking in there totally stressed me out. Not the best way to try to get work done.

We'd been budgeting for some new office items and decided it was time to get it taken care of. Now, this was not a Pottery Barn budget. This was a Craigslist and Ikea budget, so we had to be creative.

We decided the small room upstairs would become the office. It's really just a bit too small to be a decent sized bedroom anyway. Then we would move Tyler downstairs since he's old enough now and the girls would move into Tyler's old room, which is larger and would work better for sharing.

This is the future office. This room was really cute (when it was all clean and tidy!) but just a little cramped for two growing girls.

I spent a significant amount of time scouring the Ikea catalog and trying to figure out the best way to organize everything. Now, being married to a tech guy, we couldn't just sketch our plans on a piece of paper. We had to do a scale model in ProEngineer (3D model software).

I will admit, it actually worked really well. Since we were headed to the cities anyway, we made our giant Ikea list and planned to get everything there. A HUGE thanks to Jon's cousins, J & A, who kept our kids entertained at Nick Universe in the Mall of America for 2+ hours while we loaded up. I wish I had taken a picture of our van. There was not one square inch of space left. And we had a car-top carrier. And it was seriously weighed down. We must've looked ridiculous!

First tasks: Clear everything out and pick a color. I'm not much for neutrals. I always think I am, but when it comes time to choose, I just can't do it. Since Jon spends a significant amount of time in here, I didn't want it to look at all feminine either. I also wanted to make sure whatever we chose would complement our wood floors. We went with Valspar's "Fish Story."

For the organization system, we decided to use a combination of Ikea Expedit shelves and Besta storage. Since the room is small and has 3 doors and two windows, there's not a lot of wall space. We wanted to take advantage of the full wall and make the most of the storage space.

We wanted to have some seating in the room too, so we could be by each other while we're working, and so the kids could be there too if they wanted to read quietly or something. We looked at accent chairs, but even cheap ones were too expensive. I watched Craigslist and eventually found a great little leather loveseat for just over $100. It's black, which maybe wouldn't have been my first choice, but it's super-comfy, looks like new and the price was right!

The desk is an Expedit desk that is made to go with the Expedit shelving from Ikea.

The organization was a huge task. You can spend some SERIOUS money on organizational products! As much as I love the look of all those fancy items from the Container Store, it's just not cost-efficient. So we went the economical route!

I bought several packages of Ikea Flyt magazine files. They're 5 for $1.99. I covered them with scrapbook paper and added cute labels. (I can't take credit for that idea...I found it HERE.)

We also bought quite a few Ikea Kasset boxes to go in the squares along the bottom. They're cheap, hold a TON of stuff and have an easy place for a label. I scored that cute little white bowl at a thrift shop with my sister for $1. I love the texture!

We definitely needed some closed storage, which is why we decided to add the Besta drawers. They will have handles eventually! I will admit I splurged a little on this vase from West Elm. It was the exact shade of chartreuse that I wanted to use for the accent color. Now I just need to find something to put IN it! Above the vase is another Besta cabinet, with a door and shelving inside.

This room has two closets.

I'm not sure what we'll put between them. Possibly a small flat-screen TV someday. Having two closets in this room works really well. Even though I purged when we rearranged the rooms, there was still some things that needed to be stored. And Jon REALLY needed a dedicated, safe place for his camera equipment.

We added a couple shelves in the right closet. Yes, it's a bit messy still. But I'm OK with that. It's a big improvement from what we had before.

I felt like I needed a little extra work space for craft type things, sewing, scrapbooking and other random projects. I also wanted to be able hide the mess that those things make. So we turned the other closet into a small workstation.

I found the idea for this HERE. Yes, I know mine looks nothing like hers. But there's a reason she's an Organizing Blogger and I'm not. Plus I don't need mine to look pretty and I bet mine costs less! So there!

I used more Ikea Kassett boxes and I will admit I did get that cute white basket at the Container Store. BUT, it was on clearance because the back is dented! The cork board is from Hobby Lobby; I painted and stenciled it to give it a little color.

For the desk area, we used what we already had which was two not-so-pretty monitors.

We added the Ikea Kvissle magazine rack and the Spontan magnet board. I plan to make a custom piece of art to go above the board, but obviously haven't gotten to that yet!

We bought some Grundtal magnet containers to store frequently used small office items.

The curtains and pillow are from Ikea as well and the throw was a TJMaxx purchase. We bought the cheap Ikea Lack table only to use a placeholder until I can find an ottoman to refinish. I'd love to find something small and rectangular, and cover it with this fabric:

Last but not least, I really wanted this office to represent the work Jon and I do in it. I thought it would be nice to pay tribute to his photography and my love of design. So along the top shelf, I intended to showcase some of our work.

All I have on this is a "decent start!" But I think it will look amazing once we have OUR pictures in it. I absolutely LOVE typography and found that great ampersand on clearance. It was super-ugly, so I cleaned it up a bit. Once we get Meili home, we'll add pictures to the frames. It didn't seem right to add them without her.

I honestly can't remember where I found this little guy. But he was just the right color and he was cheap, so I had to have him.

Oh, and I forgot to mention we also added some inserts to the Expedits so we'd have some closed storage by the desk.

Oh and a rug! I need a rug. So let me know if you see one that would match :)
And that's it! We are really, really enjoying this room. We now have a place for everything and it's much easier to keep clean and organized. But most importantly, it's actually pleasant and not stressful to work in this room. We're both more efficient, our house is cleaner, and it didn't break the budget.

I'd call that successful "nesting."


  1. I love it! Want to come organize my bedroom and make it all beautiful? ;)

    Where will Meili be at?

    1. She'll be in our room for a while, then hopefully eventually move in with her sister!

  2. Thank you for sharing your office makeover tips. Perhaps the first step in organising spaces is at first daunting but it would be all worth the effort once everything is arranged.