An unfiltered fire hose of flaming condemnation

Wherein I expose our clutter

The state of our office right now is exactly like that one time I went to visit a certain boyfriend of mine in Hayward, California where he was going door to door selling pesticide for the summer. He was living with four or five other guys at the time, and when I walked into the bathroom I couldn’t find a spare square inch of floor to put my foot because of the hundreds of discarded toilet paper tubes.

Also, the mold in the shower had grown what I can only describe as dreadlocks.

We’re still living among boxes that haven’t been unpacked, files that make no sense, cords that belong to some piece of equipment, we just don’t remember which one. I know, we’ve been here for well over a month, and it looks like we moved in yesterday. It’s just, I want to take my time and do it right. Meaning, every night after we’ve put the kids to bed and have that little extra time to make some headway, I look at Jon and he looks at me, and we’re all, there’s a giant king-sized bed upstairs! WE COULD TOTALLY LIE DOWN ON IT.

Also, the office is a bit of an odd shape. Yes, it’s huge and filled with light and almost as big as our first house. But there are tons of nooks and angles and spaces that makes no sense. Here are some before pictures plus a few of where we are right now:

Here’s one of the nooks where as a kid I would have camped out with a sleeping bag and pretended I was the Queen of France:

You guys, rarely do I let you into the madness that is the clutter of my husband. This, in fact, is nothing compared to normal. And when I post final photos of the space you will see NONE OF THIS, SO HELP ME GOD:

This is the extent of my clutter right now (oh, the crap I stashed away before I took this photo). It pains me as a proper Southern woman to expose this seedy underbelly of my life. Excuse me while I go faint and then have someone throw sweet tea in my face:

Here’s the fax/printer plus a whole slew of clutter from the previous office. A problem that needs real fixin’:

This is the studio space littered with every unpacked box imaginable. Have you not unpacked your socks! I KNOW WHERE THEY ARE!

Oh! And have I mentioned? We have a place to store our leprechauns!

And UGH! The cords of technology. Jon thinks this is totally sexy. I think we need some more “alone time” if you know what I’m saying:

So to begin the process of laying out the space in a way that would make all those angles come together in harmony, I decided to put together a mood board: colors, furniture, storage, textures, all keeping in mind that we’ve got several different spaces with different uses, and it would be very easy for this thing to come out looking like someone with a mental illness designed it. Oh, wait.

What I’m going for is something really comfortable but full of color. Something that feels less like an office and more like some place we really want to spend the majority of our day (short of turning it into a condo on the beach in Cancun).

Here’s a rundown of all the different spaces that need to be addressed:

1. Our desk areas
2. The meeting space
3. Storage
4. Tyrant’s office
5. The studio

Let me just say that when you see the final version of Tyrant’s space that I had nothing to do with the decision of the chair he’s sitting on:

We offered to get him something totally ergonomic that had tons of style, but he was all, nope! Get me the ugliest thing you can find! Something that looks like it was made from the skin of a black bear’s testicles! But since I don’t have to sit in it all day, whatever. He can have his little fluffy abomination. As long as he stops telling lies like, “You know the critter catcher has to sleep in your room, tonight, right? The animals are nocturnal, and that’s the only way to find them.”

I went around all day long thinking, OH MY GOD, some strange dude who relishes the act of snatching raccoons is going to be sleeping on the floor next to me? What if he snores or talks in his sleep? What if he sleep walks and ends up in bed with us?!

Of course, I believed it! Tyrant is as incredibly smooth as I am gullible. That afternoon I walked into our bedroom where he had put down a sleeping bag and pillow next to my side of the bed. And that’s when I ran downstairs and shouted, “I CAN LIVE WITH THE ANIMALS! CALL IT OFF! CALL IT OFF!”

He may have suffered minor heart damage from laughing so hard.

And so we begin!


Disclosure: Many thanks to Verizon for helping us take this next step. This house requires a phone on one’s person at all times, so another big thank you to Verizon for the 3 Motorola Droid X phones that help us stay connected during this time of chaos and adjustment as we redo our office. We’ll be sharing some behind the scenes photos and videos over the coming weeks. Learn more about how Verizon helps keep you connected here.

  • Schnauzie_Mom

    All those odd shapes just beg for cubbies and stackable shelves and all kinds of wonderfully organized drawers! With labels! That are color coded!!

    However, the tangle of cords made me physically shudder. I’m not sure how you managed to take a steady picture…I would have been convulsing at the sight.

  • ChickWhitt

    Have you ever used Olioboard? It is a fun way to make mood/decor boards online, and you can upload any picture to it, to see how things would look together.

