A home office makeover

Clear the clutter from your home office.

Story highlights

  • Clear the clutter from your home office
  • Use vertical space for a "storage wonder wall" with adjustable shelving
  • If your office receives a lot of foot traffic, you may want to use a sturdy (but pretty) outdoor rug
Real Simple brings some order (and some charm) to a cluttered home office.
Before: An Untidy Catch-All
New Hampshire mother Yalan Connell of six, including: Tabatha, 10; Leo, 8 months; Mabel, 7; Evalyn, 4; Annabelle, 5; and Rachael, 2 imagined a cheery bill-paying zone with a homework spot for her oldest daughter. Could all this happen in an awkward nook off the entryway? Real Simple thought so.
After: Clever Office Solutions
1. A storage wonder wall. Untapped vertical space is maximized with adjustable shelving. Easy-to-grab matching boxes bring uniformity to once messy paper piles.
To buy: Customized Elfa freestanding study, $1,213 (as shown), containerstore.com. Canvas media boxes, $10 each, bedbathandbeyond.com.
2. Dual workstations. Yalan shares the desk with her oldest, Tabatha, or gives it over to two of the kids when they need it. Tabatha uses the upper-right-hand shelves to keep valuables safe from the little ones. ("They used to draw on my journals," she says.) Bright, open office chairs add color without crowding the tiny room.
To buy: Wrap office chairs, $199 each, westelm.com. Nyfors work lamps, $50 each, ikea.com for stores. White magazine/file holders, $20 each, crateandbarrel.com.
3. A tough but pretty rug. The office is steps from the Connells' front door. A wipe-clean indoor-outdoor rug can handle traffic and helps rolling chairs stay put; the lively pattern adds energy to the space. Under the desk, pullout mesh baskets act as a divider, delineating workstations and staving off sisterly discord.
To buy: Diamond Sprout/White rug, $134, dashandalbert.com. Three-tier mesh rack (part of Elfa set, details above), containerstore.com. Uno paper bin, $48, velocityartanddesign.com.
After: In- and Out-Boxes for School Papers
The older girls, like Annabelle (shown here), can put permission slips in the silver in-box after school, then grab signed copies from the white out-box when they load their backpacks in the morning.
To buy: Magnetic pockets, $18 to $22 each, shop.threebythree.com. Acadia Green paint, $50 a gallon, benjaminmoore.com for stores.
After: Slim, Sleek Accessories
A crisp roller shade, which replaced a shapeless curtain, lets in plenty of filtered light. A compact file cabinet tucks into a corner, whereas its predecessor took up valuable under-desk space. The paper shredder (to the right of the cabinet) is a sliver of Yalan's old bulky model and safe for kids to use.
To buy: Bisley three-drawer file cabinet, $179, containerstore.com. Moda-Shred crosscut paper shredder, $60, bestbuy.com.
After: Neat and Nimble Art Gallery
A rotating display of favorite drawings keeps Yalan company while she works. Magnetized on the edges as well as on the front, these small boards click together easily to create a surface that fits your space.
To buy: Tacktile message boards, $30 each, cb2.com. Lindmon venetian blind, $25, ikea.com for stores.