Around The Office | Spring 2014 Update


Ah, the office.

Some of you have been wondering silently and some have been asking in the comments here or on Facebook "what about the office update?"

Maybe I was waiting for it all to be perfect, even though I know it will never be (and I'm totally okay with that).

Maybe I was waiting for us to settle in. Is over a year long enough?

I know I was giving it some time before writing up a big post to see how we work in this space. What works here and what doesn't. If I've learned anything over the years of home offices/creative spaces it's that things that work in one house or at one point in time don't always work again or continue working the same way over time.

So last week I had Katie go around and just take a bunch of photos of exactly what's happening in here right now. Just like I did back in 2011 - holy moly check out the difference between then and now here.

Remember, my goal is to not spend a lot of time organizing stuff. My goal is to make stuff. I don't want to be constantly organizing or thinking about organizing or worried that it's not organized enough to get to work.

My other goal, that you might know or not know, is not to have mass amounts of product. I want options and I want selection but not excess. I don't need every color of album, every letter sticker option, etc. I want breathing room in here. I want space to work with what I have and not always be wishing for something else or wanting more.

I'm so thankful for this space. For the light and the white walls and the floors. We feel good in here. Things are happening in here. We are documenting and creating and making stuff and having fun and providing for my family.

Here's a look at what's happening in here right now:


Nothing much new in this area which you walk past as you enter the office.

The shelves hold all my 12x12 albums. Along the top right now you can see my collection of December Daily® albums that need to be put into one or two of those plastic bins on the bottom and put into storage for next December. I like to put those away during the year and bring them out in December.

The albums you see on those shelves are either from American Crafts or We R Memory Keepers and they include family albums (such as Ali & Chris, Ali childhood, Anna's First Year), annual albums (like 2012, 2013), Simon albums (which basically runs from 2002 up until 2008 - it was around that time that I started just keeping annual family albums), and Project Life® albums (2011-2014).

If you're interested in reading more about album organization you can read a series of posts I did about organizing all my layouts into albums here: Part One | Part Two | Part Three.

There's a stack of layouts there that need to be organized into the correct albums.

Here's a view from the opposite side of the office looking back towards the door:


The Varde tables from Ikea are awesome. They have worked perfectly in this space. The work area is nice and big and there's room on the top for us to keep some supplies with most things being stored in the drawers or in baskets below.

I've always been one of those people that stands up to create my projects (unless of course I'm sitting at my computer desk) and these tables are just the right height. I'm 5'9 and Katie is 5'2 and the height has been fine for both of us.


Here's a look at my side of the work table (there's two islands put together there and we just refer to it as the "table"). Katie keeps her Project Life® album out on the other side most of the time. My Project Life lives on top of a shelf unit as you'll see below.


On top of the table at any given time are layouts in progress, a bucket that holds rolling stamps + scissors + the Crop-A-Dile + the Corner Chomper + the Tiny Attacher.


I also usually have a couple small baskets with products I love and/or want to remember to use.

We recently went through everything on the table and moved off anything that wasn't a regularly used item - it basically had just become too cluttered. It looks messy right now because I'm in the middle of a couple projects.


Here's a look inside the three large drawers. The left drawer holds Project Life® cards, washi tape, and metal rimmed tags. The middle draw is for adhesives, corner rounders, etc. The right drawer holds my most used mists, paints, inks, etc.


A close up look inside the Project Life® card drawer. I've got a few different boxes and little metal bins in there. This is more of a storage vs. a working drawer.




Katie's got some of the boxes on her side of the table. Those little boxes are from Ikea.


These tables have shelves under the drawers. Right now I've got baskets that hold letter stickers and Display Dynamics 12x12 trays to hold cardstock. The other baskets hold my collection of punches and scraps of pattern paper.


The punches. I still love them. The baskets are from a variety of sources over the years - Target, Goodwill, Ikea, etc.


Along both walls are Ikea Expedit shelves on wheels. These have been renamed Kallax if you go looking for them at Ikea. They are awesome on their own but having them on wheels makes them that much more awesome.


This unit which is closest to my computer desk includes work binders for my online workshops and other business-related stuff.


On top of this shelf is where my 2014 Project Life® album sits. I add to it throughout the week and then move it over onto the table when I'm actually completing weeks. The surface area on top of this shelf has been a great home for that album.


One of the things you'll find in that shelf are these great pull-out Kvissle Letter Trays from Ikea. We use them to store the current Studio Calico Project Life® kits each month.

