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What we’re going to talk about today are the best places to actually put your home office.
If you’re operating under the idea that you can just stick a desk in the corner of a room and get to work…well….think again.
That’s the kind of decision you wind up having months (maybe years) to regret.
Sure, some people can mentally tune out the noise of kids running around, a TV blaring in the background, all combined with your dog barking.
But if you take what you do seriously then having your own dedicated working space just makes sense.
So we’re going to look at what some of the best locations for a home office are, but we need to cover something very important just before we do that.
Square Footage Requirements
Wondering how much square footage you need for your home office?
That’s a really good question, and not one anybody seems to want to answer. There’s lots of advice out there on “how to create a home office in a small space” without ever defining what a “small space” actually is.
My current office is small but has more than enough room for me, my chair, my desk, dual screens, a desktop PC, my printer, one of my guitars, various mugs and notebooks, shelves, and a nice big window overlooking the fields near me.
All of that comfortably fits into 56-square feet, or a few feet more than the average prison cell, which is 48-square feet in most countries.
I’ve never felt cramped or uncomfortable working here, and I definitely don’t feel like I’m working in a prison cell.
So the moral of the story is: You don’t need hundreds of square feet for an office – you’ll actually make better use of a smaller space than a larger one.
The reality is that more space = more places to cram useless junk.
So, the answer to how much square footage you need for a comfortable, tidy home office is a 7-foot by 8-foot space = 56-square feet.
Although you could probably get by with a 6-foot by 6-foot space if you had to = 36-square feet.
We call those “box rooms”, which is where this site got its name, just in case you were wondering.
Now let’s get back to the best physical locations for a home office.
Spare Room Office
This is my personal favorite and where my current home office setup is.
I say “current” because I really, really want an attic office, but we’ll talk about that later.
Now, I get that not every home has a spare room that you can lay claim to as yours alone.
But most homes have “that” room that’s used to store unused exercise equipment, busted toys, that mattress you never got around to throwing out, etc.
It’s usually the “guest” bedroom that never actually gets used by guests, so it’s wasted space.
So a suggestion here is to replace the standard bed frame with a Murphy (folding) bed instead. That way you can convince your partner they’re not giving up their spare bedroom, and you get a room all to yourself.
Believe me, the spare room my office is in right now was the guest room that was previously crammed full of boxes of junk, a bed nobody slept in, etc.
It got so bad that boxes got piled up on the bed as well as the floor – that’s when I snapped and cleared it out to become an office instead.
- Reduced level of distractions, as long as you’re not located beside a kitchen or other living area
- More than enough space for a desk, computer, chair, etc.
- Better acoustics if you’re recording videos
- There’s always the risk that you lose your office to a baby room, guest room, etc.
Having an attic office with a window with a sea view is a life goal for me. I’d settle for an office overlooking a river or lake, but an ocean view is the goal.
I can think of no better way to start my working day than sitting there with a cup of coffee admiring that view. The thing is I’ve visualized this space so many times I know I’ll eventually have it.
Not to get all “woo woo” on you but I think visualization is an important part of reaching any goals you set for yourself.
But back to reality for now.
Can you really use your attic as office space?
Well, the answer is a firm “Maybe”.
The first thing you need to be aware of is that there’s a 2-meter (6 foot) minimum ceiling height required for most attic/loft conversions.
And the amount of standing room you have in your attic is determined by the pitch/slope of your roof, so there’s a minimum required roof pitch.
Now the other thing is that loft conversion specialists are usually more than capable of converting an attic with a low pitch roof into an office, even if they can’t convert it into a functional “room”.
Remember, you need about 56-square foot of space for a functional office, so most attic conversion companies can “find” you that much space at the gable end of your attic or loft.
I know this is possible because a neighbor of mine with recently converted his low pitch roof attic into a small office/play area for his kids. There’s nowhere near enough room for a bed and furniture, but plenty of space for a desk, etc.
- The absolute minimum of distractions because you’re above every other room
- Truly private space on another floor
- Can modify it to your exact requirements
- Converting an attic space isn’t the cheapest way of creating a home office
- Can be bloody hot during the summer and cold during the winter if they’re not properly insulated
If your home doesn’t have a basement of any kind then you can skip right past this section and move onto the tiny home office stuff instead.
That includes pretty much everyone in Europe who happens to be reading this – yup we don’t have basements in our homes. No idea why – it’s just one of those things.
Anyways, a basement is yet another ideal location for a home office because you’re isolated from the rest of what goes on in your home.
Now it’s highly unlikely you’ll get the entire basement to yourself, especially if it’s already doing double/triple duty as a laundry room, storage room, den or home gym.
But there’s enough square footage down there for you to carve out enough space (6×6 or 8×8) for your desk, chair, laptop, etc.
If you’re a gifted DIY type you could even go as far as putting up a partition/stud wall to create a room within a room.
At worst you can always use a few acoustic room dividers or an acoustic curtain to give you enough peace and quiet to work in.
The only real issue with putting an office in your basement is that you won’t have very much natural light down there.
That might not sound like a big deal, but a few months of working without natural light can and will lead to mental health issues.
And the worst thing is you won’t even notice it happening – you’ll just find yourself tired and grumpy the whole time. Been there and done that, so I’d recommend avoiding it if you can.
A way around that problem is to use a natural sunlight lamp to help boost your mood. They don’t cost all that much money and they can prevent the worse side effects of working in the dark for long stretches of time.
Another way to get more light flowing around your basement office area is to simply paint the walls in bright colors. Most basements are dim and dreary because the walls are either bare concrete, painted in dark colors, or are covered in wood paneling.
I’m no home decor expert (very far from it), but painting your walls bright white will reflect more light around any room, including basements.
- Your family will most likely just leave you alone down there
- You’ll usually have tons of space to work with
- You’re not just in a separate room, you’re on a separate floor
- The lack of natural sunlight is a challenge
- It will need to be properly ventilated to maintain a bearable temperature range
Here’s a novel way of getting the exact office you want, and you won’t have to take up even one square foot of space inside your own home.
A tiny home.
Okay, in many cases these are actual homes suitable for one or more people to live in. But you’ll find that many of the companies who manufacture them will be quite happy to build you an office instead.
One word of caution here is that the tiny home market has gotten huge, and so have the prices.
There are companies out there charging $50,000 -$100,000 for “tiny homes”, which is way, way out of your budget. Unless you’re wealthy – in that case, go ahead and buy one.
But for the rest of us mere mortals, we need to get the most bang for our buck, and to also spend less of those bucks.
You can actually buy a tiny office online if you want – here’s an example of a 13 x 10 galvanized metal “office”.
Or you could go for the 10 x 12 log cabin model instead.
You could also swap out the idea of a handmade wooden tiny home for a shipping container you could convert into a home office.
Or how about finding something like an old Airstream trailer (or caravan, as we call them here) or broken down RV that you could convert instead?
If the idea of a tiny home office appeals to you then you should check out TinyHouseTalk.com – they have tons of great advice on the topic.
They even have an example of a guy who built a tiny home for $500 – that’s more like it! https://tinyhousetalk.com/tag/scotts-next-adventure/
Basically, an external home office is a quick fix for the problem of not having enough space, but it comes at a cost.
- Can be customized to your exact needs
- Exists outside the home so you are 100% free from interruptions
- It can also double as a man cave
- You’ll need at least a couple of hundred dollars, and more like a few grand to buy one
- You’ll also need to secure your tiny home office against burglary, fire, etc.
I’m super happy working from my home office in a spare room right now, but I am considering having the attic converted here.
What type of home office do you most want? Let us know with a comment below.
Featured image source: https://rdhomestaging.wordpress.com