How I took an office from good to great

What I’ve been organizing lately:

a fashion designer’s office in NYC



Full disclosure, this wasn’t lately; about two years ago I was hired by a fashion designer in NYC. In going through some old before and afters, I couldn’t believe I hadn’t shared this story with my readers yet! This was a classic case of me wondering how we were going to fill the time for which she had hired me.  Most of the time I’m waist-deep in boxes of paper, but these good-to-great requests happen more than you may realize.  

It was a spacious cubicle with an open side, L-shaped desk on two sides, and this bookshelf on the fourth side.  It certainly looked neater than nearly every office I had walked into.  It quickly became apparent though the even she felt paralyzed and knew she could do better.  Everyone has a clutter threshold - some lower than others.  She had been spinning her wheels trying to pare down, suspecting that she could live the minimal life she imagined.  Some highly creative people work best in colorful, busy spaces, and others, like my client, need a clean slate in order to focus.

Drawer by drawer, surface by surface, and shelf by shelf, we tore through paper, lists, fabric samples, and tear-outs. Nearly everything went!  

We were on such a roll, finishing each others sentences from the moment we met, so my creative juices were flowing.  Neither of us would settle for just pared down.

She tossed nearly everything.  
We added some beautiful touches.  

The result: this gorgeously minimal space:

How did we do it?  A number of things lined up:

- She was at her breaking point, ready to toss it ALL.  She just needed permission and time (sound familiar?).

- It was clear that pale blues were her color.  We carried that theme throughout in the most subtle, yet eye-catching ways: the box labels, the tape for the book titles, and the binders.  Binders can be purchased online at this great Rockville, Maryland binder company, Paolo Cardelli.   They come in every color with beautiful embossed finishes. I’ve been to their warehouse and it's mouthwatering.

- I had just seen on Pinterest an image of books wrapped in kraft paper.  She ate it up.  We toyed with the idea of cursive titles on the bindings, but landed on using blue washi tape to carry the theme.

- We decided that the flat letter boxes worked for her, so she bought a few more.  Each holds its own distinct project.

- This went far beyond the cosmetic. We spent even more time organizing her time, her lists, her notes, and her to-dos.  This is the most visible part of all of the deep, internal organizing that we did.  It’s so much more than just a pretty face.

No matter how high or low your clutter threshold, there are great lessons in here for everyone:

- Just because you have the space, doesn’t mean you have to fill it.  How calm would your office feel if you had the luxury of empty shelves, or just one notebook neatly parked on its very own shelf?  

- If you have a remarkably disorganized office, shoot for the stars.  This is possible for you.  I promise.  Even if you’re not a designer in NYC, you deserve it.

- If you’re fairly minimal, stretch yourself until it feels like there is absolutely nothing more to do!  

- If you’re working in a drab cubicle, treat it as if it were any room in your home, making it feel like yet another extension of your style.

- If you have a good enough office, push yourself to create the office of your dreams.

What more can you do in your office for it to feel magazine-worthy?  What can you toss?  What beautiful elements can you add?  What design theme or favorite color can you weave in?  If you’re inspired by this transformation, please let me know in the comments where you stand right now and what it would take to achieve this!

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Office Organizing Expert Kacy Paide loves to do what most people hate: organize offices & paper.

She works with folks who are desperate for a more functional, more beautiful, more inspiring office. Kacy has been a Professional Organizer since 2001 and has worked with over 500 clients. Call her crazy, but she loves a good mess and wants to fix yours. Learn her time-tested solutions in her eBook, The Inspired Office: Organize Your Life One Paper at a Time. Based in Silver Spring, MD, Kacy is nationally available for consulting & speaking.