Who doesn’t like to be organized?

It leads to a less stressful and more productive lifestyle. Having things in order saves time, prevents you from forgetting scheduled events, and keeps you in control. I recently helped two clients with their home office makeovers with those exact goals in mind — and more.

Sandi Hyman has always been organized and tidy, but during the years I’ve worked with her, she’s wanted something more: an indoor washing machine and dryer. They’ve just never been feasible. That is, until Sandi’s organizational skills went into overdrive. She had scanned all of her files and documents onto external discs. This was not only an impressive achievement but it greatly freed up desk space.

Sandi’s office was a 60-foot niche off the hallway large enough to accommodate her corner desk and flanking file cabinets. There were upper cabinets above one of these cabinets and a five-foot window above the other. But now, because of her techno-wizardry, she only needed one small desk. The plan was hatched and the design began.

The hallway’s five-foot opening to the office would be narrowed to make one wall inside the niche deeper – deep enough to house a new washer and dryer. The window, which was opposite the opening, would also have to be narrowed but even so, it still allowed a view of her garden and plenty of sunlight.

The benefit of custom-designing a desk is that you can first determine the types of drawers and storage you need. You can even make it higher, lower, deeper and/or shallower than standard. Once Sandi thought about her needs, we designed a desk that would span the wall opposite the washer and dryer.

Custom cabinetry also allows you to choose the door and drawer style and the finish. Sandi opted for a style that was neither traditional nor modern but right in between. Not a raised or recessed panel but not a plain slab either.

We used the same style for bi-fold doors that would hide the machines. Because the new office space was small, Sandi wanted tap-open bi-folds and routed drawer sides to avoid the need of any cabinetry knobs or pulls. The doors and the desk were stained to match her cherry kitchen cabinetry since both rooms can be seen at the same time from various angles.

At long last, Sandi does not have to trek out to her detached garage to do her laundry.

My second client also had a detached garage, which is where she and her husband had added an office years ago. It was 125 square feet with two generous windows. And although their office was actively used on a daily basis, this couple did not have proper desks or storage — two predicaments that inevitably lead to disorganization and frustration. This was a particular aggravation since they own two businesses. A makeover would allow for better efficiency and manageability. Beautiful aesthetics wouldn’t hurt either.

After assessing the space and my clients’ needs, we decided to span two walls with cabinetry and position the knee holes in front of each window. We also designed a tall storage cabinet and bookshelf for larger items, books, binders, manuals, and a few trophies.

Since we all liked the existing periwinkle blue walls, we used the color to find a quartz slab for the desktops. And by chance, Surface Masters on Soscol had a perfect match — Silestone’s Cygnus. Because we did not want to detract from the handsome bamboo floor, we steered away from stained cabinetry and toward fresh white paint. The white would also accentuate the color of the walls and quartz.

Now completed, the soft blue-and-white color combination creates a calm ambiance and working environment. All office items have a designated drawer and there is plenty of surface space on which to work — with less stress and more ease.

If you are thinking of an office makeover, here are a few tips:

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— First edit, toss, scan, or shred as many items as you can.

— Assess the configuration of your room. Do you need a better space plan?

— Determine your needs before purchasing or designing new cabinetry.

— Freshly painted walls and a new throw rug (if you have wood or tiled floors) will give you an instant lift. Choose your favorite color even if it is not conventional. Why not?!

— Include music, flowers, plants, a possible desktop fountain, and even aromatherapy. Seriously. You know how relaxed you feel when you enter a spa? Why not feel that same way when paying bills, filing, reading, or writing the next greatest novel?

If an office makeover seems overwhelming, take mini steps. They’ll eventually lead you to a rewarding accomplishment and all the benefits of working in an organized space.

More photos of these two projects, including “before” shots will be in my next monthly newsletter. Send me an email if you’d like to receive it.

Patti L Cowger is a Napa-based interior designer and owner of PLC Interiors. For more information about her design services, visit her website at plcinteriors.com call (707) 322-6522; or email plcinteriors@sbcglobal.net. Demystifying Design appears every other Saturday.

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