An old boxcar gets a new life…

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


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.


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.


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.




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.


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.

There’s a Christmas gift in the house…

I want to say first and foremost, that by Tad’s admission I “out clevered” him with the gift giving at Christmas.  It wasn’t the gifts themselves – because all the gifts were great.  It was the presentation that got the “out clevered” recognition.


Tad is difficult to give gifts to – he never really gives any hints of what he wants.  He is particular about clothes so I don’t buy those.  Well, except for socks.  If you recall, I got him a dozen pair of crazy socks for Christmas.  Even socks were a bit of a risk, but he does seem to like the socks and has been wearing them regularly. He likes electronics but is also pretty particular about the specifics – so, I am not going to buy any electronics.  I try not to buy stuff that just sits around.  Tad likes tools, but I think we’ve got every tool a homeowner would ever possibly need. Plus, I got him tools last year so I wasn’t wanting to do the same thing this year.

A year ago Christmas, I gave Tad a book of walking tours around Denver.  The book was an after thought and only $20.  I believe I mentioned this book last summer when I found a really cool sofa pillow while on one of these walks.  Anyway, this book ended up being one of the better gifts I have given.  We had set a goal for ourselves of completing all 30 walks by the next Christmas.  It got us out of the house.  It got us out to neighborhoods we had never been to.  We learned new stuff/old history about Denver – including our own neighborhood.  It was great exercise.  It was totally fun.  We completed all the walks with a month or so to spare before our Christmas goal.  It was memorable.

Walking Denver

I wanted to do something just as memorable this year, but nothing surfaced.  So, I had to get creative.  I had three ideas for Tad’s main gift.  I thought about it for quite a while – like 2 months.  I was indecisive.  So, I decided to let Tad choose – sort of.  I hid 3 envelopes in a Christmas stocking.  Each envelope had a card with the “prize” inside.  I labeled the envelopes “This”, “That” and “The Other”.  I made sure that I didn’t know what was in which envelope either (by mixing the envelopes up after sealing them and before labeling them) so I didn’t sway his choice at all.


The rules were that Tad could pick one at a time.  He could forfeit the opened envelope if he wanted to pick another – unopened envelope.  Once he forfeited an already opened envelope though, he couldn’t go back.  He picked  “The Other” – which ended up being a desk chair.


Tad debated whether or not he wanted to trade the desk chair for one of the other unopened/unknown gifts.  He tried to get me to change the rules.  He tried to get me to tell him what was in the other envelopes.  I did not give in.  I stood strong.  In fact, the other two gifts are still secret – locked in my brain for possible future gift ideas.  Tad opted to keep the desk chair and not risk something that he might not like as much.  Plus, he had been talking about and looking at desk chairs for a while.  By “a while”, I mean years.  Tad had been doing research and had already narrowed it down to two different chairs.

He ended up with this one.  There were a bunch options – different colors and various features – so, it was special order.

Screen Shot 2014-02-09 at 6.00.44 PM

The chair arrived last week.  It is everything Tad thought it would be.


This chair has pretty grey leather, soft grey trim, some brushed aluminum, and a bunch of levers that adjust the seat, back, arm rests, and height.


Oh – and lumbar support.


Tad’s little corner of the unfinished basement…


just got a little bit better and little more comfortable with his new desk chair.


And, I get to be the most clever person in the house for another 10 months or so…

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.


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.


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.


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.


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…


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.


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!