Workspace of the Week: Highly functional home office suite

This week’s Workspace of the Week is KatieScrapbookLady’s home office/craft room/homeschool room/scrapbook room/sewing room/creative space:

Katie wrote that she and her two children spend a great amount of time in this space, and it certainly looks to be extremely useful. The full set of office photos shows her highly organized closet storage system, her personal workspace in the office, and detailed photographs of the entire room. I’m impressed and inspired by how well this room functions. Thank you, KatieScrapbookLady, for submitting your amazing photograph to our pool.

Want to have your own workspace featured in Workspace of the Week? Submit a picture to the Unclutterer flickr pool. Check it out because we have a nice little community brewing there. Also, don’t forget that workspaces aren’t just desks. If you’re a cook, it’s a kitchen; if you’re a carpenter, it’s your workbench.

32 Comments for “Workspace of the Week: Highly functional home office suite”

  1. posted by Shawn on

    I’d love to know where I could get that L-shaped computer desk!

  2. posted by Shawn on

    …and, if I’d went to Flickr first, I’d have found out. 🙂

  3. posted by Lose That Girl on

    Hard to believe that kids use this space, it’s so neat and clean. Well done! I applaud you!

  4. posted by becoming minimalist on

    hooray for the maps! thanks for reminding your children that we all live in the same world!

  5. posted by Marcie Lovett on

    What a beautiful and functional space to play and learn in.

  6. posted by WilliamB on

    Unclutter authors;

    Athought has been banging around in my head ever since I started going through your archives. My thought is that your solutions tend to run the gamut from “buying something” to “very expensive.” There’s relatively little about utilizing less and little at all about making do with what you have.

    This is particularly notable in your Workplace of the Week posts. You have a strong preference for the tidy and uniform. Things look new, storage containers are from the same commercial line, little is random-but-useful or repurposes.

    All this shows in spades in the linked photo to the daughter’s side of closet. It is organized and pretty and clearly bought all at once from the Container Store. I estimate that one shelving unit, mesh boxes, plastic containers, etc., cost $500.

    We are not all in a position to buy a organizational system all at once and we can’t all afford to spend $500 to organize half a closet. That spot would be just as organized if it were board and brick shelves lined with repurposed peanut butter jars. But you’ve never linked to such a system and based on your history, I doubt I ever will.

    This disappoints me. I had hoped that uncluttering would be more about having less, and less about buying more.

  7. posted by Erin Doland on

    @William B — Unclutterers aren’t anti-consumers. Part of our mission is to “inspire.” We trust that you know your financial situation and can evaluate your needs accordingly. If you are inspired by a suggestion, you have free will to buy new, used, repurpose, or create your own from scratch.

  8. posted by Jennifer on

    Looks very tidy but I agree very expensive. All those computers in themselves is a giveaway. I couldn’t even afford all those crayolas!

    A workplace on making do would be a winner.

  9. posted by Jennifer McIntyre on

    Great Pictures of your awesome family office and creative space! Can’t wait to see what you accomplish – I’ll be checking your blog – as usual!

  10. posted by Christy on

    Sorry, Erin. I have been feeling the same. This isn’t an “Unclutter” website, it’s an organizing all your stuff site. It has cool ideas, no question, but the point isn’t to give tools to people to pare down or de-clutter, it’s to make our excesses look pretty.

    Yesterday’s post said “Organized doesn’t have to be new and shiny”, but most of the time, that’s exactly what’s profiled here.

  11. posted by Erin Doland on

    @Christy — Sometimes the process of uncluttering means getting rid of three bad items and replacing them with one good one. (Three rusty, dull, damaged knives should be recycled and replaced with a new, rust-free, sharp one.) We are not a freegan website, we are not an anti-consumer website, we do not promote ascetic living — we ARE a smart consumerism website.

    In fact, we believe that it is impossible to live a freegan lifestyle. There is no way to completely remove yourself from the consumer society. The self-proclaimed freegans I know even admit that they are still part of a consumer culture. Instead of dismissing all buying, we recommend people learn smart consumer practices. Live within your means, make wise decisions when you choose to buy, and look for quality not quantity.

