Organization is an ongoing process. You don't just organize things once it seems. I have come to that realization as I think back on how many times I have blogged about making our small place here more efficient and organized.
I have been writing for nearly five years now (I think!) and it seems that every year around this time we always come up with new and improved ways to make working from our home here not only more efficient, but more aesthetically pleasing as well. After all – we do live here and while we don't mind having some electronics and tools out in the open, we still want our home to be pleasant and comfortable and look – well – like a home!
Our little business is growing. As a result of that, we find we are sending more printed orders than ever. Add to that the additional wholesale orders we print out for places like Artist's Club. We plan on doing more, and because those are painting patterns, many of them exceed 20 full color pages. That really adds up when printing 100 – 500 patterns at a time.
We think it is a good thing, as we want our business to grow. More printing equals more customers and is part of the process of being successful. We are continually looking for more efficient ways to do things – both cost-wise as well as labor-wise. For every time we are able to save a bit of cost or time in processing orders, it helps not only us, but our customers as well. Everyone wins.
Last month I showed you our new printer that we purchased. It is an HP Officejet Pro X451DW and quite a step up from our Canon Pixma printer. While the Canon printers were cheap (around $100) and served us well (each one lasted nearly a year – we went through several in the past several years) we knew that we needed something that printed both quickly and also offered better quality copies. It was time to move up.
The HP printer has a duty cycle of 50,000 copies per month. That is much higher than the Pixma. It also has a much larger input paper capacity (500 sheets) and an output of 36 pages per minute (black AND color). While we realize those numbers are just estimates, there is no denying that this printer makes faster, cleaner and more beautiful copies. Besides that, it can be networked wirelessly to both our computers. We try to get rid of just about any wires we are able. Between our audio and visual components and computers, we have quite a lot going on in one place. Anything we can to do simplify things is a plus.
Below is a photo of our 'electronics wall' prior to the latest improvements:
From left to right we have speakers (sub is the large box on the bottom, mid and high range are sitting on top – the top unit(s) are new from last year's project that Keith rebuilt and he is in the process of building new subs at this point. He likes building speakers and working on his sound system. It is a hobby of his), Keith’s computer is next. Then on the TV stand are the amps and modem, then speakers, then my computer, then the printer. For now the printer and scanner are on the floor:
It is not very attractive, and looks rather messy.
We used to have a small printer stand, but it was very ugly and Keith just built another one for us which will not only be more attractive, but also move his computer and mine to the right side of the room and be large enough to accommodate the new printer. It will also house the modem and router for our computers, and un-clutter the area under the TV screen. He built a matching stand for the TV and amplifiers, but I will show that in "phase 2". Our hopes are that everything on that wall will look neater and more organized, and the overall footprint will be a little smaller, in addition to the upgraded printer and sound.
Since we wanted to paint the new stands black, he used 3/4" to 1" thick plywood to build the new stand. It looks clean, compact and sturdy:
It will hold each of our computers on each side and the routers and modem in the center. The printer will easily fit on the top and I am thinking I will make some sort of cover to keep over it when not in use.
I decided to use DecoArt's Multi-Surface Satin paint to paint the shelving components:
I have to say that this is one of my all time favorite products for painting large furniture and pieces that will get a lot of use. This paint contains a sealer in it, so there is no need for a clear top coat. It can go on bare wood without a primer too. We used it for the tall speakers (the black part, of course) and after several months of daily use, the finish is as hard and beautiful as when we first painted it. I had used it on several smaller items in my house and I was so impressed with it because it doesn't chip, or show scrape marks or any wear at all. The "satin" finish is easy to dust and clean as well, and has a low lustre that is beautiful.
I spent the day applying the first coat on the stand, and it took me quite a long time to do. I used a 2.5" brush to do so because of all the corners and small angles that I had to cover. The paint cleaned up with water and dried fairly quickly, allowing me to move along at a good pace. While the piece looks "almost" good enough to use with just one coat, I am going to add another coat today. I want it to look really nice and even.
So far I used only one 8oz bottle for the entire stand. I think that is really good considering all the end grain of the wood that I needed to cover, as well as all the corners. I am thinking that this piece will finish up using well under two 8ox bottles, and I will have plenty left to start on the next piece and other projects. I will keep you all informed as I go along. But so far I am encouraged and excited about having this wall look good and function well for us.
Today I will be painting the second coat on this piece, and then I have some drawing to do. I want to work on some new designs for our next update next week. It is snowing hard and it appears that we have another six fresh inches of snow already. We are to have some bitterly cold temperatures for the next week or so. It will be good to spend the day inside doing these types of projects.
I hope you enjoy seeing our evolving work/living space. I hope it inspires you and gives you some ideas of how you can improve your own work space and productivity. I am always happier when working in a place that is clean and organized. So many of you marvel at how much work we get done here, and I can assure you that it is in large part because we keep things tidy and organized. We are better able to concentrate on our work and it makes for a very pleasant life.
I will post more as we get things done. Have a wonderful Friday!
-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"