musician’s studio after

The small desk she had just wasn’t working for this client’s needs. She not only needed storage for smaller things as I showed you in the previous post, but also for office supplies, papers, files, etc which this secretary holds beautifully.  And really, the great thing about a secretary is when you’re not working you just close it up; it looks great and you have privacy.

I think this client is happiest about having all her art up including an amazing glass globe we hung in the window. I was very happy to free it from the box it’s been in since she purchased it a few years ago!!

For more details, check out my flickr.

musician’s studio after

I liked the basic layout of the space; the large bookshelf and the way she kept her cellos strapped to the back wall but she needed more storage and specifically more closed storage to balance all the open shelves. 

The long low cabinets are perfect for smaller things like cds, stationary, pedals, etc and takes up minimal floor space. She may mount it to the wall, but she’ll decide at a later point. Side note, ignore the black shelf leaning against the back wall, it’s going to be installed below the existing wall shelves…

I especially love the images of cellists she’s been collecting. They really help finish the room. I’ll show you the other side of the room and tell you about the new secretary in the next post…

studio office progress

The placement of things is very important. With the entrance to the room on the right, the art wall is to the left so it’s the first thing you see. It was hung with the intention for more art to be easily added. 

To the left, the 2 large bulletin boards are homasote (sound board) that come in a 4′ x 8′ sheet (get it at lowes), which I cut in half to make transporting and installing easier. I then painted it flat white so they almost disappear into the wall…

The cabinet underneath is a mere 8″D but 95″L, with sliding doors not only for easy access storage but a convenient hiding spot for the computer components . The section all the way in the back nearest the printer houses the smaller computer components (shown) as well as a large surge protector. There was one largest piece that I couldn’t fit into the cabinet but desperately wanted hidden so I attached it to the back of the cabinet with velcro tape (second to last pic). The huge printer is now on a low rolling cart low.

This is a progress shot; the phones are still being worked so ignore the cords around the printer. The client had the rug so she’s trying it for now to see how she likes it. The office chairs are on their way as well as a sofa.

studio office space before

I don’t normally do commercial spaces but when a long time client asked for my help setting up the office for her new company I was happy to help.

This is the space right after she moved in. The desk was just purchased and there are new chairs on the way. We needed to figure out the floor plan, art placement, storage, and of course making the most out of the storage room… We bounced around some ideas, I took some measurements and got to work.

Check back in a couple days to see the latest progress….

DIY custom desk

I live in a small alcove (L-shaped) studio and while it’s an obvious choice to put the bed in the alcove, my queen size bed barely fit and since I have no desire to go smaller than a queen I’m using it for my home office and dressing area.

I purchased and, using a jigsaw, cut down a wood countertop to fit the length of the wall (67 1/2″) and then cut the depth down to 20″. As you can see anything deeper would  overwhelm this area.

I draped a linen gauze curtain from ABC Home to conceal what’s under the desk, and had  a glass top custom made by a local glass company. The curtain and glass aren’t secured to the table, just delicately placed so I can remove the curtain to clean occasionally.

Doing this wasn’t exactly cheaper than buying a desk, but that wasn’t the point. The point was to have something that seamlessly fit the space as to not draw too much attention to itself. To have something that was functional for my needs and that fit my space.

organized desk drawers




This is the gorgeous desk of same client as the last post. With the exception of the bottom side drawers which are file drawers, none of the drawers had a specific purpose, they were just filled with ‘things’.

Now each drawer has a specific category: center for business cards, tape, stapler, pens, etc; 1 for notebooks; 1 for stationery; 1 for phones, ipads + cords (not pictured), 1 for cameras (not pictured).
We’re continuing to add to the drawers as we organize the rest of the apt so we’ll see if we need anything else as we go, but so far we’ve simply reused containers she already had.

home office: before + after

This is the nook off a kitchen in a client’s small studio that she wanted to make into a work area. She just moved in and the previous tenant left the large table that nearly fills the entire space. She had the
intermetro shelving unit which I squeezed under the desk for the printer (not often used), router and extra office supplies.
The high back shelving unit is actually partially on the table. The front left post is 36″H and is resting on the table. The other three posts are 74″H and go to the floor. Sorry I don’t have any more pics. I took these as we were running out. While it looks a bit empty now, she’s starting grad school this week so it should be filled with books in no time.

