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An Organized Home Office

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Maybe it's back-to-school season that triggers me, but as the carefree days of summer wind down, I am motivated to head indoors to organize. As kids return to the classroom, there is an influx of paperwork in many households, and it is important to have a system to keep everything in order. I find that the way people arrange their home offices can make a significant difference in their ability to stay organized. All it takes is a little bit of effort and planning to create a space that is both functional and beautiful.  Below, I pulled together tips from past issues of Martha Stewart Living, to give you ideas on how to get started.

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Hanging file frames, available at most office supply stores, can be adjusted to fit inside decorative baskets.

1 Hanging file frames, available at most office supply stores, can be adjusted to fit inside decorative baskets.

Plastic file boxes are perfect for long-term storage and are water-tight. Cardboard varieties can also be used for long-term storage in a dry place.

2 Plastic file boxes are perfect for long-term storage and are water-tight. Cardboard varieties can also be used for long-term storage in a dry place.

Metal filing cabinets are useful for files you need to have on hand at your desk.

3 Metal filing cabinets are useful for files you need to have on hand at your desk.

A blotter with an elastic strip is a good place to tuck your to-do list.

4 A blotter with an elastic strip is a good place to tuck your to-do list.

This clothespin organizer is easy to make–just attach pins to a piece of wood and mount to the wall. Pin up small items like postcards, invitations, and business cards that might get lost otherwise.

5 This clothespin organizer is easy to make–just attach pins to a piece of wood and mount to the wall. Pin up small items like postcards, invitations, and business cards that might get lost otherwise.

One of the essential elements of a home office is shelving. These shelves hold items that are not used frequently, but need to be within an arm's reach.

6 One of the essential elements of a home office is shelving. These shelves hold items that are not used frequently, but need to be within an arm's reach.

If you don't have a great deal of room, set up a home office in your bedroom, using under-the-bed space as a place to story files and supplies.

7 If you don't have a great deal of room, set up a home office in your bedroom, using under-the-bed space as a place to story files and supplies.

Kitchen drawer organizers can be painted and glued together for a custom tray to hold desk supplies.

8 Kitchen drawer organizers can be painted and glued together for a custom tray to hold desk supplies.

Here the tray fits inside of a storage bench for a pop-up office. We used molding as rails for the tray, cork sheeting for a pin board, and adjustable rods to hang files from.

9 Here the tray fits inside of a storage bench for a pop-up office. We used molding as rails for the tray, cork sheeting for a pin board, and adjustable rods to hang files from.

This idea can be used on a smaller scale too.

10 This idea can be used on a smaller scale too.

A roll down shade makes it easy to hide a workspace in an alcove.

11 A roll down shade makes it easy to hide a workspace in an alcove.

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On the wall we used a pot lid holder as a mail sorter. If you're innovative, you can find office organization items anywhere. We often look in the kitchen or at hardware stores.

13 On the wall we used a pot lid holder as a mail sorter. If you're innovative, you can find office organization items anywhere. We often look in the kitchen or at hardware stores.

Here, cup hooks and a drapery rod function as a place to display photos and business cards.

14 Here, cup hooks and a drapery rod function as a place to display photos and business cards.

When attached to the underside of a desk, a kitchen basket is perfect for corralling cords.

15 When attached to the underside of a desk, a kitchen basket is perfect for corralling cords.

Food covers, traditionally used for outdoor dining, can be used as a makeshift mail bin.

16 Food covers, traditionally used for outdoor dining, can be used as a makeshift mail bin.

Uniformity gives any home office a sleek look.

17 Uniformity gives any home office a sleek look.

Recycled paint cans make convenient cubbies for mail and office supplies.

18 Recycled paint cans make convenient cubbies for mail and office supplies.

Create a custom Rolodex by cutting file folders to make index dividers.

19 Create a custom Rolodex by cutting file folders to make index dividers.

A recycled shoebox can be customized with a grommet and ribbon to hold mail and small papers.

20 A recycled shoebox can be customized with a grommet and ribbon to hold mail and small papers.

Here, a vintage floral frog is used as a pen holder.

21 Here, a vintage floral frog is used as a pen holder.

Any unit with multiple compartments is ideal for organizing a desk.

22 Any unit with multiple compartments is ideal for organizing a desk.

A recipe file can be repurposed as a card file for addresses.

