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Organizing the Nerdy Computer Geek's Office.

aforceinsideaforceinside Kansas or Europe, depending on the day
This is a question for all the wives (or significant others) of the Nerdy Computer Geeks. How do you (or how does he- if you're lucky) organize their office??? Or is my husband the only one who can't get rid of anything and has more wires, fans, gadgets, parts then I have weeds in my garden?

In the office is:
a corner desk (glass and metal with no storage)
2 large bookshelves
rolling office chair
filing cabinet
7 boxes of crap (5 are hiding in the walk-in closet behind the door, obviously that didn't help with the ridiculous amount of crap)

Once I come up with a solution and accomplish it, there will be a before and after with hilarious commentary featured on my blog.
I'm posting a picture in case your imagination can't imagine this.
and in case you are asking... yes, I do avoid this room like the plague.
4770 x 3178 - 9M


  • OH....MY.....GOSH 8-X

    All I can say is --- may the good Lord be with you!!! LOL

    Really though - you do need some serious help there. I suggest that he first go through and purge anything he doesn't NEEEEEED to keep. Don't do this for him, lest you end up in divorce court, and it is his space, so respect it.

    Once that's done, I would get either a BESTA or EXPEDIT system from IKEA, with plenty of cupboard doors and storage bins. Then label everything so he has a set place to put stuff, but doesn't have to think about it.

    The room overall needs some color and artwork on the walls - take him to IKEA (hopefully you have one near you) and pick out rugs and stuff for the walls. You can do the entire room for not very much, since you already have the basics.

    Also - get a cord management system to keep all the cabling for his on desk electronics neat and not hanging down.

    It has awesome potential!! But he is going to have to want to keep it up, or it will just be a freshly painted room with a mess in a week. ;-)
  • aforceinsideaforceinside Kansas or Europe, depending on the day
    Well, first, the closest Ikea is 5 hours away. We will have one 3 hours in a Fall 2014- yay!!!
    I think the bookshelves are staying so Expedit probably won't work, but i'm thinking a Besta with the desk might work for easy access/easy visibility for everyday things.
    Maybe moving some things around so that the room flows better will help.

    I want him to go through and decide what he NEEEDS, but he insists he NEEEDS everything. Maybe if we get some organizing things set up he will help me get stuff sorted and realize he doesn't NEED everything! and maybe he will like it clean and keep it that way. sigh
  • WendyWendy Washington
    My good man is a tech geek and writer who works from home. He's also a triathlete, which means half of our sunroom hosts his trainer and other bike gear.

    Our deal is that since this house has space for an office, his office is his office. However, there needs to be room for me to have a chair in there, in the event that he wants me to listen to pieces on which he's working.

    The good man has gone above and beyond my simple request, and even has made space for our daughter's Pack N Play when it's needed- on very rare occasions.

    How has this reality happened...

    *He has 1 bookshelf and the IKEA Expedit desk system.
    *He has a box of gadget-y items that he stores either in the office or in the garage (I'm not sure, nor does it matter).
    *His parents gave us their "damaged" (according to the installer) kitchen cabinets and one he uses for a media stand and storage. (This is brilliant as it blends with the desk and bookshelf so nicely in the corner!)
    *He has slimmed down his "stuff" as I have patiently and repeatedly requested that he do so. I'm inclined to think that 3 moves in less than 2 years helped this process, as he became tired of loading and unloading it.
    *He enjoys artwork and family photos, so he's incorporated them into his office.
    *He continues to tweak his space so it's more effective and inspiring for him. This often includes donating items to the thrift stores that he no longer needs.

    Good Luck to you and your husband!
  • aforceinsideaforceinside Kansas or Europe, depending on the day
    Well we've moved 5 times in 6 years, including overseas and back (and we left all but 6 suitcases worth in storage for that year) and he can't seem to part with it, of course our packing usually ended with his office and at that point he was like toss it all in a tote...yay. I'm hoping over Thanksgiving or Christmas we can dedicate some special time to sorting, organizing and getting rid of stuff.
    I love that you got some hand-me-down cabinets, i would love to find some "damaged" ones for the garage... but that's a whole different project (don't make me take a picture of that!).
    From what it sounds like I need lots of open work space and tons of storage space... thanks @Wendy and @lizaanne!
  • If I were to organize it I'd start by sorting like things together, especially similar cables/cords. I found that using zip ties to bind a cord together from unraveling works best, especially if its just a spare part that you're not likely to use for awhile. Maybe get nice baskets or those photo storage boxes you can write on and put similar cords and cables in each box/basket and arrange them on the bookshelves.

    I'm not sure of your room layout possibilities but could you put a bookcase on either side of the desk? It might look like it flows a little better. You could also build open shelves above the desk as well.

