Ana & Jim of Habit Goods

DeskTops - The Best of Readers' Desks

Names: Ana Davis and Jim Harbison
Location: Chicago (Ana); Evanston, IL (Jim)

Like their tote bag designs, fun meets function in the home offices of Ana Davis and Jim Harbison, founders of Habit Goods. Not only do their offices reflect their unique personal styles, but these are also productive spaces that allow Ana and Jim to work together virtually from their separate homes, while juggling busy careers, family lives, and other pursuits, such as Ana's art licensing business, Ana Davis Design.

From different cities, Ana and Jim make the most of technology to collaborate in the digital space and bring their individual strengths to a shared vision of bold, fresh designs on useful products for living (they're planning on home goods like cotton rugs, pillows and trays in the future).

Ana in Chicago:

What do you like best about your workspace? That I have one! But seriously, we had been planning the office for quite a while. We began converting a two-flat into a single family dwelling around three years ago. In the planning stage, we realized that we needed both a mudroom/closet near the back door and an office. In our tight space, we weren't sure if we could do both, but it worked out well. The best thing about our office is that it is adjacent to the kitchen. I remember thinking, "One day, we may have a child working or playing on the computer, and my husband or I could be preparing dinner." It's worked out that way already, and my son is only 2½! Also, the office's proximity to the kitchen is great for looking up recipes. My husband and I are often paying bills or working while the other is in the kitchen. We are right there together and are able to talk. It's great!

And we have a big desk. That's the bomb.

Any tips or advice about keeping your desk area and/or computer desktop uncluttered and a productive place to work? It is simply constant upkeep, like so many other things in life. You tidy up, then it gets messy, so you tidy up again. I am very guilty of leaving out visual reminders of little things I need to take care of, but I can only take so much before I organize and put everything away again.

Tech Resource List: iMac, iPad, old rotary phone, HP printer/scanner/fax

Furniture and Decorative Resource List: Desk drawers and desktop from Menards! We sprung for a Corian countertop. It looks very nice and is easy to clean. We didn't think about how cold it can get, though, and my arm is always resting on it when I work. The chair is a knock-off Eames Aluminum Management Chair in white leather (wish we could afford the real deal!).

Jim in Evanston:

What do you like best about your workspace? The best thing about my work space is really my iMac, which has a 27" screen. Looking at patterns or art on this machine is so satisfying because of the large size and bright resolution. I also love these $99 flat files from IKEA. They tuck under the desk and roll out when I need them.

Any tips or advice about keeping your desk area and/or computer desktop uncluttered and a productive place to work? One thing that's essential in a work space is that everything's accessible. This is difficult in a small space, so I use a combination of small storage and filing cabinets. This has to be a work space and an office (they're not the same thing) so I need filing cabinets for the paper glut and then smaller or open containers for the things I access the most. The other critical thing is that our kids are not allowed on this computer — they have their own — so that is key to keeping the space the way I want it.

If given the opportunity, what would you like to upgrade/replace/improve about where you work? Hardware, software, furnishings, lighting? The first thing I'd do is remove my work space from our utility room. It's unfortunate that the only place in our house for a work space is in the laundry room/pantry/HVAC room. When the washing machine, dryer, and heater are all cranking, it's impossible to stay focused. I have a noise-reducing set of headphones I use for these occasions! The other thing I'd change is the wall material. It's a stucco wall, making it hard to hang shelves or pictures.

Tech Resource List: Computer: Apple 27" iMac (worth its weight in gold); Printer: Epson PhotoSmart

Furniture and Decorative Resource List:

    • Desk: IKEA
    • Chair: Vintage via Praha, Chicago
    • Slimline Frames: Michaels
    • Green Basket and Magazine Files: The Container Store
    • Orange Box: CB2

Thanks, Ana and Jim!

(Words: Judy Bruce; Images: Heather Blaha)

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