Do It Yourself: Making a Living Space More Liveable

It only took an hour for me to develop an addiction to Lifehacker, a do-it-yourself advice website for the tech and geek crowd.


The Container Store

If I had a dating profile, it would include the phrase, “What some women spend on shoes, I spend on office supplies.” The Container Store and Staples are as dangerous for my wallet as Amazon, and I love to build IKEA furniture. I get great satisfaction from organizing, though staying organized is another matter.

Space is at a premium, since I’m currently occupying the bedroom I’ve lived in since I was 3 1/2. A number of renovations have been made over the years, but one thing that hasn’t changed is the size of the room. This has never stopped me from acquiring stuff, though, so I’m always looking for ways to create storage where it didn’t previously exist. (I could probably store a lot under my bed, but after years of shoving things under there with my foot, I’m afraid of what’s lurking in the semi-dark.)

I spend most of my day at my desk, which, yes, isn’t very healthy. All the more reason for my desk to be set up to maximize comfort and efficiency. My home improvement kick started with this article, and here are a few alterations I’ve made over the past few days:

2014-02-13 11.01.27Made cord separators – Since I own a stupid number of electronic devices, I have an equally stupid number of USB cables to charge them with. Lifehacker recommends binder clips for just about everything, but I have a butcher block-esque desk top that’s two-inches thick, so I used Command wire hooks instead. It took some brute force, but with a couple of pairs of pliers, I pulled the hooks wide enough to slip my cords through and then attached them to the back of the desk. Now the cords are out of the way until I want to use them and won’t tangle in the mean time.

ISpire_MonitorLift_wMonitor_LeftRaised my monitor – Though I have a compact wireless keyboard for my iMac, both it and the monitor tend to get in the way on those occasions when I actually have to handwrite something, or want to eat a sandwich without getting crumbs in the keys. I’m sure there are a number of super cheap ways to raise your monitor, but I went with the Fellowes I-spire Monitor Lift, since it was assured to support the weight. There’s room for my keyboard to slide underneath and I can push my monitor further back on my desk without worrying that it’s going to fall in the gap. This has left plenty of room for:

2014-02-13 10.57.26A desk calendar – For awhile, I kept old calendar pages under a clear plastic rectangle, but that desk protector was stained, scuffed, and needed to be tossed. And while I have digital calendars on all my devices, I really wanted something big where I could track my reviews for All Things Urban Fantasy in giant multicolored letters. The desktop calendars that came with the protective plastic cover were ridiculously expensive for what they were, so I got a regular calendar and modified it. I had a few poster frames left over from my college days, took the plastic sheet from one of those, measured the lines of the calendar in pencil, and scored the plastic with my X-acto knife, then snapped the plastic along those lines. (Mine was a little messy, because I wasn’t all that careful with my lines.) The calendar I bought happened to have two holes at the top, probably for tacking to the wall, so I punched a couple holes in the plastic and used brass brads to attach it. Now I have an even surface to write on, and can lift the cover to add notes to my calendar. Finally, I added some decorative tape to the plastic edges so I didn’t accidentally cut myself.

2014-02-13 10.59.29 2014-02-13 10.58.58USB hub – Four ports on my iMac are definitely not enough – not to mention, they’re in a rather annoying place for something like a flash drive, which doesn’t stay plugged in all the time, or my printer which doesn’t have a long enough cord. I ordered a Gear Head 4-Port Triangle Hub, and when I realized it was really lightweight, I used removable mounting squares to attach it to the front of my monitor riser so it was stationary and accessible. One square cut in half on either end seems to be doing the trick, though securing it with an additional piece in the middle of the hub would probably be a good idea.

Next project – a floating shelf above my computer to create even more space on my desk. One of the things I like best about Lifehacker is that the people who contribute ‘do it yourself’ tutorials think outside the box. Finding alternate uses for certain products is a great way to procrastinate organize.

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