An old boxcar gets a new life…

An old boxcar gets a new life as my office storage cabinet. I hope…

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Way back in January, I talked about cleaning out my file drawers and paring down my office supplies to only what I needed – and rewarding myself for getting it done.  Well – I’ve done it. The cleaning out has occurred. It is time for the reward. Thus, the new storage cabinet made from an old boxcar.

My goal was to get my paperwork down to a single file drawer and get rid of all my excess office supplies – so I could replace my existing storage cabinet with something smaller.  I figure I now only need about half the amount of space to efficiently store my office supplies as I currently have. This is perfect because I want a cabinet that is about half the size of the one I currently have.  It’s pretty convenient (and nice) when things work out like that.

The things I like about my current storage cabinet are many. I like that the big bulky printer fits inside it. I like that it is solid wood and good construction. I like that the file drawers are sturdy with high quality hardware. I like that it is a nice piece of furniture – stylish, good design.

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There is only one thing I don’t like about the current storage cabinet – and it really is only due to my new surrounding space rather than the cabinet itself. It is simply too large for the small, open space.

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So – the requirements for my new cabinet are pretty specific:

  • I want it to be 42-44 inches wide X 22-24 inches deep X 28-29.5 inches high.
  • I want it to be up on a base rather than sitting directly on the floor. It’s easier to clean around and I think it appears less bulky.
  • I still want to be able to enclose the printer in one side – preferably the right side.
  • An adjustable shelf would be nice on the printer side so I could optimize the storage space on that side.
  • 2 file drawers on the other side – preferably the left side – to accommodate letter sized files.
  • I want good construction, quality hardware, and a stylish design.
  • I want natural wood rather than painted wood as the finish.
  • I want it to work design wise with our maple flooring, natural cherry baseboards/window trim, rusty finish stair railings and desk base, and the zebrawood desk top.

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Come to find out, it’s a bit more difficult than I thought it would be to find something that connects maple, cherry, zebrawood, and rusty looking metal. I searched my favorite furniture stores. I searched my not so favorite furniture stores. I searched stores I’ve never been to. I did a lot of searching. I decided custom was the way to go, but then couldn’t decide on the wood species. Well – last week I was out and about – just wandering and walking. I ended up in a local store called Revampt. They sell goods that are made from recycled materials – including custom furniture made from salvaged wood. Really beautiful stuff – creative, artistic, good quality.

Interestingly, I think an old mahogany boxcar is going to be my new office cabinet – custom made from Revampt.  I seriously would have never thought about mahogany because I think I only have ever seen it stained dark. I prefer lighter wood tones over dark. This mahogany in its natural state (as in not stained) is the perfect link between cherry, maple, zebrawood and rusty metal. It’s eclectic – in a good way I think. I couldn’t ask for anything more perfect.

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I am so excited about this that I couldn’t wait for the finished product to arrive. Sorry, I know you would rather see the real thing, but the rendering is kind of cool.

Kellee Miller

Kellee Miller1

The reason I say “An old boxcar gets a new life as my office storage cabinet. I hope…” is because I am waiting on the cost estimate of my very custom piece of furniture. I just hope it is in my price range.

Rakes & shovels & edgers – oh my…

I think the planning of projects is often more time consuming than the actual project itself? This one is a good example.  Hours and hours spent planning. Less than an hour to install. When I say hours and hours, I mean hours and hours over several years that probably have added up to days and days of my life. Crazy, but good to have it done – finally. And – not to be annoying or anything, but another thing checked off my To Do List.