23 A recipe file can be repurposed as a card file for addresses.

Screw hooks and clips are an easy way to keep important papers visible.

24 Screw hooks and clips are an easy way to keep important papers visible.

Two medicine cabinets can be outfitted as a office. The doors have been fitted with metal and homasote covered in linen to make a pin board and magnet board. Inside, files and supplies are stored.

25 Two medicine cabinets can be outfitted as a office. The doors have been fitted with metal and homasote covered in linen to make a pin board and magnet board. Inside, files and supplies are stored.

The back of this bookshelf is also fitted with homasote covered in linen for a tucked away pin board.

26 The back of this bookshelf is also fitted with homasote covered in linen for a tucked away pin board.

Labeling files and bins is a great way to save time. This way you don't have open up each bin.

27 Labeling files and bins is a great way to save time. This way you don't have open up each bin.

This pin board features pockets for supplies, papers, and other important items.

28 This pin board features pockets for supplies, papers, and other important items.

The pockets were sewn onto the fabric that lines the pin board.

29 The pockets were sewn onto the fabric that lines the pin board.

Create a home office in a formal dining room that is only used a few times a year, but utilizing the drawers of a hutch or china cabinet.

30 Create a home office in a formal dining room that is only used a few times a year, but utilizing the drawers of a hutch or china cabinet.

Here, everything you need is tucked away.

31 Here, everything you need is tucked away.

Supplies can be organized in an extra drawer. This one is designed to hold silverware.

32 Supplies can be organized in an extra drawer. This one is designed to hold silverware.

Storage under a window bench is an idea place to store files.

33 Storage under a window bench is an idea place to store files.

Adding casters to a file basket makes your work space mobile.

34 Adding casters to a file basket makes your work space mobile.

A secretary desk is perfect for a narrow hallway, as you can fold up your work space when it is not in use.

35 A secretary desk is perfect for a narrow hallway, as you can fold up your work space when it is not in use.

Here is a look at the desk in use.

36 Here is a look at the desk in use.

This is such a great use of a small space.

37 This is such a great use of a small space.

Tension rods can serve as file dividers.

38 Tension rods can serve as file dividers.

To maximize your storage, use space below the drop down desk for fills and a waste bin.

39 To maximize your storage, use space below the drop down desk for fills and a waste bin.

This dual workspace has plenty of drawers and cabinets to help you keep things tidy.

40 This dual workspace has plenty of drawers and cabinets to help you keep things tidy.

Kitchen cabinets that flip up, instead of out, make contents easy to access.

41 Kitchen cabinets that flip up, instead of out, make contents easy to access.

A cart outfitted with casters is a great place to house supplies.

42 A cart outfitted with casters is a great place to house supplies.

Cubbies are another storage option if you are comfortable with having your items in plain sight.

43 Cubbies are another storage option if you are comfortable with having your items in plain sight.

Compartmentalized boxes can hold a variety of supplies.

44 Compartmentalized boxes can hold a variety of supplies.

A paper shredder is another great tool, essential to any organized home office.

45 A paper shredder is another great tool, essential to any organized home office.

Labeling computer and other electrical cords with small tags is a smart idea.

46 Labeling computer and other electrical cords with small tags is a smart idea.

(Martha Stewart Living, November 1998)

47 (Martha Stewart Living, November 1998)

Living Desk: Kerstin Czarra

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It's time for another visit to another desk here at the Living offices...

Today it's Kerstin Czarra -- our Home and Garden editor for marthastewart.com.

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Kerstin manages all of the home, decorating, and garden ideas on our web site as well as Home Design and our Garden blog.

Her favorite line at any meeting..."Can we take pictures for the blog?"

Kerstin's favorite place is either a beach or a tennis court ("It's a toss up," she says).  So obviously her work space reflects the outdoors as well as a myriad of other things that inspire her.

But why don't I have her tell you...

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My desk space is not large, but I still like to decorate as I would a room in my house.

1 My desk space is not large, but I still like to decorate as I would a room in my house.

Our offices can get chilly from the A.C. -- so I keep my favorite worn-in shawl at the ready.

2 Our offices can get chilly from the A.C. -- so I keep my favorite worn-in shawl at the ready.

Like Kevin, I love books. I usually keep an ever-changing roster of titles on my desk (many of which get featured on the blog).

3 Like Kevin, I love books. I usually keep an ever-changing roster of titles on my desk (many of which get featured on the blog).

