Work-From-Home (WFH) offices have many benefits. They are great for productivity, efficiency, privacy, and separation of work-life from home-life. However, creating an effective work-from-space can be very challenging for several reasons:
- Not having a well-defined, separate space
- Not having a sizeable budget for new office furnishings and equipment
- Not having audio or visual privacy
- Not having sufficient storage for work items and documentation
If you’re looking to make your work-from-home office more functional and comfortable without breaking the bank, here are several creative tips to help solve your dilemma.
Table of Contents
- Invest in a Desk
- Select a Good Chair
- Use What You Have
- Go Vertical
- Use Wall Space Instead of Floor Space
- Be a Smart Bargain Shopper
- Don’t Forget About Key Virtual Features
- Closing Comments
Invest in a Desk
When working from home, your office space can be as simple or complex as you want it to be. If you already have a desk, but it’s not adequately meeting your needs, consider investing in one that is better fit for:
- Your Work Space
- Your Body Type & Size
- Your Work Style
A good rule of thumb when choosing an office desk is to make sure it’s large enough so there’s ample space between the edges of your desk (where all of your stuff goes) and where your keyboard sits.
When considering desk height, keep in mind that many standing desks are adjustable. This feature is inherently more valuable to users, and hence, will cost more on average. However, built in flexibility will make a given desk adaptable with many changing needs and circumstances over time, such as:
- Growing Children
- Changing Primary Users
- Pairing With Different Chairs
- Moving to Different Rooms
- Needing to Change to a Standing Desk
When shopping for a desk, especially with online retailers, be sure to check and confirm the following options:
- Current deals, promos and clearance items
- Shipping & delivery options and associated costs, delivery schedules, and how to qualify for free shipping, and options for white glove delivery for heavy items
- Details of return policies, in case your new desk proves to not suit your space, physique, or desktop behavior well
- Add-on options, and if the desk belongs to a furniture set for expansion in the future
- Ease-of-assembly and requisite tools
- Dimensions of both the desk and the location in which it will reside
- Buy Now Pay Later installment payment programs, such as Affirm
- Rental options, if you are cashed strapped or just need a short-term room conversion
If you anticipate that your work-from-home situation will change in coming years (e.g. transitioning from a full-time student to a full-time work-from-home professional), we highly recommend considering spending more for a desk solution that has transformable design features. Again, features that can enable your desk to adjust in its size, layout and functionality will extend the usefulness of your desk, providing a better return-on-investment.
Select a Good Chair
If you’re spending a lot of time at your desk, it is imperative to have a quality chair well-suited for your body. The right kind of chair can help you stay focused, productive, and healthy, while an uncomfortable one can make you distracted and less productive.
To choose the right chair for you, find out what type of workstation you’ll have (e.g. standing, sitting, height, etc.) and how much time per day, week and month that the station will be used. Then think about any previous experiences you’ve had with chairs (both good and bad). Once your preferences are assessed, then find stores with the best selection of your model type. From there, consider as many options before making your final decision!
You may also want to invest in an ergonomic chair, if one isn’t already part of your current furniture setup. This invaluable type of chair help reduce back pain over time by supporting good posture as you sit at a computer for extended periods of time.
Use What You Have
If you lack either space or funds, one of the best ways to save money is to use what you already have, creatively. There’s a good chance that you may already have several items throughout your home that can be repurposed for use in a “reinvigorated” WFH office.
Helpful in this process is to reassess your current furnishings through the eyes of an “office worker”, which can help identify items that are better suited for a workplace than, say your living room. In turn, this exercise can help identify other items that warrant upgrading and budget allocation (i.e. cost-savings from an office refresh can be used towards the refresh of your living room).
Understandably most people focus on making their office look nice on the inside, however, some homeowners may not realize that they could set up an office near an external door or prominent window with an inspiring view.
For example, online advice for improving one’s “working-from-home productivity” has included literally walking outside the main door of one’s house and entering a secondary door as a mental and physical signal that your workday has commenced. In this situation, exterior décor could further underscore this important mindset.
One of the most obvious ways to make a small space feel bigger is by using vertical storage. You can do this by building custom shelves or cabinets, or you can simply add inexpensive shelving and use it to store files and other office supplies.
Vertical storage is also a great way to display items that would otherwise be hidden away in boxes, such as photos, mementos of past projects & achievements, and other inspirational items.
Another way to take advantage of vertical space is by making use of your ceiling area. When there’s little to no room on the walls surrounding your desk for additional shelving units due to windows or doors – try looking up to the ceiling for ideas, instead!
