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Make kids' art look more sophisticated by framing lots of their drawings, along with photographs and pieces of graphic wrapping paper or fabric, and displaying them on a shelf. "This is such a simple, inexpensive way to add color and personality to an office," says Loecke.John's Tip: Work supplies and furnishings don't have to come from the office-supply store. "This is a room in your home—it should look like you," says Loecke. Bring in a comfy side chair or love seat, make a mouse pad from a square of pretty fabric adhered to felt, and get creative with containers: Use a vase or mint julep cup to hold pens, and arrange paper clips and Post-its in antique teacups.
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To use every available inch of a tight space, Loecke matched a wall-to-wall desk with a shelf of the same length and a mural-size bulletin board. The generous scale enables Andrea to keep track of each child's school papers and show off their artwork.DIY: For the shelf, Loecke suggests piecing together white melamine planks or having lumber cut to fit and then painting it. Make the bulletin board by stretching fabric over lengths of homasote (a building material available at home stores) and stapling it in back. For the desk, mount a piece of countertop material such as laminate on a pair of file cabinets or shelving units.John's Tip: Overhead light and a swing-arm desk lamp provide ample illumination to work by, but for ambience, nothing beats a couple of shaded table or floor lamps. "They make the room warm and inviting," says Loecke. Can't find the right light? Spray-paint a basic metal or ceramic one and match it with a cool shade.
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Loecke dressed up the desktop with cheerful, patterned folders for frequently used files and relegated the plain manila kind to drawers and cabinets. He arranged them in a tiered sorter along with sticky notes, which tend to multiply on work surfaces.DIY: Try designating one hue or motif for bills, another for work, and so on, Loecke suggests. Or invest in erasable labels (which let you remove marker), available at containerstore.com.John's Tip: Whenever possible, opt for modular furniture—a desk that rests on file cabinets you can swap out or add to; cubbies you can rearrange. Storage needs often change (you won't always share space with your kids, for example), so you want to be able to adapt.
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A stack of individually labeled shallow drawers, each containing one subject, make organizing—and finding what you want—easier.DIY: Cabinets are typically sold in shades of tan and gray but you can brighten them up with spray-on primer and paint made for metal.John's Tip: Open storage like shelves tends to work better than lots of drawers and cabinets, which can become catchalls for junk, says Loecke. If your stuff is on display, you're more likely to keep it neat, which in turn makes it easier to find things. Corral loose items in boxes and binders for a more pleasing, uniform look.
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Weeks at a Glance
Wall calendars often have tiny boxes that make it impossible to note the family's entire schedule. This version allows you to view several weeks or months at a time—and there's plenty of room to write.DIY: Create your own calendar with the days of the week on a computer document and photocopy on large, heavy paper.
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If you've made kids a part of your home office, says Loecke, allocate an area for their stuff. Organize small items like art supplies in transparent bins and containers so there's no confusion about where things go.DIY: Use jars saved from bulk snacks like crackers and pretzels.
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Off the Rack
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File in Style
Originally published in the February 2009 issue of Family Circle magazine.