After I complete my page(s) using those kits and new ones come in the mail we rotate the products out. At that time I make a decision if I want to hang onto anything for future use (if there's much left after) or put things in the donation box that gets shared with local friends or Anna's school.


I love that I can pull the whole tray out and move it over to the work table and then move it back when I'm done and it keeps all the kit contents together. It's similar to the way I'm using my unfinished projects trays.


The second shelf unit is full of those Display Dynamics 12x12 trays and all my pattern paper and page protectors. Right now the pattern paper is organized by manufacturer and the page protectors are separated by style.

On top of this shelf are some new products that need to be organized/put away, my 2013 Project Life® album, my Brother sewing machine (I have to have it out in order to remember to use it) and my heat gun.


Next to that shelf, along the back wall, is my beloved set of lockers. Over the years I've talked about painting them but I'm currently super happy with the metal grey color.

Inside those doors you'll find inks, paints, ribbons, sewing supplies, etc. Most of those things I don't use every time I'm making something so I like having something like the lockers to hide away some of the stuff.


On the opposite side of the room from the lockers, right next to the windows, is our computer desks. We love this set up where we sit across from each other - it's worked out great. We've also been really happy with the choice of these white tables - also from Ikea.



Next to my side I have a Pottery Barn filing cabinet that I've made good use of over the years. You can also see that my scanner and my Epson Picturemate printer sit on top of that filing cabinet.

The white chairs are also a recent addition I picked up at Ikea.


Along the other wall is the third Expedit/Kallax (not sure I can get used to the new name) unit. Next to it is a long white table that used to be in Simon's room. Right now it's a dumping spot (hate that) so I need to decide whether we really need it in here or what. I like that it could be a third computer station (the monitor is sitting there waiting to be hooked up to something) but I don't love it in that space.


The artwork above the shelf is from Minted (The Worldwide Web, Organic Pebbles, You Are My Rising Sunshine). This shelf is currently a random collection of things (including empty baskets and albums). There's a few more of the Display Dynamics 12x12 trays holding some past projects and a few other products. One basket includes letterpress supplies from Studio Calico that we plan to test out one of these days. Another basket includes coloring books, stamps and pens for Anna when she wants to hang out in here.

On top of this shelf are my stamps from Technique Tuesday overflowing out of that great red wood box + a typewriter we use from time to time and a couple frames that need some attention.

This whole shelf and it's current contents need some attention. Ha. In progress, right?


A tour of this space wouldn't be complete without including Charlotte. This is Katie's baby and she's an almost daily fixture in the office.

Overall, I love this space.

It's happy and white and bright and I know where stuff is located. As I said in the beginning of the post I'm still finding rhythms with certain parts and making changes when I can.

You can see the other office project posts here. Want more on organization? Check out my organization archives here.

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72 thoughts

  1. Fran Carnes says…

    Wow! The space looks great! I'm getting ready to dismantle, sift and sort, organize, and recreate my two spaces and this has been really inspirational. Sometimes I feel like I'm drowning in "stuff" to make "stuff" - so this has been a great starting place for ideas. Thanks so much Ali :)

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  2. Tyra says…

    Ali - I think your office is terrific. Love the natural light, the light white space and those counter height tables!

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  3. Sharyl says…

    Ali, thank you for showing us in detail your work room ...I've wanted you to do this kind of detail and now it's one of my favorite posts!

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  4. Anika says…

    Love this transformation! Thanks for posting an update, I was interested in seeing how your office works now. I really like your choices: white, light wood, hints of colour.

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  5. Dawn says…

    Just beautiful! Your office is light, bright, and filled with breathing space, Ali. You inspire me in so many ways! Thanks for sharing your work space today!

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  6. Marcia Brinkley says…

    I love your studio posts but this one especially makes me sad that I didn't buy more IKEA products before I moved to Hawaii. I have a desk, a huge set of bookshelves, and several other pieces that I bought in Los Angeles but I didn't buy more because I was warned that the Big Island was too humid for IKEA furniture. Supposedly, the shelves would warp and termites would take hold. I've been here 5 years now and everything I brought is just fine, thankfully, but shipping is too expensive for me to add to my collection. I am drooling over your tables and other IKEA items.

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  7. Erin says…

    Where did you find lockers like those? I love how they look for storage and have been keeping my eyes out for school auctions in the area but was curious where you were able to hut yours down.

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  8. lynn says…

    Would absolutely love to have a space like this and be able to be as organized as you are! Thanks for sharing!

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