36 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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July 31, 2019
By: Morgan Faulkner and Caroline Shannon-Karasik

Photo By: Flynnside Out Productions

Photo By: Flynnside Out Productions

Photo By: Cassidy Garcia

Photo By: Flynnside Out Productions

Photo By: Danielle Moss

Photo By: Flynnside Out Productions

Photo By: Cassidy Garcia

Photo By: Gillian Lawlee

Photo By: Flynnside Out Productions

Photo By: Gillian Lawlee

Photo By: Cassidy Garcia

Photo By: Gillian Lawlee

Photo By: Emily Fazio

Photo By: Photo courtesy of Meredith Perdue

Photo By: Photography by Alison Gootee; styling by Anthony Santelli

Photo By: Alicia McDonald and Jamie Ritter

Photo By: Patrick Cline

Photo By: Photo courtesy of Michele Pacey

Photo By: John Merkl

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: Emily Fazio

Photo By: Photo courtesy of Lindsey Cheney

Photo By: Photo courtesy of Ashley Campbell

Photo By: Photo courtesy of Little Birdie Secrets

Photo By: Photo courtesy of Melissa Michaels

Revolving Spice Rack = Office Supply Organizer

Make accessing small items, such as tacks, paperclips and rubber bands, a breeze by sorting them into a revolving spice rack. Choosing a clear glass version will take the guesswork out of each container's contents.

See More: 15 Genius Dollar-Store Hacks to Wrangle All Those School Supplies

Glassware Alternative

Need a splash of color in your workspace? Use a colorful antique tumbler as an alternative to your typical office supply holder.

Stick to It

Crafting your own wall calendar has never been easier. With the help of colorful sticky notes and a corkboard, you'll have a chic way to keep up with dates and stay on schedule.

Get the How-To: DIY Sticky Note Calendar

Dish Drain File Caddy

Look to the kitchen when brainstorming creative storage ideas. A repurposed dish drain is the perfect home for go-to documents. Bonus: The utensil cup makes a handy vessel for all your pencils and pens.

See More: 15 Genius Dollar-Store Hacks to Wrangle All Those School Supplies

Bar Cart Catch-All

It has multiple levels, it rolls, it might even fit under your desk - and who cares if it’s made for cocktails? A cute bar cart like this can be a great solution for your office supplies and other essentials. You could even make the top into an in-home coffee station.

See More: 9 Clever Home Office Organizing Ideas

Cereal Box Letter Tray

With modern technology, paper is becoming less and less of a hassle. But for those important copies that need a home, an innovative cereal-box letter tray is the perfect solution. Neatly trim the top flaps off the box, then wrap the box in a pretty paper.

See More: 15 Genius Dollar-Store Hacks to Wrangle All Those School Supplies

Erase Away

Misplaced eraser? No problem! Simply grab a rubber band and erase those mistakes away.

See More: 17 Rubber Band Hacks That Will Blow Your Mind

Space-Saving Storage

Low on storage space? Attach inexpensive fanny packs to the back of your desk chair and use them to store essentials like pens, pads, sticky notes and other supplies.

See More: 10 Must-Try Dorm Room Storage and Decor Hacks

Utensil Organizer Turned Supply Holder

A plastic drawer organizer makes for a great supply holder in the home office. Perfect in length for writing supplies, it tucks away nicely in a drawer or cabinet for clever organizing.

See More: 15 Genius Dollar-Store Hacks to Wrangle All Those School Supplies

Use Magazine Files for Notebooks

Gather all your notebooks and books off of the desk and store them in stylish magazine files. Choosing mesh or clear files will ensure you can easily keep track of all of your stuff.

See More: 10 Must-Try Dorm Room Storage and Decor Hacks

Clip It Up

Have extra clipboards around the office? Instead of displaying precious memories and photos in frames, use clipboards to show them off. Easily swap out the content for instant, personalized decor.