    We review products because we see that if you are going to buy something, it should be worth your money. We are saying, “Hey, this product is good, if you need to buy something like it. If you don’t need it, don’t get it. But if you do …” We have never said, “Go out and waste your money on this.”

    Also, just because you don’t need a product we feature doesn’t mean that the same is true for another reader. We have more than 65,000 daily readers. If something doesn’t work for you, just wait until the next article to see if that solution does.

    We are not changing our attitude about smart consumer practices. It is a fundamental element of being an unclutterer.

  12. posted by JC on

    I think that some may have missed the point of the “workspace”. It’s to show how people manage the spaces, tools, and other items they use on a regular/daily basis. I don’t think some of the comments about unclutter v organize excess are quite fair. The majority of the posts on this site are about clearing our lives of various types of clutter. I think that we can all be mature about the fact that some people can afford nicer shelving than those of us who are shelving the garage with ripped sheets of plywood and cinder blocks. (Which I made myself last weekend and are lovely in a garagish sort of way.) The workspace highlight is about concepts, not attempting to carbon copy the example.

    I have eight columns of really nice organizer drawers in my sewing/craft area that form a half wall divider in our loft. Someone just glancing at the space could assume that had I spent tons of money on them. They would be mistaken. They are at least ten years old. My Grandfather purchased them to store his fly-tying equipment and materials in them. When he died, my Grandmother gave to me.

    I like the set up of the featured space. There is a space designated for each person, and the tools needed to accomplish tasks are organized and easily accessed.

  13. posted by Scott on

    You can easily be inspired by just one aspect of someone else’s workspace. For instance, we are building a new house and one of the rooms is going to be a combination of a playroom for the girls as well as a sewing area and secondary office space for my wife while she is watching the girls. So far I had only conceived of putting a desk along the back wall of the room, and leaving the rest of the floor-space of her part of the room open to allow for roominess, as well as giving her plenty of floorspace to spread things out on. Seeing this though, really inspires me to rethink the desk(s) arrangement of that area. It’s neat to see multiple desk/table areas for use by only one person (knowing that having only one desk always means it’s going to be taken up by “stuff”, so have a second table for temporary use only. I realized I was only thinking of using the floorspace in the new room because that’s what she does now…but she only does that because we don’t have the room! Adding another tabletop or two would allow her to not be on the floor so much.

    It’s obvious, and something I know, but wasn’t thinking of in our current case until seeing this.

    My point is: I don’t plan to go out and buy a bunch of stuff to mimic this workspace. However, it has allowed me to think of (maybe) buying one or two other desks into a similar layout, to maximize the space. Then again, I’m also thinking if there is a way to repurpose some of the folding tables we already have in a similar fashion, without buying anything new.

    I too sometimes look at this site and think there is an abundance of “shiny new is the way to get organized”, but I’ve learned that I am able to get something useful out of almost any idea, and don’t need to just mimic it to do something cool.

  14. posted by WilliamB on


    I’ve been thinking about what you wrote and what others have written. The statement that most resonates with me is Christy’s about this being an organizing site rather than an uncluttering site. This is not a bad thing (for me, at least; I’m not trying to say I speak for everyone.) I like being organized. I like organization p*rn. I have been accused of being addicted to the Container Store and can only plead guilty as charged.

    What you expressed in your responses doesn’t quite come through in the posts. Some of the posts about organizing and getting rid of stuff, especially paper. Many more are about something to buy to help you organize. There are not many posts I would judge to be about unclutter, but the implicit connection between organization and unclutter is easy to follow.

    What’s missing, then, is more emphasis on getting rid of things. Your response talks about replacing old bad knives with good new ones but a post on the subject would talk about good new knives and not talk about getting rid of the old ones. I think this is a gap in the site, “Unclutterer” _sounds_ as if it should include getting rid of as well as organizing.

    Thus ends one reader’s thoughts on the subject.

  15. posted by WilliamB on

    Scott: what a lovely chance to design it right the first time. What does your wife say about tables and organization systems?

