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How to navigate your workspace makeover? Editor Ellen McGauley offers some insight from her office revamp

Quick update: I spent a good part of the weekend on my overhaul project and I have to say, I found the gratification factor was similar to cleaning out a closet—that is, HUGE. As in, totally refreshed. (Note: I realize not everyone can, will, or wants to identify with the mountain of rewards gained from a spring weekend spent reorganizing an office, versus, say, at the beach or drinking mimosas in the backyard. But odds are good that those reading a home and garden blog can dig it. And I still made time for mimosas.)

I have one more weekend to go. I’ve sailed through stages one and two (see below), and am looking to this weekend to wrap it up.

As for now? I thought I’d write a quick note on the single most important thing I’ve done so far. I split up the project into three parts, which I want to share since the same three steps could apply to most any redo project.

Here’s how I broke it down:
1. Clean up: I took the space down to the bare bones, ridding it of anything that didn’t need to be there (old files, outdated press materials, fabric samples, supplies my coworkers can use, etc.). Then I got down to the very basics of cleaning: dusting my desk, wiping windows, and just getting it all it good working condition.

2. Organize: With my office stripped of anything unnecessary, what was left needed a place. And not just ANY place; my things needed to be in the right place. I overhauled my filing system, replaced missing issues from my magazine library, and made a list of “at-hand” reference materials I need, like upcoming story line-ups, bookbreaks (these show the page breakdown of a publication), website content, and more (I should note that in my former set-up, these were lost under piles and hanging in odd places—if efficient is London, my old system was Tokyo). These went on newly placed bulletin boards, plus clipboards within easy reaching distance. I reserved limited space on my desk for other necessary supplies, then placed secondary materials: stacks of design books, print samples, etc.

3. Make it pretty: This is the stage I’m in now. Now that everything that needs to be here is here, I’m giving thought to how to make it all more interesting. My thought? I have to turn this into a place I want to be day in and day out— writing, editing, and knocking out anything else that comes my way.

Today’s Project:
I needed a little side/end table near my desk to hold a few things that a) I need to reference often but b) would clutter up my desk if I kept them there. Traditional tables I’d found were either too expensive or too unattractive. Then I found these ITSO cubes at Target for around $12 each. Here’s what I did with them:

Materials: 2 white ITSO storage cubes, pair of scissors (or x-acto knife), wallpaper or other decorative paper, ruler, Mod Podge craft adhesive, and foam application brush

Use the hardware included with the cubes to stack securely. You should not be able to remove the top cube from the bottom.

To wallpaper the outside of the cubes: Cut paper to fit inside a 12” x 12” square (I cut it a little bigger than this and then just trimmed to fit to ensure it didn’t come out too small). Slather back side of cut paper with Mod Podge and paste to the center of an outside square (inside the innermost raised rims). Press firmly. Add a second coat of Mod Podge to the pattern side of the paper (glue will disappear). Repeat on all outer sides and press again firmly.

To wallpaper the inside of the cubes: Cut a 13 ¼” x 13 ¼” square of paper. Slather back side of cut paper with Mod Podge and paste to one side of the inside of the cube. Press firmly. Add a second coat of Mod Podge to the pattern side of the paper. Repeat until inside of cube is fully papered.