Life is full of change. One moment you’re single and carefree the next you have three kids and a mortgage. Well maybe it wasn’t exactly a moment, but sometimes it feels that way.

About 1% of the population plans their life out perfectly; you know the ones who prepare for each chapter of their life long before they’ve gotten through the introduction. The other 99% of us figure it out as we go. It’s not that we don’t try to plan; it’s just that sometimes the best laid plans don’t work out.

I’ve learned to adapt quickly. As a recovering planner I thought I could control every direction and aspect of my life. I learned the hard way that the only thing I could do well was laugh and make the best of my current situation.

Sometimes making the best of a current situation means using what’s on hand to solve a storage dilemma. Remember I started See Jane Work in 2003 when office supplies were ugly, but I still needed to decorate my office. I did it by re-purposing items. blog-image_basket-as-letter-trayA candle holder for a pencil cup, a basket as an inbox, and an egg holder for…………

  • Your nightstand to hold jewelry that you remove each night
  • Small office supplies that can otherwise clutter your desktop
  • Beads and other small craft supplies in your workshop

Here is how it looks on the desktop:


Egg holder available at Anthropologie.

You may be wondering why I would suggest using household items rather than the actual office supplies I design.  Well, I’m not a matchy, matchy person, so an office with a few well-designed office supplies (See Jane Work of course) and one repurposed item–something meaningful or beautiful–is my idea of a great looking office.  Plus, why keep your candle holders hidden away in a closet? Let them earn their keep in your workspace.


19 replies
  1. Sam @ Sam's Noggin
    Sam @ Sam's Noggin says:

    I use a silver Sharpie to label my camera/cell phone/game chargers so that nothing gets kept that is no longer needed. The less I have to think about storing, the better. 🙂

  2. Rachael @ You, Me and Natalie
    Rachael @ You, Me and Natalie says:

    I love using the huge diaper boxes I got as storage….just cover with some pretty wrapping paper or fabric and voila! =)

  3. kami balmforth
    kami balmforth says:

    i don’t know if this qualifies as unusual, but i use altoid tins for everything. i’ve even bought them and thrown away the mints.

    they fit in my skinny drawers, they all match.

  4. Jess Youde
    Jess Youde says:

    I found cute green metal Halloween pails in the $1 section at Target. Turned around to the blank side they are the perfect (year-round) holders for pens, pencils and office accessories on my desk. However, I’m thinking that I can make them even better by hanging a magnet strip from See Jane Work and some heavy duty magnet hooks–the less desktop clutter the better!

  5. Lindsay
    Lindsay says:

    You can use wet wipes containers (Charmin or Cottonelle) – they have lids that latch – to store all kinds of things – binder clips, mini-post-its, etc.

  6. Liz Rivera
    Liz Rivera says:

    What a cute, quirky storage solution. It looks very artistic

    I like to use different sized tea cups to store my paper clips, binder clips and other small office supplies. I bought them all at goodwill for less than a dollar. None of them are exactly the same, but they are in the same color palette. My favorite is a fancy English tea cup with blue and gold detailing. I love having my basic paperclips in such a special storage place that brings a touch of elegance and a lot of order to my desk 🙂

  7. Sue Durda
    Sue Durda says:

    I really love the egg holder idea; I hate not having places for small things to go.

    Also I have utilized your idea of using a plain painting canvas for more then just painting. My granddaughter and I painted a background on two and then we hung photos on them. I don’t ever seem to have a place to display all of my grandchildren’s, children’s or photos from extended family; one can’t frame everything. I have two in my family room and they look great. I intend to add more in my hallway. I used flat tacks so I can change them as I desire.

    Of course wait until the canvas’ are on sale. We used acrylic paint but you could use anything. I would love ideas from others.

  8. Chrissy
    Chrissy says:

    I love older photo frames with interesting lines, but matching them can be difficult… so instead, I took a few and painted them to match. Removing the backs, I glued the photos with frames over them onto a canvas (painted in a complimentary color) and hung the entire collage as one piece of art. I was getting so many compliments, this is now my favorite (and least expensive) gift for my friends and family!

  9. Ariana Morales
    Ariana Morales says:

    I found myself running out of wall space in my cubicle and needed to come up with something fast. While I was digging through the supply cabinet searching for SOMETHING I came across a banker’s box lid. Genius struck! I took it home jazzed it up with fabric, appliqués, ect. The next morning I brought it in and propped it up on my window sill and I had a make shift bulletin board. It works like a charm for sticking, pinning, and tacting anything and everything even pictures of my adorable little dog!

  10. Sharon
    Sharon says:

    I found a metal retro record cabinet with a shallow shelf above the 3 vertical divided spaces to hold records. It was the perfect size for my bathroom. The shelf was just deep enough to hold a silverware tray where I put qtips, hair bands, combs, etc. Each time we needed something I just pulled it out. I rolled my towels to fit in the bottom of the cabinet. It was all hidden by two doors with retro handles 🙂

  11. S.A. Struck
    S.A. Struck says:

    I love using Harney & Sons Fine Teas tins for pencils, pens, and scissors. They are square in shape and tall enough to keep items packed in. It’s a fantastic vintage look, plus they come in many colors …. oh, and the tea is yummy too! I keep one on every desk. I’ I also have an antique Droste (Ducth cocoa) tin that I use too. Again, its square footprint is perfect for not taking up too much room and it’s tall enough to hold everything I need.

  12. Mary
    Mary says:

    I use a small clay garden pot to hold pens and pencils, and even smaller ones to hold business cards. I painted the smaller of the two pots a brilliant teal with polka dots. The larger of the two I painted white. I then put different color paints on my son’s hands (he was about 2 when we did this) and then pressed onto the pot as a design. The reminder of my two loves – my son and gardening – as well as the shots of color brighten my day.

  13. Holly
    Holly says:

    Selecting a winner was very difficult. I was amazed at all the wonderful ideas. EVERY idea here was great and I know our readers will benefit from your creativity. If you were not chosen this time, please don’t be discouraged there will be more chances. Our winner of the $100 certificate is S.A. Struck for repurposing rather than tossing her tea tins! I also decided to award $50 gift certifcates to Liz and Rachael. Thanks again everyone!

  14. Leslie
    Leslie says:

    If you don’t want to buy one from Anthropologie, you can also get a six-pack of eggs from Organic Valley. They come in a clear container: Take away the paper labels and you immediately have a jewelry box! Or craft organizer. Or…

    It’s a great green solution because you can get your eggs and reuse the container too.

  15. Meredith
    Meredith says:

    I bought one from Kikkerland through and use it to sort earrings on my dresser, along with an antique crystal deviled egg tray.

  16. Mary Chavez
    Mary Chavez says:

    I love reusing mason jars. I just clean the jars from already used past sauce, jelly, peanut butter or whatever. Soap and water works well for cleaning and a razor blade scrapes off the label well. Now you have all sorts of jars for holding pencils, storing bean/ rice/ or dry goods in your pantry, holding toothbrushes in the bathroom, acting as vases on the console table etc. There are a multitude of uses for these free jars and they come in all sorts of sizes and shapes. They’re frugal since they’re free, good for the environment sin your recycling their use and pretty. Win- win 🙂

  17. connie schoenhofer
    connie schoenhofer says:

    I love to buy things at the thrift shop for my office and my craft room. I have purchased those restaurant style triple salad dressing holders for buttons or beads in my craft room. I bought a matching lazy susan with the divided containers on top to store more beads! It looks pretty and is very functional.


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