Step Into My Office

Step Into My Office

by Kerry Scott on 10 September 2010

Yes. I’m doing a meme. Specifically, I’m doing the show-everyone-where-you-blog meme, which is going around in several different iterations.  I don’t normally do memes, because they require that I do them in a more or less timely manner, and that never happens. But I’m doing this one because I’m all writers-block-y this week, and because my office was more or less clean to begin with (a rare occurrence), so I figured I’d better take pictures before the kids come home with backpacks full of school papers that will clutter up the desk.

So here’s my office (click the photos to enlarge).

This is the view from the doorway, standing just behind the baby gate that keeps my kids from coming in here and trashing the place.  I have a big desk, because when I’m working I like to spread my papers out.  Nearly all of the furniture is from IKEA, because my hobby is buying and assembling cheap furniture using only an Allen wrench and instructions that don’t have any words.  The chair, however, was ridiculously expensive (but worth it).  I bought it 10 years ago, when I started my own business and had no children to spend my money on.  The print on the wall on the far right is a view of the main reading room of the Library of Congress, where I used to do research when I lived in DC.  The print on the other side of the wall is a 1873 map of Wisconsin and southeastern Minnesota that shows the railroad lines.  It’s handy to have up when I’m doing research.  The window looks out into the backyard, where I watch the squirrels attack my potted plants while I work.

These two big black file cabinets have a lot of research stuff in them.  When I started doing genealogical research, everything was on paper.  As a result…well, I have a lot of paper.  The picture over the table is a bird’s-eye view of Mankato, Minnesota from 1870.  My family lived there then, and you can see both their house and their church on the map.  It’s pretty cool.  The wagon on top of the file cabinet is the original Clue Wagon.  It’s actually a doll wagon, and I got it at a kids’ consignment store for $4.99, the week I started the original Clue Wagon.

The bookshelves are mostly filled with genealogy books.  I have lots of genealogy books.  If you look closely (or click to enlarge), you can also see the aircraft models from my old airline job on top of the shelves; I put them up there because my three-year-old was obsessed with them.  The print here is another birds-eye view, of Minneapolis (my original hometown) in 1892.  The little grass-looking thing next to the light is a charging station.  The cords come up through the grass and you put your stuff there to charge.  I love it.

This is where I actually sit and work.  There are usually more sticky-notes on the monitor than this, but it was really windy here a couple of days ago, and some of them blew off.  The bureau behind my monitor is actually a desk (that top part drops down), and my 5-year-old daughter sits there and “works” on her computer early in the morning while I work on mine.  Beyond that is one of two closets, because this room was originally the master bedroom when our house was built in the early 1950s.  Later they expanded the upstairs, so now we have three bedrooms upstairs and this one down here.  The previous owners used this room as a den.  Now it’s an office.  That’s one of the cool things about older houses…you can see them change with the times.

What does YOUR office look like?

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{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

ABDPBT September 10, 2010 at 1:35 pm

I like it, it’s very neat and has a ton of space on the desk. But I’m skeptical of a baby gate being able to keep out kids who are school age. Maybe I should try it, though.


Kerry Scott September 10, 2010 at 1:41 pm

The baby gate probably wouldn’t work if it’s in a place where the kid is ever alone…my son could climb over it if he had the time. The office is on the main floor of the house, where we don’t spend much time other than eating; they”re usually in the rec room (basement level) or in the bedrooms. So the gate keeps them at bay when, for example, my husband brings them in from playing outside to feed them lunch on Saturday, or when I’m making dinner in the kitchen and they’re playing in the living room.

But if your office is near your primary family spending-time area…well, good luck.


deli kate September 10, 2010 at 2:14 pm

We have the same IKEA lamp… love that it dims. :) I like my desk surface really clean too… it piles up but it makes me crazy until I clear it off.


Susan Tiner September 10, 2010 at 2:27 pm

Beautiful light filled space. I love the views out the windows. And I love the reading room in the Library of Congress. It is so neat to see your work space and to think of you pursuing your passion. You rock.


Janet Iles September 11, 2010 at 8:50 am

Your office is inspiring. It is well organized and bright.

I am working on my office so there will be no public photos but I may take a few before shots. My challenge is that I not only have genealogy related items in my office. I have them in the first hallway area, the second hallway area upstairs, on the dining room table, in the living room and in the family room.