q + a: what papers to keep

Angie asks: “My biggest problem is paper! Articles, notebooks from university years, bank paperwork, deposit slips, statements, old magazines… Sitting yesterday reading the stuff and thinking ‘I may need this’, realizing that I am not decluttering anything. I tried to detach myself from all this paper, it’s stuff after all. Your advice is very much appreciated, thank you Laura!”
Think if there’s anything you’re ok to get rid of right away. Since you have a hard time letting go, start with the least emotional decision; bank paperwork, deposit slips etc. (see below). The feeling of having to get rid of things sometimes make people hold on more, so tell yourself it’s ok to keep some things.
Create labels using post-it notes, index cards or even painters tape on the floor or along a wall for categories you know you have: recycle, shred, tax papers, legal documents, college, memorabilia, article to read, etc, Grab a pile and start sorting things into their respective categories. The idea is to get papers sorted quickly and get the papers you know you’re not keeping out of the way. This is not the time to read and think; just sort into manageable piles.
If you have a room or area in your home where you can leave everything half-sorted end of the day that would be great (most people cannot get this done in one sitting). If not, use labeled shopping bags, folders or boxes to keep piles together until you’re ready to get back to it.
Once the papers are sorted, do a more thorough edit one category at a time, starting with the smallest pile and/or the easiest to go thru. Deep reading at this point will get nothing done. Skim the page to see if the article, notebook, etc has any relevance at this point in your life:
There’s an infinite amount of information out there. Chances are the articles you’ve been saving for years are outdated or maybe the reason you haven’t read them is that you actually don’t need to. Magazines run the basic same articles over and over again so chances are there’s nothing amazing you’ve been keeping that hasn’t been or will be repeated again.
Statements/Bills/Tax Papers
If you write it off on your taxes, keep them. Ask your CPA (or who over does your taxes) for a list of what you need to keep. See above image for more details. If you’re not writing them off, there’s really no reason to keep them.
If you need them, the question is have you done your taxes? If you don’t actually need them to file, sort them by year. Don’t bother sorting them any further since odds are you’ll probably not have to reference them again.
Keep insurance policies, legal documents (as mentioned above). As far as your notebooks from college, be realistic. How long has it been since you’ve graduated and have you ever looked back at them? For some professions, it’s fine to keep some things from college, but certainly not all.
DISCLAIMER: I am a residential organizer, not commercial, the following info is for individuals only, also I am not a qualified financial advisor, attorney or CPA. If you have any further questions about what you should keep consult your qualified financial advisor, attorney and/or CPA.

q + a: organizing a small business

(smokey and the bandit keeping guard of my ‘files’)

Sara asks: 
“I’m a graphic designer at a publication. I’ve recently started freelancing and I don’t have an organized system for the projects or business side of things. It’s so different than working in an office, where a workflow process already exists. Could you give me some tips about how you organize your small business? Do you have a planner or folios for keeping jobs organized? How do you set up billing and filing? How do you archive finished products? I’m at a loss. When I show up to meet with a client, I don’t feel as prepared or organized as I could. It’s not the work itself that is the stressor, it’s the running of the business. Any tips? Thanks so much!”
Personally I use a paper pocket calendar, week-at-a-glance so I always know what’s coming up. I keep a large paperclip holding the current day so there’s no need to flip around. Since a lot of my work is note taking, I have small notebooks for each client (sometimes 2-3 clients per notebook). A post-it note on the front lists things to do before our next meeting. I also try to do a general list of things to do for the next few days as not to forget. I love lists, but I update and toss old ones often. Not a fan of filing cabinets so old notebooks and datebooks (which I keep for tax back-up) are kept in boxes. 99% of the time get paid at the end of the day so I don’t invoice. The point is my needs are different from yours so how I do it may not work for you…
Think about what you have to store; papers, electronic files, inspiration papers (?); and what you need to have a productive meeting with a client. But tthere’s no reason to reinvent the wheel; was there a place you worked that had a good system that you can replicate, or a former colleague or boss who was especially organized that you can offer to buy lunch if they can tell you how they keep it all together? I find most people are willing to share and help others when asked.
I’m guessing since you’re freelancing that you’ll need to invoice then keep track of who owes you what from when which means an accounting software may be worth buying. Many accounting systems have biz and small biz/personal versions. Not sure what your financial situation is, but if paperwork is not your strength, think of hiring a bookkeeper who can handle all the billing for you.
The point is to keep it simple, easy to keep up, easy to reconcile at the end of the year for tax purposes and do what makes the best sense for you! I hope this helps…