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Big Storage Ideas For Small Home Offices

2 sided work surface

We're hard working Americans. And the more mobile we become with options to be connected via our “devices”, the more we tend to be “on the clock”.

And the higher the expectation of productivity from our bosses (whether our boss is someone else or ourselves).

So setting up your workspace so it's effective can save you lots of time and make you more productive.

Here are some great tips to help you do that:

Go Vertical – Lots of professionals prefer “horizontal” organization (you know, the stacks of paper that are piled up according to projects that are laying all over the desk). We're suggesting you think about going vertical, meaning utilizing wall space as part of your organization system. Think about shelving, hooks, bulletin boards, dry erase board or chalk boards to help you “see” what you're working on and making it easy to access. You can also attach light fixtures with movable arms to wall space so you don't give up any desk surface by having a lamp sitting on your desk top. 

Pull-Out Shelves – Pull-Out shelves can be built into desks or wall units. The beauty of these is that they can be pulled out when you need additional work space and pushed back when you don't need them, so they don't occupy permanent space in your room.

Dual-Sided Work Surfaces – If you're not the only family member who works a lot, then designing your space so that you have a horizontal surface that's deep enough for two people to work opposite each other works great. If space allows, then a counter or desk top surface that is 30” or more allows for the space of two laptops, files and room to work. Just be sure you have enough space for a good office chair and maneuverability when doing the layout and design of the room.

Shelves Below –  When designing closet space, we don't recommend putting shelving below hanging because the hanging is typically deeper than the items you put on the shelves, so access becomes a challenge and things get lost. However, in a desk scenario, where most office supplies are small, we love the idea of having some shelving below your desk surface (as long as you still have space for your knees). You can keep extra supplies or books that you don't need on a daily basis in this hidden storage area.

Have Some Fun With Your Tools – There are more colors and styles and options on the market than ever before, so we did some searching and curated a few top options that we consider the coolest desk accessories available. And not only are they cool, but they're functional. We're always thinking double duty.

usb fishtank and desk traffic light rotary style cellphone holders and thunder bolt power strip

And if you need some double duty design help, please give us a call to book your own personalized consultation to see how we can help improve the functionality and design of your work life (or your homework life).

2012 Top Shelf Design Winners!!!!

Closet Organizing Systems (COS) was selected for two Top Shelf Design Awards to be announced at the 2012 Closet and Home Organizing Expo at the Austin Convention Center on February 15th in Austin, TX.  COS was selected for a melamine office system design and solid/wood veneer closet system. This is the 9th time that COS has been awarded a Top Shelf Design award by Closet Magazine over the last 7 years since its inception.

In the home office category Carey Ekstrom received a Top Shelf Award for her unique office solutions for a sitting/sun room adjacent to the client’s kitchen and living room. The client worked from home and required a functional, yet attractive workspace that blends with the family entertainment activities and compliments the visibility from both the kitchen and living room areas. Transforming a dated, non-functional area into an attractive, warm and inviting multi-purpose area in the home in which the family now looks forward to spending time together.  

In the Wood Veneer category Bill Curran received a Top Shelf Award a cherry stained master closet system simulated leather inserts in the door panels, thicker vertical side panels, full backing, and matching top and bottom moulding throughout the room. The closet was designed with a peninsula island cabinet with his/hers hampers, jewelry drawers, viewing mirror, and granite countertop which doubled for folding and packing clothes. The space also included a window seat bench with drawer storage and an upper lighting valance which is flanked by more hanging storage.

Awards were presented by TV personality Amanda LeBlanc of The Style Networks show “The Amada’s” at the 2012 Top Shelf Design Awards in Austin Texas.

Incorporating Feng Shui Into Millwork

These very balanced and beautiful spaces started with just stark drywall and a concept of architecturally tying together an existing kitchen with new living and working spaces.   

The client has a strong affinity to living life in accordance with the principles of Feng Shui.

Feng Shui (in Chinese thought) is a system of laws considered to govern spatial arrangement and orientation in relation to the flow of energy (chi), and whose effects are taken into account when siting and designing buildings.

So that thinking was woven into every design element.  We made sure we had clear pathways and balanced elements.

We also designed a two-sided fireplace, so that this powerful symbolic element could be enjoyed from both the living room and the home office.

Fireplaces are often the center of attention for any room, and this is not just because our ties to the fire element go back to the beginning of time.  Fire energy adds a strong presence to any room and is beautiful in its’ coloring and changing shapes.

Not only do fireplaces radiate heat, they blanket an atmosphere with feelings of stillness and comfort and the crackling sounds are peaceful and relaxing.

