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Smart Guy Buyer’s Guide to the Home Office

Whether you consult on a freelance basis, work remotely or operate your own business, your home office is a hub for focused productivity. It can also serve as the space where you keep your personal finances organized. With the right tools and conditions, the life of the home office worker can be very rewarding. SmartAsset rounded up these handy tips to help the Smart Guy to optimize his home office space.

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Determine How Your Workflow Fits into the Apartment

The first thing we recommend is to specify the exact footprint of your home office. In most cases, simplicity is key — keep your amenities at a minimum to really make your home office fit. Take account your workflow and all the materials you need to make things move along smoothly. To begin with, you will need a desk, chair, filing cabinet, letter tray, penholder, stapler and a few other basic supplies. Make sure you can comfortably fit a computer, and a printer-scanner.

Strategize the Location of Your Office Space

While many prefer to have a home office out in the open — basking in natural light that pours in from windows — those with limited wiggle room don’t have the luxury. If this is the case, we suggest that you convert a closet into a home office. When you want to feel removed from the office space, close the door and walk away. Out of sight, out of mind.

The biggest challenge is finding a small enough desk to accomodate the cramped quarters. Consider a hideaway desk, which packs a whole lot of functionality into one. Hideaways contain a bevy of built in drawers and shelves. Another obstacle is adding electricity to a room that typically comes with no outlets. This can be done with extension cables connecting to an existing power source combined with cord management.

Save Money on Office Furniture

Smart Guy Buyer’s Guide to the Home Office

You’ll be able to find decent office furniture, such as desks and office chairs, at affordable retailers. This includes IKEA, Staples, Office Max and Office Depot. Keep in mind, however, that you get what you pay for. A desk purchased for a few hundred bucks will be made on the cheap, with inexpensive building materials. However, some of these stores also sell clearance furniture at deeply discounted prices. Some stores such as CB2 have good quality office furniture that can be purchased for a low cost.  However, you may need to assemble them yourself.

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Check for Used Office Equipment

Many companies purchase used office equipment is an option for companies looking to save money. Likewise, you should consider this for your home office. Although there’s a level of risk involved in buying used, relatively failsafe items — including chairs and desks — can be bought at bargain prices. Check your local classifieds and visit businesses in the area. You’re bound to find companies downsizing or closing down, looking to unload their office equipment. Do an online search for “used office furniture” in your area. Craigslist is also a great place to buy and sell used office equipment.

Build Your Own Desk or Repurpose What You’ve Got

This tip came from Better Homes and Gardens, which recommends that you attach a flat door to stock leg posts, which can be purchased at any home improvement store. You have total creative say on how your desk looks, since you choose the door and posts. If you’re into creating a retro look, consider repurposing castaway items, which can be found at flea markets, garage sales and thrift stores. For example, a diner-style metal kitchen table can be utilized as a desk.

Slatwall Panels and Shelves Create Space-Saving Organization

The possibilities are endless with slatwall panels, which are typically used in retail settings. Once you affix one to the wall, you have a number of horizontal slates at your disposal. Affix shelves and hooks, adding storage options for canisters, containers and baskets. While they are a little pricey at $150 for a 4’x8’ panel, the versatility and space-saving functionality of slatwall panes more than pay for themselves.

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Some Additional Advice

Smart Guy Buyer’s Guide to the Home Office

Splurge on an Office Chair: Of all your office equipment, the chair should be your most prized possession. You will spend most of your time seated at your desk, so spend more for comfort and back support. Do an online search for “affordable ergonomic office chair” for examples.
Buy Some Plants: Plants can brighten up any office space. With a bright green color, they will also enhance the décor. In addition, plants do a great job of cleaning the air, converting carbon dioxide to oxygen.
Add Some Light Sources: Consider buying a desk or floor lamp that will add lighting to your home office space. Not only does it improve productivity, effective lighting reduces fatigue and can improve our moods.
Purchase a Thermos: The original Thermos company manufactures reliable beverage holders, which keep coffee heated for eight or more hours a day. With a 16 ounce Thermos canister, you can keep hot coffee at your desk all the time.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/KatarzynaBialasiewicz, ©iStock.com/KatarzynaBialasiewicz, ©iStock.com/AnikaSalsera

Dennis Sebayan Dennis Sebayan is a freelance writer and business analyst. His expertise is in home buying, credit cards and retirement. He lives in Brooklyn. Dennis has a degree in English from the State University of New York at Buffalo.
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