How to Organize Your Home Office

Photo: Laura Trevey/HometalkWhether you work from home full-time or need a functional space in your home to perform some work-related tasks, a home office is a very important area in the household. Unfortunately, home offices have a tendency to turn into disaster areas, a common problem for frequently-used rooms. As you generate paper, reference books, random bits of technology, and pieces of projects, your home office can start to look like a bombsite -- and that's not a great environment to work in.

So how to organize a home office and keep it under control without spending tons of money on a home office remodel? Here are tips and tools you can use for sleek, hip organization that blends with your aesthetic, works for the space, and, critically, doesn't involve taking out a second mortgage just to make a place for you to store your prototype collection.

Declutter first

If you haven't thought about how to organize your office in a while, do yourself a favor before you start on a home office makeover: declutter. Go through the office to see if there's anything that can be recycled, thrown away, or shredded and removed. If you have material that needs to be saved but not frequently used, start an archive. Take note of any legal issues you may need to consider; for example, old tax records must be kept for a set period of time before you destroy them.

Create a functional storage system

Once you've reduced the overall amount of stuff in your office, one of the best things to do is to create a functional storage system, and that means cabinets, shelves, and drawers, preferably built-in across an entire wall of your office, and preferably adjustable to meet changing needs. If you're cringing at the thought of how expensive built-ins can be, don't: there are a lot of ways around this problem.

DIY built-ins

For one thing, you can totally make your own built-ins and you don't need to do it from scratch. You can do it with a combination of thrifted cabinets and other shelving material as well as furniture like bookshelves from retailers; IKEA Hackers, for example, demonstrate the considerable flexibility prefabricated shelving has to offer.


Configure your built-ins intelligently, and think about storage within storage. Cabinets and drawers can become bottomless pits of debris and clutter, but not if you add baskets, adjustable dividers, and other tools to create divisions inside them for different kinds of supplies and materials. Crafters in particular may find it helpful to make these spaces easy to change as their needs shift over time.

Use filing cabinets

Filing cabinets, a staple of most home offices, can be incredibly useful if you use them right, and they don't have to be hideous. For crafters, flat files are a must for paper sorting and flat storage of projects. For others, vertical or horizontal hanging files can hold not just paperwork but also all sorts of flat projects including embroidery, pressed flowers, and more. Consider using file cabinets as the base for a desk or work table to efficiently use your available space, and don't be afraid to add molding or trim to make them less boring.

How to organize electronic components

If you have an office with a great deal of electronics, storing cords and other components can be a nightmare, especially if you have worries about small children or pets getting into trouble. One way to resolve the issue is to create a false back for your desk which will allow you to hide all your dangling cords and connectors, keeping them tucked out of sight. You can also hide supplies like printers inside your desk to create a clean, uncluttered look for your office.

Consider a carpenter

When a full-scale remodel isn't quite right for you but you want something more advanced that you think you can do on your own, consider approaching an area carpenter to discussion options. Carpenters can help you create built-in shelves and desks that meet your needs, and will offer an estimate to give you an idea of how much to expect to spend on the project. Costs vary by scope, region, and other specifics, so it's always a good idea to get several estimates before selecting a contractor to do the work -- fortunately, Los Angeles area carpenters and other building professionals usually provide bids for free to interested clients.

Katie Marks writes for

Updated October 25, 2018.

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