Organizing a Desk with No Drawers

Some of you asked if it was tricky to keep a desk organized without any built in storage. I actually love that my IKEA desk is leggy and open, but I discovered pretty quick that some drawer storage was going to be necessary. I use my old aqua lacquered drawers for smaller office supplies (tape, stapler, paper clips, etc).



I looked for a while for a decently priced filing cabinet that wasn't completely offensive looking. Finally this little filing cabinet showed up at the Chelsea Flea Market for only $20. Sold!


It looks like four drawers, but it's actually just two deep drawers for hanging files and it fits perfectly under the IKEA desk. I thought about painting it, but I'm sort of digging the wood. (and you can't tell that the top is scratched when it's under the desk)



You can also see in the photo above that I use an antique wire basket for magazine storage. I get a lot of magazines and catalogs, so I like having a place to keep them that's off my desk top. They sit here safely until I have a chance to read them and then I recycle most or pass them on to friends. I also have a couple acrylic folder trays from the Container Store for rounding up loose files and papers at the end of the day.

On the other end of the desk, I keep two seagrass baskets for corralling trims and loose fabrics I pulled from the shelves of fabrics on wall behind this desk. I keep another acrylic tray here too for my husband's magazines. Isn't that glass ball so cool? It was another flea market find and wish I knew more about it so I could buy more!


I'm finding it's pretty easy to keep this desk clean. If I can't fit all the loose paperwork in my tray at the end of the day, then it's time to file. There are no 'black hole' drawers here. It forces me to be more organized and then my desk stays tidy. Kind of necessary when my work space is approx. 5 feet from the living room.

46 comments:

Carolyn said...

Your home is so pretty...so colorful, full of character and cozy. LOVE it. Love your blog.

Shalini said...

I love your aqua drawers...so pretty and yet so practical.

Helena - A Diary of Lovely said...

Your home is stunning, i cant wait for a full tour. Soon?

Shay said...

I love love love the flowers in different and unique pots. The lack of matchiness makes your desk so beautiful!

Rene said...

I'm really enjoying seeing how your open floor plan works. It all makes so much sense and is very livable. The file cabinet caught my eye in your last post and looks great in the wood finish.

Sarah Baucom said...

I am currently in the middle of an office reno (for myself) and I find that the odds and ends are so hard to keep organized. Thank you for the beautiful images, I especially love that glass globe!!

Baftani said...

I have been trying to figure out how to manage my life with a baby now. after i read your post on "cup of joe" about how you keep your balance and then bookmarking your blog, i have been using a few of your pointers and it has been working well. thank you!
http://baftani.blogspot.com/

Boston Mamas said...

So pretty J! And I wish you could come fix my living room. I have such strong vision for graphic design and know what I like when I see it in mags for home stuff, but I'm overwhelmed when it comes to the larger scale of home decoration.

PROUD MOMMY said...

Oh please oh please will you post about your curtains on your full bank of walls!?--or did I miss it?. We moved into a house with a full wall of windows w a sliding glass door in the middle and I have the same old ugly window treatments on a track that the old couple had before bc it's functional and I can't decide what to do and I feel like its such a big committment! thanks!! I know you're not busy or anything ;)

Naomi@DesignManifest said...

I so enjoy seeing more peeks of your space. It's looking so beautiful.

I aspire to be organized as you. Good philosophy about the stuff- if it can't fit somewhere it should be filed. If only I didn't ABHOR filing.

Christine said...

I love your sofa! Where is it from?

modernchemistry said...

thank you for this! our computer desk is in our living room and it always looks so cluttered. i appreciate the storage suggestions.

Collins said...

i am having a HUGE problem trying to figure out how to organize my desk area right now. i also have a desk with no drawers and have plastic bins underneath with all of my jewelry supplies. it looks awful. i love the way you have yours so neat!

Kiley said...

Jenny, This is stunning! I keep coming back to this post and admiring it all--the desk, the filing cabinet, and the chairs. You have such a vision! My one question: where is the printer? ha ha!

Tracie Nutter said...

I'm really digging this work space! Can you show and tell us about the artwork you have on the desk?

HeidiB said...

Your home is beautiful! great post!
I was wondering if you have any ideas on organizing for kids... in this case my daughter's arts and crafts supplies. We have all kinds of markers, stickers, crayons, paper etc. and I am at a loss as to how to set it up to keep things neat and tidy, easy to clean up afterwards but also accessible and enjoyable for my daughter. Any ideas?

Brita said...

I think your glass ball is a Witch's Ball! The women in my family have tons of these, and we hang them up in the kitchen. It might just be a New England thing, but maybe you can google them?

lavitapetite said...

I was thinking about this very same thing this past weekend. I am living in my first place and my desk is the last of hand me down furniture that I need to replace. I came across a beautiful, small plinth art deco table that has no storage. I was debating on whether or not I could make it work, but you convinced me!

thanks Jenny!

Sarah said...

