Keep clutter at a minimum with space-saving organizers
By Harriet Schechter
March 4, 2007
No room for a home office? No problem. These days, you don't need to
have a separate room – or even a screened-off nook – for taking
care of household business. (A home-based business, however, may
require a larger area and more privacy.) The old concept of a home
office as a singular, static space has given way to the idea that
wherever various tasks tend to get done, the necessary tools and
supplies should be located. The tricky part is how to arrange it all
so your home doesn't end up with papers, electronics and supplies
cluttering every corner. Fortunately, thanks to the latest
space-saving home office furnishings and innovative accessories,
everything from bill-paying, online banking and budgeting to
processing mail and other paperwork can be efficiently handled in
almost any area of your home.
All charged up
Laptops, cell phones, Blackberrys, digital cameras and other
electronic essentials are increasingly common and vital components in
many homes. But keeping them charged, accessible and organized is
often a challenge.
Corral messy but necessary cords, ear phones, etc. in one
place with the Divided Cord Storage unit from KangaRooM.
Individual pockets can be labeled for easy access.
Happily, there are several well-designed products made to address
The e-Nook ($399 and up) is a combination charging station,
work surface and storage unit that mounts on almost any wall and –
here's the best part – hides away when not in use. Press the
push-to-open magnetic door latch and a 30-inch-wide, 3/4-inch-thick
work space eases down. It's deep enough to accommodate a laptop
computer, mouse and notepad.
This clever clutter-cutter also features a hidden panel with a
six-outlet power strip for charging all your gear; a fabric-covered
back panel that functions as a bulletin board; and optional accessory
shelves that can be configured in several ways. The shelves even
include clips to keep cords and cables organized. The door and panel
are key-lockable to provide safe storage for your laptop and other
Available in cherry, maple or white laminate exterior and with a
of fabric colors and styles for the interior, the e-Nook measures
251/2 inches high by 36 inches wide by 71/4 inches deep (flipped
the desk area is 161/2 inches deep).
Levenger Studios / See Jane Work
Levenger's Spin Doctor Desk Organizer (left) swivels for
easy access to supplies, including pens, paper, stamps,
paper clips and other office essentials. Expand your office
work area by taking advantage of wall space (right). The
colorful Pocket Strip Wall Organizer from See Jane Work is
held up by magnets.
Suggested use: Mount near the main entryway so it's convenient for
family members to drop off and pick up their electronic gadgets, get
mail and leave messages for each other.
Source: Anthro – (800) 325-3841; www.anthro.com
The Cell Phone Charging Station ($30) is a compact, economical
option for charging and storing small electronics. Designed to sit on
a desk or other horizontal surface, the 111/2-inch-wide by
63/4-inch-deep by 4 1/4-inch-high unit has sections for four devices,
such as a cell phone, a PDA, as mall camera or an iPod. Each open
compartment has a label-holder (preprinted and blank labels are
included), and a slot for threading charging cords through to a
central hidden compartment hatch keeps them tucked neatly out of
sight.A removable top shelf (for keys and other small,
easy-to-misplace items) allows access to the hidden cords, while the
back of the unit has an opening to accommodate a power strip (not
included). The unit comes in black or brown faux leather with blue
The Cell Phone Charging Station from KangaRooM Storage
an iPod, PDA and small camera, in addition to cell phones.
Source: KangaRooM Storage – (415) 543-3615; www.kangaroomstorage.com
The Divided Cord Storage and Organizer ($27.50) keeps
chargers, earphones and related accessories, along with their
spaghettilike cords, neatly organized and easy to find. This
double-decker rectangular box (14 inches wide by 8 inches deep by 5-½
inches high) has two zippers, one to access each level. The bottom
section is divided into four deep compartments that can hold large
transformers or similar bulky items, while the top tray has dividers
to organize five accessories and plenty of cords. Each velour-lined
compartment has a label holder and customizable labels are
Inside the lid there's yet another compartment, a Velcro-closure
envelope for holding instructions or other materials. The unit is
available in black or blue nylon canvas, or brown faux leather.
Levenger's movable Project Concierge Filing Cabinet is
designed to fit under a desk. Compartments hold files and
other office equipment.
