For many of us, this year has created a vital need for a home office space. Do you need an environment to hold teleconferences or to run your own business? What about a space for kids to focus on schoolwork or hunker down for distance learning? If so, transforming a dedicated area of your home into a comfortable work center may now be a top priority.
Home offices are a must-have for many buyers, too, as they look for flexible space in their first (or next) home. And it must be said… boring home offices are out. Today’s trends get creative with in-home work areas and explore everything from décor that inspires to organization that helps you focus.
If you’re looking for home office inspiration, or you’re staging a home for an upcoming sale, these insights will spark productivity and help you create the perfect home office setup for any space.
Transforming a spare room into a home office
Whether the kids have flown the coop and you finally get to reimagine a spare bedroom into the home office of your dreams, or you need to create an office space in a still bustling, over-crowded house, it is possible to have a workable and inspiring home office setup.
Consider your home office needs
Everyone's needs are a bit different, so the best way to begin a home office transformation is to assess key elements of your house. Below is a list of existing home features that you can optimize for your office space. Keep in mind, the importance of these elements may vary from one person to the next. For example, someone who interfaces with clients throughout the day may require natural light or a confidential, sound-proofed room, whereas a software programmer may simply want an area with a strong internet connection.
Natural light: Working with lowlights can be unmotivating and damaging to your eyesight. Be sure to prioritize natural light sources as you choose the right space.
Noise or soundproofing: Do you live in the flight path of a major airport or have loud toddlers whose morning screeches can be heard a mile away? Test out different rooms to determine which are the quietest.
WiFi signal strength: When there's no IT department to call, you are in charge of your own Wi-Fi destiny. Don't set up a home office until you’ve tested the area for a stable and strong internet connection and determine if there is a need for an extender or booster to improve the signal.
Kitchen access: If you’re considering a location with limited access to the kitchen or moving throughout the home might be disruptive to others, make a plan. Consider keeping a basket of snacks nearby or installing a mini-fridge.
Bedroom office ideas
Sleep experts warn against using your bedroom for an office space, but it's possible to establish healthy work habits in the room where you sleep. Adhere to a morning routine, which could look something like this:
- Change out of your pajamas.
- Make your bed.
- Leave your bedroom for at least half an hour.
- Make a cup of coffee or tea.
- Take a walk around the block to get yourself into the right work mood.
Then, return to your bedroom with a new mindset: from the hours of 9 to 5, the bedroom is a work space and not domestic territory.
Consider also that you will not want to see work-related items as you head to bed at night. Start by investing in new storage containers or clear out a space in your drawers or closet to stash away your laptop and files. When the workday concludes, set aside all work resources so you don't have to see them until the morning.
And while it might go without saying, be sure to set up a small table and chair or desk within your bedroom. No working from bed, ever.
Living room office ideas
If you need to work in a high-traffic environment like your living room, set ground rules right away. During work hours, establish that the TV is off-limits. If you have kids, reinforce that there can be no rough-housing or socializing in that area during work or school hours. (Of course, you’ll need to establish the right place for chatter. The kitchen is usually your best bet.)
Plus, be sure to:
- Identify the quietest corner to place a desk.
- Add proper lighting.
- Hang pictures or other decorations to make the space your own.
Dining room office ideas
If you don't use your dining room for daily meals, it may be the perfect space for a home office setup. In fact, you may be able to fit two or three work spaces into a larger dining area. Whether each adult takes one side of the table or you remove the table in favor of individual desks, be sure to cordon off each area so there's no confusion about where one workspace ends and the next one begins.
Need the dining room table cleared off for dinner each night? No problem. Choose one of these solutions:
- Set up a cubby storage system in the corner for computers, tablets, books and supplies.
- Have each family member bring their work or school supplies into their bedroom at the conclusion of each day.
More rooms for home offices (closet, basement, kitchen, attic)
Of course, your home may be set up differently than the ones we’ve detailed so far. Perhaps the best place for you to work is in a low-traffic corner of a large kitchen, a renovated attic with a great view, a basement that offers the most privacy or a large but relatively empty walk-in closet.
Even if you think you know every nook and cranny of your home, take a walk around and see if there are any areas that could transform into an office setup. Who knows? You may find that the unused nook at the top of the stairwell is actually a more private place to work than a larger, main-level space in your open concept home.
20 affordable home office ideas to spark brilliance
Organize your cords
Still don't have a fully wireless set-up? Minimize your cord chaos by purchasing a cord organizer for each desk in the house. A clutter-free environment may foster a more efficient work day.
If remote work or distance learning is creating excessive screen time, adding a cord organizer or cord clips to the kitchen or front hall entry can help to enforce screen-free habits. Simply check that all the phones are plugged into this space when it’s mealtime or family time.
Upgrade your chair
Even if you're establishing a short-term work space, it's important to invest in a chair that can be modified for proper ergonomic height. And while you're at it, why not add a little more life to the space? Choosing a fun color, cool design or a swivel chair can deliver the perfect modern vibe to any work area.
Built-in UV sterilization
Talk about a cool solution to many of our home office problems! For one product that offers ergonomic support, storage and even a self-cleaning component, look no further than this Flexispot monitor stand. With its built-in UV light that cleans your keyboard overnight, you'll no longer have to worry about the effects of germs or bacteria that can build up over time.
Bike or walk as you work
You've heard of the standing desk, but what about a biking desk? Or a treadmill desk? To offset the number of hours spent sitting at work, consider buying an under-the-desk pedal cycle or treadmill loop. Who knows? Maybe getting your blood pumping before that big meeting will put you in the right mindset to crush your sales goals.