I've heard those glass balls called glass floats or glass buoys. When we visited the Oregon Coast, there was a glass studio where you could blow your own. And some places release lots of them into the ocean so you can find them when they float to shore. They are beautiful!

Twelfth Street Vintage said...

I love your desk idea! I've been looking for something similar myself. I was wondering where your living room rug is from? Love the stripes!

jenna said...

i'm dying to see the rest of your place! love seeing all of your projects.

Mary said...

Your home looks so great! I love your lucite side table!! I am considering putting a desk area in my living room and wonder if I can have the patience to keep it orderly. I guess if its in plain site you are more motivated to keep it tidy?!

Vanilla said...

What a beautiful home you've got!
I love the neutrals with some color touches. It looks great!!

explorewithtwine said...

Like Sarah mentioned, that glass ball of yours looks like a glass float. They were originally made by the Japanese to keep their fishing nets afloat in the ocean.

I have one hanging in my living room that I made myself. I took a short one-on-one class in a glass-blowing studio in Lincoln City, Oregon, and they sent it to my apartment when it cooled.

Lincoln City has a cool tradition involving glass floats that the public can search for on the beaches at certain times of the year. If you find one, it's yours! Sounds like a great reason to visit Lincoln City, eh?

Amy said...

Thanks for the photos! I too have a desk without drawers and have been searching for some storage inspiration.

Anonymous said...

That glass ball is called a witch's ball. My sister has several of them.

Natalie said...

You answered my exact question of the day! Desks with no drawers? Thank you!

Marivic said...

That under-desk wagon is a super find!! It's so hard to find a wagon that is stylish and doesn't look office-y. Nice!

Anonymous said...

your home is BEAUTIFUL!! You're very inspiring. There is one thing that I am dying to know though, how do you keep your girls (particulary Evie) from getting into your magazines(for example)and ripping them to shreds or taking everything off your bookshelf, etc.?? i have to know because little curious hands getting into things when i turn my back is a common occurance at my home.

-Jessica

Capella Kincheloe Interior Design said...

Great idea to frame the little trimming scraps- colorful, inexpensive and lovely.

Denise Briant said...

I love your office! It is great and such a great combination of colors and finishes! I am dying to find out where you got that painting lying on your desk? The coral/charcoal one? Is it a local artist? Thanks for sharing your home, you inspire me!

Denise Briant
Design Savvy of New Jersey

Julia said...

I love the framed ribbon samples... I have some from projects my Mom did when I was a kid and now I think I know what I'll do with them!

Kimia Kline said...

i kind of love that your office and living room are so close together. and that dresser find is awesome.

Holly said...

It definitely looks like a glass fishing float. Here's an article with more information:

http://www.great-oregon-vacations.com/glass-fishing-float.html

I know you can also custom order them for beacoup bucks, but they are so gorgeous and have an awesome story that comes along with the glass float.

Business logo design said...

Your post have the information that is helpful and very informative. I would like you to keep up the good work.

Amanda said...

Well I keep coming back to this post and looking at your desk! I have been on the hunt for one for my office makeover and wanted something with some glam. Everything i have found has been quite out of my budget. And then I saw your legs (lol well your desk legs) and I was like "thats it!!" I'll get me some Ikea legs & I shall paint them gold!!! Im thinking of adding a mirrored top on top of the wood -wonder if those legs will hold the weight?
Anyway - thanks for the inspiration!!

Cristin @ Simplified Bee said...

Great solution! Living in NYC much be so much fun!

xo,
cristin

{hooked on hickory} said...

oooh that piece fits like a glove under your desk! i'm all for baskets when there isn't built in storage. looking good! thanks for sharing your space! ;)

ashley

{darlene} said...

so true about an open desk! Mine is behind closed doors, which is dangerous!

7FootersWife said...

You can also look for glass garden balls to find similar ones to the one you found. I love how you've organized without drawers. gives me loads of ideas for my own space thanks!

http://grantfords.com/product_info.php?&i=B004KJF4KS

Leslie said...

I love your office and I love that the details are well-thought out, too! You are an incredible designer. What about waste baskets / garbage cans? What do you use? Are there stylish ones out there? Can they be out in plain-view?

Suzanne said...

I love how you made it look attractive and not cluttered!

Seraph said...

It's a witch-ball! The most traditional ones are supposed to have "strings" of glass through the inside, to trap the evil witch-spirits that are attracted to the shiny ball.

Libby Bates (miss lib) said...

I am OBSESSED with the little frame of ribbon scraps. Was this a diy?

splendid little thrills said...

Love this post, bc I have a drawer-less desk as well. Great inspiration for my hot mess of a desk!

RBarry said...

Love your blog! We have a couple of glass floats similar to the one shown. We went to a glass blowing shop in Lincoln City, OR, where we got to choose the colors and watch them being created. It is mezmerizing! There are several glass blowing shops on the Oregon coast that make these glass floats, they are kind of a tradition over here. Originally these glass fishing net floats would wash up on the Oregon beach from Japan and can still be found from time to time. Eventually glass blowers in the area started creating these beautiful decorative ones.

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