Thanks for posting your photos and telling us how you have organized it. I love too the maps on the wall.


Debi September 11, 2010 at 3:52 pm

Kerry, more proof that I want to be you when I grow up. I can’t believe how organized your office is! And I love the maps and the Library of Congress stuff.


Kerry Scott September 11, 2010 at 3:55 pm

You people realize that it looks like this because I took pictures of it, right?

In fact, when my husband walked in last night, he said, “Wow, what happened in here?”

And already, a little over 24 hours later, the desk is covered with crap.

I aspire to be one of those clean desk people…but I’m not there yet. At all.


Debi September 12, 2010 at 10:15 am

I’m not just talking clean, I’m talking organized. Like file folders and stuff!


Kerry Scott September 12, 2010 at 10:55 am

Oh, now THAT I have. I am freakishly organized. I have different types of file folders for different things, a label maker…the whole nine yards.

It’s kind of a sickness though. Like, if stuff is in the wrong kind of file folder, I can’t do anything until it’s fixed. So being more of a normal person is probably better.


Debi September 12, 2010 at 1:45 pm

I have all of that, too – I just don’t USE it :-)


Michelle Goodrum September 11, 2010 at 4:20 pm

So I’m not alone in aspiring to be a clean desk person! It seems like I get things looking nice like your office and a few days later it’s back the way it was before.

Love the Library of Congress picture and the maps. It gives me some ideas!


Linda McCauley September 12, 2010 at 8:42 am

Even on the rare occasions when my office is cleaned up, it still looks like a mess so I don’t even aspire to be a clean desk person anymore. I try to set goals that I might actual attain. :)


barbG September 12, 2010 at 11:32 am

Your office looks great. Why not send it over to Unclutterer, she, Erin,
does a weekly post on (I’m just a reader).


Kerry Scott September 14, 2010 at 5:15 pm

Ooooo, that’s a cool website. I’m definitely going to spend some time in the archives there…lots of clean-desk inspiration.


Claudia September 15, 2010 at 5:23 pm

Is it always that neat? I need a space too, so far, all I have is a bunch of papers piled in a corner. I am waiting for my daughter to get a Nursing job and get her own place. LOL


Kerry Scott September 16, 2010 at 4:15 am

I’ve been frantically working for several days now. That clean desk? Completely covered in papers right now. I am up to my Pop-Tarts in death certificates, Ancestry printouts, DeLorme maps, family group sheets…

I know I would be more productive if I cleaned it off every night and started fresh in the morning. I used to do that when I worked in a traditional job…but it’s much harder when you work at home in fits and spurts (at least for me). When both of my kids are in school and I have more steady blocks of work time, I’m definitely going back to that.


Marian Pierre-Louis October 4, 2010 at 7:41 am


I’m very envious of your office. Especially the door! :)



Amy September 18, 2011 at 9:21 pm

Great to know others do this too – thanks so much for sharing! My house has a smaller room in the front – probably intended more for a formal living space. Formal is not our family’s style so it became my work area. The one long wall has hip-high bookshelves the length of it with the genealogy books, file boxes and more. The tops of the bookshelves are covered with framed picture of family (current & past). From there the wall up is covered with maps, vintage prints and records that all have some association to the family. Most everyone who comes through will linger through checking out. Favorite moments in this room was when my 7 year old son was standing in the chair checking out my 1902 map of Missouri that was once part of a classroom collection. He’s showing my how it’s a grid map and he’s learning about them in school and he’s never shy to salute the image of Lady Liberty. You all have inspired me to take it beyond the room and into more of the house. Especially love the postcard idea – thanks again!


Linda May 2, 2013 at 8:18 am

Love the old file cabinets – at least I assume they are old. I have a very similiar one – dark green and h-e-a-v-y – even when empty. I bought it 30 years ago from my corporate employer – it was old then. My husband keeps threatening to get rid of it and get a newer model but I have made it clear – if it goes, so do I! Even the sound of opening the drawers is so different than the newer light weight ones. So fellow readers – if you come across one of these ‘antiques’ in your travels, pay or find some young strong person to move it to your home office and you will be glad you did!


Kerry Scott May 2, 2013 at 1:11 pm

I agree. The ones seen here were bought at Office Depot about 10 years ago, and they’re not very well made. They’ve survived a couple of moves, but barely. The old kind are worth their weight in gold.


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