In September 2019, the Bureau Of Labor Statistics reported that 29 percent of Americans worked from home. Since the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic that number has increased substantially. As if this situation isn’t difficult enough for everyone personally and economically, working from home has its own challenges, especially if there isn’t a dedicated home office space. This is particularly true in New York City, where most of the population lives in smaller apartments.
Since most of the nation is likely working from home for the next couple of months, it’s essential to establish a dedicated home office space whether it’s located within a larger room, a closet or even a nook with a tiny footprint. Here’s are the best ways to convert any space into a home office.
Setting Up A Home Office In The Bedroom Or Guest Room
While it isn’t ideal to work and sleep in the same room, the advantage of having an office in your bedroom is that unless you live in a loft or studio apartment, every home has a bedroom with a door that closes. Interior designer Alexis Rogers of Home With Alexis suggests most bedrooms can accommodate a workspace with one of three configurations.
“If you have a closet that can be sacrificed, you can remove the doors of the closet and convert the closet space into an office nook,” she says. “Even if it’s a shallow closet, having the desk in that nook creates a purposeful workspace while also giving it a separate feel from the rest of the bedroom.”
If you’re only going to be working from home temporarily, this might be a smart idea because you can put clothing into storage and then re-attach the doors when you return to your regular office. Not sure where to store the doors? Try under the bed.
Another option Rodgers recommends is swapping out an end table for a desk, if you have room to do so. “This will work out better if you can keep your desk tidy, or if you just need a dedicated place to sit and work on your laptop that’s away from the noise and activities of the rest of the house,” she explains.
A third choice is either adding a desk to the existing bedroom furniture configuration or switching out a dresser for a desk. “If your closet has extra drawers and shelves and you can edit the contents of your dresser into those drawers and shelves, or if your closet has room for the dresser itself and you’d prefer to keep your desk in a main area of the bedroom, use the dresser’s former location for your desk,” she says.
Then bring in desk accessories. “Add a stylish chair, lamp, and beautiful piece of art above the desk. Create a little work sanctuary, and when it’s not in use, it still looks beautiful.”
Turn A Living Room Into A Working Room
The next most obvious choice for a workspace is the living room. Under the best circumstances, to turn your living room into a home office, consider purchasing a desk and then creating a small work corner. Then consider using a room divider. This can be particularly helpful if you have children because it sets a physical boundary. They also make excellent backgrounds for Zoom calls.
But if there isn’t a space for that, Sara Ianniciello, who is the director of design at Whitehall Interiors has some strategies for working on the sofa, if you must. “Make sure to keep proper ergonomic heights with the placement of your laptop, especially if you are working on a couch and coffee table,” she says. “This can be done with items that you already have in your home, like setting your laptop on a thick book or box to avoid neck strain.”
In most homes, miscellaneous objects tend to find their way into living rooms. Clutter can really hinder productivity, so Ianniciello suggests decluttering as often as possible. “This is something easy that you can do in any room of the house that makes a big difference. A clean workspace will help you stay organized and focus better,” she says.
Then bring in decor intentionally. “Candles, plants, picture frames, and art are great accessories to have at or near your workspace, even in the living room. Consider adding things like this or a table or task lamp during working hours and reverting back to normal when you are done for the day. This will help put you in work mode,” says Ianniciello.
Cook Up Productivity By Turning A Kitchen Into A Home Office
Yuna Megre of Megre Interiors suggests starting by de-cluttering your entire kitchen. “Clean out your kitchen cabinets, organize them and move anything you can from surfaces into the closets,” she says. “This is vital not only providing you with extra space, but in decluttering your thoughts. If there is a lack of space in your kitchen, grab a box, and put anything you don’t use on a daily basis and move the boxes to another room.”
Then strategize the best way to use the space you have. “Don’t forget your vertical surfaces—your walls, windows, cabinets, and fridge. These can all be spaces for Post-Its, notes, drawing, and putting up documents you need in front of you when you work,” she says.
But then the question is where to establish your workspace in the kitchen. The best-case scenario is having an eat-in kitchen without an attached family room, explains Raf Howery, CEO of Kukun. Kukun is a recently launched app that allows users to estimate and compare costs of home remodeling, which is something many people will likely be doing once the pandemic ends. “If you have an eat-in kitchen and you don’t have an attached family room,” he says, “Use your kitchen table, moving it so that it backs to a wall. You can move it back for meals. Avoid frying during that time.”
It’s always possible to use the kitchen island as a desk. However, Kukun cautions this setup can be uncomfortable for your back.
If that is the only choice in terms of set-up, Alexis Sheinman of Pembrooke and Ives proposes a few ways to work around this. “Whether at a bar-height counter, dining table or kitchen island, clear the surface off and match the table height with the most comfortable work chair you can find. If you have a wood or metal chair, bring a cushion [or pillow] along,” she says.
Accessories are also key to establishing the space. Consider buying a desk lamp. “Light can make or break the ambiance and brightness and is key to productivity. If your kitchen doesn’t get enough natural light, bring a table or floor lamp. Then, adjust the light level throughout the day according to the weather and time of day,” Sheinman says.
From there, you can accessorize to improve the aesthetic. “Make it pretty – a small vase with flowers, a pretty table cloth, mason jars with pencils and pens, etc can make your workspace super fun,” shares Megre.
Convert A Playroom Into A Home Office
Remember when you thought it would be great to turn that extra room or basement into a playroom for the kids? Are you now regretting that decision? Turning the space into your office might be a great lesson in sharing for them. Luckily, this doesn’t require major construction and is simple enough to DIY using The Container Store’s entirely customizable Elfa Closet System.
The Home Edit’s collaboration with The Container Store on a homework station is a versatile workspace setup that can be used as a home office now and then for homework likely in the fall. It’s worth noting that this set up can work in any room that has a free wall.
First, measure the wall and then install an Easy Hang, which is available in a range of finishes. From there, choose a shelf to function as the desktop. Then build up with shelves and choose organizers depending on your needs. Utilizing the wall is essential if you don’t have a large footprint to work with.
Products like the Elfa Utility Board can help keep accessories neat and the desk clutter-free. Color coordinate everything in true Home Edit style for a whimsical look that both kids and adults can appreciate.