7 Things to Consider When Creating a Home Office
If you’ve ever been on Pinterest looking for home office ideas you’ve seen the fantastic spaces users have created from closets, nooks and odd spaces around their homes. What you might not see is the regret many users have for not thinking through their design better. Before converting room in your home to an office, consider these seven things.
Pick the Best Space for Your Needs
Obviously, no home has enough closet or storage space, so if you’re going to clean out a closet to create a home office, make sure you prioritize your choice. But don’t limit yourself. Get creative, but understand what your needs are and prioritize them. What’s more important? Office space or storage?
“Both,” said Debra Cohen, founder and CEO of Home Remedies. “I started a contractor referral business from my basement that pre-screens and refers local painters, plumbers, carpenters, etc. Once my business started to turn a profit, I hired a few contractors from my network to convert our front porch into a home office. I hated being in the dark basement surrounded by my children’s toys, video games, and so on without a separate space for work. Now, I’m above ground and I love having windows and a set of doors to close off to the rest of the house. We left the exterior stone of the house as one wall and had to get creative building a desk nook in the corner but we maximized the space and I absolutely love it!”
You don’t have to limit your space to just a closet or corner. Don’t be afraid to convert a space other than a closet or area to an office.
What Kind of Space and How Much of It Do You Need?
If you’re a home crafter or artist, you might consider a closet as a place to store your working life rather than try to work in the space directly. Perhaps having rolling bins, tables and other things you can pull out and open up in a bedroom, guest room or kitchen might be a better option than trying to work out of the closet itself. A garage, basement, desk in your bedroom, or the kitchen table might be a better option. Max Robinson and his wife run a business in the UK, working entirely from their garage.
“We did originally intend to get an office in the city, but the costs were going to be too high and we liked the idea of working from home. It took us about a week to convert the garage into a home office, and although it is fairly basic it is still much more spacious than any of the offices we looked at in the city.”
Will the Installation Need to Be Built-In or Removable, Permanent or Temporary?
Web designer Howard Spaeth is a 25-year-old entrepreneur who still lives at home and has run his business out of his childhood bedroom for the past two years. “I’ve set up my bedroom so it’s both office and living space. I decided I wanted to save my money and buy a home rather than rent office space, so I make it work,” he said. He didn’t have to install anything. He just moved in desks and furniture to make his business function. Think about office space for the short-term as well as the long term. It doesn’t have to be permanent.
Will You Need Security or Privacy?
Many stay-at-home parents like having a space they can not only call their own, but one they can lock up. Not having to put everything away, but simply having a door you can close and lock makes the idea of a home office in a closet much more appealing. Even converting an armoire, entertainment center or other large piece of furniture to an office has the luxury of security and privacy.
What Items Can Be Stored Elsewhere in the House?
While it’s great to have everything you need right at hand, sometimes items like books, files, equipment and supplies just won’t fit into a tiny closet. Consider using items that can do double duty, like a filing cabinet disguised as a footstool, chest or bench.
This keeps your home from looking like an office and more like a home and frees up space in your closet.
Lighting and Electrical Outlet Access
Some closets have built-in lighting and electrical outlets, others don’t. Stringing extension cords from an outlet in the house to the office might be a temporary fix, but it shouldn’t be a permanent one. Hire an electrician to install a couple of outlets in the closet. Make sure they’re GFI units (Ground Fault Interrupter) in case you spill coffee or water.
According to Home Depot, “The National Electrical Code (NEC) requires GFCI outlets in all wet or damp locations such as kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms, basements, garages, and workshops.”
Who Will Be Using the Space?
You may be the only person using the space, or you may want to share it with your spouse or other family members. Before building the office sit down and talk about what each of you needs in regards to height, chair, filing space, drawers and shelf space. Ensure order by making sure both (all) people using the space have their own area inside the closet that is theirs and theirs alone. Set some boundaries about organizing, cleaning up, filing and/or putting away items when you’re finished so others can use the space without messing up someone else’s work.
Spend some time thinking about how you can best utilize not only the closet, nook or corner, but how you can incorporate the rest of the room or portions of the house to turn them into a bonus room that makes your family and business life more efficient.