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How to Plan a Home Office Organization Project

It can be challenging to figure out how to plan a home office organization project, so I’m walking you step-by-step through the methods I use to keep the process as simple as possible!

She explains her exact process for organizing and decorating this gorgeous home office to make it totally functional and beautiful at the same time! How to Plan a Home Office Organization Project | organize, organizing, home office, craft room, organized office, get organized, declutter | This strategy would work for nearly any space you are trying to organize!

I love room transformations– especially when they involve organization! I think it’s so fun to see before and after pictures and oooh and aaah over the positive changes.

But while befores and afters can be inspiring, unless you have the exact same space and the exact same needs for it (and when does THAT ever happen?!), it can be hard to figure out how to adapt the organization inspiration you see in a photo or blog post to fit your own space.

After getting a bunch of questions about my recent office organization project, I decided to try to break down the thought process I went through while organizing (and decorating) the space to try to come up with principles that would be helpful for anyone who was trying to organize their home office, not just someone who was trying to replicate my exact space (which is no one, lol!).

Organized pantry with decanted baking items, pasta, and spices

Grab our free organizing guide, 7 Simple Starting Points!

This quick guide gives you 7 simple, practical ways to begin to tackle an overwhelming organizing project. (And once you get started, the momentum will help you keep going until it’s complete!)

How to Plan a Home Office Organization Project

1. Do a major declutter.

Before I could even begin to organize my office, I had to know what I was working with. I had gotten rid of a good number of items before we moved, but over a year later, there were still things taking up space in my office that I hadn’t used yet, so I knew I had some more decluttering to do.

How to Plan a Home Office Organization Project | organize, organizing, home office, craft room, organized office, get organized, declutter, before photos, temporary storage solutions

I went through every single box, drawer, bin, pile– anything that was in my office, I sorted through it and tried to be absolutely ruthless. I threw away anything that was broken or unusable, recycled what I could, and donated and gave away bunches and bunches of items.

[Tip: Find a go-to place to donate items so you don’t have to figure it out what to do with extras each time you declutter. Our church has a garage sale every year and the proceeds benefit missions, so I always keep a tub in my basement where I collect items throughout the year and donate to their sale when the time comes. You can always check with local churches to see if they do something similar or contact shelters, food pantries, or organizations in your area who may be in need of donations.]

If I was going to put things in pretty bins to hide them but never actually got around to use the items, I would just be rearranging my clutter, not organizing, and that was not the goal!

As I was going through things and decluttering, I began to…

2. Sort what’s left into categories. (Purge some more if needed.)

My goal is to be able to clearly see all of the different types of items I have so I can more easily assess my storage needs. When everything is sorted by category, I usually discover that I have doubles of items or more than I need of other items, which means there is more stuff I can get rid of. Woohoo! 🙂

How to Plan a Home Office Organization Project | organize, organizing, home office, craft room, organized office, get organized, declutter, before photos, temporary storage

binders, extra wall decor, and photography equipment

3. Make a list of everything you need to store/organize.

I am a major list maker, so that’s what I do next. I list each category of items I have set out and I write next to them which type of storage would be best for that grouping. So, for example, my list may look something like this:

  • Pens (drawer)
  • Fabric (basket or bin)
  • Wrapping paper (vertical storage)
  • Wreaths (hanging)
  • Extra printer ink (box or bin)
  • Paint (bin or drawer?)
  • Party supplies (bin or drawer?)
  • Yoga mats and weights (hidden somewhere; vertical storage? bottom shelf for weights?)
  • Photography equipment (vertical storage)

4. Figure out what you already own that could help organize your items.

Once I’ve listed everything out, I take a look at the storage pieces I have available, both in my office and around the rest of my house. I search the basement and go around to each of the rooms and see if there is anything I can swipe for my space. 🙂

I will say that in my current office, I purchased more “big” pieces than I usually do because all of the storage furniture I had in my last office stayed with our old house, so I didn’t have much to pick from.

I did, however, already have quite a few bins, baskets, boxes, and smaller storage pieces that were just waiting to be used, so I hardly purchased any of those for my new office– woot!

5. Make a plan & “wish list” of things you would like to buy to complement what you already have.

After I have a clear picture of everything I need to keep in my office space and I’ve exhausted every single storage possibility with items I already own, I begin coming up with a plan for the space. While I’m making the plan, I try to look at my list of items that need a “home” and match each type of item to a specific spot.

Now, I don’t know that I’ve ever had a space that matches my very first plan exactly. Typically as a room comes together, I’ll figure out better systems for things, and the plan evolves a bit over time.

For example, the very first plan for my office called for kitchen cabinetry to use for storage in one of the office corners and on the back wall…

How to Plan a Home Office Organization Project | organize, organizing, home office, craft room, organized office, get organized, declutter, office floor plan, Ryan Homes Palermo, first office plan

the first overall plan I made for my office, after the nook area had already been completed

[Side note: I made the above image with a screenshot of my home’s floor plan + Photoshop. I designed the kitchen cabinet renderings in IKEA’s home planner. If you don’t have a floor plan of your home and/or Photoshop, floorplanner.com is a pretty user friendly site for planning out spaces like this.]