Source: KangaRooM Storage (see above).
clutter from other electronic devices (cable modem, printer, scanner,
fax machine, etc.) can be kept under control with various types of
inexpensive solutions. The Container Store has a large selection of
cord and cable organizers. In San Diego, the store is adjacent to
Fashion Valley mall. (619) 220-0909; www.containerstore.com.
The WireMate ($20) is a streamlined system for controlling
and camouflaging multiple strands and sizes of cords. Made to
accommodate up to 18 wires of varying thicknesses, the sleek,
high-impact plastic case (14 inches long by 8 inches wide by 2 inches
deep) mounts easily with screws or double-sided tape on a flat
surface, such as a wall or the back of a desk (all mounting materials
Source: Innovative Problem Solvers – (212) 867-6020; www.wiremate.com
In many homes, the dining area is where most “office work”
actually gets done (or postponed). In fact, the kitchen or dining
table is probably the most popular place for doing all types of
paperwork, from bill paying to schoolwork to tax preparation. But all
too often the table surfaces end up piled with the detritus of
or unfinished business.
can control home office clutter in the dining area by using a
organizer cart such as the Project Concierge Filing Cabinet
($198), which keeps loose documents, files, office supplies, books
manuals handy in one mobile unit designed to fit under a table or
The cherrywood cart (available in dark or natural), which measures
just 24 inches high by 14 inches wide by 19 inches deep, features a
pullout file arm that holds 15 inches of letter-size hanging files or
12 inches of legal-size files; nine open compartments for pens, paper
clips and other necessities (four are angled for easy retrieval of
small items); and a storage shelf for reference materials or paper
Source: Levenger – (800) 667-8034; www.levenger.com.
alternative favorite place to do paperwork is on the sofa, using the
coffee table as a makeshift desk. This is another table that often
ends up cluttered with everything from mail to insurance paperwork,
and of course magazines and newspapers.
One clever solution is the Adjustable Height Coffee Table
($350), which features a top that lifts and locks to work-table or
dining height, plus inside storage accessible via front and back
hinged doors. An adjustable interior shelf holds paperwork, reading
materials, remote controls, etc.
Made of wood composite materials with birchwood veneer (available
in three finishes), the unit measures 38 inches wide by 24 inches
by 20 inches high.
Source: Brookstone – (866) 576-7337; www.brookstone.com
Whether you have an actual desk or just a corner of the kitchen
counter allocated for your home office, a desktop organizer can help
you keep things in order.
A good example is the Spin Doctor Desk Organizer ($58),
which has a revolving base that swivels 360 degrees for easily
accessing supplies from any angle. Constructed of solid alderwood
(available in dark or natural cherry stain) and measuring 10-¾ inches
wide by 10 inches deep by 9 inches high, the unit's multiple
compartments include a space for mail, sections for 3x5 cards and a
calculator, a paper-clip holder, a removable foam pen insert that
holds six pens or pencils upright, room for a junior-size notebook,
and a drawer that slides out from either side.
Source: Levenger (see above).
If you have a bit more space to work with, Wood Options Modular
Organizers ($20 to $180) offer multiple storage solutions in a
variety of configurations. The product line consists of seven
components designed to hold almost every type of office essential,
from pens and pushpins to papers, manuals, envelopes and CDs.
Each unit has the same base dimension (13-½ inches wide); the base
of each piece is grooved for stacking to interlock with the entire
line of accessories. Depending on the size of your work surface,
multiple units can be aligned side-by-side, or stacked atop one
The pieces are constructed from medium-density fibreboard (MDF)
laminated with wood veneer and finished in a choice of three stains:
mahogany, medium oak, or cherry.
Bindertek – (800) 456-3453; www.bindertek.com
Put walls to work
Not enough desk, table or countertop work space?
The Pocket Strip Wall Organizer ($25) is a wall-mounted
storage system designed to supplement horizontal surfaces.
The 22-inch-wide by ¾-inch-deep magnetized pocket (available in
red or ivory) is a handy place to store frequently needed folders,
bills, notepad, calculator and similar items that might otherwise end
up hidden in a pile of clutter. Six small, powerful magnets hold
lists, reminders and photos along the front.
Source: See Jane Work – (877) 400-5263; www.seejanework.com
Schechter is founder of The Miracle Worker Organizing Service and
author of three books, including “Let Go of Clutter”
(McGraw-Hill). Her online advice column is at www.MiracleOrganizing.com.