Build It on a Budget: Home Office Essentials from $20 to $299

published Jun 8, 2017
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(Image credit: Kim Lucian)

I often end up on the sofa in a nest of throw pillows and blankets when I work from home. While comfortable, this arrangement doesn’t really provide focus to the tasks at hand. It’s why experts recommend carving out a nook where you can have an established space to buckle down and work. You don’t need much to get started, just a desk, a lamp and a chair. I built a few home office setups using secondhand and vintage finds from Marketplace. Borrow a dining table chair, buy a used desk and repurpose an old lamp if you need to—but get that work space you need on a budget.


(Image credit: Apartment Therapy Marketplace)

Desks are a personal preference. Some folks want built-in storage and other a clean and streamlined desktop. When buying a desk, keep in mind the space around it. You want your desk to look and feel clutter-free so you can work peacefully. An authentic Dixie campaigner ($150) needs a little refurbishing work but is a deal nonetheless. Old school desks like this wooden teacher version ($30) are large and in charge. Keep it simple with a custom made modern choice ($299) that uses a cubby for storage.

Task Lamps

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy Marketplace)

Proper lighting is crucial when you’re working. If you have a large task ahead, adequate lighting will keep your eyes from getting tired, causing you to lose concentration. If you’re looking for a trendy option, this CB2 arc lamp ($65) is copper-plated and minimalistic in design. Prefer something retro, then this classic mid-century metal desk lamp ($65) in avocado green is a winner. When you’re using your desk space to work on various tasks, a lamp that adjusts heights can be extremely useful. Something like this vintage style turquoise desk lamp ($55) is pretty and functional.


(Image credit: Apartment Therapy Marketplace)

Comfort is key when choosing a desk chair. Whether you opt for a cushioned seat or a hard molded one, try before you buy. Make sure your back is supported and your feet rest completely on the floor with your knees directly over your ankles. Choose your pick of colors with a mid-century inspired upholstered chair ($179) that combines comfort with a solid form. If you’re mobile, a vintage Steelcase chair ($20) will have you moving about with ease. You’ll feel like you’re in study hall again with a vintage school desk chair ($48) in a hard plastic.