See More: 85 Clever Dollar Store Hacks

Organized for Success

Avoid the inevitable mess of unruly ribbon by wrapping a rubber band around each spool. Store as normal and watch the stringy mess in your home office or crafting station disappear.

See More: 17 Rubber Band Hacks That Will Blow Your Mind

Cocktail Fork Reminders

Sticky notes are great — until there are so many of them on your bulletin board that it creates a cluttered look. Get creative with your memos and make sure they're always front and center with colorful plastic cocktail forks. Stick the forks in a small plant on your desk so your most important memos are top of mind.

See More: 10 Must-Try Dorm Room Storage and Decor Hacks

Tech Shelf

Say goodbye to overpriced shelving in the office. Make your own instant tablet shelf with the help of adhesive hooks. Even your earbuds get a spot of their own on a separate hook.

See More: 7 Clever Hacks for Temporary Wall Hooks

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.

Desktop Divider

Use an old sewing box to store desk supplies such as paper clips, pens, stamps and stationery, like Elizabeth Geddes, owner of Octavia & Brown vintage shop in New York City, did here. The expandable trays fold up neatly when you're finished working.

See More: Stylish Storage Solutions

Cheese Grater = Pencil Storage

Turn that unused grater into a rustic-chic pencil holder for your office. Hang the grater on any surface to free up counter space, but make sure you use an old grater with dull edges to prevent cuts.

See More: 10 Old Kitchen Items You Can Use to Organize Your Life

Upgraded Office Chair

You can really give your office a style upgrade by choosing a chair that is not necessarily meant to be used as a desk chair. Amp up the style with a nice throw on the back of the chair or even a brightly patterned throw pillow.

See More: 8 Home Office Design Hacks You Need to Try

DIY Desk Accessory Set

Using various containers like Mason jars, vases and tin cans, you can create a matching desk accessory set that will keep all your office essentials organized and within reach.

Get the How-To: Make Your Desk Accessory Set

Frame Turned Wipe-Off Board

Every home office needs a wipe-off board for messages and to-do lists. Use a flea market frame and a funky fabric to create a one-of-a-kind message board that will make your space look chic while being totally functional.

Get the How-To: Turn a Flea Market Frame Into a Wipe-Off Board

Magnetic Storage

Making sure everything has its place in your home office is one of the keys to your daily work success. And for some unique storage hack ideas, look toward the kitchen for inspiration. A magnetic spice holder serves as storage in this home office.

See More: 8 Home Office Design Hacks You Need to Try

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.

Toy Animal Bookends

Don't want to pay an arm and leg for fancy bookends? Transform everyday materials such as toy animals and a scrap brick into sturdy, colorful bookends to dress up your bookshelves.

Get the How-To: DIY Painted Animal Bookends

Cake Pan Organizer

This spinning caddy is actually built from a lazy Susan, cake pans and candlesticks that are hot-glued together. Store office supplies and other knick-knacks in the caddy to keep them off the desk in a stylish way.

See More: 8 Home Office Design Hacks You Need to Try

No More Tangled Cords

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.

Can the Clutter

Get control over small odds and ends by nestling clean tuna cans into a drawer. Each little compartment can store thumbtacks, rubber bands, clips or twist ties that will have you saying goodbye to junk drawers forever!

See More: 10 Old Kitchen Items You Can Use to Organize Your Life

Bind Your Cords Together

Keep all your charging cords at bay and in reach by attaching binder clips to the edge of your desk and place the cords through the clips.

Read the Article: Keep Cord Chaos Under Control: Cable Management Tips and Ideas

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.

Cord Command Station

Make sure your cords are always where you need them, but never where you see them. Create a command center by attaching adhesive hooks to the back of a closet door or to the side of a desk and hang all your loose cords, keeping them close at hand but out of sight.

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 corkboard. 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.

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.

Mason Jar Success

Make your own utensil case by turning a few Mason jars on their sides and gluing them together. Each jar can hold a different type of writing utensil so you don't have to search through a messy drawer for your favorite highlighter.

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