Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Stylish Organisation

After reading this article on stylish organising person Kristina Karlsson a few weeks ago, I knew I had to do something about our office at work. Because it’s just grown with us as we've run our shop over the past almost-seven years, I haven’t really set up many systems. There were a few labelled folders here and there and a lot of piles of paper. I also made the most of being surrounded by shoeboxes by saving the nicest and sturdiest ones to house items that are better filed that way.

I know that you cannot be serene and chic and in control of your life when you can’t find a vital document, or regularly unearth something where you have missed the deadline. In spite of knowing that it took a different tack to get me motivated in organising myself. That motivation, my friends, was style.

Seeing this Swedish expat’s Australian website made me covet her kraft paper range (the top picture in this post, alas it is not my office). Sadly I knew it would add up to a lot buying all her rather highly priced stationery items. Coming from thrifty Scottish stock I made me own version. Shall we call it Fifi K?

(Above) is a picture of our shop-office. It is part-way through my organising frenzy. I had already begun re-doing our filing systems but had been in too much of a hurry to take 'before' photos. Story of my life.

What did I do I hear you ask?

I used the same lever arch ring binders I already had, and made covers for the old labels with chopped up thick brown kraft paper shopping bags that were stashed away, some labels my Dad had given me when he was cleaning out his office and double-sided tape that yes, I already had. I don’t know where the tape came from and didn’t know how I was ever going to use such a big roll, but you never know when something’s going to come in handy (I am part hoarder/part minimalist).

My husband watched with interest this new hobby of mine. Afterwards he said when I had done one box it looked like a shoebox with lame bits stuck on it, but when I had done everything it looked very pulled together and professional. This is high praise indeed to me for I feared I was wasting my time (when I had so many other important things to do).

(Above), the finished product.

I used a simple ‘typewriter’ font and stole Janet’s idea of using no capitals, just because it looks cool, and that is what I’m all about in the office. Nothing else was ever going to get me to do my filing. But look, look behind my laptop (mine's the one on the right), can you see neat and empty-ish baskets? Me too!

I know my getup isn’t nearly as designer as Kikki K’s, but it’s a million times better than what it was and all it cost me was a few (several) hours of my time and a bit of ingenuity. That to me is far more satisfying that just buying a job lot (not that I wouldn’t accept a total Kikki K package if an office makeover tv show came knocking).

When I was thinking how I could pretty up the binders and boxes and make them look uniform, other than brown kraft paper I thought of nice wrapping paper (which some of us fold up and think we’ll use again. Sometimes we do, sometimes it stays in a drawer forever) and also the sheet music I wrapped a gift with here. Both would be thick enough and patterned enough to cover up logos and writing. They would be attractive for a home office and I am already thinking what I can do with my sewing room.

I did spend some money on our new shop office fit out. I bought two items – an inexpensive whiteboard, XL size, and a cork board of the same size. We’ve been meaning to get them for about four years, but clearly now is the time for us to make our move. And they weren’t even on special. I had to strike while the organising iron was hot, forgive me frugal gods.

In the course of reorganising the desks and shelves I also cleaned like there was no tomorrow. I took everything off the desk apart from the printer and cleaned it (and even though the printer stayed put, it was moved around and dusted under, and over). I removed all the storage boxes from under the desk, dusted and vacuumed and then sorted all the cords so they didn’t show on the desk as much. When I put storage boxes back under the desk I decluttered and sorted so there weren’t as many. The top of the desk was spray-and-wiped and everything was put back nice and tidily.

I used a sturdy cardboard box lid to contain all the little things that make a desk look messy, like stapler, address stamp, memo cube, lethal receipt spike, calculator and hole punch etc. They are still easy to get at though. Storage solutions may look pretty, but they have to be practical for everyday use too, or else you won’t use them and things will go back to how they were. I know that from experience.

I am so happy in our newly reorganised office now, and I promise one day when we’re a lot richer, I will shower myself with Kikki K’s goodies for providing the inspiration. If you haven’t already, go read the article. She’s very infectious.


