Vicki Norris with completed desk makeover

Is your desk buried in clutter? 

Are junk drawers your norm?

Are office supplies causing a traffic jam right in the middle of available work space?

Save your surfaces! You can get fast and dramatic results just by clearing clutter from your work space!

Cluttered Desk

Recently, I made over a household hub for a work-at-home mom (Kara) to manage the convergence of her personal, professional, and family life.

(If paper is your nemesis, find out how I corralled every form of paper here.)

Once paper was under control, we had to rescue desktop surface space from roaming clutter. We had to identify her most-used items and put them at her fingertips.

Another priority was to reclaim her supply drawer. We don’t mean to do it, but junk drawers HAPPEN. Especially when they’re deep like this one. We needed to rescue this drawer from its own poor design.

Junk drawer

If creeping clutter is your problem, an authentic organizing process will attend to both form and function to fully “restore order.”

In order to reign in the nomadic items, I called upon Staples to bring aesthetic systems to this desk.

Upon entering the home, this desk is one of the first things you see. So, creating a lovely space that is still usable for daily life functions was a primary goal.

View every space you’re organizing from each doorway so that you can evaluate what is seen in the “line of sight,” and then work to make those views inviting.

Staples supplied me with everything I needed to streamline this work space for optimal use and beauty.


After our interview process, Kara and I decided that the junk drawer was a top priority, since little fingers were accessing paint pens and dry erase markers when they were just trying to get a pencil.

I knew I had to get at least some of the writing implements out of reach…..

Kara had a decorative shelf just laying on her desktop (taking up room). It had been there for 6 months waiting to be hung. I called my handyman husband Trevor (aka “MacGyver”), since we don’t live far from Kara, and he speedily installed the shelf for us above the desk.

I put her more artful (and permanent) pens up on the shelf away from the kids. I used the handy, white metal pencil cups from Staples’ Zigzag collection to sub-sort them. These containers made an artful display that complimented her gallery of wall art above. A few decorative touches later and we had a winning and orderly visual vignette away from aspiring artists.

Save your surfaces with pencil cups

Removing off-limits writing implements was the first step, but we also had to deal with the rest of the junk drawer. The built-in sliding drawer tray was actually blocking useful access. Most people just deal with the limitations and design of furniture as-is, but I like to customize every space: user-centric fixtures are more likely to remain organized. So, I removed the drawer tray and the possibilities opened up!

Vicki Norris organizing a desk drawer

In order to maximize the unusual depth of this drawer, I drafted four Staples’ storage boxes – also from the Zigzag collection. I love these things! They allow you to optimize real estate and create-your-own drawer organizer! In these I put pens, pencils, office supplies, and electronics. In the long, narrow space remaining I added her glasses case, paper cutter and punch, and a few slim notepads. Brilliant!

Save your surfaces and organize your junk drawer

To defunk your junk drawer, don’t just throw a plastic organizer at it; take the time to figure out its problems and needs and solve those with usability in mind.


After we corralled paper and took dominion over the junk drawer, we needed to clear the “runway” of the desktop.

In order to clear your surfaces without a leaf blower, you’ll have to be a detective to create lasting change.

In Kara’s case, we determined that her frequently-used reference material was illegally “parking” on her runway. Her work portfolio, calendar, and reference material were adding to the layers on her desk.

Cluttered desk

Yet, all of these items are key resources for managing her daily life. So putting them out-of-sight in a drawer or cabinet shelf would be a mistake.

Save your surfaces with a letter sorter

The solution: resolve horizontal clutter by going vertical! For this challenge, I gave Staples’ letter sorter a new use. Instead of keeping mail upright and in sight, I used it as a triad stand for Kara’s Household Reference Binder, calendar, and (new, fun notepad from Staples)! This allowed me to prop up – in view – her most-used items. I situated it at the back of the desk to leave maximum work space. I stowed each item a little width apart to keep it easy.

Letter sorter used to save your surfaces

It’s time to defunk and save your surfaces. Give yourself a desktop upgrade…your home, your family, and your brain will thank you!

Save your surfaces with a desk redo


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