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Clever Office: Unexpected Space


If a sit-down dinner isn't an everyday occurrence, then your dining room can easily double as a discreet office. Any table large enough for a family meal makes a spacious desk, and all other work essentials can be slyly stowed among the china and flatware.

1. A hutch or sideboard [see image 2 above] can be quickly retrofitted to accommodate all your office essentials. Silverware caddies, painted to match the hutch's exterior, organize pens, scissors, and a stapler and can be carried to the table when needed. Labeled boxes store computer disks as well as photo and plain printer paper. A pull-out shelf made with drawer glide hardware ensures hassle-free access to the laptop and printer. Cords are kept out of sight by a concealed surge protector (situated behind the computer).

2. A window seat (or a vintage trunk) [see image 3 above] can stand in for a file cabinet when fitted with freestanding hanging-file-folder racks, available in various widths to suit any size storage space. To prevent straining and twisting your back while accessing files, install them in rows that face the center of the room.

3. Individual utensil dividers [see image 4 above] prevent small items from sliding around in the drawers. The pieces don't have to be an exact fit; any gaps can be easily filled with notepads, writing implements, and glass jars with everyday necessities (the containers are turned on their side, so that contents are visible at a glance). For a coordinated look, paint the dividers and the drawers the same hue, or choose complementary colors. A single well-organized drawer may be sufficient, leaving the other one for the silverware.


  1. Step 1

Martha Stewart Living, April 2008

Reviews (13)

  • 17 Aug, 2012

    If I could move my paper work area to the dining room, then maybe I can set up the craft table in our bedroom and have a place to craft. We are two senior adults struggling to downsize into a two bedroom apartment. Very difficult.

  • 31 Jan, 2012

    Two of my pantry shelves work for me with a file and printer.

  • 13 Apr, 2009

    I love the idea of the hanging folders, but where can I get the freestanding hanging-file-folder racks? I need ones to fit from front-to-back in a desk drawer instead of width-wise like they usually do.

  • 12 Apr, 2009

    Fabulous idea. I'm working on getting a similar idea in place in my apartment. This definitely gives me som added ideas however.

  • 12 Apr, 2009

    I love this one. And, yes, I echo this: "Finally, enough pictures to illustrate your great idea. Thanks for catering to the unimaginative among us." Thank you!

  • 11 Apr, 2009

    Great idea and photos!

  • 25 Mar, 2009

    Finally, enough pictures to illustrate your great idea. Thanks for catering to the unimaginative among us.

  • 15 Mar, 2009

    I have the same idea as shown on picture #2 but I used it as a my grand children's toy organizer. Yes, your idea is great I love it!

  • 22 Jul, 2008

    I tend to be a "piler" instead of a filer. My solution was to buy an armoir that matches my dining room set. Inside, I put a Literature Sorter and labeled it with different categories. It makes it easier to find things when I need them and I don't need a filing cabinet in the room. (Filing cabinet is in the garage) It still looks like a beautiful dining room, yet it is my home office. Thanks.

  • 23 Apr, 2008

    I love this idea. Thank you so much!

  • 20 Apr, 2008

    How clever! I love unexpected organization tips!

  • 20 Apr, 2008

    Since my husband and I retired and neither of us can climb the stairs to our home office as often as needed we have wanted to move the essentials downstairs - this idea is an answer to our prayers!!!

  • 4 Apr, 2008

    I love the way how you have everything organized.