Questions Answered: DIY Home Office Organization.

Organized Home Office

I know, I know.  I’ve left you all hanging the past few days.  “My apologies.” (Inside joke with B).  But in all seriousness, my aforementioned cold, combined with several nights of early wake-up calls by A left me pretty beat.    Before the cold hit I did have some time to finally work on my answer to reader Kerri’s excellent question from a few weeks back, but I haven’t been able to post about it yet.  So here goes!

Question:

Hi Keep It Neat- I’d love to be able to buy everything that exists at the container store but that’s just not realistic. I have work papers and items that tend to messy up my work space at home. what is a good DIY Keep It Neat solution?

Answer:

I too would love to buy everything that exists at the container store.  It’s an amazing place.  I don’t let myself go there too often because it usually turns into a spendfest.  And there’s no possible way to leave there without picking up at least a basket full of gadgets that weren’t on your original list.  So yeah, I hear you on this one.  After reading your question I was able to come up with a few ideas for getting your home office organized on a budget.  I really wanted to test a few my suggestions before posting, and I even took a few pictures to give you the gist of it.  I wasn’t able to tackle all of my ideas but Google Images came to the rescue on that one.

1.  I love Mason jars.  Uses for these are just endless, and they are 100% free if you just re-use glass jars you already have (jams and jellies come in great sizes, so does mustard and also the “canned” peaches and pears from Trader Joe’s that M brought down 2 years ago when I had my wisdom teeth removed – I’ve been holding on to them for a special project ever since!).  I think that glass jars would be great in a home office to hold pens and pencils, and depending on the size, flowers on a desk, paper clips, stamps, etc.  They’re great naked, but if you did want to spruce them up there are probably a million ways to decorate them.  I decided I’d clear the dust off my glue gun and leftover ribbon pile to make mine a little more fun:

Glass Jars as DIY Office Organization

And here is a close-up on the paper clip holder, just because it was my favorite (the tapered shape of the former Grey Poupon mustard container on the right didn’t make it easy to get the ribbon to sit right, it’s driving me crazy in the shot above, but I don’t feel like re-doing and re-shooting!).

DIY Glass Jar Paper Clip Holder

Side note: it’s really easy to decorate things with ribbon, and I must give credit to our cousin Lisa for introducing me to this quick and inexpensive craft idea.  She is an expert.  You can get ribbon really cheaply at craft stores, or if you don’t want to spend any money at all, just do what I do – hang on to the ribbon scraps you get with gifts and save them somewhere with other craft supplies.  I’ve found that a glue gun works best for attaching ribbon to things, but I’m sure you would be fine using any type of glue.  It just may need touch-ups.

I also pinned this idea for using glass jars for office storage on Pinterest.  Also uses a glue gun, so I’m interested in trying it sometime soon.  I love me some glue gunning:

Office Supplies in Mason Jars

2. Egg Cartons.  These also have endless storage uses, and would be great for holding small office supplies – in a drawer or displayed out on a desk.  Unfortunately we were out of eggs so I had nothing to use as a sample.  But I managed to find this pic online; it should do the trick.  I suppose you could paint it or jazz it up if you like, but if that’s not your thing or you just don’t have the time, it really doesn’t require anything other than re-using a clean egg carton:

Egg Carton Storage

3. Shoe Boxes & Gift Boxes.  Depending on the size these could serve a few different purposes.  Shoe boxes would make great spots for mail, an alternative rolodex, and envelope/small notepad storage.  Shirt boxes are the perfect size for an inbox, or somewhere to store stacks of file folders.  Jewelry boxes are good for smaller items.

