Working With What You've Got

As I’ve mentioned before, my new home office was once a bedroom.  As a result, it has a small closet that was of course designed to hold clothes and which therefore was not working as-is for my storage needs.  The situation became especially dire once I realized that there is no storage (like drawers or file cabinets) in an adjustable standing desk!

It really is very tiny...

...and yikes, what a mess.

...and yikes, what a mess.

I briefly considered having a new organizing system installed.  Briefly.  The starting price of custom closets is in the thousands, and this space is so small that it hardly seemed worth the expense.  Plus, this room may need to be used as a bedroom again, or we may at some point sell this house (please no…) and a weird office closet in a bedroom would hurt resale value.  Instead, I decided to poke around The Container Store to see what I could find.

I quickly ran into two major challenges with finding organizing products for my tiny office closet.  The first was depth.  Pretty much none of the products designed for closets were shallow enough to sit correctly within the existing closet system.  The second was the size of the items I wanted to store.  Closets are generally designed to store larger scale items, like purses, or items that can be easily stacked, like knits.  In order to stay organized, office and craft supplies need to be stored in smaller containers.  However, these challenges just meant that I had to get creative and look outside the closet-specific box!

All emptied out...

...and with new products in place.

I purchased five products: extra narrow Elfa cabinet depth bins, cabinet drawers, stacking paper trays, plastic thread storage caddies, and a gift wrapping organizer.  In order to help them disappear into the background and present a unified look and feel, I ordered everything in white.

Finished product!

I used the bins to hold categories of larger items that I don’t use as regularly (so if they get a little jumbled, it isn’t going to impact my quality of life).  The top bin holds my needlepoint and sewing equipment, the next one down has my travel stuff, and the bottom bin actually has my trusty stash of bachelorette party paraphernalia – a girl’s gotta be prepared!  This solution isn’t perfect since there’s extra space next to the bins on those shelves, but that actually doesn’t bother me since everything I need in this closet already has a home.

I used to stuff all my spare needlepoint thread into Ziploc bags, but it was getting tangled and driving me nuts.  The plastic caddies are cheap and the perfect size for loose thread, and I had a ball indulging my childhood self by lining up all the thread in “rainbow order”!

I used the cabinet drawers to store smaller items that I reach for more frequently, like office supplies, my very petite collection of crafting items (I don’t care who you are, everyone needs a glue gun), and tech cords and chargers.  One drawer even holds my headphones, running armband for my phone, and the baseball I have for rolling out my wonky shoulder!

I keep my stationery (and just a few saved copies of my wedding paper) in the paper trays to protect it, and then line up standard printer paper and spare notebooks next to that.

I decided to embrace the hanger bars rather than try to stack storage in that area, so I hung my spare shopping bags and wine totes by type on regular flocked hangers.  The gift wrapping organizer works perfectly well resting on its side and also allowed space to store my yoga mat.

The closet already had hooks on both walls, which worked out really well.  I decided not to use the ones on the left side because anything hung there would block my most-used storage, but I was able to use the hooks on the right side to line up my everyday tote bag, the “bag of tricks” I take to organizing appointments, and the bag I use to tote things back and forth to Tahoe.

After all of that, what I hope you take away is that you shouldn’t feel constrained by what a product is supposed to do when you’re organizing a space.  Pretty much everything I used in my office closet is marketed for bathrooms or kitchens, but who cares?  Plus, all told, I spent $212.81 (using a 15% off promotion for joining The Container Store’s loyalty program).  Now that’s an expense to impact ratio I can get behind!