  1. There is nothing like having everything where it needs to be :)

    Thanks for sharing,


  2. Hi Fiona, I just wanted to say I discovered your blog a couple weeks ago, and I read it all in one sitting! I love your suggestions for living a chic life, they really make my inner French girl want to take over :) BTW, it's so funny what your husband said about your "shoebox" project, sounds like my husband!

  3. My home office is ready and waiting for you, Fiona.

  4. Fiona,

    Like you, I love an organized workspace. Now that I'm back from vacation and the new fall season begins (at least according to the academic schedule, if not the weather), I'm very interested in reorganizing my office. Thanks for the inspiration!

  5. It looks great Fiona! What good use of your creativity and materials on hand.

  6. It looks amazing. I'm impressed you did this without spending a dime. It looks so professional.

  7. That looks really good! It's amazing that you achieved such a great look with so little money! I look at that, and I think about our home office ... I have so much work to do!


  8. Hey, if you'd done either the major clean OR the major organisation I'd have been way impressed, so good on you!

    What I'm dying to see is how you do your sewing room - also what you sew! This is my next big hurdle. I've been a wannabe sew-er for most of my life and I ain't getting any younger. I'm looking for some instruction and inspiration...any suggestions welcomed!

  9. Fiona,

    Your office makeover looks very tidy and efficient. I agree with you about knowing where things are and being able to get your hands on a document when you need one.
    Just one question... Fifi K will you hop on a plane and come and help me with my filing system?

  10. Maria, well said. It does feel good.

    Jen, thank you for your kind comments and glad to be of service. Husbands must be the same world-round. I know mine is very tolerant of me.

    Marsi, right after I've done mine my dear. Would love to visit your area. I bet someone elses rubbish, sorry, stuff is way more fun to sort and file.

    AA, I find it hard to believe anything is out of place in your life, you'll probably just need a little tweak and off you go into the new academic year.

    Juhli, thank you!

    Stephanie, thanks too.

    Jacqui, offices and home offices can get you down. Particularly home offices as they are often where items get 'put' and there they stay, attracting other items. Before too long you just want to close the door. A Feng Shui book I'm reading at the moment said 'take your unfavourite room and make it your favourite room'.

    Shelley, I've sewed most of my life. Nowadays I sew home furnishings mostly, and knit and crochet a little, also small things. I enjoy the creativity of it and like my office project, like to do it in a thrifty way.

    Leslie, I would love to visit Canada, just give me a minute to update my passport...

  11. Well done! Looks fabulous! And I love how you went about it in such a creative way.

  12. Wow, you have been BUSY! Great job...after you do Janet's, I will be second in line. My favorite line "I am part hoarder/part minimalist". Too funny and I can relate. xxBliss

  13. Fiona-you always inspire me!! Thanks for sharing!

  14. I just spent the summer reorganizing my workplace, too! I got rid of a lot of stuff, and it felt really good:) My living room is next:)

  15. Thank you Janet, Cherie, Bliss, Louise and Nanne for your kind comments.

  16. Hello Fiona,
    By accident I came upon your site and i love it!!!
    Like you I love france and the french way of life.
    Lucky for me I live in the Netherlands: "just" around the corner of the Eifel tower.

  17. Love your Fifi-K reorganization. It looks fantastic! The fact that you spent no money on it makes it really amazing. Your posts are always so inspiring!

  18. Your office redo looks great! Bess

  19. Hi Fiona,

    I love what you've done with the office. labels and organization are two of my best friends :)
    I'm in the process of moving home after graduating university and I'm going to have some organizing to do too--life edition.
    I figure a good place to start would be my own room :)
    - Lenna

    ps. this organization/prioritizing post reminded me of a piece of writing that I just re-blogged as well! haha

  20. I love what you did what the craft paper! It looks so neat and organized :)


Merci for your comment. Wishing you a chic day!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...