Every student, creative, and busy professional needs a home office. A nice place to work will help you be more productive. You don’t want to steal the kitchen table every night, so dedicate a corner of your home to getting things done.
Where do you get your work done? Do you type essays on the couch while your family watches loud shows? Do you struggle to find a clear countertop where you can fill out important papers?
VIDEO: Why working from home is good for business | The Way We Work, a TED series
When I first started working from home, my “office” was just a coffee table and a laptop. Since then, I’ve upgraded to a nice desk, a comfortable chair, and a desktop computer with room for all of my files. I’ve also invested in several decorations to make the space feel like it’s mine. When I get a bigger house, I’m definitely turning an entire room into the home office of my dreams.
A good office workspace is essential for your physical and mental health. A cramped workspace will result in back problems, carpal tunnel, and mental exhaustion. If you do any kind of work on the computer, your home office isn’t a luxury; it’s a necessity.
This tutorial will help you create a comfortable office where you can enjoy your daily work. Whether you’re completing online coursework or drafting your first novel, it’s important to have a productive space that’s entirely your own.
Starter Supplies: Your Home Office Shopping List
A home office is a truly personal space. This is where you’ll dream, create, stress, and achieve. Everyone has slightly different office needs, but use this shopping list to get started.
- Dedicated office space
- Internet access
- A desk
- A comfortable chair
- Storage solutions
- A laptop or a computer
- A keyboard and a mouse
- Tech for your profession
- Office supplies
- Decorative items
- A wastebasket and paper shredder
Have fun while you’re shopping. Choose colors and materials that you want to see every day. Find budget buys that will let you get more for your money, or get expensive items for the luxury office experience.
Read through this entire article before you go shopping. You’ll make better purchases if you have a good design in mind.
Creating Your Office Step by Step
Technically, you could just buy a desk, set your laptop on it, and get typing. But if you want a workspace that helps you focus, follow these steps to create the perfect office at home.
1. Choose Your Space
A home office can be anywhere that you want to work. You can redo your guest room, take over a counter in the kitchen, or set aside a space in your bedroom.
If you’re lucky enough to have an extra room, you should seriously consider dedicating it to your office. A quiet and private space will help you get more work done. An office room will also give you more decoration options.
That said, there’s nothing wrong with putting your office in the space that’s available. Most living rooms can be re-arranged to make room for a desk and a chair.
Choose a space that has:
- Enough room for a desk and a chair
- At least one electrical outlet
- Natural light to help you work
There’s a direct link between access to natural light and workplace performance. Your home office is a workplace, and the work that you do there matters. Treat yourself like your favorite employee and set your office up so that a window is within view.
Pro tip: You need at least 70 square feet to make a comfortable office. That’s the length of a desk with room to walk around it.
2. Select Comfortable Office Furniture
If you’ve got a desk and a chair, you’ve got an office. These two items are the most important things on your shopping list; they’ll define your office experience.
Start with a desk. You need a large, flat workspace with enough room for the tasks you intend to complete. Even if you only work on the computer, make sure there’s room to place an open book and a few papers next to your monitor.
You should also get a desk that’s at a good height for typing. This will prevent back pain and keep you from getting carpal tunnel.
Next, choose a comfortable chair. Pick something that will support your back for long hours. Padded seats, adjustable heights, and rocking capabilities will all lead to a better workday.
If your desk doesn’t have drawers, get a filing cabinet. You need somewhere to keep papers and supplies. Most home offices eventually need a filing cabinet, so pick one that you like.
Your last piece of office furniture should be a trash can. A small wastebasket will let you scrap old notes without standing up from your chair. Get one; your workspace will stay so much cleaner.
Pro tip: Blitz Results has a cool online calculator to find out how tall your desk and chair should be.
3. Set Up Your Computer
The modern office needs a computer. If you already own a laptop, you’re way ahead of the game. Desktop computers are another great choice; they have more storage, can run larger programs, and last for a long time.
Even if you’re using a laptop, you should still buy a keyboard and a mouse that stay on your desk. Excessive typing can damage your laptop keyboard, and using the touchpad mouse isn’t great for your wrist.
If you’re pulling a new computer out of the box, make sure you know how to set it up correctly. Update your operating system, connect to the internet, and install your favorite programs. Take time to make sure your preferences are how you like them; your work will go a lot more smoothly.
Check out this tutorial by Paul’s Hardware to learn how to set up a new computer:
Pro tip: Buy a laptop dock for your keyboard and monitors. You won’t have to fiddle with cords every time you return to your desk.
