How to Create a “Home Office” When You Are Short on Space

Working from home is a growing trend. You have the freedom to work when you want, as much as you want. You can take the afternoon off to watch your son’s soccer game or attend your daughter’s dance recital.

Many people see this as the ideal situation and work hard to achieve the goal of having a home office. But what do you do when space is tight? How do you create a workable office if you don’t have an extra room?

What’s Your Budget?

First, decide what your budget will be for the project. A large budget might allow you to enclose your garage or finish out an attic or basement. A popular trend is using a small shed in your backyard that you convert into office space. But these ideas are costly and often not possible.

Smaller budgets require more creativity. This is especially true when you’re already cramped for square footage in your apartment or a small house.

The second step is deciding what you need in your office. What equipment will you need? A computer, a printer, a desk or table with workspace?

Once you know how much money you have to spend and what you’ll need in your home office, it’s time to make some decisions.

Finding the Space

  • Look around your home and get rid of things you haven’t used in over a year. This can clear up some extra space and raise some cash.
  • You may need one space to serve multiple purposes. Do you have a guest bedroom with a queen size bed? Get rid of the bed and buy a pull-out sofa or a futon. The room can act as your office except for the few times a year you have company.
  • Your house may have a formal dining room that you rarely use. Sell the big table and buy a desk.
  • A storage closet can be turned into workable office space by using some ingenuity. When you’re done working you can close the door and no one knows your desk is messy.
  • You may be able to create work space under a stairway.
  • Carving out a corner for your office in your bedroom or family room is often the only solution.

Using the Space Efficiently

Here are a few ideas for using your space efficiently:

  • Have storage containers to keep everything organized. This will keep your paperwork from overtaking the space.
  • Use online resources such as Dropbox to store your work so you don’t have such a paper monster. Buy books on your Kindle or Nook to reduce the need of bookshelves.
  • If you need a fax, try to get a printer with fax capabilities so you don’t need two machines taking up space.
  • Put a pegboard on the wall with small cans or baskets to store pens and paperclips.
  • A white marker board is good for capturing your brilliant ideas or helping you remember important deadlines.
  • Floating shelves can provide extra space by going tall instead of wide.
  • Folding a desktop down from the wall can provide extra work space when needed, but can be put up out of the way when you’re done. You can use piano hinges to secure it to the wall.
  • Modular units can be purchased in many configurations that will appear to be expensive built-ins.

Let everyone in the family know this is your work area and when you’re here you can’t be disturbed except for emergencies. Remember, in a small space organization is key. Keep everything in its place so you don’t have to spend your work time looking for things.