    I can’t believe you can sleep with all that craziness, I would be organizing in the middle of the night! Even now before I go to sleep I am designing the next house I want to live in!

  • JaHoolia

    Wow! I can’t wait to see what it looks like when you’re done with it. I’m sure it’s the most amazing/stressful part of the house to decorate. Tell Jon the cords have got to go! You lost with the chickens.
    Oh, and I also live in a 750 sq. ft. apartment with my 2.5 year old daughter and ‘baby daddy’ where 3/4 of the rooms are triangular. Super awesome, only not. I understand your pain with decorating strange spaces. Best of luck!

  • sarahdoow

    I very much admire Tyrant’s commitment to freaking you out. Such an eye for detail!

  • Mrs. Q.

    What is it with those cords! My husband leaves behind the same electronic tangle in his wake and it drives me mad. Because of it, he was not allowed to have his desk facing out like John’s, and instead, faces a blank wall. After all, we had babies and I was convinced they would chew on those ‘sexy’ cords, strangle themselves, tie me up and eat all the cheetos.

  • The Prima Momma

    Let me know if you ever need some ideas for getting even with Tyrant. He’s BEGGING for it!

  • BuenoBabyGirl

    Awesome space. For me though, it’s all about those wood floors. Makes me want to break out my roller skates!

  • ispellkonfusion

    All those nooks and crannies are a dream. DREAM! Oh the possibilities for the layout of your office. Talk about being overwhelmed with ideas! I know it’ll turn out beautiful. I’d brush up on my feng shui though.

  • Rah

    At the risk of belaboring the obvious: Organizing this space looks like a perfect project for one of your buddies at HGTV. I have seen several of their designers/organizers do miracles with rooms that have those quaint little areas. Since you have an inside track, you might just inquire. The house is beautiful, by the way.

  • LaurieML

    Totally with you on the Queen of France nook.

  • JillyMack06

    I’m told that once you have a place for everything, the clutter will dissolve! (And cords can be wrangled…) By the looks of it, about 80% of my entire house can fit in your office…add to that the clutter of 2 people who think that the other person is responsible for old mail, My husband’s Magic the Gathering Cards (can’t believe I just outed him), every book I’ve ever read, and all of my daughter’s toys (who is the first grandchild so multiply expectations by two, no four) and sweet tea would not revive you…you would need to be doused in a bucket of biscuit gravy…and that would just add to the mess…

  • RoseTattoo

    Does this mean no more iPhones?

  • ATXGirl

    I love the beer Jon was apparently drinking 😉 haha my desk looks like his… it’s an organized mess, don’t touch it! He probably knows where everything is :)~

  • andrea

    Did we ever figure out what the floors were? They look like the ones we put in our house: Australian Cypress…

  • TexasKatie

    That is one hella big office, that is for sure. What, pray tell, is that blue thing in your mood board? I swear it looks like a rain barrel, or something. LOL.

    My FAVORITE website of all time to go to when designing a room or doing a project for my house, is – It is so amazing!!!

    And wow, Jon totally needs to control those crazy, runaway power cords!

  • MontanaJen

    Can’t wait to watch the process!

    One question before we start (and yes, I suppose I can get this from the scads of google results, but I’d like to have it explained by someone who does not have a degree in design) – what is a “Mood Board”?

    From context clues, I would imagine it to be a gathering of items that make you happy (thus the ‘mood’?), but are there rules? Like, should something not be added to the mood board if it is a crazy departure from everything else on the mood board? Can I add a picture of a peacock to a mood board if most everything about the bird (colors, shapes, eyeballs) makes me happy?

    Thanks for showing us your cords. I’ve got ’em, too, but mine have crazy dust bunnies entwined.

    le sigh.

  • Camels and Chocolate

    As someone else who works from home, you have no idea how envious I am of your office! Leprechaun nook and all.

  • Brookelyn Bridge

    Does Jon drink beer while working?! I’m jealous!

  • JennfromCanada

    I was watching HGTV last night and a commercial came on for “Flippin’ Out”. I think Tyrant looks just like the guy from that show. They aren’t the same person, are they?

  • Amy J.

    You weren’t exaggerating on the space Heather! WOW! I sort of hate the angles though…only because we have those in our upstairs and what you’re about to find is that putting furniture in a room with those stupid half walls is that it BLOWS. I’ll never have another house with those half walls…EVAH! In both our girls bedrooms we have one full wall to put furniture on. Thankfully they are small people and much of their small people furniture is on the small/short side. The one piece of adult sized furniture in both rooms is on that single full sized wall. We will have to move before they become taller than four feet : ).

