How To Put Together A More Functional And Organized Home Office

A short while after I started this blog I wrote a post that gave a brief tour of my home office space.  At the time quite a few bloggers were sharing photos of their workspace so their readers could see what kind of an environment they were working in.

Some folks had amazing mountain views at their desk, while others had extremely functional and organized spaces. Others had a messy disaster.

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My home office space wasn’t much to speak of at the time. It was just a corner in a large open room in our basement where we were able to fit a desk and filing cabinet.

It wasn’t the ideal workspace, but it got the job done.  Today I thought I’d take  a look at the process we went through in putting together a new home office at our new house.

Keeping Things Minimal

When we were building our new home this past summer one thing that we knew we’d like to have at the house was a dedicated home office. Since I have a side business as a blogger, I spend a lot of time on the computer.  Having that dedicated space would be much more conducive to getting things done.

When we were planning out our home office, here are some of the things we were hoping to have in that new space.

  • Plenty of connectivity: We were hoping to have plenty of outlets for plugging in all of our electronics, as well as enough network ports to hard wire all of our network devices.
  • Less stuff: At our old home office we had far too many power cords, USB cables and other accessories floating around everywhere.  We also had a ton of miscellaneous things sitting on the desks, from scanners and printers to speakers, Wacom tablets and more. In the new office we wanted to have less stuff just sitting around making everything feel busy and disorganized.
  • Better organized and less clutter: We were also hoping to get rid of a ton of paperwork, manuals, other miscellaneous clutter we no longer needed.  Along with that we wanted to have a better system for organizing paperwork and other odds and ends that we do have.
  • Enough space for 2 desks:  My wife and I both wanted to have our own desk space.
  • A door:  This may seem silly, but for me it was needed. At our old house our desk area was out in a large open room that also doubled as our entertainment room.  At times my wife would be watching TV while I was working and it could be very distracting. Having a dedicated space with a door that can be closed was much better for working.

Our New Home Office Space

After thinking very carefully about what we wanted for our new home office, the photo below shows what we came up with.

Putting together the ideal home office

We still haven’t put much up on the walls in terms of artwork, and we’ve since added blinds, but the rest of the space is basically done.  Let’s take a look at what we’ve got in the office.

Items In Our Home Office

  • 2 L shaped desks:  We did our research and my wife and I each chose a desk that fit our needs.  For me I just wanted a desk plenty of space on the desktop for dual monitors, and a matching filing cabinet for all of our important paperwork and documents we needed to keep. My wife got a desk and hutch that was a bit more stylish, and had even more counter and storage space for her scrapbooking and other projects. Make sure to shop around to find the best deal, otherwise a desk can be extremely expensive!
  • Bookcase: We got a bookcase with concealed storage to match my wife’s desk so that we would have a nice place to hide all of our networking gear including the DSL modem, the Wi-Fi router, and an 8 port hub. It also acts as storage for my laptop, and houses our Ooma Telo device that gives us free home phone service.
  • Connectivity: We have a ton of connectivity built into the house. This office has 16 power outlets, as well as multiple network outlets. We won’t be running out of outlets anytime soon.
  • functional and organized home officeDual monitor setup with Dell XPS 2710 All-in-one computer: Our old computer was getting a bit slow, so we decided to upgrade to something that would save space, but still be powerful enough for processing video, photos and other intensive tasks. We found this powerful Dell XPS 2710 all-in-one computer that had everything you needed in the monitor/pc combo, there was no bulky computer box sitting under the desk or multiple wires hanging down behind the desk. The mouse and keyboard are both wireless as well, so the only cords we have plugged in are for a couple of backup drives sitting behind the monitors and a network cable.
  • Laptop: My wife has a laptop on her desk that she can easily put away when she needs more space on her desk. Again, few cords or wires hanging around.
  • Wi-Fi printer/scanner/fax: In our journey to rid ourselves of as many cords as possible, we also bought a wireless printer/scanner/fax that we could put wherever we wanted and still print without being connected to the computer via USB. Just plug  it into the wall and then all the computers in the house can print to it or scan on it.
  • Ooma Telo home phone system: We wanted to have a home phone in the office, and last year we switched to using the Ooma service for our home phones. We went from paying $45/month for phone service to about $4.50/month for taxes only.  If you have a small business you can even add a dedicated second line for your business with their premier service ($9.99/month)! Again, no phone cords
  • Charging station: Charging station for my FreedomPop cell phone, Nexus 7 tablet, bluetooth headphones and other portable devices.
  • Bluetooth headphones: I bought a pair of bluetooth headphones that can pair up with our computer, my tablet or my phone. They sound great, and once again, no cords to get tangled up on the desktop.
  • Comfy office chairs: If you spend a lot of time in the office, a comfortable chair is a must. We bought 2 new ones for our new office.
  • A door: Having that door is great because I don’t have to contend with all the noise in the rest of the house from the TV, to my son playing with his Thomas the train set. When the door is closed, daddy is working!

