Don’t have another room you can designate as a home office? You can create a comfortable and functional computer work station in remarkably little space. A corner of your living room or bedroom, even a spare closet, can provide a lot of room.
First measure the amount of space you can allocate for your work station. Then, begin to plan. You require a surface for your computer monitor or laptop, and space underneath for your hard disk. For those who have a printer or a scanner, then this also requires a work surface, ideally with storage space beneath for printer paper and other materials. You might also want space for a further external backup hard drive. Measure all your equipment and furnishings and play with a floor plan.
If you’re able to get a readymade work station that fits into your space, great. If not, make one. A 24- to 30-inch core door thrown over a couple two-drawer filing cabinets makes a handy desk, but takes up quite a lot of room, and it may or might not be comfortable for you based upon your height when seated. An alternative is to check home improvement stores such as Home Depot for elements like counter tops, shelving, and legs which may be assembled in several configurations. (Check the kitchen section of the store!) Constructing a desk with a L- or U-shape permits you to distribute your work. If you would like an L-shape, make sure that the extra arm is to the right of the screen if you are right-handed, to the left if you are a leftie.
You will want shelving to store CDs, computer manuals and other reference books, computer accessories and supplies, job files, and inboxes. Magazine holders make great containers for computer manuals and other documentation, and can be submitted on a shelf together with reference books. Use bookcases as boundaries for your office and as additional storage space. The tops of the bookcases can also provide additional work space in a pinch, or display space for personal items to give the place a homey touch.
When you’ve got a closet you can spare, remove the doors and replace them with louvered doors which may be folded out of the way as you’re working. Install a work surface spanning the length of the closet, and then build shelves above it. You can also create storage space beneath the counter, but leave an area open to slide in a comfortable office chair.
For those who have a CPU for a screen, make sure that the thickness of the closet will accommodate the CPU; or consider upgrading to one of those newer, compact flat screen monitors. Or use a laptop -you will have space to spare. You could also consider building or buying a rolling cart for your printer that can be kept in the closet when not being used, and pulled out while you are working. Also consider a pull out work surface or a folding table that can be tucked into the closet when not being used. Additional storage space can be constructed along the sides of the cupboard.
You will need both electrical outlets and a phone jack (or cable outlet if you use Roadrunner) in or near your work area. If you are able to put in them, great; otherwise you will have to run extension lines in from elsewhere. Make every effort to provide easy access to outlets and jacks; using a surge suppressor with various plugs connected to the back of the cupboard right above the work surface should make life a lot easier for you. In case you must run extension cords over a high traffic area, run them through protective conduit which permits you to place them underneath carpet without causing injuries. Do not run unprotected cords under carpets; a worn cable can create a fire hazard, and people can trip over the bulge!
If you have managed to renovate a spare closet, all you will need to do is close the doors to hide your office space. When it’s in a corner of the bedroom or living area, consider setting up an ornamental folding screen to block off your view of this workplace; remove it if you’re using the office, or leave it up for some privacy.
Take a few moments during the planning phase to consider the expression of the work area. Your choice of materials, colors, and layout accessories go a long way to creating an attractive area that’s a fun, comfortable place to work.