Whether you work from home or just manage bills and other household finances, setting up a dedicated workstation is a great way to stay organized. Resist the temptation to use a corner of the kitchen table as your office area. Unless you’re extremely diligent about putting things away, clutter can build up quickly.
Perhaps you’re fortunate enough to have a spare room that can be used as a workspace. If you don’t have this luxury, don’t despair. Whatever your budget or the square footage of your home, this guide can help you create a dedicated home office area that’s not only functional, but stylish and inviting too.
Home Office Essentials No Matter Your Budget
◦ Flat surface such as a desk or table
◦ Comfortable chair
◦ Office supplies such as a stapler, label maker, pens, scissors, paper clips, envelopes, stamps and notepaper
◦ Drawer or storage box for storing supplies
◦ File drawer, file box or stand-alone filing cabinet
◦ Hanging folders with labels
◦ One inbox
◦ Magazine file boxes — recommended for storing paper collected when managing a large project. Typically, brochures and other paperwork from large projects won’t fit in a hanging file.
Setting up a home office doesn’t have to be costly. If your budget is limited, consider repurposing a small table or desk from another part of your home or buying one used. Thrift stores or charity stores sell inexpensive furniture. Consignment stores are often more costly.
If you don’t have space or budget for a small file cabinet, I recommend using an inexpensive plastic file box, a fabric-covered file box, a basket designed for hanging files or a bankers box. Consider storing only active files in your office. Remove files that aren’t current, such as old tax returns or old bills and financial statements. Consider shredding anything not necessary. Store necessary documents that are no longer active in a bankers box at the top of a closet or another out-of-the-way place.
If you don’t have an extra room, set up a dedicated workstation away from the household hangout area. Choose a place where your supplies won’t be disturbed — perhaps a bedroom, an infrequently used dining room or a corner of the living room.
Another option is repurposing a closet as a home office. The easiest approach is to remove the closet’s doors and add a freestanding desk or table, a file cabinet and shelving. You might also consider installing bifold doors that you can close so your belongings can be housed out of sight.
You might want to install wall-mounted shelves to create a small and functional desk.
If you’re coming up short in terms of where to put your dedicated home office, tour your house to see if there are any wide hallways, nooks or crannies that might fit a small desk and some shelves.
Do keep in mind that you’ll need a power source for your electronics and you may need to install lighting. Hiring an electrician will add to the overall cost.
Many furniture stores sell office furniture in a variety of price range. Steer clear of low-cost new office furniture if possible, the drawers often do not pull out smoothly and pieces can break in a few years.
If you’re not in a rush and like to shop, consignment stores can be a good source for high-quality used office furniture.
Stock cabinets might be an alternative to freestanding furniture if the available sizes fit your space.
In some homes it’s possible to remove the wall under the stairs to create a small space for a home office. Do not attempt if this will affect your home’s structural integrity. Check to see if permits are required in your area and proceed only if you’re working with an experienced professional. Remember to factor in the cost of hiring an electrician to install an electrical outlet and lighting.
Custom cabinets designed to fit the exact dimensions of your room create storage customized to your specific needs. You’ll be able to choose from many attractive design and finish options that are perfectly suited to your space. These types of cabinets are generally quite expensive.
Not all custom cabinetry is created equal, research the options and reading reviews carefully. A product might look great when new but may not hold up over time. Some manufacturers use inexpensive hardware, which means the drawers won’t roll smoothly. That said, there are many reliable companies and craftspeople who provide high-quality products that will stand the test of time.
Custom cabinetry can provide you with many features, including larger file cabinets.
For those who don’t like visual clutter, built-ins can be designed to hide office equipment such as printers and shredders.
Home offices can double as guest rooms. If the room is small and you would prefer not to have a bed crowding your workspace, you might opt to install a fold-down bed as part of your custom cabinetry build.
High-end freestanding office furniture is also available in the luxury price range. Contact a designer or furniture maker to find appropriate pieces to fit your style and needs.
Take measurements carefully before purchasing or acquiring any new office furniture. Be sure to measure the space and also get the measurements on the furniture itself to make sure it will fit.
It is important to establish a dedicated personal office space in your home. This space should be off-limits to other household members. Some of my clients do not work outside the home and spend their time parenting young children. Many are frazzled by the clutter in their homes but never thought about making space for themselves. Managing household business on the kitchen table littered with toys and cracker crumbs can be stressful. Everyone deserves their own personal space, even if it’s only a small cubby.