4. Choose Tech Items
What work will you do in your new office? There are all kinds of tech items that will help you accomplish your task. These items really vary from person to person, but your list might include:
- Extra monitor
- Office phone line
- Fax machine
- Drawing tablet
- Cell phone charging dock
- Coffee cup warmer
You will naturally add more tech as your home office grows. When you’re starting out, get a pair of headphones so you can avoid distractions, and seriously consider that extra monitor.
A printer is a home office classic. Everything has gone digital, but you still need hard copies of important documents. Even if you don’t buy one right away, get a printer as one of your office stretch goals. It’s a lot more convenient than driving to your nearest UPS store. You can also choose a print server to make your print jobs wireless
If you’re running a home business, set up an office phone number. You don’t want your cell phone ringing when you’re away from the desk. Some phone companies can forward calls to your cell phone during set hours. This is also a great excuse to buy a cute desktop phone.
Pro tip: If you have multiple devices, buy a power strip. You’ll have more outlets, and you won’t blow a fuse while you’re working.
5. Add Office Supplies
The office supply store can be an addictive place. You don’t need to fill up your desk right away, but start with a few office essentials.
- Filing folders
The bare minimum is a pen and a pad of paper. You can’t do everything digitally, and note-taking is a great way to organize your ideas. Upgrade your setup with sticky notes, scratch pads, large notebooks, and everything in between.
Paperclips and a stapler are important to keep documents together. Tape is useful for when you run out of sticky notes. A pair of scissors will come up more often than you expect.
Calendars and planners are great for staying organized, but they’re not necessary unless you make a lot of appointments. A good desk calendar is as much a decoration as it is a tool.
Treat yourself to office supplies in coordinating colors. There’s something very satisfying about owning a matching stapler, pen holder, and tape dispenser.
For the sake of your budget, don’t buy too many office supplies right away. Get the things you need when you need them, and buy enough to last you for the rest of the year.
Pro tip: Get a desktop organizer to keep your work surface clean.
6. Create a Filing System
Create a filing system. This quick step will save you so many headaches. Do it before you shove your very first paper into a desk drawer.
Even if your work is completely digital, you will still collect papers. You need to save receipts, school documents, contracts, and bills. If you don’t have somewhere to put them, your desk will get cluttered immediately.
A filing cabinet is always a good investment. You can also keep things organized in folders on your shelves. Try color-coding your folders to stay visually organized.
Decide whether you’re going to use an alphabetical, numerical, or subject-based filing system. Pick something easy that you know you’ll stick with.
Every time you’re done with a document, file it. You should also have a monthly “filing day” to put away any papers that are floating around.
Pro tip: If your folders get too full, you won’t use them. Switch to a new folder when the old one fills up.
7. Decorate Your Office
Office decoration is more important than you realize. Boring workspaces can lead to depression and exhaustion. Also, decorating your office is the best part of the entire process.
Start by hanging a piece of art on the wall. Your eyes need to take a break from the computer screen. Wall art gives you something to focus on for a mild eye exercise.
Paintings, drawings, and photos are all great choices. If you get a frame, you can make almost anything look like a “real” piece of art. Choose something sentimental, or shop for a piece that compliments your decor.
Next, think about adding some greenery. A few plants will keep the air fresh, and they’re also great for your mood. Choose plants that do well indoors and that you don’t have to water very often.
If you’ve chosen a desk and a chair that you like, use them to guide your decoration process. Choose a vintage, classic, rustic, or modern theme. Find area rugs, throw pillows, and desktop accessories that help make the place feel like home.
Don’t forget to buy a desk lamp. The extra light will help you work, and it will reduce the strain on your eyes. Task lights can be pointed directly at your keyboard. Ambient lights will give your office a gentle mood.
Start with a color palette and a theme, then slowly add decorations with time. Your home office is “complete” when you look at it and feel like getting right to work.
Pro tip: If your office is part of another room, use a large area rug to separate the two spaces. Pick a rug with low pile so that your chair can easily roll over it.
Working in Your New Office
Did you enjoy reading this tutorial? The goal is to help you build a home office with all of the items that you’ll need. You can always start small and develop your office over time.
The most important parts of a home office are the workspace, the furniture, and the computer. Almost everything else can be removed without compromising your workflow.
You can fit a home office into nearly any part of your home. Some people turn closets or under-the-stairs spaces into gorgeous office designs. Remember to leave yourself room to move around; you don’t want to feel cramped while you’re working.
Offices exist to get work done. If something feels uncomfortable, change it; it’s your office, after all. Rearranging the furniture every few seasons can help keep your office fresh and exciting. You can also try swapping out your wall art or getting a few new decorations.
What does your home office look like? Share a picture or tell us about it in the comments. If you thought this article was helpful, please share it on social media so that other people can read it, too.