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I’ve been wanting to get our yard tool garage corner organized for a while now.  I have been thinking about it since we had the garage built. Initially, Tad was thinking he wanted to finish the garage with insulation and drywall before doing any organizational things.  I thought that seemed reasonable in that I didn’t want to spend a bunch of money and time installing shelving and other organizational systems if we were going to just have to remove and possibly replace them in the next little bit. That was a few years ago. The garage isn’t finished yet. We are still talking about doing it. We’ve discussed some of the details. Tad is still formulating a final plan in his head. I would like to get the inside of the house finished before finishing the garage. Anyway, the story of the garage goes on and on…

In the meantime, I decided that we could still get a small part of the place organized.  The thing that has been making me the craziest is the yard tool section. So, I thought that would be a good place to start.  We have been just piling the tools in one corner of the garage. Inevitably, the tool that I want to use is always at the bottom of the pile. I don’t really like piles of things – unless it is piles of cookies or piles of strawberries. So, the pile of yard tools hasn’t been working for me – at all.

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I’ve liked the idea of getting stuff up off the floor and up onto the wall. It frees up floor space – so we can walk comfortably around the cars and it makes cleaning the garage floor a lot quicker and easier. My initial thought was that I could just hang some hooks up on the exposed studs. That seemed like the least expensive path – and pretty simple.  Then, I started thinking about it in detail.  I realized that plan did not accommodate all of the yard tools. We have more yard tools than we have available exposed studs.

I immediately moved on to the idea of installing a 2X4 horizontally along the wall and attaching that to the exposed studs.  Then, I could install a few hooks or nails along the 2X4 to hang the tools on.  I did a bit of measuring and thought about the details of this plan.  This was an ok plan, but I decided it wasn’t very flexible. The hooks/nails wouldn’t be able to be moved easily. I wanted something more flexible.

I had refrained from looking at any type of commercial organizational systems up until this point.  I am entranced by these things.  I get caught up in the whole pretty storage thing.  That then leads to needing to get more stuff so I can get the pretty storage thing. It’s crazy. I have to seriously restrain myself. I have to prepare ahead of time. I have to walk in there with a very specific plan to not get side tracked and talked into anything more than I need.  Anyway, I researched a couple of organizational systems online.  I eventually decided on one of the systems.  I thought I knew what I needed based on what I saw online. I made the trip to the store to see things in person. I quickly realized that everything I picked out online was wrong.  So. I got a few questions answered. I checked out the many accessories in person. I headed back home to take a few more measurements and make a more accurate assessment of my yard tool collection.

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I laid the tools out on the floor. I measured again. I figured out what assortment of hooks were needed for our tools. Please ignore the dirty garage floor. It’s been a long, messy winter.

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I ran the final plan by Tad. He wasn’t completely sold, but was willing to give it a try. We trekked back to the store (though not really a trek – it’s only about 15 minutes away) and picked up the supplies.

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I opted for a rail system that has moveable/replaceable accessories. Here is what we needed to get our yard tools organized:

  1. Two 80″ rails to be installed one beneath the other.
  2. 7 straight yard tool hooks.
  3. 2 large yard tool holders for tools that can’t be hung on traditional hooks.
  4. 10 stainless steel screws.
  5. A new drill bit – to drill pilot holes.  A new drill bit because our current supply of drill bits is disorganized…
  6. A bar of soap to coat the screws in so the stud doesn’t split – at the suggestion of the guy at the store who help us gather our organizing system supplies.
  7. A level to make sure the rails were level. We already had the level.
  8. A sharpie to mark our pilot holes. We already had a sharpie.
  9. A drill. We already had that too.

It’s everything I was looking for – in a yard tool organizing system:

  • The tools are off the floor and neatly stored on the wall.
  • The tools are easy to access.
  • The rails and hooks seem to be made from quality materials. It seems strong.
  • It’s flexible. They’ve got every kind of accessory imaginable. I only ended up with 2 different accessories – hooks and holders – because that is all I need at this time. I successfully restrained myself from going crazy with the accessories. In fact, I only ended up needing 6 hooks so will return the one I don’t need.
  • The system can be easily reused once the garage does get finished.
  • It was relatively easy to install. It took less than an hour to get it installed and all the tools hung (or is it hanged?)

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Here’s the before.

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Here’s the after.

