Home office design — adding space for crafts in my 9′ x 14′ basement computer cave

home office designYes, this is where the *magic* happens. The basement computer cave — walls painted with Sherwin Williams avocado — where I research and write the blog every day. Yes, I cleaned everything up (see stories where I come out of the closet about my mortifying office mess aka vintage hoarding.) Overall, this office — which measures just a tad larger than 9′ x 14′ — works quite well for me. In 2011, I added the Ergotron standing work station, the rya rug, and in bursts, I started putting up some of my vintage finds on the wall. Now, though, as a continuing outgrowth of my *project fever* (see living room lighting project also launched), I am also going to do some major project work on this room.

Basically, the plan is to: Take out the 10′ row of bookshelves…. put them into my husband’s office… and add lots of working space for collage projects. I think there will be lots of moving stuff around — to create a large U-shaped work space that maximizes every inch of available wall space. There may be cabinetry, shelves, peg board and cork board involved. I may do a few things to improve the heating situation $$. We’ll see what I come up with. I am not sure. I am going to start by moving out the bookshelves, then I will see how it all “feels” and figure out next steps. There will be *chaos* and *indecision* and *researching 8,000 alternatives* and *second guessing*. Haha. Welcome to the way I make decorating decisions.

Right now, doing my collages regularly is hard, because I use the dining room table. We keep that space very tidy — so I have to keep moving my collage equipment in and out, from boxes on shelves in the basement to the dining room and back again. By added a dedicated crafting space to my office, I will be able to work on my collages a bit each day, and to keep all my materials organized (haha) and at hand.

Fortunately, DH’s office needs reorganization, too. About 7 years ago, he became a high school teacher. He took over the guest bedroom (also in the basement) for his office. We never “designed” it to suit his needs — and like me, he spends a significant amount of time there. So there is actually a third household project project this spring: (1) Living room lighting, (2) Pam’s office, (3) David’s office — a “his and hers” home office remodel series!  The first step, though, starts in my office. This week I will be going through all these bookshelves … tossing out what we don’t need anymore … giving away some books … and moving some of the stuff to other storage locations in part of the basement that is unfinished.

Above: The view toward the door(s). We use this tall dresser for office supplies. It’s vintage Conant Ball — and actually may be Russel Wright… valuable. I am not sure if we’ll keep it in this spot or not…. The size is actually great — there are doors swinging in from both the right and left. That vintage rag rug, picked up at an estate sale in Pittsfield, is kind of clashy, I know. But, it’s quite functional — the door on the right leads outside, where Astro goes to do his business. I need a landing space to wipe his muddy feet.

I want to try to complete this project without spending much money at all. We have a lot of things around the house that I might be able to use to create my crafting space. Alternatively, I’ll look for vintage at the Re-Store.  Also, this is a working space. I want it to be pretty, yes, but it doesn’t need to look like a home office in a magazine shoot. I want it to be functional and personal to me. I’m aiming for tidy, yes, but I think there will likely be a lot of open shelving and the like — because I want to see what I have to work with. I want the office to be a collage with lots of layers, lots of visual complexity.

So, my home office remodel is under way. I work fulltime on the blog now, so this is a room where I spend a ridiculous amount of time. I just about live in this room. I’m very excited about adapting it even better to make it *my happy place* falalalala.

Do you have ideas to suggest for my space-mazimizing home office remodel?

  1. Holley M says:

    Hi Pam! Just wanted to say this is perfect timing as we are going to be empty nesters for the first time in our 30 year marriage and two bedrooms (3 bedrooom house) will be in need of changes. All of your ideas are so inspiring….it’s just that there are so many great ideas out there we don’t know where to start to make choices! The idea of a guest room is nice but we don’t really have guests stay over so it seems a waste of space…we long for bookshelves storage, all the usual ‘dreamings’ but can’t decide on what!! We can’t even decide on a new paint color for any of the rooms!! Bathrooms, bedrooms, kitchen…etc. too many choices are making decions impossible!! Any thoughts on how to decide when there’s so much to choose from? I love mid century modern, my husband has bad memories of that era so not not a good choice for him …we’re just not sure which way to go..so nothing gets done…pink and frilly is ice, but not for my guy…what do y’all do to narrow down the choices! If I had a mansion I’d have a different style in each room! I’m overwhelmed! Any ideas???? You make it look easy!! Tanks for the fun site!!!!

    1. pam kueber says:

      Wow, that is one big question, Holley. If you send me some pics, maybe I can do a story….use the contact form to connect, okay?

  2. Tasha says:

    A week before we (hopefullyeverythingworksouteeeek!) close on buying our first house, a 50s ranch, I am totally in basement craft area mode. Unfortunately it won’t be a dedicated room, so I’ll also have to figure out how to separate the space visually from a lounge area we’ll setup down there too (wish there were more options for vintage looking room dividers, though I’ve read all you’ve had about ’em!). Point being: doing lots of research right now.

