Neat and clean home office

Borrowed from @workspacegoals. Originally posted by @project12architecture in Australia.

For the last few years, I was on the hunt for the perfect spot to host my office in our home. We have a third bedroom that works double-duty as my husband’s office and our guest bedroom, but sharing that space was not an option.

This situation was rather new: I was coming from a corporate career where I worked for 20+ years and hadn’t needed a home office until now. Since I was transitioning to a consulting career and would be working from home, I had a sudden and urgent need for a place to call my own.

My first solution? The dining room table. Not ideal, but I loved that the location took center stage in our home and offered easy access to get tea/water from the kitchen, was bathed in light from skylights and was a convenient, strategic spot to monitor my son’s after-school activities, from homework to playdates with friends to outside play. But again, not ideal.

how to find a home office

Any time we had company over, I would gather all my paperwork, notebooks, computer and charger and squander it away to my hiding place: the laundry room. The next day, everything would come back out. Ultimately, this tedious exercise and the visible stacks of paper on our dining room table were slowly eating away at me.


My “a-ha” moment came when I was introduced to the Time & Space Style Inventory, a genius tool to help you figure out your personal relationship with time and space.

After taking the ten-minute inventory I found out that I’m a “Nothing Out” person – quite the opposite from my “Everything Out” husband. (Hence another reason why we couldn’t share an office!)

I then started thinking of creative ways to “house” or “contain” my home office. A place where I could shut the door on the paper and make it all disappear when I’m not working. For that concept, I love the idea of converting closets to office nooks.

Creating an office in a closet

Unfortunately, all of the closets in our home were already spoken for, but we did have a beautiful antique armoire in our living room that had belonged to my husband’s grandparents. Since the piece holds a special place in my husband’s heart, it also holds a special place in our home: smack dab in the middle of the living room.

Home office armoire

Over time, however, this armoire became a catch-all for all of our memorabilia, photos and various odds and ends. It was getting stuffed beyond use, and was serving no purpose other than to hide items that I wasn’t ready to organize yet. (note: this “before” photo was taken before I officially became a professional organizer!)

How to turn an armoire into a desk

I removed all contents, discarded what I could, sorted the rest and placed the categories in bins for future organizing (and future blog posts!). The result: a beautiful clean slate for my contained home office.

How to make an armoire desk

A carpenter added a pull-out shelf (stained to match the armoire) so I could have a place for my computer. I also had him drill a hole in the back panel so I could thread cords for my computer, scanner and phone through the back of the armoire and access the outlet below.

Next came the accessorizing. As much as I love bright colors (I adore those Poppin accessories!), I bought desktop items that matched the armoire’s interior to keep the visual clutter to a minimum: the Espresso Parker collection’s pencil cup and four stacking letter trays. Each tray is dedicated to a specific function: “action” and “pending” trays on the right side, and trays for my volunteer activities (my son’s school / NAPO-LA) on the left side.

organized armoire desk

I am in serious like – if not LOVE! – with my new home office. I’m in the center of everything, close to the kitchen for beverage refills, able to supervise my son’s after-school activities and still feel part of the family if I need to work in the evening. Best part? At the end of the day, I shut down my computer, push in the shelf and close the doors. Goodbye, work – until another day!

how to turn an old armoire into a desk

4 replies
    • Cary Prince
      Cary Prince says:

      Thanks so much, Ellen! Once I figured out my own space style, it was such a joy to put my home office together. In the spirit of the Olympics, I feel like I’ve won gold — and I’m rewarded daily!

  1. Jo Frances Greenlaw
    Jo Frances Greenlaw says:

    Your masterful manner of incorporating Bob’s family heirloom into a utilitarian workspace which enhances your home is an amazing accomplishment. Your armoire is lovely anyway, yet it appears much happier now with your magic solution of fitting it for both business and family pleasure into your home. I will attempt to organize my beloved country desk following your ideas and suggestions.

    • Cary Prince
      Cary Prince says:

      Thanks, Jo Frances, for your lovely comments! I encourage my clients to use things that they already own to organize themselves (before running out to buy something new), and this family treasure fit the bill perfectly. It sounds like your beloved country desk will soon have a renewed purpose in your home. Enjoy!


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