4. Paper towel rolls.  These can be cut and/or decorated and then used to keep cords organized, or to store items on your desk.  Found a picture online to illustrate:

DIY Cord Holder Paper Towel Roll

5. Bulletin boards & old gift bags.  This one is out there, but I had a lot of fun putting it together.  I was looking at my craft supplies (which is not a huge stash, it’s really just the leftovers from things we made for our wedding or things I’ve made for holiday decorating), and I thought this would be a fun idea using things I already had.  I started with a cheap bulletin board from Staples that we covered with navy fabric for our wedding for hanging place cards.  See pic below for a walk down memory lane.  This was the bulletin boards before they went up at the venue:

B&S Wedding - Placecards

I took one plain covered bulletin board and stapled four gift bags that I had leftover from Christmas to the bottom.  I then cut and decorated some card stock to use as labels for the bags.  Unfortunately I have no place to put this in our house so it’s just a sample (but if anyone would like it for their home with custom labels, I would be willing to host a giveaway…just email keepitneatblog@gmail.com), but I really think it could work as a fun filing system or inbox, as I’ve set it up here:

DIY Bulletin Board Inbox

And here is a close up:

Close up - DIY Bulletin Board Inbox

Hopefully these have been helpful ideas for organizing your home office space, without an expensive trip to the Container Store.  With a little creativity, a few odds and ends from your kitchen, and a little glue-gunning, it CAN be done!

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Questions Answered: Closet Cleaning.

We’ve gotten some great questions on our Ask Keep It Neat! page and via email (keepitneatblog@gmail.com).  We picked out a few that we felt warranted their own posts.  Today we answer Question #1:

Question:

Hi Keep It Neat!

Confession. I have an addiction to shopping, but I also have an addiction to holding on to clothes too long. I admit, I have jeans with tags on them from 3 years ago and clothes I haven’t worn in years. I keep thinking that “one day I’ll wear these” or “one day I’ll have a need for neon leggings”. What’s your advice to clean up your closet? How long do you hold on to your clothes?

Answer:

Let me first say this: I do not think you will ever have a need for neon leggings.  Unless maybe it’s Halloween, or 80’s theme day at work.  Considering I know where you work, I also know such a theme day will not happen.  Ever.  Now with that behind us, let’s focus on how to keep your closet in order!

I’ve heard before that the general rule of thumb for waiting to donate/toss something you don’t wear is one year.  So if you haven’t worn it in over a year, it goes.  But, I don’t know that I agree with such a strict cut-off.  When you do your next big closet cleanout, take everything you haven’t worn in over a year and put it aside.  Try on each item and think about why you haven’t worn it.  The trick here is to BE BRUTALLY HONEST with yourself, and it might even help to have a friend over while you do this to offer second opinions.  Use the following guidelines to put things into a few different piles:

1. If it’s something you currently love, but you haven’t worn it recently because it doesn’t quite fit, it’s OK to hang on to it for another go-around.  Note – if the piece really doesn’t fit, it needs to go.  Hanging on to things in hopes of “just losing 10 lbs” is just unhealthy.  Wear what fits and makes you feel comfortable now, and stop dwelling on jeans that looked slammin’ when you were 25.  Everything looked slammin’ when you were 25.

2. If it’s something you once loved, but don’t love currently even though it fits like a glove, evaluate further why you don’t like it at the moment.  Too trendy?  It goes.  Too “young” (mini skirt, short shorts, really tight/revealing top)? It goes.  If it’s classic but just not “you” right now, keep it.

3. If it’s something you once loved, but don’t love now, AND it doesn’t fit, it’s time to go.  If it falls in this category but has true sentimental meaning (like, oh I don’t know, an old sweatshirt from when your sorority and your then-boy-interest-and-now-husband’s fraternity did Greek Week together…), put it in a box or bin to store with other important clothes.  But really scrutinize what you put in here – it can’t be a catchall for things you’re being trigger-shy about giving away!

Keep in mind that it may not be enough to do this just once – you may have to go through the process a few times to whittle your piles down even further.  But at the end of the day you should be able to get rid of a decent amount of things and feel good about all that space you just freed up in your closet.  Good enough to go out and fill it back up with expensive jeans and neon leggings probably, but hopefully you will find it within yourself to refrain.  At least take a few minutes to soak in your clutter-free closet and congratulate yourself on a job well done.  And then you may get back to trolling the J.Crew Factory Outlet online…