I’ve been living in a renovation for the last two years, during which almost every room in our house has been overhauled. My husband Austin and I have been able to live through this, because A) we have amazing family members who have selflessly lent us their time and talents and B) because we work from home.
While our home renovation ambitions have absolutely benefitted from our flexible work schedules, I can’t say that our renovation has necessarily helped Austin or I get work done. Not surprisingly, It can be distracting to sit down and attempt to get anything done when the doorways are covered in plastic or you have no idea where the documents you need are piled. Since moving in, I can list five different spots I’ve considered my “office” and I’m about to move my work zone yet again.
When we moved into our house, a second dining room right off the kitchen was great for Austin’s office. He’s a photographer and in and out with heavy gear, so a first-floor space made the most sense. The space I chose was a small bedroom connected to our master bedroom. A larger spare room, instead, would be the guest room. So, we got to work renovating Austin’s office downstairs and my office upstairs.
Except...a week after we finished my office, we found out we were expecting our first child. No sweat, right? Since my “office” was ideal for a nursery, I started to transition my things into the guest room. There wasn’t room for a desk, though, with the couch and bed we already had in there. Okay, no big deal. I turned the closet of the guest room into an office hub of sorts, tried to organize all my things into a shoe cabinet, and decided to work from the couch.
This solution seemed workable on paper, but wasn’t practical in real life, because of course the guest room wasn’t just the guest room—it was our dumping ground for renovation madness. If we were working on the bathroom across the hall, tile saws, vanity cabinets and approximately one million hand tools covered the floor. I made it work until the baby came and then it was just too much to keep organized while staying productive.
Offices # 3, 4, & 5 (Seriously):
From there, I've worked at a makeshift desk between our family room built-ins, the dining room table while storing items in the buffet, the living room with storage from a credenza, and now back up in the guest room. We redid it this summer to make it more conducive to work; it now has a circular kitchen table between two little dressers deep enough for storing files and office supplies. Of course, now our daughter is about to move into this room.
PHEW. Still with me?
All those moves later, I’ve become a pro at making any space into a hardworking office—well, maybe with the exception of the bathroom. Whether you work from home or not, an organized and functional place to get things done is key. I’ve found that it’s less about a designated room than it is about getting resourceful with the ways any room, or even part of one, can be turned into an office.
How to uncover Your Home Office Potential
Decide if you need a desk surface (if you use a desktop computer or do a lot of handwriting) or if work can be done from a couch or chair with the help of a tray.
Scan your home for under-utilized space that could potentially become a functional work
zone, even an empty corner will do.
Look around for storage pieces you already own like a dresser, credenza, shelf, etc that can be emptied and repurposed for office space. Even a deep storage ottoman or open cart might work.
Consider replacing a large printer/scanner combo with the pocket versions that are more
portable and storable.
Sort through office supplies and consider giving away duplicates or items that don’t get used often.
Purchase or DIY small storage boxes, baskets and bins that feel more like home decor than
office supply solutions.
Invest in a file sorter with handles so it’s easy to pull out when needed.
Find a caddy to keep all of the essentials in one place so getting things out doesn’t feel like
a full process.
Organize drawers and cabinets with small containers to make keeping your non-traditional
office storage clutter-free. Place those containers on a tray to be pulled out when you’re working and simply put back when you’re done for easier clean up.
What are your tips for fitting a home office into a small space? Tell us in the comments below!
It's here: Our game-changing guide to everyone's favorite room in the house. Your Do-Anything Kitchen gathers the smartest ideas and savviest tricks—from our community, test kitchen, and cooks we love—to help transform your space into its best self.