As time went on, though, I realized that there would be several issues with the cabinet setup:

1. I didn’t think they would give me the “cozy office” feel I was going for.

2. I ended up having several items that would need vertical storage, and the cabinets I had planned wouldn’t work for those.

3. To get the cabinet/countertop setup I initially planned, the budget would have been considerably more than I wanted to spend.

So I did more research, modified my plan a bit, and ended up subbing in IKEA’s PAX system and a BESTA unit instead, and they ended up being the perfect solution.

She explains her exact process for organizing and decorating this gorgeous home office to make it totally functional and beautiful at the same time! How to Plan a Home Office Organization Project | organize, organizing, home office, craft room, organized office, get organized, declutter, office nook, IKEA PAX

IKEA PAX cabinets in my current office corner

She explains her exact process for organizing and decorating this gorgeous home office to make it totally functional and beautiful at the same time! How to Plan a Home Office Organization Project | organize, organizing, home office, craft room, organized office, get organized, declutter, office reading corner, IKEA BESTA

IKEA BESTA storage on the back wall of my current office

Many times we may not have the time/desire/budget to put our plan into action all at once, so we often end up doing things in phases. I will keep a “wish list” handy of all of the items and projects I want to complete in a room, and we will work down the list as time, energy, and finances allow.

If I was really fancy, I would probably have some big, detailed spreadsheet with every piece of info I need, but in reality, I will typically just use the “Notes” app on my phone to list pertinent room measurements, projects to complete, and items to purchase with an approximate budget amount listed for each one. I then have a secret Pinterest board where I will pin inspiration photos and products I think I might want to use so I can pull them up quickly.

I like this method because I feel like I can get a quicker overall visual view of the project, whereas my eyes tend to start to glaze over if I’m just looking at a bunch of words and info packed into a spreadsheet. This is totally a personal preference thing, though, so if you are a spreadsheet person, definitely organize your info that way!

6. If necessary, set up temporary systems.

Since room projects are often done in phases rather than all at once, I like to set up temporary systems in the meantime. These systems aren’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination and I try to spend a grand total of $0 on them if possible because I know I’ll be changing them in the not-too-distant future. Even so, having some sort of system– even if it’s not THE ideal system– still helps me maintain some sense of order (and sanity, lol) while a room is in progress.

How to Plan a Home Office Organization Project | organize, organizing, home office, craft room, organized office, get organized, declutter, before photo

temporary systems in the nook area shortly after we moved in

How to Plan a Home Office Organization Project | organize, organizing, home office, craft room, organized office, get organized, declutter, before photos

more temporary storage while the office was in progress

As you can see, I basically just gathered up every spare piece of furniture or organization bin I could find in my house and did my best to use them to organize what I had! The temporary systems in my office may not have been the prettiest, but they kept things in order and allowed me to use the space effectively until we could put more permanent systems in place.

7. Work to put permanent solutions into place as time and budget allow.

I always feel like everyone else’s projects get finished so quickly, and mine drag on forever, but the reality is, we don’t see everything that goes on behind the scenes, so I’m willing to bet that most people have projects that take longer than they imagined!

When we moved into our house in September of 2016, I think I was completely delusional because I had in my mind that we were going to have everything decorated and organized within just a few months.

HA! Here we are in March of 2018, and there are plenty of rooms that still haven’t been touched! 🙂 We are chipping away and making progress slowly, though, which I think is a good thing. Any time I’ve tried to rush decisions in the name of getting things “finished,” I almost always end up going back and changing things later, which costs me time and money. There’s nothing wrong with slow progress!

To give you an idea of the timeline for my office, we moved in in September of 2016 and put temporary systems in place.

How to Plan a Home Office Organization Project | organize, organizing, home office, craft room, organized office, get organized, declutter, before photo, empty office

my office on the day we moved in

We then completed the “nook” piece in April/May of 2017– it was my Mother’s Day present! 🙂 I also organized my desk.

She explains her exact process for organizing and decorating this gorgeous home office to make it totally functional and beautiful at the same time! How to Plan a Home Office Organization Project | organize, organizing, home office, craft room, organized office, get organized, declutter, office nook, reading nook, office writing desk

I made the first rendition of “the plan” for the rest of the office in August of 2017 (shared above)… but then life happened– the craziness of back-to-school season led right into Christmas. But since I’m slightly insane, I decided to get serious about my office storage a few weeks before Christmas, and we completed the PAX storage unit in December 2017/January 2018.

She explains her exact process for organizing and decorating this gorgeous home office to make it totally functional and beautiful at the same time! How to Plan a Home Office Organization Project | organize, organizing, home office, craft room, organized office, get organized, declutter, IKEA PAX system in an office with custom trim work

Donnie, being the sweet husband that he is, knew that my office was at the top of my priority list for the new year, so we then did a big push in February 2018 to complete the remaining pieces. You can see the full “reveal” here.

