Organizing a Home Office Before & After

With the new year comes resolutions, tasks, and goals, many of which have something to do with organization. Closets, kitchen cabinets, home office, under the bed—you name it—it’s getting organized in January. With the first month coming to a close, we partnered with HomeGoods to share a bit of inspiration and advice to help you tackle a project you may have found too big or overwhelming.

We chose to makeover an entire home office (which hopefully also aligns with some reader’s career goals in the new year). Having an inspiring place to sit and work (and focus!) at home can be challenging, but with the right items and aesthetic, even a small corner of your home can turn into a fully functional (and beautiful) space to get to work. Keep in mind the advice here can be applied to any problem area that requires your attention, no matter how big or small.

 

Step 1: Evaluate what you really want to accomplish.

The term “organize” is extremely broad. You need to narrow down the specific goals of the organization project before heading out and buying anything. I recommend taking a photo of the space (even if it’s a closet or drawer). This allows you to see it in a slightly new perspective and you can really analyze what’s not working and how you’d like to improve it.

The before photos below capture an office that is probably similar to what most people’s home offices look like. From a functionality standpoint, it has everything you need to sit and work. A chair, a work table, some kind of storage. But as far as organization, coziness, and personalization, it’s really lacking. Papers, knick-knacks, boxes, and junk are piled against one another on the shelves. Stacks of books and art are nestled on the floor, nearly forgotten about, and a large empty wall awaits attention. So let’s evaluate.

OFFICE ORGANIZATION GOALS:

  1. Corral small items, paperwork, and electronics on the bookshelf into storage solutions.
  2. Throw out, recycle, or donate anything that is not needed.
  3. Organize (tiny) desk space to optimize functionality.
  4. Get art off the floor and onto the walls.
  5. Create cohesive aesthetic… i.e. pretty up the space with decorative accents, a rug, etc.

 

Step 2: Purchase necessary items.

I knew this project required storage, decorative accents, a rug, and art. Unfortunately, items like bins, boxes, magazine holders, and containers can really add up when you’re buying a lot of them, so I headed to HomeGoods knowing I’d find quality items at very reasonable prices. I was primarily on the lookout for storage solutions, which they had plenty to choose from, but I really loved the soft palette of the lidded and white baskets ($7.99 and $5.99 respectively!). They also had a set of bone inlay boxes, perfect for small office accessories. I spotted the white ceramic bowl, which I thought was a great alternative to not only store but also display pretty fabric swatches. And it was nice to digress from the boxy shape of my other storage items.

When it comes to choosing decorative accents in the home, it’s important to combine items that not only look nice but are representative of you. Your home is a reflection of you, after all. So don’t simply grab something because you saw it on a blog or in a magazine, but think about your interests, your story, your experiences, and surround yourself with pieces and mementos reflective of them.

For example, I love to travel and have a weird obsession with maps (it’s a thing), so when I spotted the white globe on the shelf, I immediately put it in my cart. So even though the globe won’t serve a functional role in the office, it’s something that inspires me and my wanderlust and makes me smile when I look at it. The blue and white ginger jars on the other hand? Those were just gorgeous and a great price (less than $30 each). Smaller finds included the lucite “A” (my first initial) and a magnifying glass (for my love of Sherlock Holmes/Agatha Christie/all things mystery). I also spotted a picture frame in a similar bone inlay as the small boxes so I grabbed that knowing I’d want to frame a personal photo. The name of the game is cohesion, people! When trying to create a cohesive look, go for items that are made of similar materials or colors, but be sure to mix up size and shape.

Truth be told I bought a bit more than I needed—especially in terms of storage bins—because I wasn’t sure what was going to work or how I wanted to arrange everything until I started setting it all up. I asked the clerk at checkout and fortunately HomeGoods has an amazing return policy.

 

3. Set up

Once you get everything home, give yourself some time to get it all into place. Try different options, move things around. I tried at least three arrangements on the shelf before settling on this. (And I ended up using the extra storage bins I bought in another room. The price was too good and really, can you ever have enough storage?)

STYLING TIPS:

  1. Mix height, shape, and texture. Note I have duplicate items on the bookshelf (square baskets, white magazine holders, large coffee table books), but I never grouped all of one thing together. I placed them on different shelves.
  2. Repeat colors but disperse them evenly throughout the space. Note the blue ginger jars on the top shelf complement the blue fabric swatches in the bowl on the second shelf which complement the blue vase on the desk. That was not on accident. Similarly the colors of the frames on the wall mirror the colors of the items on the shelf.
  3. A place for everything and everything in its place. The end goal of this organization project was to find a home for items in the office. (Bonus points that it looks nice.) But don’t just style so it looks pretty. Place things where they make most sense. Put the items you need regular access to on the middle shelves and in bins you can easily reach. Label the magazine files so you know paperwork is in one, magazines are in another, and old photos are in a third. Hopefully once everything is set up, your work life gets easier and you have a setting that inspires you to focus.

