Making the Most of Your Space

This is the second post in the Making the Most series.  Missed the first entry?  Click here to read how to make the most of your stuff.

I spend a lot of time at the computer.  (An overly-obvious statement, perhaps, coming from a person who writes, teaches college courses, and blogs.)  I've logged considerable hours at our little office space -- which, until last week, was a small, boxy computer desk with very little surface area.

It's functional, I recently told somebody, dismissing the drawbacks of the desk with a shrug.  She corrected me by noting that I can't even spread out my papers.

She was right.  I couldn't spread out my papers, and when you regularly deal with a lot of paperwork and books, this poses a problem.  It's not functional.

Of course, I didn't want to sink a significant sum of money into a new desk, so that led me to think like an HGTV designer: how could I maximize this space on a minimal budget?

And that question, my friends, was answered with a pre-cut piece of wood from Lowes and two inexpensive filing cabinets.  Set up is simple: paint the board, align it as a desk-top on the filing cabinets, and then bask in eight gloriously interrupted feet of work space.

See that organized and streamlined layout?  Are you grasping the sprawling expanse of that work space?  Is that chair inviting you to sit down and work?  (Or, to procrastinate on Facebook for fifteen minutes before working?)

The fix was simple and cost-effective, and it's created a work area that fully meets our needs.  In fact, my daughters can pull up a chair beside me to do homework, color, or simply ask incessant questions while I'm checking email.  Perfect!

Want to make the most of your space? 

1) Pay attention to your needs.  I easily spent a year cramming towels into the shelves in our laundry room (a space that also serves as our linen closet) until I had the notion to add a shelf directly above the dryer.  As soon as that thing was mounted, I looked at it wistfully, "Shelf, where have you been my whole life?"

Sometimes even the easiest fix makes a significant difference.

2) Examine dead space.  The room where we keep our computer was capable of accommodating an eight foot board, and we were using a three foot desktop.  Sometimes there's more area to be claimed than we think.

3) Play around with your layout.  I'm not naturally open to change, but thanks to my husband, we occasionally move furniture around.  (And sometimes we move it right back where it started, like an epic chess match with bookshelves, end tables, and couches.  Okay, most often it ends up right back where it started.  Did I mention that I'm not naturally open to change?)

Still, until you see your space arranged in a new fashion, you might not know what the most functional layout will be.  Go ahead.  Try that chair at an angle in the corner of the room.  What's the worst that can happen?  You move it back.

4) Think like a visitor.  You know when you go to a friend's house, head to the kitchen to help yourself to a drink, and open the wrong cabinet?  You thought that the cabinet would hold glasses, but your friend has it filled with plates and bowls.

We all probably have quirky organizational choices.  In one kitchen cabinet I have my cookbooks, some vases, our phone book, a Burts Bees chapstick, Duct tape, and a jar filled with pens.  Believe it or not, this makes sense to me.  But occasionally it's good to examine a space with fresh eyes and ask: do these objects belong together?  Is there a better place to store this?  Is this the most convenient and sensible layout possible?  If not, what might be better?

Answer those questions, and make the most of your space!  (Feel free to share your own space-saving ideas, too!)

Enjoy these posts as well:
Making the Most of Your Stuff
Making the Most of Your Wardrobe
Making the Most of Your Health
Making the Most of Your Time

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