She explains her exact process for organizing and decorating this gorgeous home office to make it totally functional and beautiful at the same time! How to Plan a Home Office Organization Project | organize, organizing, home office, craft room, organized office, get organized, declutter, office reading corner, IKEA BESTA
She explains her exact process for organizing and decorating this gorgeous home office to make it totally functional and beautiful at the same time! How to Plan a Home Office Organization Project | organize, organizing, home office, craft room, organized office, get organized, declutter, office reading corner, IKEA BESTA, etagere, work table, white board

So it may have felt relatively quick in blog time, but in reality, my office project was nearly 18 months in the making, and that was even with it being one of our “top priority” projects in the house!

Whew! I hope this gives a better picture of my thought process and workflow for a big organization project like my office! If you’re wondering about sources for anything in my office, I will list as much as I can below.

Sources

This list contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.

Paint Colors–

Behr Marquee Silver City

Behr Marquee Cameo White

Sherwin Williams Rainwashed (color matched in Behr Marquee paint)

IKEA BESTA System

Wicker Baskets (similar)

My Favorite Label Maker

Bookplate Labels

Clear Lidded Storage Boxes

Silhouette Cameo

LACK Shelf

Reading Corner Chair

Reading Corner Lamp

Reading Corner Stool

Window Frame

Storage Unit for Pillows/Printer

Scrapbook Paper Boxes

Work Table

Slipcovered Chair at Table

White Board: Hobby Lobby

Photo Ledges

Tufted Chair

Tufted Ottoman

Desk Chair

Similar Desks

Desk Drawer Organizer

IKEA PAX System

Light Fixture

Rug

See more of my favorite organization items here.

If you’ve missed any of the previous posts about my home office, you can catch them here:

A Cozy Office Nook

Creating an Organized Office with the IKEA PAX System

IKEA PAX Office Organization: A Tour

Planning a Cozy and Organized Home Office

How to Stencil a Wall

How to Create Home Office Storage with the IKEA BESTA System

15 Beautiful and Affordable White Writing Desks

A Beautiful and Organized Home Office Tour

Creating a Perfectly Organized Desk

How to Plan a Home Office Organization Project (You’re here!)

[Psssttt… Organize every room of your house with our 100 best home organization tips!]

I would love to hear how you plan out your projects, so be sure to share your best tips and tricks with me in the comments!

Happy Organizing!

This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.

14 Comments

  1. Ellen from Ask Away Blog says:

    Great tips! especially the making plans and making a wish list. super important!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      So glad it was helpful, Ellen! Have a wonderful weekend! <3

      ~Abby =)

  2. Karen Hobson says:

    I love that you don’t have it all together like we see on your blog!! 🙂 We finished building and moved into our home in January 2012. Since our daughter was getting married in the field in front of our home in April 2012, we had to hustle with a few projects to have some kind of order for the big day. But, here we are 6 years later and I still have rooms that have no order at all. The spare bedroom and closet are my next big project to hang pictures and organize the closet. I have a “craft” room upstairs that still has everything sitting right where we put it on move-in day. I haven’t touched it…still on my to-do list. Waiting on our 26 year old son to move out (whenever that might be) before I work on it. The upstairs is sort of his man cave…movie watching, guitar playing, chilling space for the remainder of time that he’s living at home, so I don’t want to infringe upon his space.

    1. justagirlabby says:

      I know it can be frustrating not having everything finished the way you would like it. I totally understand. We’ve been working on ours like crazy for a year and a half and still have a lot to do! I’ve realized it’s definitely better to be patient and plug away then to rush to just get everything finished. 🙂 Wishing you all the best with your projects, Karen! <3

      ~Abby =)

  3. Micah | Home Faith Family says:

    It’s been wonderful to watch your office transformation. I’m so happy for you, especially with all the hard work you and your sweet hubby put into this room. Any plans for doing the basement? Or will you take a needed break before tackling that project?

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Thank you so much, Micah! The basement is definitely on the list– hopefully soon! We’ll keep plugging away for sure! 🙂 Have a great week!

      ~Abby =)

  4. Abby, I love how your “organized” mind works! I also love how you tried to use everything you could before going out and buying what you needed. Thanks for sharing the process you went through. Your office is not only functional but beautiful!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Aw, thank you! So glad it was helpful for you, Amy! <3

      ~Abby =)

  5. Are those shelves that the pictures are on in the nook from IKEA? I really like that idea! I need more space for pictures!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Yes! They are the MOSSLANDA picture ledges! 🙂

      ~Abby =)

  6. You have some beautiful ideas for the home office. I love your deco ideas.
    I really wish our very small office didn’t have an unused Bowflex in it. I really think a clean office room will never happen (sad)

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Aw, I hope you find a way to make the space work for you, Barbara! I know it can be frustrating when it’s not exactly like you would want it! <3

      ~Abby =)

  7. Sarah | The Teacher's Wife says:

    This is great! I’m like you – super slow in getting a space done, but it’s helped me to be completely satisfied with the end result! Rushing usually means re-work for me! I’m about to tackle my boys shared bedroom next and I plan to sit down and strategize before I even lift a paint brush! Thanks for the tips – it’s super helpful!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      So glad it was helpful for you, Sarah! Enjoy working on your boys’ room… so fun! Have a great week!

      ~Abby =)

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