This could include hanging a light fixture above your desk, so that the work area doesn’t feel crowded with large desk lamps. Attaching hooks to the ceiling can also provide creative ways to make your office both more interesting and functional.
Leveraging one’s ceiling is also a vital method for creating defined spaces in open space floor plans. For example, decorative tapestries, acoustic panels, and even room dividers can be hung from the ceiling to provide both visual and audio privacy.
Use Wall Space Instead of Floor Space
Wall space may be a bit more difficult to use than floor space, but it’s also less expensive. Wall space can be used to store your equipment or even function as a desk! You also won’t have to worry about cords getting tangled in your workspace. If you need to clean up – simply wipe down the walls!
If your home office is restricted by a small area, consider picking up a whiteboard and using it for virtual brainstorming sessions with clients or colleagues. It’s easy on the eyes and cheaper than buying or renting an expensive projector for meetings (plus you’ll get bonus points for being environmentally friendly). The same goes for using chalkboards. They’re just as effective at drawing people in, with an added level of charm, too.
Be a Smart Bargain Shopper
Given that the vast majority of shoppers never have “unlimited” budgets for whatever they may need, it is important to always be on the lookout for deep-discounted bargains, including items that are given away for free.
Sometimes you may not realize that you have a need for something, until you see it listed for free.
Here are tactics we consistently follow throughout the year that allow us to discover unique, quality items not just for our home office needs, but for all parts of our home, inside and out!
- Local Listings on Nextdoor
- Local Listing on Craigslist
- Local Garage/Yard Sales
- Local Business Closings
- Outlet Retail Stores
- Neighborhood Bulk Pickup Items
- Clearance Items at Retail Stores
- Bargain Shopping with an Eye for Upcycling
In terms of finding free or low-cost, quality items locally, we prefer Nextdoor for several reasons:
- Members are registered with their real names and the name of their neighborhood
- The listings have a good mix of relevant items that are consistently being refreshed<
- Many household items are listed as free, especially at the end of the month when people are moving and just want the items gone
- The platform shows the distance of a lister’s address from your home, making it easy to determine if the trek is worth it
- Nextdoor also often has construction or project related supplies that can be used to test new projects, such as upcycling or updating your landscape, (e.g. paint, sprays, landscaping rocks, gravel, wood, tile, tools, lightbulbs, party supplies, etc.)
To date, our experience using Nextdoor for buying or picking up free items has been very positive. Neighbors who list items tend to be very polite and thoughtful. For example, if you are not the first person responding for an item, the lister will typically let you know if the first person backs out of the deal. Scheduling is really easy as well (during temperate weather), as most “sellers” place the given items outside of their home for your convenient pickup.
Walking your neighborhood the day prior to bulk pickup day, is another way to discover prospective upcycling projects, especially from neighbors that may be planning to move or sell their home.
Two example retail stores to keep in mind for bargain furnishings and household items, are CORT Furniture Outlets and Habitat for Humanity ReStores. CORT has many “like new” used furnishing items that are of high quality with light usage. Both stores can be great sources for hard-to-find items and supplies, as well.
Don’t Forget About Key Virtual Features
Use Free Online Storage Tools
If you’re just starting, consider using free online tools like Google Docs and Dropbox to store your files and sync them across all of your devices. These services make it easy to share files with others, as well.
Use Video & Image Converters
If you have videos that are taking up too much space on your laptop or PC, convert them into a smaller format with a video converter like MOV or AVI. You can also use these tools to convert photos into JPEGs or GIFs. They’ll take up less space in your email inbox when you send them as attachments.
Create a Striking Background for Your Zoom Calls
A visually unique wallpaper mural placed strategically behind your desk, can make your Zoom call background the envy of your colleagues. Photowall has a wide range of decorative wall coverings to suite any design style or theme.
Professional Training Courses for Remote Workers
We hope you have found these ideas useful, as we understand that it can be challenging to find the right balance between cost-savings and quality when it comes to upgrading your home office workspace. If you’re looking for more advanced ways to transform your home to accommodate a home office, check out our posts on Transformable Design and Hidden Doors!
More Work from Home Related Articles
- How to Furnish Your Home Responsibly with “Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL)”
- 6 Creative Reasons to Rent Furniture Even If You’ve Always Owned
- How to Resolve Soundproofing Issues in Your Shared-Wall Home
- 8 Décor Ideas to Make Your Home More Comfortable & Relaxing
- How to Apply Transformable Interior Design to Your Home
- Hidden Doors: A Secret Example of Transformable Design
- 3D Printing for Interior Design Today and in the Future
- Enjoy Working Remotely? Here’s How to Choose to Live Wherever You Want
- Work-From-Home Resources
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