Stationery Caddy to replace small desk
April 2, 2016 2:46 PM   Subscribe

After many years with a small roll-top secretary desk as the nerve center of our house, we've decided to get rid of it and replace it with storage for toys. We actually haven't used it the last few years for its paperwork-sorting virtues anyway, since that's all computerized, and we just need to store some of the office supplies we keep there. Help me find a visually appealing and/or extremely efficient way to do so!

The secretary desk is too small for a computer and now that we pay most bills on the computer and scan most of our paperwork in, it just doesn't make sense to have the desk taking up that much space any longer. However, we keep a variety of things handy there, including pens, stamps, scissors, paperclips, letter opener, business-size envelopes, etc. Just a small quantity of each, for convenience. This storage object can either be stored on a bookshelf or in a cabinet, or even on an end table, although pretty enough to be in the open is better so it's convenient and easy to get at stuff. However I will accept "wickedly functional but ugly" and just whisk it away into a cabinet before company comes. The limiting size is probably the business envelopes which definitely need to be stored in it because my husband is totally incapable of remembering where we store the box of them.

I have been considering an antique-style traveling desk, such as. These seem pretty to display but slightly inconvenient to get to the supplies, and we don't need the writing surface.

Another option would be a plain desk caddy that can hold envelopes, although I'd like a few more compartments so I can, say, separate the stamps from the paperclips.

Another option would be a small box large enough for envelopes and maybe with some inside divisions? But I don't even know what to google for that.

I even thought about a zip portfolio, if that could store my pens & things.

Anyway I am sure you guys have brilliant ideas (even alternative ones I haven't mentioned!) and have seen lots of pretty and functional options, so HIT ME UP! I'm willing to spend a couple hundred for something really pretty and perfect since this will be in our living room and get a lot of use; I'm also totally content to spend $20 for something that's ugly but does job and works for now while I look for the Perfect Option. It can even be two things, like a caddy plus something else.
posted by Eyebrows McGee to Home & Garden (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
One inexpensive approach: go to Pier 1 or IKEA or World Market or whatever is your discount store of choice and look for a few matching, pretty baskets. Grab a few smaller, individual containers (perhaps in office supply area?) for things like paper clips and stamps. Pens can probably be on their own.

We started piling bills into a basket like this a few years ago. It looked so much better and is quite simple.

And baskets are light enough and small enough you can tuck them onto a book shelf, even a bit higher up.
posted by bluedaisy at 2:54 PM on April 2, 2016

I wonder if an antique sewing caddy might work for your needs. There are about a million different types, so I won't link to one, but maybe worth a Google search.
posted by carrienation at 2:55 PM on April 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

Rather than a dedicated piece of furniture, how about a drawer or two in a larger piece? We have an enormous 1920's-ish oak sideboard in out dining room, near the dining table. A single large drawer, conveniently divided, contains all the officey supplies you mention. Other drawers and compartments contain napkins, a supply of greeting cards, a portable sewing machine, and a few unfinished craft projects. It's very satisfying to have so much close at hand, but concealed and organized in a beautiful package.
posted by jon1270 at 3:00 PM on April 2, 2016

Unfortunately no drawers in the space. It's really going to end up sitting on a shelf or tabletop, whatever it is. (It can be put in a cabinet when company comes if it's ugly but as a general thing there are childproofing issues with that for daily use.) I would like it all to be contained in one container so the things we're used to finding all in the secretary can be all in the new container.

(Note we WILL NOT be storing paperwork in it -- bills or otherwise -- just the envelopes that otherwise elude my husband. So I don't need inboxes or baskets or anything for papers.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 3:09 PM on April 2, 2016

carrienation's suggestion is a good one. Just look at this Vintage Strommen Bruk Hamar Accordian Sewing Box!
posted by MonkeyToes at 3:10 PM on April 2, 2016 [2 favorites]

Something like this from Ikea? Staples also tends to have stuff like this but it often looks more utilitarian.

If wall mounted is an option, maybe something like the Uten.silo--it's expensive but I've seen similar options for less. I believe Container Store has something like it.
posted by mama casserole at 3:50 PM on April 2, 2016

That sewing box Monkeytoes found is stunning!
Or what about a silverware caddy or two? Sometimes they have one longer compartment that could work for the envelopes. Found this one in a quick google search.
posted by areaperson at 5:09 PM on April 2, 2016

On the very utilitarian tip, this kind of adapted cleaning caddy could work for office supplies. Or a wood antique tool box. Also, I store art supplies in a vintage Samsonite train case and I think it's fairly chic. And very portable!
posted by areaperson at 5:17 PM on April 2, 2016

Not sure if this will work for your house, but my in-laws have one of these antique post office sorters, hung up high on the wall in their mudroom/back hallway -- high enough that there are coat hooks under it, and then a bench for boot-putting-onning under those. It's amazing how much miscellaneous stuff fits in there, and it's all out of the way but readily accessible. It would be a permanent fixture and you'd need to have the right space for one, though.
posted by LobsterMitten at 5:51 PM on April 2, 2016

How about make up caddy? This one looks like it has room for pens, paper clips, a stack of sticky notes... the usual desk detrius.
posted by dogmom at 8:32 PM on April 2, 2016

Two ideas:

The Vitra toolbox from Design Within Reach

The Muji organizing caddy sold by the MoMA Store
posted by jeri at 10:40 PM on April 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

The Muji organizing caddy sold by the MoMA Store

I had seen that at the Muji website but as usual the description was lacking. I couldn't tell from their site that they stack or that the dividers can be reconfigured. Anyway they're cheaper from Muji directly--$12 each instead of $16, and shipping is even a little less if you're only buying one. White, translucent.

(I just ordered two to organize toiletries)
posted by mama casserole at 8:37 AM on April 3, 2016

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