As the trend of working from home continues to gain popularity and make headlines since the quarantine days, it might be time for you to look into making a home office for yourself. Home offices not only give you a professional look when you have guests over, they also promote focused and quality work as you shut yourself off from the rest of the house and can give all your attention to your work.
What’s even better than paying someone to make you a home office is that you do it yourself. A DIY home office might sound like a lot of work at first, but the costs you save and the freedom of personalization you get when designing it yourself can’t be beat. The feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment you’ll get afterwards makes working in your office all the more rewarding. Building or repurposing furniture yourself, shopping for the most efficient tools and electronics, and cutting out the cost of professional labor means you can build a DIY home office on a very acceptable budget that won’t leave your pockets feeling empty.
Planning Your Home Office
Identifying Your Needs
Before the execution of any great undertaking comes the planning stage, and planning will be essential to your DIY home office. The very first thing you’re going to have to do is to understand what exactly you need your home office for. Striving for a grandiose office might seem tempting, but that quickly starts eating into your budget. If you’re tight on cash, sticking to the essentials is the right way to go.
First, identify what you’ll be using your home office for most. Do you work on a singular computer, or do you have three different monitors strewn about for multitasking? Are you a writer that just needs their laptop, or a graphic designer that has reference images and multiple tools littering the desk? Does your job require you to work with physical paper and storage? Do you have clients visit you in person? All of these questions and more need concrete answers before you can start laying down the foundations of your office and deciding what furniture you will need.
Selecting the Best Space
Once you’ve identified what you need your office for, you’re ready to ask yourself where it should go. For many people, a closet is good enough if they live in an apartment in the city, while others might be able to dedicate a whole room of the house. Where your office goes depends on a number of factors. Firstly, you will obviously need a space that is big enough to accommodate all the furniture and equipment you need.
If it’s just you, a laptop, and maybe a printer, then a closet will do just fine. If you need space for physical storage, you’ll have to find a room big enough to accommodate shelving. And if you have clients visit you, you’ll need a room where you can at least set down a couch and a table for them. Lastly, the space you choose should be comfortable to work in. A window with a nice view of your yard or the city works great at keeping you feeling fresh, and being far away from noise of any kind will make sure you’re able to stay focused throughout.
Measuring the Space for Furniture
Naturally, once you’ve decided on where your office shall go, you’ll need to measure the dimensions of the room before you can go shopping for furniture and equipment. Your personal desk, a secondary desk if needed, shelving for the walls, couches for clients, and a coffee table to serve pastries on, all need to be accounted for while also leaving enough space to walk around. You will also have to prioritize what things get the most space in your office; don’t compromise on desk size if you have to work with multiple objects.
Tips for a Functional and Comfortable Office
The first most important aspect of your DIY home office should be functionality, the second should be comfort. Fortunately, keeping a few simple and helpful tips in mind, both of these should be more than achievable.
- Eliminate all distractions like noise and entertainment media and forbid people from coming into the office unless for something important.
- Get yourself a comfortable chair that has proper lumbar support so you can work long hours without feeling fatigued.
- Invest in proper lighting or make use of natural light – if adequate – so everything is always easily visible and readable.
- If you work with screens, reduce glare as much as possible to reduce strain on your eyes.
- Organize your storage so it is easily accessible when needed.
- Consider getting a desk that can alternate between normal mode and standing desk mode so you can work standing up when you feel tired of sitting.
- Keep the office at an optimal temperature so you can focus on work.
DIY Furniture for Your Home Office
Budget-Friendly Furniture Ideas
One place you could really cut costs when setting up your DIY home office is furniture. New furniture costs a lot, but with a few simple tricks and some trusty tools you can repurpose old furniture and make it look just as good at a fraction of the cost. For example, one thing you could do is take old furniture that is otherwise in okay condition, and give it a fresh coat of paint and then some polish. This alone is often enough to make furniture look like new.
Sometimes you might need to use sandpaper to smooth out some rough imperfections on wooden furniture before you start painting. Just a tip; two coats of paint work better than one, and apply the second coat after the first one is done drying. Oftentimes, old furniture only has part of it broken, and that part can be removed so the rest can be used instead. If your budget prevents you from buying a new chair, you might want to look into getting a support pillow for yourself that you can use with an old chair.
