Organizing 101: Organizing the home office
Many of us now work from home, at least part time. If setting aside an entire room is a luxury (or a waste because you'll only use it a few days a month), the solution is to utilize found space elsewhere in your home. Here's where to set up shop and what you need to take care of business.
Where you work and how much space you need depends on:
1 How often you work at home.
2 How much space you have to spare.
3 What kind of work you do and what type of worker you are (Do you require absolute quiet or can you tolerate noise? Do you need lots of materials/equipment or just a laptop and a few file folders?).
4 Whether you live alone, with another adult or with kids (that will affect noise levels and the potential for interruptions).
Now consider these ideas for transforming found space in your home:
• Furnish with a desk, table or secretary (invest in a piece that feels like it belongs in this public space).
• Avoid bulky computer equipment, if possible -- it's much easier to stash a laptop out of sight.
• Add a decorative lamp that provides task lighting.
• Borrow space from bookshelves, stocking them with pretty boxes containing supplies.
• Use an antique trunk as a side or coffee table and fill with books, accordion files, binders and office supplies.
This option is for those who work when the kids are in bed (or for those who have a secondary TV viewing area, like in a bedroom, for the kids or partner).
• Follow the suggestions above for the living room.
• If your family or rec room is in the basement, maximize space under the stairs with a custom-built desk.
• To create a work surface, add a secretary, armoire or desk (it can double as a sideboard). Or use your dining table if there's simply no room for other furniture (this option works for laptops only).
• Dedicate one drawer in the china cabinet to the storage of office supplies.
• Purchase a small cabinet to hold paperwork and use the top as a bar, so the piece blends in with the rest of the dining room.
Though it's apparently bad feng shui to set up an office in the bedroom (the sight of a workstation doesn't give me sweet dreams), sometimes there's no other place. Plus, it's often the quietest room, which can be a bonus in a busy household.
• Keep the work area separate by furnishing it as discreetly and minimally as possible. An office armoire or secretary that closes up is ideal. Use a screen to hide the work area from view.
Mobile home office
I don't mean get a trailer -- I'm talking technology.
• The smaller the computer, the less real estate you have to dedicate to office space; a laptop, for instance, lets you move temporarily to the quietest zone in the house if Junior is having a raucous play date and you have a report due.
• Also, consider going wireless with your computer system, and you can work anywhere; auxiliary equipment like a printer, scanner or modem can be centralized where it's least obtrusive, such as in the basement.