Wednesday, August 10, 2011

16 Reader Space: Concealed Bliss

Today's reader space really shows how sometimes a piece of furniture can totally optimize your use of space and get you on the right track.  And it doesn't have to cost a fortune either.  Our reader found her piece on Craigslist, which is my personal favorite go to when looking for a new piece of storage!

Katie wrote:

I just finished up condensing our giant, messy home office from an entire spare bedroom into a small computer armoire in the corner of our family room. I would absolutely love to be considered for a Reader Space segment on your blog. I feel this project is definitely right up your alley. You can read all about it on my blog here:

Thank you also for your incredible blog. I just want you to know that you are such an inspiration to me to declutter and beautify my home. 

Have a great day!


And Katie is right!  Her project was right right up my ally!  I will let her pictures and blog post tell the story:

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 de-cluttering paperwork. I found sites like this with helpful info on what papers you can really throw away.

We recycled tons of boxes and trash bags full of papers from college, 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 family 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 family 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 family 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! 

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 I have to keep on top of paper clutter or it won't all fit inside this bad boy. And then it starts taking over our family 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 thumb tacked 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 accordion 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.

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

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 accordion file from Target and $7 for the green box from Walmart}. The rest of the containers I already owned.  What do you think?

What do I think?  Well since she asked... 

What's NOT to heart about when she did?  I love that she didn't settle and keep her office in a place that didn't make her happy and that she moved it where it would be more functional for her.  I adore that she scoured Craigslist to find the perfect storage piece, and that she used so many items that she already had, like jars and bowls with clear lids.  And look at her use of door space?  How great is that to pin up extra filing!?  Most importantly, how fantastic that she was able to purge down to things that she ONLY needed?  That's the best, because I can just feel her life becoming more streamlined and simple since now she only deals with the essentials!  Or is it most awesome that she can just shut the doors and it's all neatly tucked away? 

Thank you Katie for sharing your great ideas with us!  I am so smitten over your entire story and great use of space!

So what do YOU love?  Any tips you can take away from today's great post?  Anyone else find a great storage piece on Craigslist?

ATTENTION!!  Want to be featured in a Reader Space edition?  Have an awesome organizing story to share?  I am looking for projects that have made a positive impact to your life.  Please send your story and photos to and I would heart to feature them right here, on the blog!!  Photos should be high resolution and un-editted.  Please include a description of the project, including any costs, inspiration, and how it has changed your life and routine for the better!  Oh, and no worries my friends, we will NEVER judge "before" pictures because that just wouldn't be nice!  Only love goes on at this blog!  More Info HERE.


  1. I am SO inspired by this. My husband & I share our at-home office (was very small bedroom)& it gets frustrating at times. I would LOVE my own space but didn't have another room or closet so this would be perfect! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Thanks for sharing my space with your readers today, Jen! I'm honored!

  3. Lining it with fabric sounds glorious! I was JUST at the craft store the other day and they have 12x12 (i think?) fabric squares with adhesive backing? and they were so cute! Pastels and polka dots and fun patterns! Hopefully they get even more in stock super soon!

    Great job Katie! and Hiiii Jen! <3

    Jenn @ Peas & Crayons

  4. I ADORE this space!! So super functional. Ive got a corner in our living room I think we could do this in. Thanks for the inspiration!!

  5. She did a fabulous job of purging and organizing! Love the use of the armoire.

  6. A very good organization redo. I love it! Thanks for sharing.

    Enjoy the rest of your week,
    LaVonne @ Long Wait For Isabella

  7. What a great piece that holds SO SO much. I love it. I am enamored with transformations like this. Well done, Katie.

  8. This is AWESOME! I love the idea of transforming an armoire! I had never thought of that but see that it works beautifully. I really like how an armoire would fit more seamlessly into a guest bedroom or living room. I've found that an open desk will always become clutter ridden. Thanks for sharing!

  9. It's wonderful to see what she did with the armoire. The space is maximized in it and when it is all closed up, no one would ever know. I really like the re-purposed Gerber bowls. I have one of those lurking in my sewing drawer but the idea is making me ponder what I have more of to do the same thing with myself.

  10. I LOVE the idea of using clear baby food containers for cords. This will be my weekend project!

  11. This is awesome! We currently use a computer armoire for our home office, but mine needs a lot more organization. I'm inspired and ready to improve mine this weekend!

  12. It looks organised, but I think it needs to be prettied up some more, personally! Nice labels, some wallpaper to back the inside etc etc.

  13. I love it!! It may be the soultion to my problem with my tiny house, thanks for sharing.

  14. I'm fascinated with these offices in cupboards myself - I dream of being that streamlined :)

    Well done Katie

  15. I love that she hung those organizing containers on the sides of the armoire- genius!

  16. Love this! Working on google searching, "teal office armoires" right now. Think that would be an adorable find. :)


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