Making a desk is much easier than it looks, and though it might lack the fancy finishings of desks you can buy, it will be more than serviceable for basic office needs. Planks of wood are quite cheap, can be cut according to your size specifications, and it’s easy to nail some legs into to make a basic desk. Wooden pallets can be bought on the cheap and stacked and decorated to make coffee tables for your office. More often than not, replacing handles with new ones and a fresh coat of paint is all it takes to make an old piece of furniture look good again.
Instructions for DIY Furniture
Let’s look at some basic instructions for DIY office furniture, starting with the desk.
- Cut wood planks according to required dimensions. You can also cut it in multiple pieces that you will attach together later.
- Sand the cut wood with sandpaper.
- If you cut it into multiple pieces, glue these pieces together and hold them tightly squeezed with clamps.
- Paint the desktop you’ve just created.
- Cut remaining wood into four identical-length legs.
- Cut two planks of wood the same length as your desktop minus the widths of your desk’s legs.
- Attach the two planks on either side of your desk with screws.
- Attach the legs to these planks with screws as well.
Now let’s look at how to make simple shelving units for your home office. These are much simpler to make than desks.
- Choose shelf boards, or make your own by cutting wood planks according to your desired specifications.
- Buy some metal brackets, these will be used to mount your shelf boards on the walls.
- Hold your bracket up against the wall and mark the hole with a pencil.
- Do the same for the other side of the shelf. Use a measuring tape to stay within the shelf board’s length. You should also place the shelf board between both marks and check with a spirit level if the marks are in a straight line.
- Drill the marked points to the length required for the screws you’re using. Check for wiring and plumbing in the wall beforehand and lay some sheets or old newspapers on the ground to collect the debris that will fall during drilling.
- Hold the brackets in place on the holes and screw them in.
- Lay the shelf board on both the brackets and screw into it from the underside through the brackets to keep it in place.
Setting Up Office Equipment
Budget-Friendly Office Equipment
Of course, no office is complete without a good selection of equipment that helps you work to your fullest, but this equipment doesn’t have to empty your wallet. When it comes to your workstation for example, the newest MacBook might seem enticing, but a budget Windows or Linux laptop will suffice too. You also don’t need to spend too much on peripherals like a mouse and keyboard, as the advantages the more expensive ones offer have no benefit to casual office work.
A simple, ergonomic office chair will be cheaper than a recliner and will also be better for your back in the long run. And if you need a printer, a laser printer will be cheaper per page than an inkjet one and also won’t have ink cartridges backing up in case of extended periods of no use. Be sure to invest in a quality surge protector for your equipment so you don’t have to replace it all if something goes wrong with the grid. Finally, markers and sticky notes are quite affordable, and a whiteboard would be ideal if you often have clients you need to illustrate something.
Tips for Arranging Equipment
In an office space, all your equipment needs to be arranged so that it provides optimal productivity. Some ways you can accomplish this are:
- Keep most frequently-used equipment – printers and notepads for example – within reach. An L-shaped desk is very helpful for this.
- Get a desk with drawers so you can keep even more items close at hand.
- Categorize your storage so you always know where something is.
- Set up a charging station for all your electronics.
- Go digital as much as you can.
Decoration and Personalization
To make your office truly feel like your own, a little personal touch and decoration is expected. After all, you should really feel at home when working from your home office. If you’re an artwork kind of person, some frames art on the walls will make your office seem more personal to you and any visitors. Modern, abstract art goes well with minimalistic offices while digital lighting can help set the mood for work.
Alternatively, potted plants are soothing for many and can be kept in conjunction with the art mentioned above. They’ll also be another reason to make those DIY shelves. Lastly, there are few things you could do to personalize your office to perfection.
- Keep the theme of the furniture and equipment to one you personally find attractive enough to use in your home.
- Hang up photos of your family and friends.
- Set your desktop wallpaper and screensaver to something you find amusing or cool to look at.
- Fill the office with items in your favorite color.
- Put on some of your favorite tunes.
A DIY home office can be a budget-friendly workspace that boosts your productivity and quality of work all while you enjoy the comfort of being at home. Not only is making a home office yourself a rewarding endeavor, it can also save you a ton of money you can later use for making even more DIY furniture or buying yourself more and better office equipment. Couple this with the fact that guests will be wowed when you show them everything you built and designed yourself, it should be a no-brainer that this is a fun undertaking you should consider doing yourself.