Clever Uses for Everyday Items in the Home Office

Designing and organizing your home office doesn't have to be a budget killer. Simply source your own digs for items you can reuse in surprising ways to help corral clutter.
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By: Caroline Shannon-Karasik

Photo By: Photo courtesy of Michele Pacey

Photo By: Photo courtesy of Jennifer Jones

Photo By: Photo courtesy of Serena Thompson

Photo By: Photo courtesy of Sarah Ives

Photo By: Jennifer Jones

Photo By: Photo courtesy of Meredith Perdue

Photo By: Photo courtesy of Lindsey Cheney

Photo By: Photo courtesy of Ashley Campbell

Photo By: Photo courtesy of Sherry and John Petersik

Photo By: Photo courtesy of Little Birdie Secrets

Photo By: Photo courtesy of Melissa Michaels

Unscrambled Office Items

Get your desk drawer organized by putting an old egg carton to use, like Michele Pacey did here. This project is an eco-friendly solution for eliminating clutter and keeping all of your smallest office supplies in one place. Paint the carton a cheerful hue and make it an attractive addition to your desk space.

No More Tangled Cords

It's frustrating enough to have to dig through drawers and find a cord, let alone to discover it's a member of an intertwined mess. Keep unruly cords organized by using media boxes that are divided into "cubbies" with scraps of cardboard, like Jennifer Jones did for her home office. Label each section, so you'll never confuse the camera cord for the phone charger again, and give the boxes a bit of color by decorating the cardboard with scrapbook paper.

From Cookies to Cards

Use colorful cookie tins to store larger desk items, like business cards, print cartridges and labels. Label each tin and choose colors that will put a smile on your face while working. Like Serena Thompson said of her project, "I love feeling happy, so my office nook needs to look that way and be organized at the same time."

No More Laundry

Trade your dull garbage can for an easy, upcycled hamper-turned-wastebasket project. Sarah Ives added a splash of color to her office by painting an old hamper bright red, then giving it a fun touch by adding graphic letters to the lid. Who would have thought throwing away "rubbish" could be so fun?

Office in a Closet

Turn an unused closet into a clever office area with these tips from Jennifer Jones. Using wallpaper, shelving, paint and even a shoe shelf, Jennifer transformed her master bedroom closet into a beautiful, compact office where she can get work done once her kids are asleep. She concealed the office area with budget-friendly tension rods and a curtain, but can immediately pull the curtain back with twine and a hook when she's ready to get to work.

Desk With a (Welcoming) History

A simple trip to a salvage yard or antique store is all it takes to discover an interesting door that can easily be turned into a gorgeous desk. Photographer Meredith Perdue used three items to create the centerpiece of her home office: a door, glass for the desk surface and two sawhorses. Her desk is not only creative and functional, but a budget-friendly way to recycle an item that might have otherwise ended up in the trash.

Call Off the Search

No one likes to rummage through a desk drawer in search of something as tiny as a paper clip. Organize your smallest office items, like rubber bands, staple refills and thumbtacks in clear jam jars, like Lindsey Cheney. This makes the contents of the jars easy to identify and keeps them neatly separated for reach-and-go simplicity.

Memos at Hand

Paint an old picture frame to add a colorful outline to a ho-hum cork board. Or, consider removing the corkboard and attaching chicken wire to the back of the frame and clipping memos or favorite photos to it, like Ashley Campbell. This simple project requires paint, chicken wire, a staple gun and a bit of creativity, and you'll have an interesting way of keeping up with important meetings and appointments in no time flat.

Coffee Alternatives

Use old mugs or garage sale finds as containers for holding office items, like pens and pencils, and even eye glasses, like Sherry and John Petersik. This option gives mugs with small cracks — no longer usable for liquids — new life and is a fun way to store everyday office supplies. Consider also potting a small plant to bring a bit of green oxygen to your work environment. Just add a little gravel to the bottom, and be careful not to overwater since there are no drainage holes.

Office on the Ceiling

A tin ceiling tile makes for a beautiful and one-of-a-kind magnetic board to post ideas, reminders and even a few of your favorite photos. Place the tile on a picture frame holder, and then use magnetic clips to pin items to the surface. Learn how to make your own fabric-covered magnetic clips with this tutorial from Little Birdie Secrets, as featured on Make and Takes. Photo courtesy of Little Birdie Secrets

More Than a Step Stool

The official purpose of a ladder might be to help you reach high things, but it turns out it can also make a rather nifty decorative shelf. Melissa Michaels spotted this old ladder at an antique shop and decided to hang it on her wall as a place to display a few of her favorite items. Consider using this idea in your home office and add accents that inspire you, like framed quotes or family photos.

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