The wood on the walls that surround this feature is Sapele.  Sapele, which comes from a large, African tree, has a reddish-brown nature color.

One of the most remarkable features of Sapele is that the grain is interlocked and changes direction in frequent, irregular intervals. You could consider it very harmonious with a fire element because fire changes shape as an inherent property of what it is.

The praying Buddha was added by the client with the intention of serving as a symbolic reminder to practice meditation so it’s easier to live a life of balance and harmony.

Buddha literally translates to “enlightened one” and the higher off the ground a Buddha statue is placed, the more reverence it holds in the life of the owner.


Designing Harmonious Spaces

We all like our homes to feel good. A natural state of “flow” contributes to that home-like, peaceful feeling that says “welcome” when we arrive at the end of a long day.

But if you live in a house that's in an urban environment or is of smaller square footage, this design effort can take more energy because functions in the rooms often overlap.  Or you can easily see from one space to another and you want it all to look like it works together.

And that's the case with this project designed by our team member, Carey Eckstrom.  The client showed Carey a photo of something she liked and Carey used that as the inspiration for these two wall units – one in the bedroom and one in the adjoining home office space.

The client liked the wider vertical dividers, the crown and base molding and the open feel of the upper shelving.

And you can see these elements incorporated into the final designs for their own spaces.

Another feature that adds to the great function of these designs is the clipped corners. By making the ends with 45 degree angles instead of squared-off 90 degree angles, the space feels softer and the pieces fit more easily into the flow of the room.                                           

Carey also took into account the location of the bed when designing the wall unit that's in the bedroom, making sure that the TV was in the sight line with the bed for comfortable viewing.

Both units are manufactured with solid cherry wood veneer with solid wood doors/molding and matching melamine interiors.  This “hybrid” approach saves costs because only the parts you see are actually wood (a more expensive material).

Another feature that really adds to the custom look of these pieces is the built-up columns.  Adding the width on the vertical pieces that divide the sections makes the units feel more substantial and clearly adds to the uniqueness.

So if you're looking for some unique storage for your home, give us a call and we'll design something equally as beautiful and functional that solves your storage challenges.

A Home Office That’s Working

You do all of the work all of the time – so why not utilize home office organization to make your personal workspace really work for and with you.

Try these design and home office organization tips to increase your productivity:

1) Add Bins
- whether inside drawers or on shelves – be they leather or wire or wicker – bins become simple organizers that you can easily drop things into by category or topic.

2) Pop some wheelies – as in furniture that has wheels. Movable carts are easier to move and can be rolled with you and your laptop if you want to work in location other than your desk.

3) Go wireless and cordless – then there’s less to get hung up on! You have flexibility in both placement and function and nothing to hide, camouflage, route or add power strips for.

4) Think “Executive Suite” and add a table or console – either on the side of your desk – or behind you. It provides an added storage spot and can make you feel like the CEO that you know you really are!

home office organization by closet os

Home Office Harmony

With each 9-5 workday that goes by – more people join the ranks of those who work at home.
And even if you have a dedicated space to do your work – and a door to close behind you when you do not want to be disturbed – keeping it all organized can be challenge.

So we asked a professional organizer who specializes in this area.

Elaine Quinn of Space Craft Organizing in Chicago says, “When you’re working from home, make things easy on yourself. Don’t waste time and energy searching for what you need in a cluttered and disorganized work space. A few small steps can make a big difference in how well your home office works for you.”

Try a couple of the following tips to make things run smoother –

1. Assign a logical and convenient place to keep every item.
Decide the most logical and convenient place to keep each item and always put it there. Keep like things together and store items closest to the place you will use them. If you use some types of items in more than one place, have duplicates.

2. Put each item away as soon as you are finished using it.
Avoid the habit of putting something here “for now.” All too often, it stays there “for ever.” Eventually you’ll have an unruly stack of stuff to sort through. It’s your choice: a moment now, or hours later.

3. Regularly dispose of items you don’t use.
Clear out things you no longer use so that it’s easier to find what you have. Give them to someone else, donate to a charity, re-purpose, recycle, or just admit they’re junk and throw them away.

4. Only buy items that you need, like, and have space for.
It’s a waste of time, money and space to buy something you won’t use, don’t enjoy, can’t see or is too much trouble to get to.

Elaine advises, “Like any new habit, staying organized may not come naturally at first, but it will save you time (and money!) in the long run.” Learn more by signing up for her newsletter at

And if you need support in building the structure of your home office space – give us a call and we’ll set you up with a member of our design team to help you figure things out.

Home Office - Before  Home Office - After
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Home Office - Before  Home Office - AFTER
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