SHOP THIS ROOM:
desk | pouf | chair | rug | bookshelf | lamp | all accents are HomeGoods
 

Have you tackled any home organization projects yet this year? Tell us about it in the comments! Any more advice you can offer others?

 

 

This article was sponsored by HomeGoods but all of the opinions within are those of The Everygirl editorial board.

  • I’m re-decorating my office soon- I always forget to check out home goods!

    • I was amazed at how affordable the baskets were. All under $8. They’re typically $12+ at other stores, which can really add up!

  • Nunahya B.

    This post is a little asinine. It’s clearly a plug for Home Goods (which I happen to love) but it’s otherwise short on useful info. There’s no appreciable difference between the two photos, and this just smacks of commercialism/paid referral.

    • Sorry you feel that way. As the person who both works in and styled this shoot I can attest the before and after feel very different… I rarely sat and worked in there before. I didn’t know where anything was, and there were piles and boxes of stuff all over the tiny room. But organization and aesthetics make a big difference for me. I know not everyone feels that way. Hopefully some of our other styling and home decor articles prove more helpful. Thank you for the feedback. – AK

    • Paige Ashley Smith

      I actually disagree. I found the article to be super helpful and full of practical, actionable information. The photos alone are hugely aspirational. As a freelance writer who needs a good writing space to work from, this definitely appealed to me. Keep doing what you’re doing, Alaina!

    • TanyaK

      I disagree. I think the aesthetic and organization makes a huge difference. I can definitely see how it would be easier to focus with neater surroundings. One piece of constructive feedback I have is to include links to the items. I love that champagne graphic!

      http://www.laptopsandheels.com

  • LOVE THIS! I just started to think about redecorating my office space (it’s not a large space) and I love this idea!

    Where is that gorgeous shelving unit from? HomeGoods? What a great find!

    • The three furniture items are from Target (desk), AllModern (bookshelf), and a Restoration Hardware floor model sale (the chair). We went to HomeGoods for most of the accent decor and storage solutions! So glad you like it!

  • Laura Cloke

    Love this and feeling very inspired now! Going to tackle my home office this weekend!!

    • Just give it one long day. It’s so worth it. Best of luck!

  • Obsessed with this + will definitely take all of this into consideration when I get to working on mine! XO
    http://instagram.com/carolinecwilder

  • I love to organize, but honestly have never thought this much about how to make a space functional and inspiring. Love all the tips!

  • megin

    I am so crushing on that wire/wood shelf unit! Is that also from Home Goods? Sorry if I missed that in your post ~ I was scrolling like mad and skimming to find the Buy List!

  • Stacie Goodman

    The office looks pretty while functional…I love it! Can you please share a buy list? Where is the cowhide rug from? 🙂

  • What color is the wall paint?! Love it!

  • TRice

    I would love to know the paint color and brand on the walls, actually. I love how soothing it looks.

  • Love this, and so obsessed with HomeGoods. I live 8 blocks from one and it’s DANGEROUS.

  • Jenny

    LOVE this, my favorite is that cute white globe. Please come and organize my office, it’s a mess!!

  • Stacie stanbery

    Great ideas! Thank you for sharing how to tackle this. I have a room that I want to use as an office but right now it has moving boxes in it and I keep doing my paperwork on the couch! 🙁 I am not motivated to clean out those boxes and get my office set up. Thank you again and off to HomeGoods I go. 🙂

  • Mila

    Super cute! I love the shelving/book cases!

  • shawnna griffin

    Love the outcome of the office!! So cool! I would like to throw together an office in one of our rooms were not using!

  • Kim

    Looks fabulous but I work at home as a language teacher giving one-to-one classes so need to store LOTS of textbooks, files & boxes of photocopies all in a mini-space in one corner of my lounge/dining room…….I’d love to have metal open shelving storage like yours (would fill it in a second!!!) but have no available floor space. I cope with big boxes under the dining table (which is where I give classes) & smaller ones on the corner of my table (esthetically ugly but I can’t find a better solution).

  • Noreen

    Where did you get the bookshelf?

    • It’s from All Modern – I’ve added the links to the bottom of the story.

  • Hammers Curls

    I love home goods. I wish there was one in our area.

  • The smallest details make the biggest difference! Love this before and after!!!

  • GeoDiva

    I also have an Edison bulb light on a wooden block base (from Target) on my floor-to-ceiling wall units in my home office. Guess we can say we started a trend?!?

  • Brenda

    I absolutely am in love with that gorgeous pumpkin colored leg rest under your desk – I am going to see if I can find that at Home Goods – love how you did the before/after – it is so lovely! Thank you for the inspiration!

  • I am DYING to know where this bookshelf is from?!?! Please! Thank you! I loved this post 🙂

    • We’ve put all the links in at the end of the story!

  • Michelle Higgins

    I LOVE this! I have a bulky Target desk that is useful but not aesthetically pleasing and I really want something new and simple, but then I lose the file storage. How do you organize all of your papers/files with such a simplistic set-up? Are they hiding in those covered baskets?