Group 6 4 minutes Read

office organization

Lauren Zerbey

It’s been nearly a year since we finished the loft. Ahh, such minimal beginnings…things sure have changed!


The loft is now Studio Zerbey headquarters and where Kyle spends his days (and sometimes, nights). (In this post, I talked about the importance of having our own spaces.) Although I usually work from the dining room table, we try to keep all of our shared resources in the loft. And by resources, I mean stuff. Over the past few months we’ve accumulated office supplies, code books and building up our material samples library. The space was quickly becoming overcrowded and needed some serious organization.



So, even though I probably bad-mouthed the IKEA Expedits in an earlier post, we desperately needed some low shelving to hold books, building codes and our backlog of magazines. Of course, the Expedit was the perfect size and so I caved, overcoming my beef with its chunky proportions.


With the magazines relocated from the white IKEA Stolmen units, we freed up enough space for our material sample library. We’ve tried to go digital as much as possible, which primarily means forgoing physical product binders that are clunky and have to be updated frequently by product reps. But, there is something about being able to look at a physical sample of a tile or piece of wood siding that you just can’t get from a website or photograph. We often do mock-ups to try out different stains or paint colors and so having a collection of physical samples to share with clients is critical.


Besides, it looks pretty. (And boy, oh boy am I glad the loft is not Avery accessible! Samples go boom!)


Here’s a snapshot of Kyle’s workstation on any given day. We buy a metal paper tray for each new project – it’s getting a little Tower of Pisa, but I suppose that’s a good thing. 🙂

Ok, now let’s move downstairs.


Here’s a photo of our stair cabinet (aka fauxdenza) from two years ago. At the time, we used it as a bookshelf, mail holder and collector of random things. It has pretty much stayed in this configuration until a few months ago, when my “office” began to take over.


Here’s a typical Instagram snapshot of my work zone. (Yes, I’m rocking two laptops. As much as I wanted to fully switch to a Mac, I’m using our old Dell for Autocad. It’s not ideal, but I’m convinced switching back and forth between the two will help stave off dementia in my later years.)


During the process of organizing the loft, we moved most of our architecture resource books upstairs and did some major purging. Now all of our books fit in the fauxdenza. I have mixed feelings about this because I generally like to have books on display and am convinced that hidden behind closed doors, they will not get read. (A theory that has been proven mostly true so far.) Moving the books also freed up space for more work clutter, which wasn’t ideal either.


So, more purging and reorganizing. As part of our babyproofing efforts, we decided that it was probably not a good idea not to store our liquor in the fauxdenza. So I did some kitchen shuffling and carved out enough space for the booze in the cabinet above the pantry. (Having recently watched the last season of Mad Men, we also joked about how now that we’re self-employed we should totally have our own bar cart by the couch. But again, the idea didn’t seem to really mesh with creating a safe environment for our daughter. Avery, make me a gin and tonic!)

With the alcohol relocated, this allowed me to dedicate one shelf for my own office supplies, leaving only a few random items on the counter. Admittedly, it now feels too sparse. Functionally, the fauxdenza is a perfect catchall or temporary holder. Stuff to go up to the loft gets stacked by the ladder and items to go to the basement on the other end. The ceramic bowl serves as Kyle’s catchall for, well…everything that would typically go in a purse. Aesthetically though, the counter space is hard to style. The low height limits displaying anything too large, but it’s not quite tall or deep enough for records or larger books. (Looking back, it’s amusing to think that we thought we’d mostly use it for a buffet for dinner parties – a scenario that has yet to happen and probably won’t since it’s easier to just use the island.)

So, maybe I’ll move some of our design books back up and I’m on the lookout for something to replace Kyle’s bowl (preferably something with a lid!). I know it’s only a matter of time before Avery will be yanking things back off so maybe I don’t get too invested?


Organization! I took four boxes of books to a consignment store to get to this point. It was hard to let them go, but as we’ve been in a pattern of acquiring stuff these last several months I’ve been trying hard to also get rid of the things that were just taking up space.


So here’s my mini office cabinet. For now I’m sharing the space with my cookbook surplus (I’ve relocated my favorites or more frequently used ones to the open shelving in the kitchen). The two binders on the bottom left are filled with recipes torn from magazines that I’ve collected over the past ten years. Every once in a while I try to think of some genius system for organizing it all but that has yet to happen. (In my idealized fantasy world I would cook my way through every recipe, typing up a card (with beautifully shot images) for the ones that pass the test.)


Finally, I can’t leave you without an obligatory dog/baby photobomb. I took most of these photos yesterday afternoon and had to work around my little helpers.