    Are you moving the 10′ bookcases into your husband’s office because you don’t want them in yours, or he needs that much bookcase? I ask because I was wondering if you could possibly cut them at about counter level, just above the 2nd shelf. If you could figure away to make the taller halves more stable, he could use those in his room, and then you could add a counter top to the shorter halves for collage space in your room. Below you could have resources and supplies on the shelves (maybe in bins), and on top you’d have a nice long work area, but it wouldn’t compete with the desk space. You could even pull over your ergo stool to work there!

    1. pam kueber says:

      He really needs them! And can you believe it — we have 4 other bookcases (at least) in the basement that we’ve received over the years as hand-me-downs that I can potentially incorporate! You ideas are spot-on though, in terms of the overall idea I’m going for — thanks!

  3. marta says:

    Another idea I’m working on for my daughter is turning a glass caddy into a sewing implement holder. I have my sewing essentials in a vintage wooden napkin/flatware holder (the kind with the handle so you can just carry it out to the picnic table). It’s from a late 60’s Teleflora Mother’s Day arrangement.

    For the DD, I found a 50’s 8-glass brass caddy at the flea market. It didn’t have the glasses, so it was only $1. For toddler safety reasons, to hold her sewing implements I’m fitting it with Crystal Light tubes covered in various scrapbooking-type paper. You, however, could fit yours with whatever MCM glasses you like. You might even be lucky enough to find a caddy that still has it’s original glasses. However, if you’re putting scissors or other sharp/heavy things in glass, cut a circle of craft foam to fit inside the bottom.

  4. marta says:

    I like rolling shelves like those wire racks on wheels (small ones are less than $20) that are only a foot deep and short enough to roll under your craft table. They’re really out of the way, pushed against the wall under the table, but are easy to pull out when you need something. When done for the day, you can just kick them back under the table. Really, you can add castors to just about anything.

    I also like to store little stuff in top-opening vinyl document holders that go in three-ring binders. It’s amazing what those things will hold. You can organize them with index tab dividers. No more digging through baskets and drawers for fabric scraps, etc. There are always plenty of sturdy binders at Goodwill just waiting to be recovered in vintage wallpaper.

  5. Just another Pam says:

    Since the early 70’s I’ve had a ‘thing’ for full wall built in bookshelves around windows and/or doors….darned decorating books….and have had them in every house since from Victorian to this 1964 house.

    Would it work if you changed the way you set up the room, except on the farthest wall where you could still use the width and instead put your drafting table ;o) etc. along the length? You could still use some of the width but not quite so much of it so your eye would travel more
    and the end of the shelves would not be the first thing you see when you enter the room.

    Or not.

  6. JKaye says:

    A great thing about your room is all the light that comes in. What sort of table do you like to do your collages on? If you would like a drafting table, maybe you could put all the stuff that is on the desk up on some sort of shelf, and replace the desk with a drafting table. Nothing makes you feel artsy like having a drafting table. I have one, and it’s covered with stuff for paying bills and doing taxes, but, the colored pencils in a cup sure make me feel like an artist.

    1. pam kueber says:

      I like the idea of a drafting table set up a lot. I have an idea…. Thanks, JKaye. I think I’ll go look for my colored pencils and a cup right now, and get in the mood…

  7. Susie O. says:

    I’m anxious to see how it turns out; however, it looks pretty great to me as is. My “office/sewing room” is a total mess at all times since it is also where my DH-equivalent keeps his clothes… I don’t even attempt to open the closet in there… I would love for it to be a productive place, but it seems to end up as the junk room! I’m hoping your progress will give me inspiration! 🙂

  8. Jen says:

    Oh, fun! Good luck…I also like the idea of taking out the shelves to get a better feel for the space. Definitely hit your ReStore and other salvage places—and it’s garage sale season, too. People sell the most amazing things!

    One thing I have done here to help hide our, um, clutter (you know, remote controls and pet grooming supplies and things like that), in cabinets and out in the open, is just take an old map (being on the road a lot, I always have old ones around) and use it to cover a box. A plain cardboard box (which we had PLENTY of after moving). They look so pretty now! It is not very MCM-y, but it does the trick for me right now. If you put open shelves on the wall for your collage supplies above your horseshoe work area, something like that might be an inexpensive fix, even temporarily! Plain paper will dress up an old box, too, but I do love maps…

    This will be most fun to watch. 🙂 Love that dresser, it’s beautiful.

    1. pam kueber says:

      I like it! Yes, I like my collage its ‘n bits to go in long but not high boxes. Prettifying plain old boxes is a great idea. Hey: I could COLLAGE boxes. I love all these ideas! Thanks!

  9. Annie B. says:

    What a glorious room. What a treat to view the RR nerve center.

    I wonder how it would work to rearrange it as if it were a tiny kitchen: countertops on the long sides of the room with storage below and open shelving above.

    And/or an island effect of some sort in the middle of the room which would be accessible from all sides (sort of a stand-in for your dining table).

    I’m with you on the idea of having all your materials and resources visible at once. Our homespace is so cramped and crowded that I can work with only one medium at a time. Not as much fun as being able to drag out all the paints, papers, books, magazines, textiles, etc.

    I’m sure that you’ll create the Kueber version of the Eames Office. Can’t wait to see it.

    PS: I feel guilty having sent you more books. Ouch!

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