Get a full desk setup with monitor, keyboard and mouse
While we're on the topic of ergonomics, be sure to invest (or ask for your company to invest) in a full desk setup so you aren’t typing and huddling over a laptop for eight hours a day.
To complete your at-home office, purchase a large-screen monitor with an adjustable stand to keep your neck in proper alignment. Upgrade your keyboard and mouse, too. That way you aren't relying on the smaller-scale, built-in versions from your laptop, which can cause pain to your hands and wrists.
Get smart about hydration
In order to remain productive and focused, set yourself up for hydration success. Whether you purchase an extra-large water bottle with timed markers on the side, an at-home water cooler or a fun carbonated water system, be sure that you’re taking in adequate fluid throughout the day.
Pick up a phone or tablet stand
Are working parents and distance learners in your house fighting over a short supply of laptops? Consider buying a phone or tablet stand to transform your mobile device into a backup option when needed. (Nothing says unprofessional like someone holding their iPhone unsteadily during that 3 p.m. Zoom meeting.)
Visualize your way to increased productivity
Need to boost productivity? Ditch the phone timer and try out a visual option like these hourglass timers, which come in 10, 20 and 30-minute increments. Challenge yourself to not check your email (or Instagram) until your timer is up. P.S. These also work great for younger kiddos who need to stay quiet until your conference call is over.
Add a subtle whiteboard alternative
Need a whiteboard, but hate the look of them? Consider one that has the appearance of frosted glass, instead. Wipe the surface down at the end of the day and it’ll fade into the background. This Ubrand offering has great reviews on Amazon.
Build a Kraft paper dispenser
A Kraft paper dispenser is another fashionable alternative to a whiteboard. And it’s the perfect solution for those of us who can’t move away from hand-written to-do lists. Pre-made options are available for purchase, or you can follow this easy tutorial to make your own.
Maximize a small space with shelving and wall storage
If you're making do with a small office nook, position shelves and extra storage above your desk. This setup provides an added bonus for parents; your files and paperwork will be out of reach from little hands. It is also a great way to add individual workstations to a shared room.
Add a fold-down desk to nearly any room
The Murphy bed gets a bad rap, and perhaps deservedly so. A fold-down desk, on the other hand, may be perfect for a kids’ room that needs to double as a classroom for distance learning. Adult versions exist too, if you need to add a floating desk option to a room that’s tight on space.
Delineate your office space with a rug
When you plop a new desk in a corner, it’s easy for it to feel out of place. Make your work area look more intentional by adding a small rug underneath your desk or work table. If you’re unsure of how to assess the proper rug size or style, check out our guide to rug-buying.
Pick your audio vibe
Working alone for the first time in years? Buy a speaker for your office and plan some productivity playlists that help you make it through each day. As the sole home office DJ, you can play Joan Jett and Johann Sebastian Bach back-to-back… and no one can stop you.
Of course, if your home is crowded with distance learners and fellow work-from-home comrades, you may have to keep your musical choices to yourself. In that case, it would be wise to invest in a pair of high-quality, noise cancelling headphones.
Create a magnetic visual display
Decorate your kids’ desk area with an easy-to-assemble gallery wall thanks to GoodHangups, a magnetic display system that was featured on Shark Tank. With so many kids learning at home this year, you may need to find unique ways to make their artwork feel special or to reward good grades on quizzes or essays, and GoodHangups can help with that.
Alternatively, you could use magnets to display weekly schedules or other documents that tend to change often and need to be readily available. Whether it’s the login for a video call, the due dates of an at-home chemistry project or a reminder of when to pay soccer fees, you’ll be glad to have a visual, quick-change system that keeps you a little more organized.
Save space with side-by-side desks
Doubling up within one room? Consider a side-by-side desk to save space and maintain symmetry. If you have an extra-long wall, create your own dual setup with help from Ikea. Build a custom option by selecting an extra-long tabletop, the legs of your choice — and then delineate the two spaces with chairs or cabinets.
Create a mobile printer station
Printers can be large, and they tend to end up on the floors of home offices. If several family members are sharing a printer this year, buy a mobile printer cart and place the printer in a communal area during the workday or schoolday. Print out basic troubleshooting instructions so you can (hopefully) avoid being called on to replace the ink cartridge. At the end of the work week, roll the cart into a closet and enjoy the weekend without things about work.
Foster good energy through bold color
Getting a little tired of the white-on-white minimalist design trend of the last few years? You’re not alone. Experts are predicting that bold color will be making a comeback in coming years.
Lead the charge by creating a colorful office space that energizes you the moment you walk in each morning. Consider painting your desk a bright shade of red or pink, or add peel-and-stick wallpaper for an instant but temporary boost.
Buy an easy-to-stow storage solution
Even if you pride yourself on a mostly paperless work life, your at-home office will require a bit of storage. A rolling cabinet can be the perfect catch-all for paperwork you can't throw away or extra office supplies.
At the end of the day, you can roll the cart underneath your desk — making it the perfect storage solution for a pop-up micro-office in the corner of a bedroom.
Need a more inspiring home office?
Whether you're a frequent work-from-home warrior or simply need an in-home office for check-ins and internet surfing, this type of dedicated space is in high demand. Homeowners and homebuyers alike are prioritizing residential office space as they redesign their homes and reconsider their long-term housing needs.
If your home feels a bit too small now, reach out to Edina Realty or your agent today. We can help you reach your goals and find the perfect home for your needs — today and in the long-term.