This week I discovered an amusing web site that hit the spot as I finished a big decluttering project at home. It’s called Unfuck Your Habitat and I highly recommend it for motivation! If there was anything that needed to be totally unfucked, it was our office spaces at home.
I have lived in the same house for 8 years now and we’re fortunate enough to have 4 bedrooms – 2 upstairs and 2 down. When Link and I moved in, it was just the two of us. I didn’t allow Link to have a computer in the bedroom at age 11, so we created an office where our shared desktop computer was stationed for the next 6 years. Link had no expectation of privacy on the computer for all that time. As a side effect, neither did I – and maybe that’s a good thing! Our other spare bedroom was used for storage.
Three years ago, Rom and I were married and all of his worldly possessions arrived by ship from the UK (no furniture, just “stuff.”) At that time, he planned to remain self-employed and he needed a home office, so the storage room was re-purposed. Besides work, he plays guitar and has a lot of music gear, so the room was filled from top to bottom. Within 6 months, he landed a full-time outside job with an employer.
Meanwhile Link’s art and sewing projects were commanding more space, so the former Computer Room essentially became a workshop for Link. I bought my own laptop, and when our desktop computer died, Link got a laptop too. I set up a work space in the kitchen and did my household filing in another room. It was strange to become the only one in the family without their own work room, but I had the least “gear”!
Now that Link is living away from home, it was time to overhaul our space and make it work. The first thing I did was make a list of all the functions we needed room for:
Both of Us
- Computer home base
- Printer and scanner
- Storage for personal papers
- Storage for computer equipment
- Book shelving
- Music magazines
- Turntables & vinyl records
- Collections, memorabilia
- Household records (these seem to be “my” property)
- Storage for stationery
- Storage for photography equipment
- Gift wrapping
- Crafts and hand sewing
- Video blogging, video gear
- Extensive hobby collection
- Guitars & amp
- Guitar cases & crates
- Effects pedals, looper, etc.
- Mixer & recording equipment
- Music CDs
- Guitar tab (sheet music)
It seemed really obvious that we needed a shared office and a separate music room! That way Rom can play guitar downstairs with the door closed and I can still listen to (other) music or watch TV. Or, we can both go downstairs to play records (!) and read old music magazines which is the kind of thing we would do.
The change-over was accomplished over several months with a blitz these past two weeks.
Step 1: Empty the former Computer Room / Art Studio downstairs. This required a whole other room to act as a staging area until the new spaces were ready. Anything personally owned by Link went into Link’s old bedroom which is not be used at present. Everything else went into the rec room. This turned into a giant playground for the cats because the room has no door. It was a motivator to finish up the job because the cats were dragging stuff all over the house!
Step 2: Assess furniture in future Music Room. The filing cabinets were taken out & everything else remained – giant desk, 2 utility shelves, book case and storage cabinet.
Step 3: Bring all music related equipment downstairs to new Music Room. Rom completed a layout that allows everything to be “out” and usable, not stored away. This required a lot of surface area! The shelving was used for sheet music, magazines, tour programs, records and CDs. Electronic gear and cabling was stowed in bins under the desk. The finishing touch was decorating with cute things! Because our decorating tastes run to nerdy and whimsical.
Step 4: Assess furniture in new office. The existing wall shelves in the new office were not functional for storing books – they were more “decor” related. My brother was delighted to be the recipient of the old shelving, and after exploring all the options, we bought 4 new matching bookcases. We assembled and installed them one at a time (emptying old units and replacing with new until done). Another giant desk remained. The two filing cabinets were swapped in.
Step 5: Rearrange books, set up computers and speakers, and make sense of bins to be stored under desk. I was mighty sore after we moved all the books, furniture and filing boxes last weekend!
Step 6: Close door on closet and forget about contents as long as possible! This is where I am keeping about 20 boxes of personal papers that need to be dealt with over the coming months.
Step 7: Decorate with cute robots and Link’s metallic animal-related art objects.
So there you have it, two full rooms re-vamped, just like that old TV show Clean Sweep – but without the designer and work crew! The total cost was $322 for 4 book shelves and a rug.
One result of all this is that I’ve given up hope of ever being a minimalist. I just like my stuff to be clean and well-organized.
Other than a household move, have you ever done a major re-organization at home?
Click first photo to start slide show, if you like