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.

  • katewestrich

    I like that Jon has a beer clearly visible on his work desk!

  • Sneeka

    Okay – this looks like a post you used to do for HGTV before all the design star recaps which are great but I miss your designing stuff. What the heck is happening with your sisters basement?

    Also I am digging the whole verizon hook up the entire office etc, and the droid is sexy but they are still too expensive – please pass this along to them: Discount for Dooce readers!

    I agree with the wanting to get everything perfect – why clutter and put stuff where you don’t want it or buy stuff you may ultimately not need? It’s better to plan now, live crazy for a minute and get the storage/office furniture that will grow with you.

    good luck!

  • Sneeka

    also you could work with an office supplies consultant or office furniture salesperson/consultant. All I can think of is HON right now, but there are plenty from modern to traditional – they may meet your needs better than a regular furniture store.

  • kanuckgal

    We have a third floor that is full of ceiling angles and nooks and crannies. When we first bought the house, we thought it was the coolest room ever! We’ve lived here for 3 years and that room is still empty (well, except for some accumulated junk)… we have no idea what to do with it!! Can you do my odd 3rd floor room next??

  • curlsz

    Jon’s desk looks exactly like mine – I even have a Shiner on it – hey I’m from Texas of course I have a shiner on it – yesterday it was Tecate – I’m international

  • hockeybrad

    I’m anti-cords as well and bought a desk specifically designed to hide such mental clutter. However, there are some GREAT things you can do with cords that are really creative and not a pain when you need to unplug one. has quite a few posts dedicated to this very topic and I’d encourage you to check out their picture-heavy posts about hiding cords with the desk you already own.

  • sparkklegirl


    That space SCREAMS two words:


    All those nooks and crannies…she would whip them ALL into submission! Which would further give you and Jon your much deserved time lie on that giant king-sized bed as much as you want!!!

    Maybe we just need to lobby HGTV a bit for you??

    And thanks for answering what on God’s Good Earth that bar on the ceiling was for! Cuz’ dude I was NOT thinking clothes hanger!

  • leftpinky

    Clutter or no clutter, that is an AMAZING space! Don’t rush… all the angles and nooks will provide organizational nirvana once you figure out exactly what you need. And you can house the Blurbodoocery Department of Very Small Things and Also Bobcats right behind that little door. Perfect.

  • brendadog

    Ok, please breathe deep. I move, on average, once a year (don’t ask why) and sometimes you just have to let it go. It’s ok, it is OK. You don’t need to be the Valedictorian of Moving. Unpack a box or two or day and let that be enough.

  • smithie1996

    a) love that Jon has a beer on his desk
    b) love the mood board, especially the squiggly line things – rug? wallpaper? who cares! It is lovely.
    c) cannot wait to see what you do with the cords. The only thing I have found so far to control cord madness was this brilliant post:

  • Wombat Central

    Your clutter is adorable. Also? Don’t ever come to my house unannounced. You would die from clutter overload.

    I was thinking that bar was a chin-up bar. How cool would that be?

  • Luka

    Heather – Do you know how Diego is now that he’s back at home?

  • Alexandra

    Not only can you store leprechauns, but now you’ve got a secret door into the brain of John Malkovich.

  • Aubrey

    It’s not clutter until you have to walk on it to get out of the house. Until then it’s just a little disorganized.

    Also, you have fantastic taste. I always love all of your stuff.

  • sarah81

    i am DYING to see the outside of this house i bet its beautiful! is there anyway you can show it to us without giving away where you live??

  • thegreyattic

    Heather, can you PLEASE post links to the items in your mood board, especially that couch! I’m moving to London next month and that is the exact couch I have been searching for!

  • supermega

    I did not make it further in the post past John’s office photo. Two words- Shiner…NICE.

  • CaitlinMc

    I’m not sure if you’ve seen this, but it will save your sanity concerning Jon’s desk. It’s pure genius and we’ll probably do it to ours soon.

  • justplaincat

    I have decided that I would like to work for you. That office is amazing. That office is my dream house! I don’t even care that it is in Utah.

  • mrswilson

    1. That space is INCREDIBLE.
    2. Jon’s desk would drive me to drink (more).
    3. I love your mood board.
    4. “it would be very easy for this thing to come out looking like someone with a mental illness designed it. Oh, wait.” – almost made me choke the fourth hotdog I’ve had today.

  • malisams

    SIGH. Everyone knows there’s no such thing as leprechauns; clearly it’s a Harry Potter cupboard.

  • HungryGrad

    Several thoughts:

    1. Holy crap, are you aware of just how many science graduate students you could keep in your office space? Like 80. And they would each gladly pay you $400-600 per month.

    2a. Your wires are NOTHING. My SO is a physics/optics/cryptography/programmer/engineer by day and a musician by night. You do not know of the Niagra Falls of electric spaghettis cascading down from our desk.

    2b. Oh, did I mention the 2 timpani we have in our apartment? And the hugeass keyboard? And the marimba? And the drumset? And the mixer? And the speakers? And all the percussion equipment for orchestra to go with the timpani? No? Oh. Well, now I did.

    3. My SO started heavily breathing and petting my leg at the sight of the apple products.

  • KKW

    You call that clutter? You should see my house, I’m a professional stuff magnet.

  • robin.optima

    don’t knock the exposed cords of technology. my ex-boyfriend hid all of mine behind the enormous desk and it is a pain in the ass.

    nice house 🙂

  • parkerp23

    I feel slightly honored that you’ve ever been to my town…city. Hometown. That being said…I apologize for Hayward.

  • knolting

    What a gorgeous space!

  • jan001

    Oh, you dear sweet thing — what you have shown us is not clutter. THIS is clutter. THIS right here… wait, has anyone seen my camera…? Look over there under that pile of papers. Just move the cat, she won’t mind.

    I love your new home. In fact, in flagrant violation of a commandment, I covet your new home. Its crannies, nooks, alcoves, and leprechaun storage areas are fabulous! It’ll all come together one of these days, or maybe it won’t, but even if it doesn’t, it’s home, and that’s what matters.

  • JulzB

    Amazing space. Am thinking Chuck must be well pleased at all the sunshine puddles to choose from.

    (Can not admit to how long we’ve been in our house because we still have a couple of unpacked boxes)

  • Alevai

    This is seriously the most gorgeous house I have ever seen. I can’t even look at it, I am so filled with envy. Have fun with it you guys!

  • marialoo

    Absolutely agree with previous poster who said Candice Olsen. This is definitely the kind of space she thrives in: nooks and crannies, multiples uses, designs that are scerene, but colorful.

    Good luck on the design! I can’t wait to see how it progresses!

  • katliz

    As a real estate junkie, I, too, would love to see what the exterior lines of your roof look like. This house just looks spectacular.

  • randdmom

    Love the white chair! Where can I get it??? Oh and love the office chair too…sorry!

  • geekgirl

    My husband is the king of cord management. We have these wire things screwed into the underside of the desk, and everything routes neatly through that so the cords coming out the end and hanging to the power supplies are all the same length, labelled, and can be bundled together. It’s a work of art, I’m telling you.

  • Meranath

    Tyrant needs a fan page because that was fucking EPIC.

    Sorry Heather.

  • Steve O

    Indeed . . Never the less we did give you an honorable mention for inspiration and sheer determination.

  • mcristina

    Cords are the bane of existence! There is nothing more frustrating than trying to come up with a clean beautiful design plan only to have your vision mangled by cords. Please please dedicate a post to showing us how you tackle this problem!

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