    I have a friend who quilts who installed tabletops. She attached them to the walls like airline seat trays, so she could fold them up and away when she didn’t need them. She says that if she used regular tables they would always be buried under scraps, but if the tables are supposed to be folded away she’d be motivated to put away.

  16. posted by Christy on

    “What you expressed in your responses doesn’t quite come through in the posts. Some of the posts about organizing and getting rid of stuff, especially paper. Many more are about something to buy to help you organize. There are not many posts I would judge to be about unclutter, but the implicit connection between organization and unclutter is easy to follow.

    What’s missing, then, is more emphasis on getting rid of things. Your response talks about replacing old bad knives with good new ones but a post on the subject would talk about good new knives and not talk about getting rid of the old ones. I think this is a gap in the site, “Unclutterer” _sounds_ as if it should include getting rid of as well as organizing.”

    William thank you for saying what I meant and judging from Erin ‘s response, probably didn’t say very clearly.

    I am not anti-consumerism. I just want to see an emphasis on BOTH organizing and de-cluttering, as this site tends to lean toward the former. I’m just trying to help “Unclutterer” live up to it’s name. I was simply trying to suggest that products are only part of the package -the SKILLS of organization are what I’d like to see more of.

    It was just a suggestion.

  17. posted by Erin Doland on

    @William B — We have written about uncluttering four times this week. Four out of 10 posts, that seems to be a good percentage of uncluttering advice to me.

    And, to be honest, the fact that there has been ANY content on this site this week and last is a miracle. I’ve been living in a hotel for two weeks with an infant (an infant who sleeps on his schedule, not mine), received word on Wednesday that we could travel home (more than a thousand miles by car), and didn’t get in until yesterday around 5:00 p.m.

  18. posted by Sky on

    Uncluttering, organizing….it’s all good!

    What an efficient use of space for a family. Looks great and seems to work for all of them.

    I am one of the 65,000 that reads unclutterer every day. Some days appeal to me more than others but all are interesting.

    It is my favorite site 🙂

  19. posted by Anita on

    The space is, indeed, extremely organized. To me, though, it doesn’t seem very welcoming. Part of it is the absence (or apparent absence) of natural light, but that might be a personal preference.

    The thing that bothers me more, though, is that the individual workstations seem so isolated. When I think of homeschooling, I think of a more interactive and personal approach to learning, and I’m not seeing much potential for that in this design. I would have preferred to see a more communal table/area for teaching, and/or maybe have the desks set up differently to promote interaction a little more; the way it is, it’s about one partition away from being a cubicle farm.

  20. posted by marie on

    I grew up with 3 other siblings, and this layout would have been perfect instead of doing hmwk on the kitchen table or the basement. I don’t know that each kid needs a computer, but thats an entirely different discussion.

  21. posted by Paige on

    Where are all the homeschool materials? It appears this family uses K12 from the look of the curriculum but most homeschoolers have much more curriculum/supplies than this. Where are the scrapbook and/or sewing supplies? The space looks great but does not look functional.

  22. posted by Bneato on

    I love this space for the overall design–showing folks that you can make a space open and roomy but still highly functional.

    @ Paige–check out Katie’s flickr set (Erin links to it above) you’ll see where everything is stowed–and you will be amazed:)

  23. posted by Dawn on

    Erin – If you and your staff give out a “Workspace of the Week” of the Year Award, please consider today’s entry as the grand prize winner! 🙂 This space is sooo amazing! I L-O-V-E it! So many things and so many functions, yet so neatly packaged – looks comfortable, is pleasing to the eye and serves its purpose very well.

    Awesome space – lucky kids! 🙂

  24. posted by Katie Nelson on

    Thanks so much for featuring our workspace! I know this room might not be a favorite for everyone but we are pleased that we were able to turn a basement room with very little light into a welcoming and comfortable room where we can work together or separately. The computers are on loan from the virtual academy we work with. The metal shelving and baskets are actually from Lowes. Pretty much everything else is from IKEA. Hopefully the notes on the actual photos will help explain things. 🙂 We spent years collecting the items and we have used them in many different ways and repurposed them. That said, I do love the new and shiny things in life!:)

  25. posted by Jackie on

    This post is the last straw. From now on, although I’ll be checking in daily to see the lovely offerings on Unclutterer, I’m never again taking a glance at the comments.