I do like a neat desk. I work better and more efficiently when the space around me is clean and calm.

4 I do like a neat desk. I work better and more efficiently when the space around me is clean and calm.

This decanter is for wine but I just adore the shape and water looks so pretty in it.

5 This decanter is for wine but I just adore the shape and water looks so pretty in it.

I bought the flower print for $5 at the Brimfield Antiques show.

6 I bought the flower print for $5 at the Brimfield Antiques show.

I keep invites and cards in this Ironstone bowl. I prefer a pencil to a pen any day.

7 I keep invites and cards in this Ironstone bowl. I prefer a pencil to a pen any day.

I love the ocean so naturally two of my favorite colors are blue and green.

8 I love the ocean so naturally two of my favorite colors are blue and green.

I constantly update my desktop image. It gives me a jolt of energy every day -- like a cup of coffee. This one reminded me of a favorite Rothko painting.

9 I constantly update my desktop image. It gives me a jolt of energy every day -- like a cup of coffee. This one reminded me of a favorite Rothko painting.

It's hard to be inside all day. This  allows me a tiny bit of the beach -- even on the coldest, darkest days. The beautiful card was a gift from a recent intern.

10 It's hard to be inside all day. This allows me a tiny bit of the beach -- even on the coldest, darkest days. The beautiful card was a gift from a recent intern.

The bud vase is one of my favorite things. A friend found it at a flea market. When I said how much I loved it, he gave it to me.

11 The bud vase is one of my favorite things. A friend found it at a flea market. When I said how much I loved it, he gave it to me.

I am drawn to opposites. I love the way the lucite stapler and tape dispenser look in the gilded tray.

12 I am drawn to opposites. I love the way the lucite stapler and tape dispenser look in the gilded tray.

I use the piece of malachite as a paper weight. The yellow pen makes taking notes fun.

13 I use the piece of malachite as a paper weight. The yellow pen makes taking notes fun.

This plant brings a little more nature into the space. I replaced the terra cotta pot with a gold cylinder.

14 This plant brings a little more nature into the space. I replaced the terra cotta pot with a gold cylinder.

I love the monkey picture. It reminds me of how I feel each morning before I have coffee. The printout of the Rothko painting is one of my favorite things to look at.

15 I love the monkey picture. It reminds me of how I feel each morning before I have coffee. The printout of the Rothko painting is one of my favorite things to look at.

Behind my desk is a sample of a gorgeous metallic wallpaper and the horse silhouette is actually from a catalog I received. I love blue and black together.

16 Behind my desk is a sample of a gorgeous metallic wallpaper and the horse silhouette is actually from a catalog I received. I love blue and black together.

Peonies are one of my favorite flowers.

17 Peonies are one of my favorite flowers.

This plant's leaves remind me of lettuce leaves.

18 This plant's leaves remind me of lettuce leaves.

I try to keep the bud vase filled -- this bloom was a cast-off from a recent photo shoot.

19 I try to keep the bud vase filled -- this bloom was a cast-off from a recent photo shoot.

Thanks for visiting my desk.

20 Thanks for visiting my desk.

Here are some great finds that Kerstin has on her dream office wish list...

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This clock is stunning. (conranusa.com)

1 This clock is stunning. (conranusa.com)

I like the idea of a radio on my desk. And I love the look of this one even when it's turned off. (tivoliaudio.com)

2 I like the idea of a radio on my desk. And I love the look of this one even when it's turned off. (tivoliaudio.com)

Terrific horn cups can keep pens and paperclips organized. (jaysonhomeandgarden.com)

3 Terrific horn cups can keep pens and paperclips organized. (jaysonhomeandgarden.com)

These are the perfect mix of rough and refined. (ballarddesigns.com)

4 These are the perfect mix of rough and refined. (ballarddesigns.com)

This aluminum collator is perfect for keeping magazines at arm's reach. (canoeonline.net)

5 This aluminum collator is perfect for keeping magazines at arm's reach. (canoeonline.net)

I love the subtle orange in these Lucite trays. (alexandravonfurstenburg.com)

6 I love the subtle orange in these Lucite trays. (alexandravonfurstenburg.com)

My dream desk lamp. (ochre.net)

7 My dream desk lamp. (ochre.net)

Endless inspiration -- Mark Rothko art book. (anthropologie.com)

8 Endless inspiration -- Mark Rothko art book. (anthropologie.com)

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