    In my husband’s home theater/office we had ZERO full size walls and every time he walks into that room he hits his head on the ceiling because we had to float his theater chairs in the middle of the room because they would not go anywhere else. You can only float so much furniture in the middle of a room that won’t allow anything taller than three feet : ).

    Anyway, you mentioned studio a couple of times…what will that be for?? Photos?? Video stuff from you for HGTV??

    Is it ok to ask?

  • KaraCooks

    I forgive Jon his cable clutter because there’s a Shiner Bock on his desk. 😉

  • AshesVonDust

    I almost shat my pants when I saw that floral rug. I might have an abnormal hatred for floral in interior designs that stems from the fact that my mother wore floral, frilly dresses (sometimes with large lace collars) for most of my childhood, until I gave her a makeover. I am interested to see how it will tie in with the rest of the space, though. I like the colours in it, at least! 🙂

    Also? This space neeeeeeds IDEAPAINT somewhere. Possibly the meeting area? I think that would be bitchin’, I can’t wait to move so I can add IdeaPaint to my workshop walls (for planning out jewelry and other designs)

    And maybe custom storage? Like on the wall opposite the orange bar? (I don’t know what it is. A pipe? A curtain rod? I’m not too savvy)

    At first, when I saw the glass wall/door, I thought OMG SOUND STUDIO?! but I think it’s stairs, right? Right?! If it’s a sound studio, I might weep tears of salty joy for you. Because that would be badass.

  • JeniLReno

    That sure looks like my store’s Arlington armchair. You need to email me, and I can hook it up!

  • AshesVonDust

    Also: my fiance is the same with the cords and cables. *stabbity stab stab* I have no idea what to do with them, so if you find some miraculous solution, PLEASE post about it! 😀

    And yeah, my whole apartment can fit in that office. And we have three people, a dog, and a cat living here. Good times.

  • Angeerah

    What a great space with so much light! And I am with you on the nook and would probably camp out there as an adult with a good book. Wicked. Awesome.

    QUESTION! What is the bar thing hanging from the ceiling in the third picture?

  • michblondin

    I love, love your office space. All of the goregous light would have sold me! Though it might seem stressful, try to enjoy designing the space! I’ve used which is a great tool (and I did a quick post on some of the features it has) for planning your space and considering weird angles, dimensions, etc. Good luck!

  • Norabloom

    What a fantastic room, full of interesting nooks and crannies. Given Jon’s propensity for messiness, I would perhaps situate his work space behind a decorative screen so you don’t have to see the mess.

    Thanks for sharing these photos with us. I love looking at other people’s homes and getting ideas. Also, thanks for explaining Tyrant’s chair. I did wonder why he was being deprived of a sleek, ergonomic Herman Miller chair, but now I know he chose the over-padded “Executive Chair.” I guess that goes along with being a tyrant.

    If I were dealing with a space that big, I’d probably include a small conference table and chairs somewhere.

    Can’t wait to see the end result!

  • dooce

    The woman who sold us the house used this space as her bedroom and installed that bar/rod to hang her clothes. DON’T ASK ME WHY. She had that whole master bedroom with a giant walk-in closet, but no. She slept in here.

    Also, yes, that is a sound studio. We’re using it to set up lights and sound equipment for videos and the work I do for HGTV.

  • Mini Purl

    How are you guys liking the Droids?

  • angenaline

    I love the mood board. Good work. And the space is beautiful. But my comment is because I also love that you continually make fun of and/or reference your illness.

    I just started taking anti-depressants after nearly a decade of saying no. Your refusal to allow the stigma attached to it to affect how you discuss it, and your ability to laugh at a situation you have little control over is a huge inspiration to me.

  • arishell

    The interior designer me wants to start drawing up some designs immediately! What a great room. Just think about the perspective drawings makes me shiver with excitement! I envision really cool custom fixtures with drawers and doors to hide everything.

    Have fun designing!

  • tallnoe

    As one who lives in a basement apartment… I LOVE THE LIGHT! And the nooks and crannies and THE LIGHT!


    Thanks for sharing. I’m lucky all my cords are behind my entertainment center. Barely. Can’t WAIT

  • craftyashley

    I hope this helps- but we’ve been in our current home for almost three years. There are exactly three boxes in our garage that are STILL unpacked. One has cords- to things we still can’t find. Should I just throw them away? Clearly we aren’t using whatever device they belong to!
    Don’t worry about the speed of unpacking. It took us FOREVER.

  • mjryates

    I completely disagree with you about Tyrant’s chair. It totally rocks and he should be giving you grief at every chance.

