Featured Image Caption: Brown Wooden Table in Home Office
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If you are short on space at home and can’t have a separate home office, you can incorporate an office into an existing room with some clever interior design and strategic use of furniture.
It doesn’t need to be an eyesore, either. With careful planning, you can create an environment that is as stylish as it is efficient.
Tax Note: A multifunctional home office usually will not qualify in its entirety for the self-employed home office deduction on your income taxes. This is because a qualifying home office must be used exclusively for business purposes. But you can count any square footage in the room—such a corner, desk, or closet—which does meet this criterion.
Step 1. Choose the Most Suitable Room
It isn’t always obvious which room you should convert. Generally, choose the room that offers the best combination of privacy and usable space. Privacy lets you generate more noise and helps you control confidential information. Available space lets you add additional furniture and equipment to round out your office.
If you have a den, this is a great choice. Otherwise, go with a bedroom if you can. If this is not feasible, your best bet is to pick a quiet room like the dining room or front room.
Step 2. Start with a Clean Slate
You can take this opportunity to replace the carpet or switch it out for a hard floor. Carpet, as well as polymer surfaces like linoleum, will deteriorate over time under the wheels of your office chair. A wood or tile floor will be much more durable and is easier to roll on.
This is also an opportunity to conduct any other repairs or renovations to the walls and ceiling.
Step 3. Redesign & Optimize All Storage
With space at a premium you need to think vertically and use your wall space:
Floor-to-ceiling shelving, hutches, and tall bookcases are particularly useful and attractive.
You can get extra storage by using organizer drawers on casters that you can tuck out of sight under your desk or in a corner when not in use.
Some furniture can do double duty, such as a tall chest of drawers or a china hutch, with some drawers or cabinets holding office equipment while others hold clothes or dishes.
Step 4. Choose Your Desk Wisely
The desk you choose will have a big impact on how your room looks and functions.
A large, wide desk is the most functional and gives you the most flexibility, but takes up the most space and cannot be hidden. If you need a large work surface, this is the best choice.
A tiny desk can be fitted very inconspicuously into a room, or even in a closet. If you don’t need to do much at your desk other than computer work, then a tiny desk might do the trick.
A secretary desk, which is a hybrid between a desk and a cabinet, will add a lot of storage space while still beautifying the office’s appearance when not in use. When it comes to secretaries we often think of the old-fashioned roll tops, but modern secretaries come in all styles.
If you’re converting a dining room or a den with a table, use the table and skip the desk.
Step 5. Do More with Clever Hardware
Classy architectural hardware looks good and empowers you to do more with your space. Here are a few ideas.
Movement control hinges or folding brackets let you extend your desk or other work surfaces with wings, then fold them back up or down when you’re finished.
Recessed pulls and push latches avoid the need for handles and knobs, which can visually clutter a room or be a bumping hazard in tight spaces.
Cam locks on metal cabinets or glass display cases let you secure confidential information and materials.
Step 6. Hide Your Bed
If you are converting a bedroom or a den with a bed, consider replacing the bed with a sleeper couch or a murphy bed.
A couch is a pleasant addition to any home office. It looks good, and it can be remarkably effective to have a place to relax or lie down for a few minutes. It also provides seating for clients or visitors if you need it.
Murphy beds save even more space, and some designs come with a desk on the other side.
Step 7. Don’t Forget the Lighting and Backdrop
Don’t just rely on one overhead light. Use multiple lamps throughout the room to supplement your light and make the place bright.
This is especially important for video calls, where good lighting is critical to looking professional. Make sure you have a light directly in front of you so that your face is well-lit on calls.
For the backdrop, your best bets are bookcases, china cabinets, windows, and fireplaces. Avoid backdrops that show beds, kitchen spaces, clutter, TVs, or unlit areas.
By Andrew Lemieux
who is a creative writer, poet, and content strategist. He is passionate about literature, food, wine, travel, and sports. In his spare time he enjoys working on home projects and restoring the 1837 Greek Revival he and his wife own.
Member since December, 2023
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