  • aforceinsideaforceinside Kansas or Europe, depending on the day
    I like the zip tie idea, thanks for that! And photo storage boxes may be the perfect size for those shelves!! I'll have go on a hunting trip to find some!

    When I lived with my parents, the office was the only space that was mine... I have so.much.junk and I had no design input, the 'rents designed it behind my back. Same yellow-ish walls, same glass table top, same massive black bookshelves full of crap. I wish I could say it looked better, but it also doubled as a pantry so it was generally just a mess.

    A few things I did to make the space look nicer...
    - put up some nice big chunky art that tied the yellow and black together (as much as I hated the color scheme, I just worked with it) and got some houseplants. I don't know if you have a window in here, but one of the perks of my office was a big window with a sill... so I just stuck some basic plants in there. I have a black thumb so they die after 6 months, but it lasts a lot longer than flowers, and for the $3-$5 I spend twice a year, it makes the room feel more homey.

    -The BIGGEST difference was buying black boxes from michaels craft store. I bought a dozen (maybe more? can't remember now), and lined them across the bookshelves and filled the closet. Labelled them all, and anything small enough to go in boxes went in. So things like 'Treena's taxes' was right next to 'Dave's camera cords', right next to 'random paper clips and rubber bands'... as long as it was labelled, it was fine, and EVERYTHING had a place. And if certain things have 5 boxes, it's fine... at least it's put away. I also got a couple of big wicker baskets to keep on the floor in the office. They held everything from yoga mats to dog food. Again... as long as it had a place, it was fine, even if the placement didn't make a whole lotta sense.

    The boxes were a huge transformation. I think they cost $2.00, and I got them on sale with a coupon, so for less than $30 it was wicked.
  • l8dybugl8dybug Mississippi
    My hubby's office, which happens to be in our bedroom, looked very much the same. I finally convinced him one day to sort through the junk and throw some away. This was after I suggest that he use something he already had instead of buying something new for his computer. He told me that what he had was obsolete and wouldn't work on anything. So I asked why he kept it if it was just junk... he started sorting pretty much immediately.
    We still have too many wires and cables. He will never throw those away. What I found that might work for you is an over the door shoe organizer that is clear. Sort like wires together. They are easy to get to and easy to see what you have.
    Now if I can just figure out how to hide the wires that are still attached to the computer.....
  • Err, it seems to be a male trait :-P An uncle's car used to look like this room, until he got married. With regard to things your husband NEEEDS and available storage space, you could compromise by letting him keep the stuff, but asking him to keep each where it belongs. That is, only office things stay inside the office, while miscellaneous things (what we define as crap :) ) get moved to other rooms where they could be used.

    Another uncle had DIY stuff and engineering books all over his two large desks in the room, which his wife agreed to keep, BUT in their proper places. DIY stuff in the laundry room with the other fix-it stuff, and reference books in the large bookcase in the hall. Only every day office stuff stayed in one of the desks, and only very, very important documents got housed in the other (in lieu of a filing cabinet). :)
  • My only suggestion is to shut the door and never go in there.
  • aforceinsideaforceinside Kansas or Europe, depending on the day
    @Tina, I have tried!!!
  • golfbeccagolfbecca South Texas
    This is how our office looked for ages until this past fall. It must be a guy thing! On top of computer stuff he also has about 10 different collections: everything from LEGOs to Star Wars to antique fishing lures. Man cave nightmare. The good thing is is that as it's "his" space, you really can make the focus on function; for this kind of room it will instantly feel more "decorated" simply by being more organized. Then over time worry about artwork and such.

    For his work space, we have an IKEA work table rather than a desk. They sell different legs and tops for you to mix and match. It's almost as long and wide as our kitchen table! So he can spread out. Our closest IKEA is also several hours away, but maybe look into craigslist or garage sales if you want IKEA. Updating the actual workspace to something substantial makes a big difference, especially if it can include a good place for the printer and files.

    Centered above the desk we bought Rubbermaid track shelving from Home Depot. It's similar to the Elfa storage from the container store (which is another great, albeit pricey, alternative to some IKEA solutions if there is one near you), but much cheaper. We love this shelving. Just drill the vertical rods in the wall and you can adjust the brackets and shelves as you need it! We went about a foot apart all the way from the desk to the ceiling. Here he keeps most of his collected items. They are in no sense styled properly for photos, but at least they don't take up floor space :)!

    Most recently this weekend we bought shot glass shadow boxes from Michaels, turned them sideways, and hung them for LEGO Mini Fig display. Perhaps your husband has some collections that also would be fun to showcase.

