Finding Space for a Home Office

Finding Space for a Home Office
I’ve always had a typewriter or a computer around since I was in grade school. It was usually on a desk in the corner of my bedroom. However, when I landed my first major writing assignment, I realized I needed more than just a computer workstation. My “writing area” needed to expand into something more like an office, only I didn’t have an extra room. Not many people do. So how do you find space for a home office?

If you live in a small apartment, you may not have room for anything more than a simple computer workstation. If that’s the case, find one that has the maximum amount of storage space you can fit into your home. Find one with a tall hutch, utilizing your upward space if you don’t have room to build out. Or, you can always buy simple shelving and add your own customized area over your computer for books and supplies.

If not everything you need fits in your workstation, find another area of your home for storage of items you don’t need every day. Keep only the materials for your current project in your “office.” Other items can go in a closet, underbed storage, even in the back of a kitchen cabinet. If you have a small living space you are probably already good at maximizing storage areas. Put this to use for your office as well.

Consider using a notebook computer instead of a desktop to save space. Just make sure the computer you use has the features you will need for your job, or that it can be expanded to add features later.

If you have a house, consider using an existing room. If you are planning on working at home full time, it is important to have an area dedicated to that job. Many homes have small living rooms and larger family rooms. If one of those rooms is rarely used, consider it for your office. If it can be seen easily from the main areas of the house, purchase office furniture with plenty of drawers and cabinets so you can hide away your work when you don’t need it. Or purchase an attractive Japanese screen to separate your work area from the rest of the house.

If you have a separate dining room that you use only once or twice a year when the family comes over, you might as well use it as an office the rest of the time. The same goes for a guest room. Even if you actually have guests fairly regularly, consider whether you can convert the area back to a guest room when needed.

As strange as it may sound, a walk-in closet may work perfectly. When I was in college I lived in apartment that had a huge closet with shelves along one wall. It made a perfect office. It was a little cramped, but it was private, quiet, and I could keep it as messy as I wanted. Another student I knew had his office fixed up in a closet that opened with sliding doors. When he was working he opened the doors and went to work. When he was done, he simply closed the doors and away went the office.

Of course, the final and most expensive option is to convert a garage or attic into a separate room. If you have the money, it’s still cheaper than renting office space or buying a larger house. In my last house I converted a glass sunroom into a regular room. I simply walled up two sides and lined them with shelves. I kind of hated losing the room, but it made a perfect office, and I was willing to make the sacrifice in order to work at home.

These days there is such a large selection of office furniture out there, most of it with computer use in mind, you can find something for just about any size or shape of space. Use that to your advantage. With the right furniture and your imagination, you should be able to find an area that will work just fine.

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