Ode to our home office (or, yay IKEA!)


What my corner of the office looks like when it’s neat.

I’ve been meaning to write a post about our office space. Not that I think this small room is particularly great in any way. However, when it’s tidy and not too strewn with supplies or works-in-progress, it is decently comfortable and serviceable for two people sitting in desk chairs less than two feet apart.

The first thing I’ll say is IKEA. Over the past 5+ years, we’ve slowly rotated out ugly, semi-useless, and cheap office furniture and replaced it with good-looking, functional and affordable IKEA pieces. The only remainder from that bygone era is David’s ugly, stained, worn-out, circa 1998 Office Depot chair. I don’t know why he won’t replace it. Well, actually he did buy a new one once. He gave me that old one, and used the newer one for a while until he spilled coffee on it, which ended up suspiciously looking like a large urine stain. So disgusting. Eventually, I got fed up and purchased a white IKEA Jules Swivel Chair just so I could throw it out. I like the Jules chair fine, but David doesn’t because he says it’s too hard and has no armrests. Boo hoo.

IKEA items in our office (left to right, top to bottom): Helmer drawer unit, Jules swivel chair,
Handklaver pendant lamp, Expedit bookcase with optional Lekman boxes, Antifoni work lamp,
Salma storage boxes, Erik file cabinet, Galant drawer unit and Kila work lamp.

Basically, our IKEA office consists of these things: two modular Vika Amon desks that butt up against each other on one side of the room (straight for David, slightly curved corner-style desk for me), a wall-sized Expedit bookcase (with 6 Lekman storage box/drawers), a Galant drawer unit, a Helmer drawer unit, and three sets of Effecktiv wall cabinets with doors. Most everything is either birch or white. If we had more space, I would be all over getting an Alex drawer unit perfect for stacks of specialty papers, notions, and general easy-to-see-and-access storage. Instead we use a much smaller flat file organizer from Staples that fits in the closet along with the many Salma clear plastic boxes with lids that hold everything from inspiration and paper sample books to old portfolio pieces and ribbons. Now that I think of it, all of our lighting is IKEA, too: my Antifoni work lamp, David’s Kila work lamp, a Tarby ceiling lamp, and a Handklaver pendant lamp in the corner that we bought as a wedding decoration and never used. Even our old dark blue Vinde rug is IKEA, and matches the two dark blue and two light blue walls of the room. Where else can you find a decent rug for so cheap?

All of these pieces work really well for us. The only problem, especially for me, is taking the time to neaten up my work space and put away my tools every once in a while.

Some Things I’ve Learned

  • Higher wall space is too often overlooked as usable storage space.
  • Sometimes you have to bite the bullet and make a purchase that will outweigh its initial cost by providing long term organization and clutter control.
  • Prioritizing and purchasing individual pieces over time is much more affordable than overhauling a whole room at once. We bought some of these pieces back in college. The good thing about Ikea is that it is easier to match other items later because their styles and colors are pretty standard.
  • Consider buying a few of the additional organizational items, like the Lekman boxes that fit perfectly with the Expedit bookcase, or plastic drawer dividers for filing cabinets to help keep things organized.
  • Don’t overlook lighting. Overhead lighting is important, but individual space lighting comes in handy, especially if it can be repositioned for each job.
  • IKEA furniture alone can look sort of bland, but it is easy to jazz up the space with a colorful rug, complementary wall paint, nice curtains, wall art and/or some easy-care plants.

I should note here, that most of these furniture ideas came from David. He does a really good job of organizing space and choosing the right tools to do it properly. I think part of that skill he got from his mom and part of it from a stint at Pottery Barn many years back. Sometimes it takes him a while to talk me into getting new furniture, like the Effective wall cabinets. I didn’t want to spend the money (despite their comparative affordability) and I didn’t think I’d like the idea of cabinets looming over our desks. However, we were in serious need of more accessible storage. He eventually wore me down and now I’m glad for that extra hidden space.

Now he’s trying to talk me into re-doing the back wall of our laundry room.

We’ll see, honey.

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13 thoughts on “Ode to our home office (or, yay IKEA!)

  1. Yay for Ikea! You’ve done a great job keeping things functional and fun. Very inspiring!

  2. So funny, my studio is full of IKEA stuff too. Effektiv desks and drawers, all kinds of boxes and Snack boxes for fabrics and yarn. What would we do without IKEA?

  3. that looks great! I like those wall cabinets a lot. I think Ikea is going to be my best friend in creating a craft/art space in my house too.

  4. Awesome info! I am basically BUILDING my office right now, and need all the help I can get.

  5. Pingback: The perfect IKEA craft table «

  6. I totally agree with you about Ikea. I looked everywhere for office funniture solutions, and no one had what I needed but Ikea. So everytime we are around one (we don’t have one in Erie) we make purposeful trips to go and stock up on things.

    Their closet and drawer organization solutions are incredible too. Since I bought the drawer separator/organizers (canvas) i’ve never had a pair of underwaear or socks out of place since!

  7. Your office looks great! I did try Ikea for a white file cabinet, but we wanted a 4-drawer model and theirs wasn’t big enough. I was bummed, since I’m a huge Ikea fan, too!

  8. i really like some ikea’s products i hope to buy more of their stuff soon.

  9. Pingback: More Ikea Organization «

  10. I just moved to England and need a larger filing cabinet. I don’t want to start over and have to reflie everything into A4 sized hanging folders – which leads me to a question I was hoping you might be able to help me with.

    Does the Erik file cabinet hold standard 8.5″ x 11″ hanging folders? Most other items I’ve bought at IKEA over the years can be adjusted for A4 or US sized folders, and I’m hoping this one is too.

  11. That looks like a lovely well utilised office space… it’s so true about the wall space being important. The wall cupboards are awesome!

  12. Hi Emily,I’ve been browsing your blog this morning. Your little appliqued onesies are adorable… Will you help me out by emailing me a copy of the email I sent you re: baby stuff? With my job shift, my school email service has been disrupted, and I’d like to Craigslist off a number of those items, and would love to not have to do all the same photo-finding… If you no longer have the email, no problem.

    I just got an adorable invitation to your baby shower! Sadly I won’t be able to attend, but our presents will have to replace our presence there.

  13. Pingback: Happy 40th Anniversary, Cubicle and Office. Better Watch Your Back! | IT Hire Wire

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