Nearly 15 years ago, I watched an episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show where designer Nate Berkus decorated Oprah’s office. The goal was to turn her office into a “serene, open living space.” It forever changed the way I view what a home office space can be.
Over the years, Oprah has shown us time and time again that the spaces in which we live and work should be filled with things we love and inspire us. She always says that you should be in a position to use your life in a way that shines and uplifts. You can’t do that in an uninspiring space.
In 2015, I transitioned from an oversized cubicle in an office to working from home. I was also in the process of moving to another state, so I had zero office furniture. I found myself with a make-shift desk (stacked books) and a pillow as my chair. Not very inspiring at all. The struggle was real.
As I tried to work productively from the floor, I daydreamed about Oprah’s office and how I wanted just a fraction of what she had. I certainly didn’t have a Nate Berkus to work his magic, but what I did have was a little creativity and Pinterest. I realized I could still create my perfect work-from-home space, on a budget, that I would love and feel inspired in.
With more people working from home these days, it’s important to create a space that is conducive to productivity and reflects personal style. The reality is that home and work have to coexist. You still want to be able to separate where you do business from where you sleep. It’s possible to do, and you don’t have to spend a fortune in the process.
Before you begin, ask yourself a few questions:
- What will you be doing in the space?
- How much desk space do you need?
- What type of equipment is required?
- Will you be making Zoom or conference calls?
- Will you be the only person in the space?
Answering these questions will help you determine the best area to work from and what to do about noise and privacy. After you’ve given some thought to how you work and what you need the functionality to be, the next step is to create a dedicated work area.
I have a one-bedroom apartment, and I did not want to utilize my living room or bedroom. The couch and bed are just too comfortable for me to maximize on the amount of work I need to do, and it’s too tempting for naps. So, I converted my dining area into my office space.
Believe it or not, the dining room is the most common room of the house to convert into a home workspace, mainly because it’s an area that is not often used. Having a desk there allows me to visually section off this space from the other areas in my apartment.
Pinterest is a great hub for ideas on color palettes, furniture, and décor. I decided that I wanted a white desk, but the ones I found were just too small. IKEA came to the rescue at under $50, and I was able to select the size I wanted and the style of legs. I added a chic office chair from Wayfair that, at the time, happened to be on sale.
Remember: This is your workspace. So, it doesn’t have to be a traditional desk. If you prefer a table, standing desk, or something like FluidStance to limit your time sitting all day, those are great options to consider.
No one wants to work in a dull, boring workspace. The best part about creating your perfect home workspace is that everything you don’t like at your work office, you can do differently at home. If you’ve had to put up with dim lighting before, give yourself the gift of natural light by opening up the windows. I found that desk lamps also help brighten my mood and keep my eyes from straining, especially from wearing glasses all day.
An important element for me is that my workspace has to be functional. I added a cubed organizer from Target ($40 for eight cubes), as well as decorative bins from Amazon ($28 for four). These hold notebooks, books, tech items, and small décor. When you are working with limited space in your home, you may want to add shelves, drawers, or multi-use storage to avoid additional clutter.
If you love bright colors, candles, photos and art, and other accessories, you can personalize your space the way you really want to. I take advantage of this to show off my personal style and things I love. Doing this will make you feel better while you’re working, and being more comfortable and happier while you’re working will make you more productive. I have found that being surrounded by my favorite books, personal photos, and art keeps my anxiety in check.
Working from home can be rewarding because it provides the opportunity for comfort and efficiency. Even an existing small space such as a hallway can be a perfect place to create a small home office. Get creative and work your best life.
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Archuleta is an author, poet, blogger, and host of the FearlessINK podcast. Archuleta's work centers Black women, mental health and wellness, and inspiring people to live their fullest potential.