    The workplace featured above is is a perfect example of what I think de-cluttering is all about – wise investment in items that will go the distance and function according to your needs. There have been many, many other workplaces featured in the past that were not quite so ‘streamlined’ or expensive looking, yet had also achieved this goal. And typically, I find a substantial majority of the topics on Unclutterer have to do with getting rid of hard-to-deal-with clutter (chemicals, sentimental items, etc). In fact, this was the main reason why I started following the site, and I haven’t noticed a substantial change.

    I love this site because it has a spirit of comradeship about it – of offering up bits and pieces to help every (wo)man find his or her best de-cluttering practices.
    All of the ridiculously nit-picky, holier-than-thou comments I routinely see here don’t augment that spirit – they hurt it.

    @Katie – your space is gorgeous, and the fact that most everything is re-appropriated and from stores like IKEA makes it all the more impressive. I hope I’ll scrape together enough space to have an office like this someday!

  26. posted by Beverly D on

    This looks very funtional, but not my favorite. Actually I’ve yet to see my favorite on this feature. But that’s just me. I am one of the 65000 people who follow this site on a daily basis (sometimes I check in more than once a day). I take from it what resonates, and if it doesn’t apply then wait for the next post. I don’t think there is any way all the posts can apply to the full range of people all the time. We are all ages and do lots of different types of work. Erin, you do a great job. Congratulations on being a new Mommy, the best job of all.

  27. posted by Slimmer en productiever, 7 sep 2009 « Arjan Zuidhof on

    […] Workspace of the Week: Highly functional home office suite – Unclutterer Weer een voorbeeld van een super productieve en overzichtelijke kantoorruimte. Ik vind hier weer een stuk inspiratie voor mijn eigen werkbeleving. Jij ook? […]

  28. posted by Shalin on

    What neat, neat job 🙂

  29. posted by Rich on

    A site strictly about getting rid of stuff–and not buying stuff–tends not to be as financially viable. Ad-supported means that an audience that doesn’t buy stuff tends not to be as valuable to advertisers, which means that the publisher gets less ad revenue.

    I definitely see the posters’ points; this blog does seem to me to focus rather often on the “what can I buy” solution to organization. There is a financial incentive to do so (not to mention, new and shiny makes more attractive pictures). Of course, there’s nothing wrong with that. Erin’s free to write what she wants, and the readers are free to read–or not–at their whim.

    To me, uncluttering is always in a bit of a tension with frugality. If you have infinite money, you don’t have to store anything–you can simply buy or rent it whenever needed and dispose of it afterward. The less money you have, the more likely you are to hold onto things in case you need them (yes, the storage does cost money too of course). I personally am much more willing to part with things if I know that obtaining them again is easy.

  30. posted by Rich on

    On further review, the immediately preceding entry titled “Organized doesn’t have to be new and shiny” is a bit of a counterexample. :7 But I imagine it can be discouraging for readers to see these places, with their promise of, “You too can be organized…for the low, low price of $300!”

    One person’s discouragement is another’s encouragement, I suppose. Good luck with the little one and your crazy living situation, Erin.

  31. posted by Vanessa on

    This was a great workspace, and the pictures on the flickr page are even better- I loved the organized closet with the scrapbooking/sewing, and the large window made the whole room look even better!

    I get very annoyed when people post about how Unclutterer isn’t how it “should” be. Unclutterer isn’t just about de-cluttering, and that’s actually what I like about it. My favorite part of this site is all the useful items we can buy that can help us organize our homes- I have never bought any of it, but it’s definitely given me some great ideas for when I live in a bigger space (and have any money to spend). I sometimes even skip over the uncluttering posts. That doesn’t mean I’m going to comment about how I wish they would stop posting so much about uncluttering spaces. Not everyone is going to like every single post on this site, and I think Unclutterer has done a great job of appealing to many different people.

  32. posted by Mander on

    Regarding the comment about all the computers–the notes on one of the flickr photos says that they are on loan from a homeschool organization. And most of the furniture is from Ikea or Target.

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