7 DIY Projects to Bring Creativity AND Function Into Your Space

Last week, I talked about designing your workspace to maximize both creativity and productivity. That means writing in a space that gets the creative juices flowing without sacrificing practicality (so you actually get work done).

But designing an office or studio gets expensive fast: a new desk, some shelving units, great art on the walls…depending on what workability means to you, the bill will add up quickly.

That’s why I’ve compiled this list of DIY office projects that will deliver on both form and function…with one other caveat:

Some people are creatively inclined, no matter the medium. I am not one of those people.

I love to write…but I am not crafty.

So these DIY projects are not just ones that will make your workspace more workable. They’re not just ones that won’t break the bank. They’re also ones that anyone (even me!) could actually accomplish.

You know that old adage, “Don’t let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game”? I prefer “Don’t let the fear of ending up on Pinterest Fail keep you from playing the game”.

So give these Pinterest Fail-proof projects a try and optimize your office’s workability (whatever that means for you)!

1. Fabric-Covered Cork Boards That Double As Wall Art

Whether it holds a reminder to pick up more cereal at the store (you’ll want it for #3), a list of goals for the next month, or just a particularly inspiring doodle, we always seem to fill up our office memo boards. But why go the traditional (read: boring) route with a plain cork board when you can customize that s*** with a fabric that you picked out yourself!

This part-cork-board-part-wall-art from Sew Much Sunshine won’t take you more than 30 minutes and $5 to finish, and you’ll be left with a beautiful and useful addition to your office walls!

2. The World’s Easiest Huge, Cheap, and Uber Functional DIY Desk

This desk (instructions courtesy of McAleer’s) is stupid easy to put together–so much so that my mom and I “made” it for my bedroom with no tools or prior carpentry experience. We bought two file cabinets and a long plank of plywood (you can pick any size that fits your space and needs), slathered a coat of polyurethane on the wood for protection, and placed the wood on top of the two cabinets to make it a work surface.

Yes, that’s it! McAleer’s gives you some tips in case you want to secure your wood to the cabinets or the wall, but mine was heavy enough that I never saw a need for that.

Not only is this desk ridiculously easy to put together, but it’s way bigger than any desk I could have afforded to buy at a store! And if you want to change the drab taupes and greys of the file cabinets or the grain of the untreated wood, all you need is a can of paint. With this “construction”, you can get a long workbench with tons of storage for very little effort and a great price!

3. Cereal Boxes Turned Organizational Panaceas

Apparently leftover cereal boxers are organization gold mines–who knew? If you’ve just finished assembling your new file cabinet desk and you want to bring some structure to those giant drawers, cereal boxes are you quick, easy, and cheap solution! Find your favorite wrapping or craft paper, shape your old Cinnamon Toast Crunch boxes according to One Crazy House’s instructions, and wrap those boxes up like the organizational gift they are! For just a few bucks and minutes, all of your pens, paper clips, magazines, and mail will have a (pretty) home!

4. Clever Corner Shelf To Hold The Small Stuff

Whether you’re replacing your old magazine holders with upcycled cereal boxes or you just haven’t had a need for your magazine holder in a while (because, you know, it’s 2017), give them new use on your wall! This corner shelf tutorial from Design Sponge can give you a much-needed place to keep your charging phone, show off your favorite trinkets, and stow away some files–all just by turning a magazine holder over on its side.

It can be difficult to find unique shelving units that don’t require a ton of carpentry skills, so these shelves are a great go-to! I love the idea of staining three of these holders in different shades and hanging them all up together in a column, but they can also be easily painted for a less rustic look.

5. Easy Wall Calendars For Any Style

Part of being organized means having a place for everything, but the other part is having the time! Keep track of your schedule with this simple do-it-yourself chalkboard calendar from DIY Projects. With just some paint, tape, and chalk, you can be well on your way to a large, practical calendar that dresses up your wall.

And if you’re not so into the current chalkboard craze, DIY Projects has an equally simple but far more vibrant tutorial for a paint chip dry-erase calendar. With this, you can get creative with some wacky color combinations, an ombre effect, or a monochromatic tone–it’s a perfect opportunity to make your own functional art!

6. Cord Organizers That Are Simple Yet Ingenious

This might be my favorite item on the list because of how very simple it is and how many headaches it will save me in the future. If you’re like me, you curse the endless piles of cords that surround your desk everyday, be it from chargers, modems, or a computer mouse–my cords and I have a tempestuous relationship.

But we are officially going through therapy in the form of Everyday Dishes’ ingenious solution. All you need is a set of binder clips and labels to keep every last cable tucked away on the side of your desk. Honestly, I’m mad at myself for not thinking of this on my own!

But this problem has irked me too much to only leave you with one option. Modernistic Design found an equally clever (and even simpler!) solution to their cable management issue: LEGO people! That’s right, put your old LEGOs to work by letting them hold your chargers for you, and never wonder where the end of that cable is again!

7. Multi-Function Room Divider For A Multi-Function Office Space

If your office is doubling for, say, a bedroom or a living room, it may be a good idea to divide the space up. That way, you won’t get distracted by your TV and books (or your bed) while you’re working, and you won’t have to stare at your to-do list when you’re not working.

There are countless DIY room divider instructions online, and if you’re craftier than I am, by all means, Google them. But I promised that every project on this list would be something even I could complete. And RP Online’s room divider assembled from stacked up crates is my kind of project.

Note: you may notice RP Online’s site is in Danish…no, I don’t speak Danish either, but if you’re using Google Chrome, you can click “Translate” in the right of your URL address bar.

When you do, you’ll see why this project is a Bethy-friendly DIY–all it takes is some wooden crates, paint, and a few screws! Not only will it break up your room to give work a designated spot in your home, but BONUS: it’ll give you a ton of added storage too!


Making as many of your storage and productivity solutions yourself as possible will not only make your space more workable, but it will ignite your creativity in the process. Sure, you’re a writer, not an interior designer, but there’s nothing quite like sitting at the desk you designed to make you feel creative.

Being organized doesn’t need to mean working in a cubicle or fitting into anyone else’s style. All of these DIY projects can easily be customized to fit your own design aesthetic, so your space works for you. Choose your own color palette, your patterns, and the functions that you need–all without spending a lot of time or money.

Because when your workspace is 100% you, you won’t just have the time or space to write there, you’ll be happy to write there.

Please let me know what else you do to customize your writing space–I’m always looking for new solutions!

And for more DIY organization projects (and great productivity and writing resources), follow The Dusty Quill on Pinterest!



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