    Something that worked for us also is buying all clear storage bins. Find a style you like and buy way, way more than you think you need in similar sizes so they can stack uniformily, which looks neat. The 15 quart medium size was the "sweet spot" for us. Seriously, buy a ton, then return the excess. Hubby thought I was crazy but it was nice not to have to make multiple trips or risk them not matching. Then we bought clear labels and printed out exactly what was in each box. This is the extra step that for years I resisted because it seemed silly if I can see into the box, but it is seriously life changing! Anyone reading this is probably thinking that step is obvious...and now I'm a labeling evangelist! Good luck!
  • One of the general problems my husband has with organizing is that he can't remember where everything should go. So I second the labeling comment above! Cabinets with doors is also good, then you don't have to worry so much about matching boxes etc.
  • Oh my, you totally just described my boyfriend's office - I totally feel your pain!! My guy has the corner desk that is glass (which I hate hate hate) and he has two monitors to get ultimate game-ability.
    He does have a lot of wires, but what I did was corralled them all in one place and tied them up neatly and they all go in one decorative box on top of his desk. That way, it's all there for him if he needs it but I can still go in there without freaking out.
    I brought in a filing cabinet for all the bills and important papers and labelled a bunch of folders that are sorted in alphabetical order (cell phone company, city water bill, health insurance, appliance warranties, etc). He literally has no excuse for why papers go missing.
    I enjoy styling the bookcase so for me that's a non issue. Mostly what I have a problem with is the huge manuals and old textbooks from college that he still has kicking around (he's in I.T.). Those manuals are so large and they don't fit on a normal bookcase! I have them stacked on a shelf in the closet in that room (it's technically a secondary bedroom so there is a small closet) and obviously he never looks at them. It kills me that he insists on keeping them around.
    Along with all his nerdy-ness my guy is also a sports fan. So I make sure he stores all of his jerseys (so many jerseys!!) in his office closet instead of taking up precious master closet space. He also has a collection of mini football helmets and a huge case to store them all that I've been begging him to paint because it is that red cherry wood and it doesn't match ANY furniture anywhere in the house, never mind in his office.
    This room also needs a fresh coat of paint but I have no idea what colour that will be.

    In short - I feel ya sister! Women with nerdy partners unite!! :)
  • If we had an office, I'm sure it'd look like that too. My husband has a ton of really random stuff he likes to keep. He refuses to throw away cords and cables for items he doesn't even own anymore or doesn't know what they're for. Between two people we have 7 computers, most of them aren't really operational anymore. We can't throw them out because he's afraid someone will recover our personal information. Did I mention we live in a 1 bedroom apartment filled with boxes and big plastic totes? Sigh... I feel your pain. How do we get them to purge?
  • @alreid‌ - haha.. "Ultimate game-ability"... Is anyone else's significant other currently addicted to PS4??? And I keep telling mine "no" to any more TVs until we get a bigger place.
  • My husband was that way about keeping hardware supplies. For instance, myriad little jars full of rusty screws in case he might need one....which he did, but could never find the right jar, so had to buy new ones! When we moved, I threw several jars in the trash each week and kept spreading the rest out until I had to confess. Heh.
  • AutumnAutumn San Diego, CA
    I can totally relate! I just spent the weekend with my sister-in-law navigating my brother's office. I am all for labels and clear containers too. If he claims he needs everything, I would slowly start organizing everything. Often times, once items are all grouped together it becomes obvious you don't need everything or at least you can pick out a few things you don't need. Good luck! Let us know how it goes.
  • Wow, this is totally my husband! I promised to organize his office for Christmas last year, but I procrastinated b/c his office has so much junk! I was able to cut out a lot of boxes already (there was probably 3x as many as your husband's), but it is still full of stuff! He has so many collectibles and computer stuff, that I am planning on going to the Container store this weekend to get an organizing solution for the tiny pantry-like closet. I would like to get a bunch of shoe boxes and organize each by cable and computer part type.

    Your post has definitely gotten me inspired. I'm relieved to read about you and other people who are in the same boat as me!
  • I would simply accept it, close the door, and hope that he can organize it himself... But of course, not everyone can do that.
    I'm a computer geek myself and know how important every single one of those cables and things can be... My husband is even worse.
    My solution has been to give him the opportunity (boxes, shelves or whatever, he needs ideas from me to do it) to organize things... And everything else I've put into a closet in our office... If we had two offices I would probably just ignore his room and focus on my own, but since we share one that's impossible.

    As for organizing: I use one IKEA Expedit, a thin "tower" (for my husbands computer and things), two desks and several IKEA Billy (the smaller ones) for papers and books... And of course a double closet filled with stuff!

    I'm looking forward to reading a blog post about it afterwards!
  • @jenmooretolove‌ yeah in our 1000 sq ft house we have two giant TVs - I lost the TV in the bedroom argument :'(
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