- Q.We have a 10 x 9 foot
room in which to fit both myself and my fiancé. We both
use computers along with 2 printers. We currently have a large
desk, a computer table plus another smaller desk, and an oak,
two-drawer file cabinet. At the far end of the room is a window
in the middle of the wall, measuring 5 x 5 feet.
- We would like
to be able to utilize this space more effectively. I was thinking
along the lines of wall units. We would like to be able to hide
away the computer and related electronic equipment.
- We're working
with a standard 8 foot ceiling. Any help along these lines would
be appreciated. Also, cost is always important. We don't want
to go into debt over this!
- Thank you,
- A. Dear Cynthia,
- You and your
fiancé are so lucky to have a good size dedicated room
for a home office. There are lots of opportunities for you to
maximize your far wall with the window. And, the beauty of it
is that you can do it with ready-to-assemble or modular units
for well under $500, all the while gaining valuable storage space.
- From the description
of what you have in your home office already, it sounds as if
you are in dire need of additional filing and storage space.
It's the number one problem in most home offices today! Lack
of storage. You have a prime opportunity to give yourself a wall
of storage for both you and your fiancé.
- Here are some
- Online furniture
stores have a dizzying array of ideas. Here's an ideal and affordable
solution from Staples.com. The site sells the
Sauder Library With Doors for $139.99 each. They are handsome
units with three shelves and a bottom storage area with doors.
Buy two and flank each side of the window with a unit--one for
you and one for your fiancé! Here are the specs: each
unit is 71 and 1/4-inches high which is ideal for your 8-foot
high ceilings, 29 and 3/4 wide which fits in well either side
of the window and 13-inches deep which doesn't cut into valuable
floor space. There are wire management grommets so you can indeed
place a computer on the bottom open shelf. If you're interested,
go to Staples.com and do a search with
words "wall unit" and the Sauder Library should show
up. Most likely, the unit will be in the store nearest you so
you can see it for yourself. If you're interested in other sites
with great home office furniture styles, see Living.com, Furniture.com and Shop121.com. Living.com and Furniture.com have design consultants
you can ask advice from via email and phone. If you find a piece
you like, take advantage, lots of these sites have great discounts
for first time buyers and shipping is free for a limited time
no matter how large the furniture! And, they'll set it up for
you, too. Take advantage now!
- You're safe
using modular storage cubes for a wall like yours. There are
lots of options. Also on Staples.com site is a modular storage idea that
is more modern than the more traditional-looking Sauder Library.
The Fellowes Neat Ideas storage cubes are 14-inch square cubes,
each cube holds 50 pounds. Buy a pack of four cubes for about
$25.00. You can put perhaps 8 cubes on each side of the window
for maximum storage. If you're interested, the item number on
the site is FEL46414.
- If custom is
more of what you had in mind, there are ways to go about it without
breaking the bank. Find a California Closets (1-888-336-9709 for
a free, in-house design consult), Closets By Design (1-800-BY-DESIGN), or
any other closet organizer (you can find them in local papers,
sometimes they have little kiosks in a local mall or look them
up in the yellow pages). They'll come to your house, measure,
design and install a perfectly sized storage unit for your wall
around your window and in your budget range. Or you can see if
there's a Techline
or consultant in your neck of the woods. They are pros in designing
offices for the budget-wise, and would be happy to do a storage
unit for a wall. Or, call on a carpenter though they are awfully
busy these days and it's hard to find a good one that has time
for a small project.
- See if there's
a Container Store in your area. For locations, see their Web
site at www.containerstore.com or call 800-733-3532.
Or, call to see if there's an Ikea near you at www.ikea.com or 1-800-434-IKEA. Each
store typically has an in-store room planner that can help you
figure out a solution to your wall, and you aren't bound to buy
products there if you don't find anything you like. They have
great, affordable solutions, too.
- Good Luck! I
envy the amount of great storage space you're destined to add
to your home office!
- Best regards,
- I would like
to turn a spare bedroom that is used rarely for guests into an
office. Do you know of any designs that have a pull down bed
(Murphy Bed) for the occasional guest, but can be put away when
not used to make room for a work station?
- Thank you for
- Mike and
Laguna Niguel, CA
- A. Dear Mike and Dianne,
- More than half
of all homeowners with home offices use a spare bedroom, so you
are not alone. The challenge is in fitting everything into one
- You've hit on
a good idea: the Murphy bed. I've located one place in California
that may be able to help you out: Room Maker Wallbeds & Cabinets,
949-588-1585, in Lake Forest, CA. There are other Murphy Bed
companies, but most of them are located in New York or in Florida.
