When you were a kid, did you have an office? No! You did your homework either at the kitchen table or at a little desk in your room, maybe even on your lap in front of the TV. But now you are a grown up and you need a proper home office. Living in an apartment can mean that space is at a premium, but with some creativity you can find room to work.
The internet and design magazines are awash in funky, perfectly coordinated home offices, but are they practical? Before you even consider matching your bulletin board to your chair upholstery, think about whether or not your desk is near an outlet. Is there enough light or will the wi-fi signal reach you? A pretty office is nice, but focus on function to start.
The first thing you need to do to create a home office is determine the best location in your apartment. Basically, you need enough room for a desk, your computer, paper files, a lamp, books or other reference materials, a printer, and miscellaneous office supplies such as paper clips, pens, scissors, staplers, folders, envelopes, etc. If you are lucky, you may have a spare room which is the perfect choice. If you have a large bedroom, perhaps you can set up an office in part of the room. A corner of the living room is also a good option. Is there unused space in a hallway? Design magazines often show creative ideas such as an office in a closet, which is clever but may not be realistic in your apartment. If you are really pressed for space, you could put your office underneath a loft bed. It may be impossible, but ideally, position your desk somewhere close to natural light and away from too much distraction.
The type of desk you choose depends on your work. Do you need to spread out lots of papers? Do you need two computer screens? Do you have a primarily paperless office? Are you working full-time or is this just a spot for paying bills and checking email? These factors will determine what desk will work best for you. Aside from traditional desks, there are wall mounted desks that can fold down when not in use, and desks built specifically to fit into corners. Some people even use a bookshelf as a desk. A desk with some drawers helps keep desktop clutter in check. Don’t forget an appropriate desk chair. If you are at your desk most of the day, get a chair with good back support.
A filing cabinet isn’t the right answer for every office and it can take up a lot of room. Instead, a bookshelf can provide storage just as easily and even be more flexible. You can consolidate your office materials in one spot rather than spread out over your apartment or piled on top of your desk. This is especially important if you don’t have a desk with drawers. Reference materials, files, office supplies, and even your printer could go on a bookshelf. A small bookshelf can fit under your desk. Use matching or coordinating baskets or boxes to hold your supplies on the shelves.
Another great way to make your home office space efficient is to take advantage of the wall space around your desk. Put up a bulletin board and use it to post your calendar, ideas, to-do lists, inspirational quotes, photos, etc. If you don’t have a bookshelf put up wall shelves. You could also look for creative ways, like a peg board, to hang your office supplies on the wall. If you aren’t able to put your desk near natural light, at least put up a picture that makes you happy.
Once all of these basics are taken care of, you can move on to styling your home office. There is no shortage of ideas out there and everyone has their own style. The only rule is to make sure that this is a spot where you feel calm, happy and productive.