10 Ways To Upgrade Your Home Office

Andrew DehanSeptember 09, 2020

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Working from home may not end any time soon. If you’re like many people, you’re spending a lot of time in your home office, connecting with your coworkers through the internet.

Whether you’re in a spare room or making do in the living room, follow these home office ideas to set yourself up for success.

1. Space

At the beginning of COVID-19, sitting at the dinner table may have worked. By now, most of us working from home might benefit from a more permanent home office.

Whether you have a small office, a corner in your bedroom or a section of the basement, you can create a space just for you. You don’t have to have big, bulky furniture. It doesn’t take much at all. A desk, a chair and a place for storage make up the basics of a home office.

Don’t be hesitant to carve out a portion of the living room or other open family space. You can always use a decorative partition to hide it when company comes.

If you have a bedroom or den that isn’t being used, the options are limitless. You can fully furnish and decorate to your heart’s desire.

The key is to ensure that this is your workspace, not a place for the kids to play or family to watch TV. You shouldn’t find cereal bowls on your desk. Make it clear that the space is for working only. You need to be able to focus on your work and keep others out of your area.

2. Tech

There are many tech solutions to common home office problems. Investing in monitors, internet extenders and upgrades to your internet service will streamline your home office workspace.

You want to make sure your internet setup can handle the extra use if you’re on video calls. Two monitors may help you get more work done. Consider what tech you may need to invest in to best suit your needs.

3. Comfort

It's hard to get work done if the chair you sit in hurts your back. When working at a desk, comfort affects your productivity. A lumbar-supporting, sturdy and adjustable office chair is a necessity.

If you prefer to be on your feet, which can help your posture and burn calories, a desk that converts to a standing desk is a worthwhile investment. A treadmill desk could work for you if you’re interested in getting your steps in. Just make sure it’s quiet and you have enough room for it.

4. Organization And Storage

Ask yourself this question: What are the most important tools I need at an arm’s length to be productive? For some it may be a printer, for others a pen and notepad. Place those things close to you so you don’t have to get up often to find them.

Make it a habit of putting items back where they belong. This helps you avoid forgetting where you put something and saves the frustration and time of looking for it. You can quickly get to it and keep working.

Keep your space neat. Use shelves and storage to keep everything organized. It’s always a good practice to clean up either when you leave the space or before you go to bed at night. Tidy up and make your to-do list so you can have a fresh start each day.

Looking for some storage furniture? Check out these storage benches and bookcases from Wayfair.

5. Custom-Built Cabinetry

If you have particular needs or a large collection to display, you may want custom-built cabinetry. A customized shelving system built by a local carpenter is more expensive than furniture from a warehouse, but it’s a timeless investment.

Sometimes store-bought pieces will not meet your needs. That’s when investing in something high-quality, made to your specifications is worth it.

6. Lighting

If you’re going to be spending your workday in this room, lighting is extra important. Lighting may not be considered often, but it has a huge impact on our moods. Natural lighting is best, but if your office is somewhere without a nearby window, like a basement, you should invest in proper lighting.

The right lighting can bolster your mood, as well as reduce eye strain. If you spend a large part of your day looking at a screen, eye strain is a real thing. A good desk lamp or floor lamp will help limit the stress on your eyes.

7. Sound

Another tip is to add some background music. Ever find yourself working at a coffee shop and rocking to the tunes? Find a playlist that re-creates that feeling and get in a zone. You can invest in speakers or a nice set of headphones.

If you find music or voices distracting, noise-canceling headphones or a comfortable set of ear plugs may be what you need. A white noise machine also helps drown out unwanted distractions.

8. Stress Reduction 

Certain design elements can help soothe your nerves in stressful and uncertain times. Aromatherapy, plants and artwork can all help you escape your worries and restore your mind. Even creating a small meditation corner away from the work can help you reset. By soothing your nerves, you can remain calm and stay productive.

9. The Image You Present

Have decor items around that speak to your personality. Quotes by people who inspire you, figurines that represent things you love, or pictures of friends and family make great office additions.

These things make you feel good and help the space truly become yours. Who wants to just look at a plain wall? If you have a window, freshen up the blinds or curtains.

Need ideas? Check out home office decor on Pinterest and draw from the looks you love.

10. Inspiration Just For You

One upside of working from home is having privacy in your workspace. Inspirational words, photographs and knickknacks can be displayed to increase your motivation, concentration, output and sense of fun. Just make sure that nothing potentially offensive is in the background of your webcam.

11. Go All Out: The Office Shed

If you need to separate your workspace from your home, consider investing in an office shed. Not only can a separate building on your property bring great value to you, it can also add value to your home.

Many prefabricated backyard buildings are available and are cheaper than having a space built on-site. If you have the backyard space and want a 30-foot commute to a nice getaway from the house, an office shed could be an option for you.

Home Office FAQs

Here are some frequently asked questions when it comes to developing your home office.

What Kind Of Lighting Helps With Seasonal Affective Disorder?

The lack of sunlight in the winter months can get to you, especially if you’re in the northern half of the country, where the daylight is shorter the closer you get to the winter solstice. This lack of sunlight can cause anything from cabin fever to seasonal affective disorder, or SAD.

Bright light therapy can help, and you should consider it a part of your office upgrade. By spending a few minutes beside a desktop sun lamp, you can brighten your mood.

What If I Don’t Have An Extra Room To Convert Into A Proper Office?

Many great office spaces can be created in the smallest areas. Find the best space in your home to suit your needs. You need light, electricity, airflow and some privacy. Use small partitions to block off part of a room. Run a fan for white noise and fresh air.

With shelving and bins, you can keep your space organized and free of clutter. If you must make do with less space, make sure you make the most of it.

Can I Deduct Home Office Expenses From My Taxes?

Unfortunately, since President Trump’s 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was enacted, deducting home expenses may not be an option for you. This act removed the ability for anyone who receives a W-2 to deduct home office expenses.

Self-employed and contract workers can still deduct expenses. According to the IRS their home office must pass the “principal place of business” test, be used for “administrative or management activities” and there must be no other location where they conduct “administrative or management activities.”

How Can I Build My Home Office With Very Little Money?

If money is tight and you’ve found yourself at home without a desk or a nice office chair, there are a couple options.

The first thing you could consider is contacting your employer. If your employer is shutdown but still functioning, they may have extra office furniture that isn’t being used. Play this by ear. If your place of work is struggling, this may not be an option.

You could also look around online. If you’re okay with secondhand, sites like Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist and OfferUp may have good deals on furniture people are trying to get rid of.

Summary: Professionalize Your Home Office Space

Having your own space to work in your home is more important than ever. A professional office space is something you can be proud of. It will add to your productivity and boost your mood.

Your home office is still your home. Utilize the space the best you can by keeping it organized. Make it fully your own because there’s a good chance you’ll be spending a lot of time there.

Interested in improving your home in other ways? Explore more homeownership tips.

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    Andrew Dehan

    Andrew Dehan is a professional writer who writes about real estate and homeownership. He is also a published poet, musician and nature-lover. He lives in metro Detroit with his wife, daughter and dogs.