Making over rooms in our home with IKEA products is becoming quite common. So far, we’ve transformed our master closet with PAX wardrobes, turned a hall closet into a mudroom and have IKEA products in basically every room. Seriously - the last time I counted years ago, my "IKEA #" was 171. Am I affiliated with IKEA? No, but being a Certified Professional Organizer who has kids and loves DIY, it’s a must have for me.
This latest room makeover was a life changer because it was my office. It’s the hub of my home where I run 2 businesses and, you know, our lives. Nothing major. Hopefully this product review will help you decide if it’s something you would do in your own home. I’m providing project building times, costs, my favorite features, and pros & cons below so you can decide for yourself.
Before and After:
Measure everything including your ceiling height (BILLY bookcases come in several heights), research online at IKEA.com for ideas, and spend way too much time on Pinterest. Take before pictures to remind yourself of what a hot mess the room looked like in the before pic. Do not be ashamed – this is real life.
Visit IKEA (trip #1) and bring your measurements & list. Distract your kids with a scavenger hunt during an IKEA Nationwide Event day so there are way more people shopping than usual – how fun. Load up 3 carts (this is a 2-person job by far), and proceed to watch your 8-year-old almost hit several bystanders while he’s “helping” you drive the 3rd cart. Wait in the long lines, and then feed your kids IKEA pizza and ice cream because darn it, you all earned it. Load up your 2 cars with IKEA boxes, drive home and collapse.
Start building the BILLY bookcases in another room, but quickly relax because after the 1st one, you’ve got the system down. Rinse and repeat here, but try to get another person to help as it does make building easier. Start moving all your office supplies onto these bookcases to get them out of your current office. Big organizing secret: This will enlighten you as to how storage boxes from one piece sometimes don’t work in another. This rule also applies when going from an old house to new and trying to make the second kid wear the first one’s clothes. When most of your items are out of the office, move the big furniture, then paint the walls and trim.
After the paint dries, you can marvel at how much brighter it is. Then move the bookcases back in and build the extension pieces, which are much quicker than the bookcases themselves. Next start the finish work to make it all look more custom. In our office, we decided to:
· Space the bookcases 3.5” apart and nail pre-painted white boards between them to completely fill in 1 wall.
· Add crown molding and trim at the top and bottom.
· Purchase doors for the bottom of the bookcases and add our own handles.
· Use caulk to hide the trim cuts and tiny holes from the nail gun.
On this day you can also head back to IKEA (trip #2) to return items you didn't need and purchase the ones you now know you need like boxes and bins. Then visit Home Depot for the custom buildout supplies. Then visit Target, Office Depot and At Home for more boxes and bins because it would be just too easy for one store to have everything you need.
Thank your lucky stars that your husband is an electrician, remove the builder grade ceiling fan, and replace with a SEKOND cord set and NYMO lampshade. Get the brightest lightbulb you can find and marvel at how it transforms your northern facing normally dark office into a bright, light-filled room of possibilities. Who knew light could do that? Then bring all the office supplies back in the room. Put pretty new bins and mommy stuff up high on display. Put kid supplies in clear plastic shoeboxes behind the doors down low.
Build 3 MICKE desks and fight over the order they will go in the room since the legs can be mounted in 2 different and oh so fun ways. Then build the VANGSTA table and 2 SNILLE chairs. Despair over how the kids are too short to sit in them, add pillows, and watch the kids fall off the pillow/chair combo. Then realize you can adjust the height by spinning the chair left or right like a maniac. Spin away and resolve not to show the kids!
Spend entirely too much time accessorizing and moving things around on the bookcases and desks so that it both looks good and functions. This seems impossible at times but it can be done if the kids are at school. Label the heck out of everything since it’s all in new places and you can’t find it yet. Add lamps, artwork and finally bring your laptop back in so you can work again. It’s done… and it only took 1 week (because you have kids and work and a life and things aren’t like tv shows in the real world). Celebrate!
Printer Desk With Drawers
I was drooling over these pictures of fancy boss girl offices with a desk in the center, a plant, and basically 1 pen on the desk. Not realistic! Sure, I wanted that look, but where were the cables? Where was the printer? Where were the stacks of mail? So, I bought a desk specifically for my printer because I’m not going to hide it away and bring it back out to use it – that’s just silly. The beauty part of a printer desk is that it has a drawer all to itself for ink and paper. No more walking across the room to refill the paper tray because my butt can stay right where it is to reload. That’s smart organization and grounded in reality.
Closed & Open Storage
I loved the BILLY bookcases I saw online that didn’t have doors because they were so artsy and pretty… but come on. I have a family and that family has lots of art supplies, office supplies, and kid supplies. Unless I shelled out the big bucks for beautiful (and let’s be honest unnecessary and overpriced) matching boxes for everything, it was going to look messy. We chose to do half doors and half open storage for the best of both worlds. Yes, the doors are a big monetary splurge and I wasn’t happy about that… meaning in the end they cost more than the pretty boxes! But it’s so much more functional than expecting perfection. The top (my things) look pretty. The bottom (the kids things) are hidden yet easily accessible for their height. It’s worth it. Create the office you will use, not one for an imaginary, perfectly clean life.
