Image: Janis Nicolay
Image: Janis Nicolay
Boasting a serene envelope, layers of time-worn character and methodically organized supplies, this fully renovated home office works all the angles.
Anyone who’s met Catherine Therrien, an interior stylist at and a former Style at Home staffer, will attest to her superhuman organizational skills. Her mind seems more systemized than a public library, and the home office in her Mississauga, Ont., abode reflects that. Everything – from reference books to ribbons to receipts – has a dedicated place in a drawer, box, folder, tray or other tidy spot. But the warm, soulful 96-square-foot workspace doesn’t flaunt it.
Thanks to a DIY back-to-the-studs renovation, the room welcomes with a bright envelope of pale grey-painted walls, a sophisticated coffered suspended ceiling and faux slate laminate flooring. “I wanted to create an airy space that’s conducive to working at home,” says Catherine. To that end, she kept the office-specific elements to a minimum. The obligatory computer gear is here, as are super-slim his-and-hers desks and a pair of unassuming filing cabinets, but they take a back seat to the real attraction: an array of artwork and time-worn curios.
“I’m addicted to antiquing. It’s in my blood,” says Catherine of the passion she inherited from her parents and grandparents. From a vintage sidechair and an antique pie cabinet to thrift store pottery and a wartime grenade, the pieces have little in common aside from their tonality and significance. “They are all things I love, so they just go together,” she says. It may sound like she’s oversimplifying it, but Catherine insists the decorating really was quite effortless. “It’s a testament to the fact that if you buy things you truly love, you’ll always find a place for them.”
It’s hard to picture this tidy stylish office’s pre-reno ’70s wood-panelled look. It’s harder still to believe home-owner Catherine Therrien and her husband did all of the renovation work on their own, including gutting the room, putting up drywall, laying slate-look floor tiles, installing a coffered suspended ceiling and painting the space.
This gallery wall is a workhorse: Among the vintage and found decorative pieces, Catherine added functional items, including an illustrated calendar, an artful computer screen saver and a filigree vent cover. Clipboards used as picture holders also corral bills and receipts to be filed. The display remains the focus thanks to the homeowner’s orderliness. “I put things on it, but I don’t leave things on it,” Catherine says of the desktop, where she performs various tasks like crafting and bookkeeping.
Catherine avoided office stores when decorating the room. In place of a storage cabinet, she used an antique pie cupboard. On its four generous shelves, she keeps everything from books and magazines (grouped by publication) to art supplies (categorized in wicker baskets) to bills (organized in accordion folders).
Here, Catherine shares her office organizing tips:
1. Have plenty of storage.
Reference books, paper files, electronics and software CDs: They’re all required, but they don’t need to be accessed daily. Find a home for them behind closed doors. The storage unit can be as unique as you like.
2. Keep like with like.
Stay on top of what’s where by storing related items together. For example, spare ink cartridges belong near the printer and stamps with envelopes.
3. Clear your desk.
Fewer things means fewer distractions. Get rid of anything that’s not essential. Use drawers to keep office supplies close at hand but out of sight.
4. Go digital.
When possible, opt for electronic bills and receipts to help decrease excess paper floating around your office and reduce the time it takes to manage bookkeeping.
5. Create a mail station.
As soon as mail comes in, put it in its designated spot. Once a week, take the time to sort through each envelope, filing, tossing or shredding the contents.
6. Corral cables.
Gain control of cords by choosing a desk with a built-in cable management system or go wireless to eliminate (or at least reduce) unsightly wires.
7. Streamline the decor.
Surrounding yourself with beautiful art and objets is inspiring and pleasing to the eye, but the trick is to be selective so you’re not creating clutter.
8. Schedule regular maintenance.
Dedicate time at the end of each day or week for tidying up your workspace – it’ll be much less work than if you were to leave it for, say, a month...or two. And don’t forget to clean as well as tidy, too.