  • jennbsays

    Do I spy a Shiner Bock beer in that picture of Jon working hard (or hardly working)?

    Two things, Shiner is delicious and quite filling and it’s a TEXAS beer!

    Also, I love that space! I can’t wait to see what it looks like when it’s finished. I would just leave it like it is (with boxes galore) and tell everyone that’s the new way of decorating. You know, boxes and wires are the new chairs and garland for a room. I’m just sayin’!

  • dawdawsmom

    if you were a true southern girl you would swoon instead of faint…but i do like the iced tea face bath…but only if it is SWEET tea of course!

  • PunkinP

    Fabulous rooms! Love the light and space. Sooo envious! We live in a dungeon-like apartment with no light.

    And if it would make you feel better, I’ll send you photos of my husband’s clutter. Jon ain’t got nothing on him!

  • __Rah__

    Does Verizon have you guys by the balls? This is the 2nd time I’ve read one of your posts and seen the forced “Thank you.” How many more times are y’all contractually obligated to mention them? Seriously though, I’m just teasing. I just miss the iPhones! I say this as an owner of the EVO and iPhone. Whatever ad revenue you’re bringing in from them is surely worth it.

  • Cooky

    I love your new home. I love your new office space. How exciting to decorate it exactly the way you wish. I love your mood board. That area will be so fabulous when completed.

    Hugging your kids and enjoying life — including laying on the bed at the end of a busy day — takes priority over everything all neat and tidy within a month.

    One year would be a good goal and I know you’ll have it done way before that even if Tyrant has to kick your tush the entire way.

  • gamma

    With all of these crazy angles and partial walls, I’d like to see what the outside of the house looks like. I can’t imagine having to deal with all those angles and niches….very disturbing to my eye.

  • amyj

    I love the part where Tyrant can find a sleeping bag, but you haven’t unpacked your socks. Awesome! The next time I look for the remote control in the wine fridge, I’ll count my blessings (as should you in return, because the second Marlo starts walking, that’s where you’ll find everything).

  • loradow

    As someone who has hardwood floors in her office, I’d recommend you get some sort of rug or protective covering under those office chairs ASAP. I’ve really trashed my office floor from the constant rolling of the chair. Good luck with the decorating!

  • Stooph

    You guys should get Thom Felicia to come help design your space! Because he’s wonderful, and I’m obsessed with Dress My Nest. When he’s done at your house, send him to mine!

  • grad.nauseam

    I want to e-mail you a picture of the current state of my husband’s office/studio, because… you have not seen clutter. You cannot even, in your wildest dreams, imagine the clutter. Plus, his clutter involves such things as a drill press and a 13 inch circular saw. AND A TABLE SAW. Have I mentioned we live in a 1 br apartment in Manhattan? We sleep in the dining room so that the bedroom can be fully devoted to his clutter.

  • jmcclark

    Two things:
    1. My husband thinks there is nothing more beautiful than a big box full to the brim of random cords and cables.
    2. I love Tyrant for taking a joke into the home stretch. I would have done the same thing.

  • AshesVonDust

    Ah. Clothes-hanging bar. I bet the mythical bobcat gave her that idea.

    and HOMGSOUNDSTUDIO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (add more exclamation marks in your imagination)

    *weep* SO AWESOME!

    So, are you and Jon gonna record some Lemon Demon-like phat beats in there? 😀
    JAM SESSION AT HEATHER’S! (Can anyone give me a lift to Utah?)

  • AshesVonDust

    Everyone with their random boxes of miscellaneous cords and wires is making me laugh!

    I went around snagging every cord not plugged into something, wound them up nice and neat (fiance HATES that, says they ruin the cords, but lying in a tangled heap won’t?!?!) and threw them in a pretty photo box and labeled it “Random Computer Wires and Stuff”

    I do that for everything. Now I just need a place to stash all of the photo boxes!

  • TropicalPopsicle

    This is so inspiring to see that your well designed spaces also start out in a pile of boxes and cords. It gives me hope that my finished projects can look as good as yours. (My husband & I are going to organize our office room in a few weeks.) I can’t WAIT to see your after pictures.

  • Amy J.


    Can you do me a HUGE favor? As I’ve sat here for several hours editing photos, I’m reminded that I desperately still need a GOOD office chair…that isn’t hideous or huge. I’m getting major pain in my arm/shoulder from constant clicking and no support.

    If you have seen some great office chairs in your hunts, can you please pass on the links??

    THANKS in advance

    Back to editing…ugh

  • ChickWhitt

    Oh, can you maybe provide links to the different things on your design board? You and I have a very similar style, so I am curious as to where you found them all.

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

read more