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Even Tad was impressed how big of a transformation this little project made. We can easily walk around the front of Tad’s car now. You couldn’t do that before. I wished I had a before picture. I don’t know why I didn’t take a before picture. Anyway, we can walk in front of the car now. It’s exciting!

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In fact, it’s so exciting that it has gotten us excited about getting the next corner organized. This one will be a bit more of a challenge…

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My Workspace – keeping it organized…

My workspace is open for all to see – and judge.  A lot of people would consider this a pain in that any clutter is always on display.  I don’t.  I consider it motivation to keep it all cleaned up and organized all of the time.  I like having a reason to keep the space uncluttered and clean.

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One of the things I really like about my work area is that it is pretty small at 6 feet deep X 6.5 feet wide.  I once had an office at work that was about 4 feet wide by 8 feet deep.  I loved that office and it’s lack of space.  Plus, it had a huge window overlooking downtown Denver.  When we moved to a new building, I had an office that was about 4 or 5 times larger, but no window.  It was downright dreary.  I quit the place within 3 months of moving to that office.  I won’t say it was because of the windowless office, but that space certainly didn’t help me want to stay.  The point is that the additional space didn’t make up for the lack of window and natural light.

I am willing to trade a huge room for a tiny corner as long as it has sunshine streaming in and an outside view.  I have that at home – as you might already know – as my office is in our sunroom.  With that said though, I have had to exercise some discipline in keeping my stuff contained and minimal because it is all open and out there.  This can be difficult.  I like to stockpile office supplies as much as the next person.  I am still a work in progress when it comes to being efficient, but I feel like I am getting there and my small space has actually helped me get there.

I already talked about my desk.  It occupies a third of my allocated workspace and was custom made to specifically fit my work area.  I have been using the desk for a while now and I really like the shape – long and skinny.  My desktop has room for pen/sharpie/highlighter storage, a task light, a phone, my laptop, a spot to set a glass of tea, and a little room to spread out some papers when needed.

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My storage cabinet contains all the ugly stuff I don’t want to look at every day.  A big work printer (that I hope to someday get rid of), office supplies (envelopes, paper clips, stapler, staples, a hand punch), a small stock of greeting cards, my handy labeler,  and accessories for the computer and camera.

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I used to be a “piler”.  I used to organize my To Do stuff in piles.  While that method works well for getting stuff done, it is messy in appearance.  I transitioned to putting my piles into folders and/or binders instead.  Folders and binders work just as well (maybe better) and it cuts the clutter.  So, I will keep the new folder/binder system. These 2 binders contain all my work at home stuff.  Everything else is electronic.  It is great that I don’t need to dedicate an entire room for work stuff.  At the end of the day, I fold up the binder and put it away.  Out of sight, out of mind.

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I’ve currently got 2 large file drawers.  One drawer is for personal paperwork – 7 years of income tax paperwork, house project stuff, receipts for big ticket items/appliances, and a few miscellaneous things.  I also have a folder that I store current receipts in – until I rectify my checking account – at least monthly – so they aren’t thrown around the house randomly…

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The other drawer is for business paperwork.  There is very little actual paper work in this drawer as you might be able to see.  I do, however, have an abudance of legal pads for my list making.

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Both drawers get cleaned out once per year – around tax season.  I don’t want to become one of those people surrounded by file cabinets and drowning in paperwork.  So, in general, I try not to keep a lot of paperwork.  In fact, I think I could whittle the contents of my two drawers down to a single drawer or two smaller drawers.  The vast majority of what occupies these drawers is empty file folders and filing supplies I don’t use or need anymore.  I think I have just talked myself into a challenge.

Some day, I hope to get a storage cabinet that is the same height as my desk top, fits in the corner perfectly – creating an L type configuration, has smaller file drawers, and can accommodate a printer.  I have been looking but no luck yet.  I am thinking a custom designed/made cabinet may be in order.

I am also now thinking – if I can whittle the contents of my storage cabinet down to only what I truly need and want to store, then maybe that custom cabinet could be my reward…

It’s on!