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The Essentials for Your Home Office

Linda is a seasoned writer and bedrooms authority. She loves sharing design trends, decor ideas, and useful tips with her readers.

Using the dinner table as your desk leaves a bad taste in your mouth. Clear away the paperwork and use the the dining room as it was intended. It’s time to make a well-organized and thoughtfully furnished home office a reality. A home office can consist of anything from a corner of the bedroom to a professional space with all the bells and whistles.

Building the foundation for a fruitful work space starts with the essentials whether you’re furnishing a telecommuting office, artist studio, crafting station or bill paying center. Create an attractive home office in a quiet location with good furniture, proper lighting and smart storage.

Having a functional home office is imperative. When setting up an office space consider your particular needs, budget and personal taste. It should enhance your efficiency and productivity as well as reflect a pleasing design that blends with the rest of your home decor.

Pick the Perfect Location

If you work at home you probably spend a majority of hours at your desk, so don't try cutting corners on space and furniture pieces. Avoid interruptions and daily distractions by locating your office in a calm, quiet area, especially if you have clients stopping by.

While you may not have a dedicated room for an office, you can claim a portion of another room such as the basement, guest bedroom or a loft space. You can even set up an office in your garage or a backyard storage shed provided it has adequate insulation, ventilation, heating and cooling. Once you've determined your home office location you can get down to furnishing and accessorizing the space.

Short on space? Set up a home office in your bedroom.

Short on space? Set up a home office in your bedroom.

Design a Color Scheme

If you're color challenged or just pressed for time make a trip to your local home improvement center and head straight for the paint department for color inspiration. Not only do they have racks and racks of paint chips to tempt you, most paint manufacturers include in-store and online images of interior color schemes to get your creative juices flowing.

Paint chips definitely help make color selections much easier. Start with one of your favorite colors and use lighter and darker values of the same color for a monochromatic look. Or you can pair it with complementary or contrasting hues.

This no hassle color planning is a huge time saver and gives you options you may never have considered. Just remember most colors look more intense on your wall than on the paint chip. Play it safe by going a shade lighter to avoid overpowering your home office.

Choose a soft pastel palette for a feminine home office.

Choose a soft pastel palette for a feminine home office.

Choose the Right Work Surface

Balancing your computer on your lap is completely unacceptable. One of the single most important furniture pieces for your home office is the desk. You could go out and purchase a fancy one for your space, but before you do consider some of these money-saving options.

Recycle a desk from another room or pick up a deal at a garage sale or thrift store. If you can’t find a desk you like why not repurpose a table? A simple parsons table is a perfectly good substitute for a desk. Instead get creative and purchase a flat panel door and mount it on file cabinets to provide extra storage.

In a multipurpose or confined space install a fold-down, wall mounted desk. Simply clear off the surface and flip it up into a wall cabinet when not in use. Some models even feature storage cubbies for mail and files, adjustable shelves and space for a bulletin or white board.

A a desk with a solid surface and plenty of space makes for a functional office.

A a desk with a solid surface and plenty of space makes for a functional office.

Find a Comfortable Chair

Searching for the perfect desk chair will go a long way in improving your productivity and health. The first inclination may be to skimp on the budget and use a chair you have around the house like a dining or upholstered accent chair. While it may look stylish chances are it won’t be good for your back or legs.

If you sit at your desk for long stretches of time, pamper yourself by purchasing the best quality office chair you can afford. Look for models that provide good lumbar and leg support, adjustable armrests and a backrest that encourages good posture.

An ergonomic desk chair will make the work day much more comfortable and productive.

An ergonomic desk chair will make the work day much more comfortable and productive.

Consider Resale Furnishings

Furnishing a home office typically takes a big bite out of your budget. You can keep expenditures to a minimum by checking out preowned or reconditioned office furniture sources. Purchase storage pieces and secondary seating as your budget allows.

Don’t worry about exact matches in color and finishes. As long as a bookcase, filing cabinet and credenza have similar lines and styling you can create a coordinated look for your office. If the pieces are too mismatched you can paint the furniture and reupholster worn chair seats. Always choose furniture in good condition and made from quality materials.

Don't overlook used furniture to save $$ in your home office.

Don't overlook used furniture to save $$ in your home office.

Source Previously Owned Office Furniture

Where to LookWhat You'll Find

Used Office Furniture Store

Usually a large selection but you will pay a bit more.

Company liquidations

A company that has closed an office will often sell its furniture to the public.

Thrift stores

Sometimes you can find fun vintage furniture pieces.

Garage or yard sales

Check listings of sales in your area to look for specific items you need.

Estate sales

Excellent source for quality office furniture.

craigslist and classifieds

Lots of office furniture. Check often because good deals go fast.

Shop for Good Lighting

Don’t rely on that bare ceiling bulb or a single table lamp across the room to properly light up your home office. Performing close work is hard enough on your eye. Why make things worse by working in low light. Consider wall-mounted task lighting if office or desk space is at a premium. Recessed or track lighting can provide plenty of general illumination. A combination of adequate task and ambient lighting will prevent eyestrain and allow you to adjust light levels throughout the day and evening.

Multiple light sources prevent eye strain.

Multiple light sources prevent eye strain.

Create Unique Office Storage

The final piece to the office essentials puzzle includes sufficient storage. Filing cabinets are key items but there are other options available to keep clutter at bay and create a stylish, organized and functional space.

Setting up a small home office often comes with a struggle for extra storage. Shelves, cabinets or baskets can be affixed to your walls for additional storage that won't eat into valuable square footage. They are ideal spots to store office supplies, files and reading material.

