Here’s a Smart, Budget-Friendly Way to Create a Space-Saving, Portable Home Office

published Jul 7, 2022
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image

Carving a dedicated home office out of a small space isn’t an easy task. When you’re low on square footage, a traditional 30- to 50-inch wide desk isn’t going to cut it, and without doors to close, you have to get creative to produce a sense of separation and privacy. If you’re still longing for a functional workspace — without sacrificing a ton of your floor space — then you’ll want to see the smart solution business coach Erinne Brown came up with in her 451-square-foot Chicago studio, which is pictured here.

Once she began working primarily from home, Brown knew she’d need a well-lit space for her calls — and that it was going to be a challenge finding a spot in her existing studio. “It was something I never needed pre-pandemic,” Brown says. “So I wanted to create some sense of separation from working and living, which is hard in such a tiny space.” Instead of investing in a space-hogging desk setup, Brown came up with a brilliant, low-cost alternative: She combined two clear, acrylic tray tables to create a makeshift desk that she can pull a rolling chair up to for a pop-up office.

As you can see above, one table holds her computer monitor, and the other is for her laptop. Each “desk” also offers a spot for her keyboard and mouse, office supplies, and even a coffee mug. In fact, this setup gives Brown all the benefits of a dedicated home office at a fraction of the price in a fraction of the space. Though she went a little more high-end with the CB2 tray tables she already owned, you could easily recreate this idea with far less expensive tray tables of your liking.

Brown was also strategic about where she decided to set up shop for her work. “I chose a corner that’s well-lit, but sometimes the light creates a halo effect behind me, even with the shades down,” Brown says. To solve that problem, she placed a rattan divider behind her chair, which helps to block out some of the light. The decorative screen also hides a portion of the wires from her electronics, which helps to visually streamline the space. “And I always get compliments on the screen divider from people on the other side of my zoom calls,” she says.

This pop-up home office hack is great if you live in a studio apartment or if you need to create a workspace on the fly. The best part of this kind of home office though? Each of the tables is collapsible and a chair on casters can be pushed aside, too, should you want these pieces out of sight when entertaining guests — if you just want to forget about work for a while. Either way, this smart and budget-friendly solution works, and you should definitely give it a try if you are in need of a workspace.