However, The Murphy Bed Company may be able to lead you to a
dealer closer to your
home. Call them at 800-845-2337. You can see some types of murphy
beds/home offices at their Web site: www.murphybedcompany.com and order directly off
the Web at: www.murphybedsdirect.com/library.htm
- Another idea
is to contact a furniture company called Sligh. They sell furniture
all over the country. Their specialty is in helping home office
users fit home office furniture into rooms such as spare guest
bedrooms. They once had a product that was a desk with a bed
inside of it! It was quite clever, but has been discontinued.
However, they do have some new models that might fit your style.
Their phone number is 616-392-7101. Ask for a dealer of Sligh
Furniture in your area.
- The easiest
thing to do, however, is to buy an open up sofa for a guest bedroom/home
office. That way, you can fit a sofa and a desk/chair into the
space. When you are working in the home office, you will have
a lovely executive-style couch on which to sit and work or read.
This option may take up the least amount of space, believe it
or not, because a Murphy Bed requires a whole wall, plus, the
bed is housed in a deep cabinet.
- If you are intent
on getting a Murphy bed, the best thing to do is find someone
who can come out to your home and measure whether or not one
will fit into the room.
- Good luck!
- Q. I have questions about receiving clients
at my home. We are presently renting our home, and it is not
in the condition we would like it to be.
- Do you have
any suggestions or resources that can help me make a shabby basement
into an inviting office for my clients to visit? Remember we
are renting...so it needs to be inexpensive.
- Second, is it
okay if the office space/basement is also a den area, or should
I separate the two? Do you suggest I make these office arrangements
before my clientele grows? At this time it is beginning to trickle,
and I am faithfully expecting the trickle to flow freely soon.
"The Write Way Business Services" -- Business writing
services, Sales, Grant writing, Child Care Center consulting,
and "Mother Knows Best" -- temporary employment agency
- A. Dear Tia,
on a busy, growing business! Keep up your enthusiasm, and don't
let a dreary basement drag you down! Here are some solutions
- I know of a
couple who work at home together and used to meet clients in
parking lots rather than invite them to their home office! Their
solution was to renovate half of their basement, but let me warn
you -- it's a long and time-consuming process which costs lots
of money. So if I were you, I wouldn't renovate any room in a
rental apartment. You don't always have to meet your clients
in your home. There are lots of inexpensive, professional options:
- If you feel
comfortable, and you feel you have the type of clients that would
feel just as comfortable -- why not meet in your dining room
or living room?
- Meet outside
the home in the lobby of a local hotel. Lots of hotels today
are set up for such meetings. Buy your client a cup of coffee
in a most professional atmosphere. Or, go have "tea"
there in the late afternoon. When I worked as an editor on a
magazine, lots of home-based publicists took me to tea at a local
hotel. It was comfortable, civilized and professional. I never
thought twice about it, and always looked forward to doing it.
- One home-based
worker I know does this: he asks the local hotel manager if there
is a meeting room free for one hour, and if there is, could he
rent it. He's usually successful and the managers usually let
him use the room for free if he buys a pot of coffee or such.
- Find a Kinko's
near you -- they have meeting rooms.
- Your local library
has conference rooms for free!
- Find an "executive
suite" (listed under office space rentals or "executive
suites" in your phone book) -- they rent office space by
the hour, and it may fit into your budget depending on where
you live. It doesn't hurt to call for rates -- lots of home-based
businesses use this type of office an hour at a time.
- I don't know
if you are renting in a condo area, but if you are, perhaps there's
a meeting room your condo "rents" out to people that
live in the area.
- There are lots
of options for you. Even if you owned your home and wanted to
renovate your basement for clients, it's not always easy. If
you absolutely want to use your basement and use it as a den
as well, that's fine! There is furniture out there, if you want
to invest, that can make a den look "officey" and look
like an entertainment center as well. Again, this furniture is
pricey -- but it may be more worthwhile to invest in furniture
than to invest in renovating a rental basement. Go to your local
furniture stores and ask for entertainment and home office furniture
from Sligh Furniture.
- To further answer
your second question -- sure it's okay to use your den as a home
office. But what do you use your den for? Do you have kids that
will use the den when you need to work? If so, it may not be
the best solution. If you can use the den when kids are at school
and turn the den over to them after school, great. You will need
to somehow "train" anyone who uses the den to keep
their hands off of your home office equipment and papers. Every
family has different ways of handling this. Some people put screens
up around their workspace when they aren't using it which signals
to others to stay away. Others have computer armoires that they
close when they aren't working (again, an expensive solution).
Others just verbally train family members to be considerate of
that corner of the den where the home office is located. It can
- My best wishes
to you for your ongoing success!