Designated Space For Each Family Member
I had my own desk in our old office but my husband’s “stuff” was slowly encroaching on my space. Granted I had the most space in the room, but geez, this is the place I work! So why did I sacrifice space for my kids to have workspace in our new office? Well, I have to say I love having all 4 of us in here at the same time. I honestly do – no lie. They do homework or art projects in their area while I work and keep an eye on them. If they need something, I just swivel around in my chair to the back of their table and help. So easy. Plus, when I need extra space to work, I use the table as well. And putting the printer desk in between myself and my husband was the perfect barrier and defines both our spaces perfectly.
White, White, Whitest White
Back when we did our master closet reno with PAX, I picked a black finish because I was worried about scuffing up a lighter color. I kind of wish I had gone lighter now because wow, do I love how airy, open and bright all this white is. It won’t stay perfect for long because, kids, but it’s so peaceful and calm. I even splurged on a new white trash can and white patterned file folders because it really does look good together. I am normally fine with the regular manila folders but for once – super cute and worth it. Plus, I can switch out artwork or accessories in an accent color and totally transform the room.
I have changed the layout of my office several times in the last few years. Committing to a wall of bookcases felt very permanent, but I think it has really helped with storage. By going so very vertical, I have a lot less that I need to keep on my desk, therefore the surface stays clean. Do I find myself getting up more to walk across the room for files/supplies/etc.? Yep. But here’s the kicker: I wanted that. I sit at my desk way too long without breaks, so having things at my fingertips in the past was bad for me. I was super organized and super lazy. Now I move more and that’s a good thing. Do what works for you.
In our entire home, we have been slowly getting rid of the builder grade fixtures over the years. Removing the fan/light combo in here made a huge impact from a design and brightness standpoint. I thought this room would always be dark because it faces the north. But if you use lots of white, get a big ‘ole light, and use the brightest light bulb you can find – instant sunny room!
I thought that everything in my old office was there because I loved it – you know the whole “spark joy” organizing trick. But really, it was there because I had it in one of my old homes and repurposed it. There is a big difference. When I saw my new bright and empty shelves, I made a conscious decision to purchase home décor items that I really wanted for once. It was hard spending money on “fluff” (especially since we just spend a lot on the actual furniture) but I love the end result. If you want to do the same, I suggest you start with empty shelves and only put back what you love. Whatever is left over is ready for the donation pile.
We bought a table that extends, so we can change the size if needed. We also bought desks with 2 kinds of legs that can be changed if we want to move them elsewhere. The desks also have backs, so they don’t have to be up against the wall in the future. The bookcases are nailed into the wall, yes, but technically are free-standing. So, if I change my mind yet again, I can move them (just don’t tell my husband). Lastly, since everything in my home is IKEA, I could trade in or out any piece in the room and it would match. Super flexible.
These IKEA items were purposely purchased during a sale, netting a savings of $25.00 using my free IKEA Family Card.
Office supplies were also purchased using an Office Depot gift card, netting a savings of $50.
Pros and Cons of DIYing It
· I had to build 4 bookcases, 4 bookcase extensions, install 8 doors, build 3 desks, build 1 table and put together 2 swivel chairs. It was a heck of a lot of construction!
· It was definitely a 2-person job.
· It required a huge trip to IKEA for furniture, then a trip to Home Depot for building supplies, then trips to The Container Store, At Home, Target and back to IKEA for home décor, bins, and filing supplies.
· There was a bit of side work (painting walls, caulking, cutting top & bottom trim on bookcases) to make everything look more custom.
· It was a huge pain to work in another room (or in my case, the hall) while I was doing the office reno project. I couldn’t find anything I normally can find quickly. Mail and bills stacked up for a week and drove me crazy.
· The after office is so. much. better than the before. I didn’t realize how making my space pretty could impact my business so much. I wish that I had done it sooner!
· I pre-measured everything I already owned so it all fits like a glove.
· It was much cheaper than hiring a custom cabinet maker and/or interior designer – Pinterest ideas to the rescue!
· The combo of open and closed storage is perfect for my family. The kid’s craft items are much better suited to being behind closed doors. My files are easy to access up top with no little fingers getting in them.
· We saved some money buying during an IKEA event with coupons and IKEA Family Discounts.
· I love that everyone can use the room at the same time now without feeling claustrophobic. Defined spaces for each person, a white & bright look and clear surfaces help tremendously.
…Two Years Later Thoughts
Would we do it again? YES! I absolutely love working in my office every day and I’m no longer embarrassed to show myself on video conference calls. It was good before, but now it’s that much better. It’s also super useable – I work at my desk every day. My kids do homework and/or crafts here every day. I can swivel in my chair to work on multiple surfaces and be within easy reach to help them with questions.
I was worried that this project was simply prettying up an existing space, but it really did make the room more functional, easier to clean and more efficient for working. It still works well after 2 years and everything has held up to daily use wonderfully. Mr. Clean Magic Erasers have been my friend for cleaning up marker and crayon on the surfaces for sure and keeping them looking like new.
If you are hesitant about the price, just do what you can afford now and leave the décor ‘till later. Or do the décor now, rearrange your furniture, and paint your existing things to make them last for a while longer. Whatever makes you happy.
If you have any questions or need advice on organizing and/or building out your own office, please contact me at any time.