A little over 5 years ago, I took on Within the Grove full time after resigning from teaching. Which also means officially working from home. I’ve learned a lot about working from home since then: the importance of having a designated workspace for myself. With not only working from home but literally working on our home as my job, it can be hard to separate work from personal life. However, creating a designated office area allows me to focus on my work and then enjoy family time once the workday is over.
First Office Setup
So what does all this have to do with creating a home office for two? A few years ago I created a workspace for myself for the reasons above. I installed a faux brick wall, built a desk, and added some storage underneath. It was exactly what I needed during that time. Our home has a little hidden gem of a mother-in-law suite which is where my workspace is. But this also goes to show how anyone can create a workspace using a single wall. Which after the year 2020, that’s what a lot of us had to do and possibly still doing.
Second Office Setup
This brings me to the office refresh that happened in March of last year. With Ryan officially working from home until further notice, he also needed his own designated workspace. Keeping the brick accent wall, I sold the desk we built. It was a decent size but wasn’t practical for both of us to use and get work done.
The most affordable and best temporary solution was buying two of the same desks. We utilized the same corner of the room to create our workspaces. Ryan’s desk went against the faux brick wall and mine was placed in front of the arch wall. With a lamp placed in the corner and a rug large enough for both desks to be on, it was such a great solution with working from home. But remember, it was supposed to be temporary which is why it was worked until it didn’t.
Third and Current Office Setup – Before
Fast forward to a year and a half later and Ryan’s permanently working from home with his job. Having a home office for him was no longer temporary. This is amazing but there were a few things with our workspace that just wasn’t working anymore as an office for two. For one, our storage situation with our work materials and office supplies was a hot mess. We were using a smaller bookcase/shelving unit and items were placed where they could fit on the shelves, were not organized at all, and had a lack of actual storage containers. Ryan’s manuals and books for work were also stacked on the floor next to his desk. Certainly not ideal.
Even though we both love working from home, sitting right next to each other was difficult at times with zoom meetings, taking phone calls, and our chairs colliding anytime we both slightly moved back. This means change number three to our home office needed to happen for our updated and current work situation. And that’s exactly what I did today!
The goal was to create a more functional, organized, and aesthetically pleasing workspace. I don’t know about you, but I thrive in environments like that. To accomplish that, my to-do list consisted of creating a better storage solution for office/work materials, get everything organized and manageable, find a new spot for Ryan’s desk, and a few other visual changes with paint, a new rug, and a few decor pieces.
Using a shelving unit I found at IKEA, I knew it had to go against the faux brick wall due to the size. This single shelving unit is to hold all of our work and office materials in a single spot without it being overwhelming like before. But before anything went into place, I painted the brick wall in Cloud White by Benjamin Moore. It’s my go-to creamy white. This helped to soften the space a bit and allowed the wall to work with the shelving unit vs competing with it as a focal point.
How I Organized the Shelving Unit
As far as the organization for our office and work materials, I picked up several different storage solutions from IKEA in my color scheme of black, green, and wood tones. This made it very affordable with how much I was going to need. I used baskets, boxes, green tin containers, and a few other storage solutions. I’ll link everything at the end of this blog post so you’ll know everything that I used.
The large green tin containers are what I placed our pens, pencils, and permanent markers in. This makes it so easy to quickly grab what we need as we start to work. The smaller tin containers hold the electronic items that we use at least weekly. Things like camera remotes, earbuds, external hard drives, and a few other smaller gadgets.
The wicker basket holds the large electronic items like my camera, camera lenses, microphone and a Gimbal. All of the cords for these electronic items are all in one of the black boxes while the other box holds my various paint fan decks. These boxes hide the not so pretty items that I use almost daily while still being able to easily access them.
For all of our loose paperwork, notebooks, manuals, invoices, and other important documents, the 4 magazine holders neatly organize and store those items. There’s one for Ryan’s engineering manuals, my course manuals and paperwork, notebooks, and an empty one for when we need it. Our printer paper is placed in the two-tiered wooden tray while the extra ink for the printer is in the small basket with a lid to the right of it.
The wooden box at the top that resembles an old sewing box, holds all of our small office materials. Items like sticky notes, paper clips, felt pens, business cards, index cards, extra scissors, and a few other items. It can open right on the shelf without us taking it off since the two top halves fold outwards to the side as it opens. The cutest little box and Oliver already wants one of his own.
Decor and Lighting
On top of the shelving unit, an IKEA tablet/phone holder gives my iPad a designated place and the vase is being used to hold my favorite pair of scissors and my glasses. Both are things that I reach for daily. Other than that, artwork, decor, potted plants, and lighting were added to make our workspace an extension of the main part of our home. It makes it very inviting, enjoyable, and comfortable to be in.
The lights are plug-in lights which are perfect for a space like this. Once attached to the wall, they can move up and down and left to right. They can also detach from the plate secured to the wall and can clamp onto a shelf, lamp, etc. They’re pretty amazing and give the workspace a cozy vibe when on.
With everything in place and organized, it’s a huge improvement from the smaller bookshelf that was our situation before. This has created a way for our work and office materials to be and stay organized, easily accessible, and a drop zone for items when needed.
Ryan’s New Desk Setup
Now, for the part of the office you’re probably wondering the most about: where did Ryan’s desk go? To the left of my desk and down the wall a little bit! It fits perfectly between the two windows on the wall and he instantly gained a view to outside versus looking at a wall when working. Do you see the banana trees right outside the windows? A pretty cool view if I must say so myself.
The map from the brick wall now hangs above his desk, one of our favorite rugs placed in his new workspace, and most importantly the room to work without us bumping into each other. And in a way, he has gained additional workspace if needed with the media console on the wall to the left of him.
These changes of making our home office function better for the two of us is already making the biggest difference. We don’t come in stressed or overwhelmed now that everything is neat and organized, we can take phone and zoom calls without the other person having to leave the room, can focus more on our work, we’re excited to head back here and it makes it 10x easier to go between our work life and family life. I’m sure this won’t be the last time we switch or tweak our office to make it work for us, but for now, it’s exactly what we needed to successfully continue working from home.
If you’re wanting to try something similar in your home for your workspace or spotted an item or two you’d love for your existing one, here are the links to everything we’re using:
White Desk Chair
Black and White Artwork
Shelf Brackets for Wall
Large Shelving Unit:
Storage Box with Lid
Small Green Metal Box
Large Green Metal Box
Basket with Lid
KLÄMMEMACKA Desk Organizer
IKEA 365+ Clear Jar
Black Wall Light
Mobile Phone/Tablet holder