Just 20 years ago, the idea of telecommuting or working from home was almost unimaginable. Yet today, it’s estimated there are more than 50 million at-home or telecommuting workers. But if you don’t have an actual room for your home office, you can create one from a closet.
Divide and conquer
Once you’ve found your work closet, you’ll need to decide whether to have a door on your office or not. Having a door helps you to separate your office from the rest of your home. Plus, if you have a messy desk, this enables you to just close the door on your mess. If you’re a neatnik, you may want to take the door off.
Think about replacing sliding doors with a set of swinging doors. This will give you better access to your desk and to storage in your closet. Another simple and budget-friendly door fix is to install a rod of plumbing piping and hang grommet-topped panels that will enable you to close off your closet workstation.
To create your work surface, head to your local hardware store and have a piece of laminate countertop cut to size. A 6-foot piece will cost less than $100, or you can give yourself an upgrade with a butcher block-style wood surface for less than $300. You can also go supersaver and just attach a cut-to-size piece of 3/4-inch plywood covered with a metallic contact paper in your choice of gold or stainless steel. To attach the desktop to the wall, use a brace bar made of an inexpensive two-by-four or by using L brackets, being sure to attach to the wall studs and checking that the desk is level.
No matter whether your home office is in a bedroom or a closet, you always need storage for your work materials, such as staplers, tape dispensers and paper clips. Try a file drawer cabinet on either side of the desk if you have the room, or construct a countertop work surface using rolling cabinets with drawers.
Because you don’t have room to spread out, think about using your vertical space by outfitting your desk wall with shelving. Wire shelving is inexpensive and comes in both white and stainless versions. Of course, there’s also pegboard that you can paint to match your decor and then outfit with bins and hangers to keep your office organized. Or, go for solid shelving. All types are usually available at your local home center.
Don’t forget to make your office look stylish. Add a spot or two for inspiration such as vacation photos, artwork or fun knickknacks. Add interest by painting the back wall of the closet with a bright color or using interesting wallpaper. Get work papers organized with coordinated boxes and filing stands. Lastly, replace your closet light bulb with a pendant lamp and funky shade for more light and a touch of pizazz.