How To Sneak a Home Office into ANY Room

published Sep 2, 2015
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(Image credit: Kim Lucian)

Do you dream of a dedicated space to work from home, write that novel, pay the bills or the dozens of other ways that people with gorgeous home offices feel inspired to do thanks to their amazing work-centric space? ANYONE can find room for a home office in their home (even people in tiny studios). All you really need are these eight elements arranged in a way that fits your space’s size and your lifestyle.

Why you should care:

Why put any time or effort into carving out a home office in the first place? Because nothing makes you feel more controlled in your life like having all the important information you need to accomplish life tasks and goals in a place that’s easily accessible. And nothing makes you more motivated to actually work on those life tasks and goals than a spot that well, motivates (and looks good).

(Image credit: Arthur Garcia-Clemente)

The first thing to remember:

The key is to carve out the size space you can afford in your size home, and you can do that by knowing how much time you might be spending in your home office. If you work from home, you’ll want to dedicate more room than someone who only wants a spot to get taxes and bills done.

For those who want a home office that motivates:

Take the elements below and arrange them to fit in the area you’re designating for your home office, whether that’s a whole room or the corner of a big living rooms, guest room, kitchen, bedroom or other room. Then use the elements below with bold design details that set your home office area apart from the rest of your space.

(Image credit: Adrienne Breaux)

For those who want a spot that gets the job done but doesn’t call attention:

For those who want a home office area that’s more or less invisible when you’re not working in it, choose furniture that matches or complements the rest of the space, choose furniture that can be closed off (doors or baskets on shelves) to hide “home office-y” looking items and use furniture that can pull double duty — like an office chair that also doubles as a side chair for the living room seating arrangement.

For those who truly don’t even have one square inch that can just be a home office:

Don’t despair if you want an organized working area but truly don’t have even the smallest area you can designate full-time to a home office: Those in truly small homes can either make a current furniture piece do double duty or create a mobile home office command center that can be pulled out when working needs to happen, using a dining table or kitchen bar as the clean surface (read below) and keeping everything else in an office tote.

And for those lucky folks who already have a whole room that they’ve dedicated for a home office:

For those who already have a whole room that they’ve made into a dedicated home office, use the list below as a guide to decluttering what you might already have in your office space.

(Image credit: Cathy Pyle)

Don’t forget the kiddos

Kids these days are practically office workers with how much homework they have. So use the ideas in this post to help design a workspace for them, too!

So here it is below, the only eight things you REALLY need to make a spot a home office:

A clean surface with room for two key tasks

A solid surface free of distraction and stuff is the first thing you need in a home office, whether you have a dedicated room, a table in a corner, a clean shelf in a wall unit or just use your dining table from time to time. You want to make sure you’ve got room to stick your laptop (or computer, typewriter or sewing machine) on it, but make sure you have room for writing on a piece of paper, too.

Easy access to writing utensils of your choice

Don’t drive yourself nuts next time you need to jot down a shopping list or write a thank you note. Keep a compact collection of your favorite writing utensils close at hand, and continuously declutter to keep out defective pens and pens you don’t just love. Life’s too short to use pen tips you hate. Hide them away in a drawer or use a cute container to make them look stylish.

A small mix of common small office supplies you might need

Keep your kitchen junk drawer free and clear (of office supplies, anyway) by keeping a small handful of common small office supplies like rubber bands, tape, paper clips and whatever you might need at hand. If you’ve got a desk and a drawer, use a drawer with dividers in it to corral all these items. If you don’t have a drawer, use a stylish box or basket with dividers and a top to keep these organized (and how of sight).

A chair you can sit in for long periods of time

You know you and what your sitting (or even standing!) needs are, so make sure you have a comfortable chair you can use as a desk chair, even if your home office area is a small spot you bring a chair to from another part of the house. And if you’d rather stand, put some energy into creating a standing desk home office area.

(Image credit: Chris Stout-Hazard)

A little visual motivation

It doesn’t have to be much — maybe you love inspiring quotes so have a small piece of cork hanging on the wall that you pin up a few things you jot down or tear out of a magazine. But you can also just have a funny phrase framed that is a part of your regular decor that you can see from your home office. Maybe you leave yourself cute and motivating Post-It notes on your laptop. The fact is that one of the parts of carving out a home office for yourself is carving out the mental space to get to work while in your home full of distractions. A little visual reminder that it’s go-time can help.

An ability to mentally “put away” your home office

And in the same vein, you need a way to physically “leave” your home office, too. We want a greater balance between work and life. We want creating a small home office to be a positive thing that helps you get more work done faster so you can get back to enjoying the rest of your home (not something that looms like a shadow over the rest of your personal space, making it feel like even when you leave work you’re still working).

So if you have a dedicated room, close that door. If you’ve got a corner home office (even if you’ve made some sort of visual distinction that sets it apart from the rest of your room), still have a way to shut a drawer, leave a clean desktop and tuck that chair under. Have a “work’s over” ritual, even if that means just putting your supplies tote away in a closet so you can’t see it anymore.

Small paperwork storage

Unless you truly have an entire room dedicated to your home office, you might have all of your life paperwork in some closet or storage container. And that area might not be anywhere near your new carved out, hard working home office space. You can keep it that way, just also keep a smaller, more mobile storage container of the most recent/most used paperwork to have on hand while you work so you don’t have to make a ton of trips to dig out the important docs from your larger storage.

Task lighting

Yep! You need to be able to see what you’re doing, especially if you’re working on things offline. Check out Maxwell’s suggestions for the best desk and task lamps → Stylish & Illuminating: The Best Task and Desk Lamps.

What would you add?