As I detailed in this post, my new mantra for 2012 is One Step at a Time. When I think about all of the things that I’d like to do and change, it can be a little overwhelming. So instead of making big goals, we’re taking it one step at a time. Focus on one little doable thing at a time, and eventually the big stuff gets tackled. I started mostly solo (Step 1. was laundry oriented), but the whole nest has been officially dragged in.

One Step at a Time

Step 2. was coming up with a better office solution. I’m pretty proud of this, because this one little step steered us in a better direction for several BIG goals: better productivity, less mess, and more quality family time.

Step 2-Office

Here was the problem. Our office and studio stuff was all spread out. We’ve tried several things. We had Jake’s office in the third floor attic and the studio work table in the living room (because the old work table is too big/heavy to get upstairs) and our supplies in our pantry. But we I made a huge mess in our living room and Jake didn’t ever actually go to the third floor to work, so we tried moving the office into our bedroom (which is kind of separated into two areas) and the studio stuff into our breakfast room, so at least the mess wouldn’t be the first thing people saw. That didn’t work either (mostly because I still made a giant mess). So we turned the studio work table into a kitchen island and moved the studio to the third floor (which meant that the pantry was free again, thank goodness). Still didn’t work. The mess just ended up gravitating back to the first floor, especially during peak business times (it doesn’t make sense to make and pack 40 boxes a day on the third floor and carry everything downstairs for shipping). Another annoying thing: the printer was in our bedroom and the supplies and products were on the third floor. So every time we wanted to print shipping labels or packing slips, we’d have to switch floors. And reality really had things spread over three floors. This clearly wasn’t working. After trying to move things around a few more times, we came upon a solution.

(All this room switching is normal for us. Anyone who knows us in real life knows that a room will probably be switched around every time they visit. For example, we’ve lived here for less than a year and a half and both Eliza and Jonas have lived in three different rooms.)

To reach a solution, we really thought about our workflow. We defiantly need separate desks, because I make a mess and Jake likes things OCD organized and clear. We also often work on our computers at the same time. We need to be able to work in the same room so we can talk to each other about ideas or work on the same project at once (we’re needy: we want to spend those few golden hours after the kids go to bed together even if we’re working). And we needed a big craft table so we could keep ongoing projects laid out until they are completed. And we needed things to be mostly pretty, because all of this has to be on the first floor. A lot of my work gets done five minutes at a time while Jonas is eating or distracted, so being holed up on the third floor away from all the action just didn’t make sense. Truth: we just didn’t have the furniture (or the funds) to come up with a solution.

Then Poppy (my grandpa) came to the rescue. He spent a lot of time helping with Jonas/ helping pack shipments over the holiday season, so he knew how crazy our office/studio situation was. He’s awesome and stumbled on a free giant drafting table and brought it to us. GAME CHANGER!

He also made me a new desk for Christmas that matched the desk he made for Jake a while back.

2012-02-02 14.54.24

(my desk)

(Jake’s desk)

The desk design is inspired by sawhorses. The top of the desks can be removed from the “saw horse” legs so that they are easy to move and can fit on the third floor (which has a really narrow staircase) in case we ever need to move them up there. Also really cool: they’re made out of recycled wood. Thanks to Poppy we had the necessary furniture, then we just had to decide where to put our office.

After much debate, we decided that the front room on the first floor was really the only option. We were a little worried about this, as it’s pretty much the first thing you see when you walk in the door, but hopefully that will just keep me motivated to keep it clean(ish). Using this room also made sense because it was pretty much empty except for our 4,000 records. The room is supposed to be the living room, but our couch doesn’t fit. So our “dining room” is our living room and our “breakfast room” is our dining room. Because, really, how many rooms does a person need to be able to eat in? Here’s a before for you.

This is what 4,000 records looks like.

The Christmas stuff was down, but there was still about 40 boxes of records in our front room. We carried the boxes to our basement (thanks for your help, Matt!) and set up our dream office. Here’s what it looks like.

2012-02-02 14.53.23

We’ve got a pretty sweet set up with the drafting table in front our our (sealed up) fireplace and our desks facing each other on either side of the drafting table.

I love the height of the table. It is really comfortable to work while standing. I put a tiny rug in front of it to stand on.

The drafting table has a few of our most used tools in its drawers. When I’m scrapbooking, I’ve been keeping the drawer just slightly open so I can get to things like adhesive and scissors quickly and then immediately put them back where they go. We’re also using a crate box for supplies we’re currently using under the drafting table (right now it has two giant pizza boxes full of Project Life supplies), but for the most part we’re keeping all of our supplies stored on the third floor in my old studio. This way we only have the supplies for one project at a time on the first floor, which will keep us focused and reduce the mess. We’ll probably put a few bigger things, like shipping supplies, our Silhouette and my sewing machine, in the pantry.

Jake’s desk is set up for programming and coding. He puts his laptop on a stand and then uses a second monitor and keyboard, so his laptop can double as a desktop. This is more comfortable when he’s at the computer for long periods of time and gives him more virtual workspace. He’ll be blogging about his set up soon, hopefully.

In my corner, the iMac and our favorite typewriter. It is never, ever this clean. I made it pretty just for the photo. Hah! The numbers in the window sill are our house number, but I took one number out for the photo. Sorry, stalkers!


We are ridiculously excited to have the printer in the same room as our studio. (The typewriter desk is also a find from Poppy. Come to think of it, every single piece of non-chair furniture in our office is from him. He’s seriously the best.)

The last thing going on in here is a bookshelf (made by Poppy when I was a kid) that houses the brown/off-white books in our collection, Jonas’s car ramp, our records (the ones that we actually play), printing paper, postal scale, a few pretties, and Jonas’s puppets. I’m not sure if the bookshelf will stay this way or if it will be more supplies oriented in the future.

I am so happy that we took this step. Jake and I love working together at the same time, talking and giggling while we work and playing each other songs. I love that this room is open to the living room, so we can keep an eye on the kids and interact with them if we’re working while they do their own thing. I love that it has been really easy to keep the space looking mostly nice and picked up. I love how productive this set up has made us. And I’m really, really thankful that Poppy made/found the furniture so we could make it happen.

This room is still a work in progress. I could be prettier and probably could do with a wall color other than beige. But it’s fully functional right now and that’s making me so happy.

How have you set up your workspace? Do you use any rooms in your home for things other than what they were intended for? What would your next step be if you were taking it one step at a time?

See all One Step at a Time posts here.