A converted clothes closet in your spare bedroom office can be used as hidden storage by adding shelves for supplies and a place to house your work supplies. Install several tiers of sturdy shelving across the entire width to store the items you don’t use every day. If you’re lucky enough to have an electrical outlet in the closet think about relocating your router, wireless printer and fax machine to the closet as well.

A closet is a great place to house home office equipment and supplies.

A closet is a great place to house home office equipment and supplies.

Add Personal Accessories and Art

Use your imagination and choose decorative objects that speak to you. Travel souvenirs, your vintage camera collection or a grandma’s silver tea service adds a touch of individuality to your office. It also makes your office feel more like an extension of your home rather than a boring, utilitarian space. Avoid too much clutter--edit your treasures and showcase a few in a special grouping.

Art helps to personalize a space. Whether it’s your own photography, paintings or a few vintage reproduction posters, artwork adds excitement, color and interest to bare wall surfaces. Don’t forget to add a message board to serve a dual purpose. You can post important work-related notes, reminders, special photos or random pieces of ephemera that bring back fond memories.

Inject your individuality into your home office with personal accessories.

Inject your individuality into your home office with personal accessories.

Quick Tips for the Perfect Office

1. Choose furniture essentials that will hold up to daily use and will last. In other words, choose the best quality you can afford whether it’s new or used—you’ll save money in the long run.

2. Use furnishings that create a work environment you’ll enjoy—a home office that reflects your personality and inspires you.

3. Create a comfortable environment with lighting that fixes common issues such as inadequate light, distracting contrasts and annoying glare.

4. Combine hidden and open storage elements to minimize clutter while keeping everything you need close at hand.

5. Regardless of size or location, your home office should offer the perfect mix of comfort, efficiency and good looks.

Check Out This Office Redesign

© 2012 Linda Chechar

Start a Conversation!

Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on June 28, 2015:

Lady_E, this was a fun Hub to write. I think it's good to add helpful hints wherever possible. Some people don't know all the options for finding good deals on office furniture. Thanks for the comment!

Elena from London, UK on June 28, 2015:

Very useful Tips. Thanks for the extra info on where to look.

Brilliant hub

Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on September 30, 2012:

Hey Sid, that's a great idea! Cover up that not-so-wonderful paint color with personalized "wallpaper". Love it! :)

Sid Kemp from Boca Raton, Florida (near Miami and Palm Beach) on September 30, 2012:

Thanks - I did a good job setting up my home office 6 years ago, using a lot of these tips. Unfortunately, I didn't take the time to paint the walls, which are a color I really don't like (pale sh*t brown, to be exact). I think it's time for an office facelift. No time to paint, but I'm thinking of postering the walls with all the thank-you cards I've received.

Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on September 23, 2012:

Om, you can't beat Ikea for budget-minded furniture of any type. They are particularly good for those of us who are space challenged. Since we don't have one here, I totally spaced them out. Thanks for mentioning this great resource for office furnishings! :)

Om Paramapoonya on September 23, 2012:

Very nice advice! My home office is very small, so I like your idea of creating extra storage space using wall baskets and shelves. I got most of my office furniture from Ikea, which didn't cost too much because they were all on sale. My desk, I believe, was only $25 and it's very cute and sturdy.

Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on September 22, 2012:

Tillsontitan -- Looking at new office furniture, I see these rickety desk chairs that you know will only hold up for a few months -- I've purchased several over the years and have always been disappointed. Buying used just seems to make more sense. So glad you liked this Hub. Thanks for the votes and comment! :)

Mary Craig from New York on September 22, 2012:

When my kids all got married I got a small bedroom for an office (its also a guest room so its cozy) but having the space is wonderful. You've made some very good points...used office furniture is often available and so reasonable. Sometimes its cheaper (and better) to buy a used chair than to buy one of the newer ones that may not hold up as well. This is a great hub full of great ideas!

Voted up, useful, and interesting.

Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on September 21, 2012:

Leah, it's amazing what you can stumble on. A few years back my husband bought an Aeron office chair for a song when a local business closed their office and liquidated the furnishings. Thanks for reading! :)

Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on September 21, 2012:

Samnashy, making a pleasing home office environment is important if it is the primary place of work. An office redo is a good thing to add to his "honey-do" list! Thanks for stopping by!

Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on September 21, 2012:

Teaches, right now I'm working at the dining room table! Not terribly inspirational. We'll be moving @ the end of the year and one of the main things on my wish list is a designated office space! If you've got the basics of a home office, it shouldn't take much to make a change to the décor. Have fun!

Leah Lefler from Western New York on September 21, 2012:

Buying secondhand office furniture is a really good idea to save some cash when you need to outfit a new business! Great hub, lindacee!

Sam Graham from Australia on September 20, 2012:

Great ideas. My husband works from home, I may suggest he take on a little project ;)))

Dianna Mendez on September 20, 2012:

I may have to redo my office now after reading through your wonderful suggestions. Love your photo posts too. We spend so much time iin our offices as writers, it is beneficial to make them a place to really enjoy. Thanks for sharing.

Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on September 20, 2012:

I agree, mvillecat. Isn't that office just the dreamiest? Thanks for you vote, pin, share and tweet. Greatly appreciated!

Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on September 20, 2012:

Carol, there's a beautiful home office waiting to be born! Thanks for the read, votes and share!

Catherine Dean from Milledgeville, Georgia on September 20, 2012:

I will take an office just like the one in the video please!!! I love, love, love the office. I voted up, pinned, facebooked, and tweeted.

carol stanley from Arizona on September 20, 2012:

Lots of good ideas here. I have a large table that I decoupaged. I also have a bed for company. And much too much stuff all over the place. I know I need to get some old shelves to get stuff off the floor...and paint the walls a favorite color. Anyway. I voted Up and share

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