By Lea Schneider
Working from home would be a great perk—if you only had somewhere to work.
That’s a common lament for a wide range of people. Everyone is trying to find space and few have a room they can devote to just work.
Creating great use of space is one of the really fun and challenging tasks of my role as professional organizer. It really is possible to carve out office space in a house or apartment that doesn’t a have a spare room.
To create a home office, you just need a bit of creativity, rearranging and some basics for work. Begin by deciding what physical elements you need for your particular job. Typically, that includes a work surface, seating, lighting and access to both electricity and internet. Most people will need some kind of storage for papers, office supplies or product samples, so be sure to consider that as well. Then, you can get to work setting up your space. Here are five techniques to try.
1. Paint Yourself into the Corner
Visual division is important in feeling like you have your own space for work. A great idea is to choose a terrific accent color that compliments the rest of your den or living room. Use that color for the office area so there is a clear separation. A vibrant color will help you feel energized while you are working and can complement the rest of the room.
2. Screen Off the World
Folding screens come in all kinds of materials and designs. Use a folding screen to create a “wall” between you and the rest of the room. Not only can you limit distractions from the TV or people walking around, but you can hide your work mess. Since you probably don’t want to pack up projects when you are off-duty or have company over, this is a great way to keep your desk area out of sight.
3. Float the Sofa
Rearranging the living room furniture to create a cubbyhole area for work is an easy and free solution. One of the best ways to grab some workspace is pulling your sofa out away from the wall. Allow enough room behind the couch for a desk and chair. Essentially, your desk will function like a sofa table. It will hold a lamp and sit behind the sofa. But unlike a sofa table, it will provide you with a work surface. Tuck work files or supplies in containers under the desk and the sofa will block them from view.
4. Divide and Conquer
A freestanding bookcase is a great way to divide a room into distinct zones. You can use a solid-backed bookcase that creates a virtual wall. Tuck your office in the area behind the bookcase. Glam up the back of the bookcase with a great accent color, paint or a roll of wallpaper. You can even hang a piece of art on the back.
If you’d like storage on both sides, you can choose two bookcases and place them back-to-back as a room divider. Use one side for work storage and the other side as your entertainment center, or fill it with books and decor as a focal point.
5. Hide Work Away
A great option for a very small room, or a person who only occasionally works from home, is a computer desk armoire. They typically have places for a monitor, a keyboard tray and a printer, plus shelves or drawers for storage.
You’ll probably always have work you need to do from home, so creating a solution that helps you be productive is worthwhile. As you plan how to squeeze out some office space from one of your rooms, be sure to incorporate some of these other tips in your plan:
- Don’t skimp on seating by dragging in a kitchen chair. Buy an adjustable, comfortable office chair. The hours you spend in it justify the expense.
- Protect your floor. Buy a mat designed for your flooring to protect chair wheels from damaging the floor. There are mats for both hardwood and rugs.
- Incorporate storage. If you want to use a table instead of a desk with drawers, plan to tuck two-drawer file cabinets under the desk. Or, add rolling carts that slide under the desk or stacks of decorative boxes.
- Make sure to add lighting. Dim rooms make you sleepy or cause you to squint and strain. You’ll be more productive if you add a desk lamp or floor lamp next to your desk.
- Make use of vertical wall space. It can be used to hold calendars, wall baskets for sorting papers or wipe-off boards of task lists.
You don’t need a whole room to design a great office. Keep these tips in mind as you create your workspace and you’ll be more productive and organized when working from home.
Working from her own home office as a professional organizer has given Lea Schneider a wealth of how-to experience on getting business done in the family home. Lea writes on home offices for The Home Depot. To review a large variety of paint colors that can help you carve out your own home office space, you can visit the Home Depot website.