11 Tips For A Better Home Office

Here are a few things that I believe should be considered when putting your office together.

Putting together the ideal home office

  • Choose the right space. A dedicated space, or part of another room?: If you’re running a small business from your home, you may need to set aside a dedicated space for business purposes, for tax reasons.  If so you may need to set aside an actual room that gets used only for business. Otherwise, find a space that gives you adequate space, lighting, and that is comfortable temperature wise.  Try out a couple of spaces in your home and figure out which one feels right.
  • Consider what types of electronics and accessories you’ll need: Think carefully about what kinds of electronics you’ll want and need in your office. For us it meant a couple of computers with a printer, a home phone as well as some networking equipment. When you figure out what items are needed in your office you’ll be able to plan out other important items like furniture placement and power and networking needs.
  • Think about what types of furniture you’ll need in your space:  Once you’ve decided on what electronics and other accessories you’ll want in the space, you’ll want to figure out what furniture you’ll want in your space. At our home we needed to have two desks, a filing cabinet for bills and other important paperwork, and then a hutch for our phone, networking gear and other items we wanted to hide away.
  • Figure out placement and layout of your space before you move in: Try several different layouts for your office space before you move in.  Use a site like Floorplanner.com to come up with some different placement ideas for the furniture and furnishings in your space. If you have a window, putting your desk as close to it as possible can give you better light.  Make sure things you need on a regular basis are within easy reach.
  • Plan your power, networking and phone needs:  While you’re planning your office layout make sure you’re aware of what your power, networking and phone needs are.  Does furniture need to be placed close to the outlets, or will you need to put in new outlets to accomodate your setup?
  • Get a decent chair:  At our old house we had an awful wooden chair with a seating pad that had seen better days. It wasn’t a chair you’d want to spend much time in. We got rid of that chair and we each got nice padded office chairs that we can sit in for hours and still be comfortable.  There’s nothing worse than an uncomfortable chair to ruin your workday.
  • Cut down on the clutterOrganize your cables, have a place for paperwork, have a spot for everything.  Try to clean up your desk on a nightly basis, and put things away.  Get rid of things in your office that you don’t need.
  • Putting together an organized home officeHave plenty of storage and organization accessories: Have plenty of storage available for the things that you do need to keep in  your office. Have filing cabinets for paperwork, drawers for office supplies, trays and caddies for pens, paper clips and other essentials. Hide electronics in a hutch to keep things looking tidy. Have a place for everything (and that doesn’t mean a pile on the floor or desk).
  • Good lighting: Make sure you have plenty of lighting for your space, ideally an overhead light and a task light on your desk.  Position your desk near the window if you have one.
  • Keep clear pathways: Keep clear pathways in your office so that you can just walk into the room and walk right up to your desk.  If you don’t have clear pathways the room can start to feel claustrophobic.
  • Give yourself a focal point and a pleasing design: Put a focal point on your wall. It could be anything from a corkboard or whiteboard, to a favorite movie poster or painting.  I still need to find something on my main wall, but I’ve got my favorite Maori war club on the wall by my window. Make the room interesting, but not distracting.

Give The Office Your Personal Touch

When it comes down to it your home office is going to be a space that is tailored to your individual needs.  The layout, function and design are going to be setup for your specific needs.

While your options may be limited by the available space, or by your budget, your imagination will mean the sky is the limit.

Have your own tips for putting together the ideal home office?  Tell us about your home office – or leave a link to photos of your own in the comments!

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Last Edited: 3rd March 2014

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  1. says

    Love the setup Peter! I hope to have a more functional office space at some point in the future. Right now, it’s a desk in our bedroom. That’s really no fun. And I’m wholeheartedly in favor of having a window. I love looking outside while I write.

    • says

      It is nice to have a window with a view in the office now, much better for taking a break from the writing. It’s also a much better view than at our last place where the view out the window was the recessed concrete window well. Of course when we first moved in there weren’t any blinds in the office, so the rising sun would shine right through the window, blinding you. Thankfully we now have blinds for those times of day when they’re needed.

  2. Debi says

    I just have to say that I love your wife’s desk – probably because I have it! :) In choosing my desk, I just loved all its storage space. I’ve got my double monitor mounted on the open side and love having all that desk space.

    • says

      My wife loves the desk too, she bought it because of all the storage, and because she’s so into the whitewashed vintage look. It took me the good part of an entire afternoon to put it together, but I think it’ll be good for many years of use. All I know is that if we ever were to move and need to get that desk out of that room, I won’t be taking another afternoon to take it apart – I’ll be using a chainsaw. :)

      The only problem with our setup is that my better half also likes my large 27″ + 24″ dual monitor setup instead of her small laptop screen, so I often find her sitting at my desk. I may have to splurge and get her her own dual setup so I can actually use my desk!

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