Home Office Ideas on a Budget
The COVID-19 pandemic has us working from home for the foreseeable future – and looking to keep some cash in reserve. That means we’re all hoping for inspiration and hot deals to strike so we can create a home office on a budget. The privacy, the productivity…we’re all missing a few perks of the professional workspace. Here are a few tips to set up a home office without breaking the bank.
Repurpose Office Furniture and Decor
The cheapest home office setup relies on furniture and accessories you already have. So, try pulling what you can from around your own home while you save up. Look for any ergonomic and motivational pieces that’ll add to the comfort of a 9-hour workday. This might be a cozy accent chair in the living room or a pretty painting in the foyer. You might like their placement better in your new home office. Try relocating time management tools, too. A kitchen calendar or bedside journal, for example, can keep track of your work tasks. If your remote work is temporary, these pieces will all have a place when you head back to the office.
You can also turn an existing space into a work zone. Simply bring in a room divider and noise-cancelling headphones. That way your office is separate from your home life, including your home’s other occupants. For tips on starting a cheap office makeover in any room, check out our guide on How to Set Up a Home Office Anywhere.
Balance Spending on Office Essentials
A budget-friendly home office starts with what the space needs to be functional: a desk, a chair, your electronics, practical lighting. Focus on what will serve you right now. Then, plan to stretch your nice-to-have purchases out over the course of time. Think luxury items, like extra storage and cute decor.
You can save on your office desk, storage, and lighting with low-cost shapes and materials. It’s better to splurge on your office chair and electronics – quality is important here since these items will power your productivity. Remember that during the pandemic, you’re saving on transportation costs and dining out, so you might have a bit more wiggle room in the budget. That being said, learn more about how to save on each item below.
Scale Back Your Office Desk
With COVID causing delays on deliveries and returns, it’s important to get the desk just right so you don’t have to worry about trying to return it if it doesn’t work out. Desks with slim, simple designs tend to cost the least. So, sort by classic shapes and clean lines, like you’d find in mid-century and modern styles. Consider rounded edges if your kids play nearby. Need something out of the way? A wall mount desk or ladder desk can also avoid busting your budget while adding to your current design scheme. If you have the willpower to work from the couch, save space and money with a convenient C-table.
Laminate wood frames will save you more than real solid wood. Think particleboard or fiberboard, especially if you’re looking to fill a big space. You can always dress up cheaper desk materials with paint, a beautiful runner, or by swapping out the drawer handles.
Optimize Your Office Chair
The best budget home office chair will make your work life easier. A plastic or wooden chair frame will be cheapest, but it’s important that the shape provides lumbar support. Shop for a chair with a high back to accommodate a productive posture and workday. Consider elbow and seat padding as needed. With a swivel seat and casters, office supplies will stay within easy reach. Your one cost concern is to ensure that these features are durable enough for daily use. Reading reviews will help get your money’s worth. Make sure to measure the chair so you’ll be eye level with your monitor.
You don’t need to spend a ton of money on a chair if your work doesn’t require hours of sitting. In this case, it might be more cost-efficient to slide a cushion onto a kitchen or hall chair that you already own. Or, if your desk has room underneath, store a small, low-priced seating option like a pouf or garden stool – even a yoga ball. Their mobility and versatile function will help you get the most out of your space, budget, and work hours.
For all our budgeting recs, read How to Find Comfortable Inexpensive Office Chairs.
Substitute Your Office Storage
When you’re organizing your home office on a budget, the first step is the most important. Get rid of any office supplies, clutter, or electronics you don’t use during your workday. That way you’re not spending money on extra storage and your workspace is clutter-free.
Think small when shopping budget storage for your home office. Rather than splurge on a large bookcase, consider cheap wall organization. Floating shelves or hanging baskets can hold your supplies while saving elbow room. If you don’t have the wall space, opt for decorative planters, jars, trays, or bins. These are all low-cost items that can also be found laying around your kitchen or closet. If photo albums and files are cluttering up your office space, consider storing them in magazine racks or a desk organizer. Or transfer them to a digital drive for maximum space saving. Cord management can reduce visual clutter and be as easy and affordable as using zip-ties to organize and gather cords.
Check out even more of our 14 Genius Home Office Organization Ideas.
Layer Your Office Lighting
How’s the natural light in your home office? With plenty of sunny rays, lighting control may be as inexpensive as a pair of curtains or set of blinds. Sheer curtains allow you to filter light during the day, while adjustable blinds give you the flexibility to correct glares. Just measure properly for either window treatment to avoid costly alterations.
If your home office lighting needs a boost, ceiling fixtures will cast the widest glow. However, a combination of floor and desk lamps is a cheaper alternative. Try seeing if you can borrow them from around the home, at least during work hours. LED bulbs are not only the most cost-efficient, but also longer lasting, so consider replacing your bulbs or using them in any new fixtures.
Get more lighting ideas for a home office on a budget using our guide to Affordable Light Fixtures.
Go Eco On Office Equipment
Whether it’s individual or collaborative, digital or analogue, you can save money by buying only what you need for your type of work. For example, decide if digital notetaking can replace the role of stationery. If not, paperclips, pens, and notebooks will usually turn up in a drawer, so forage there first. As for the big equipment, note your dimensions and outlet locations before browsing ofr new electronics. Once you know what’s possible, decide on a warranty to avoid pricy breakdowns. It should align with how long you’re planning to work from home.
Next, look to eco-friendly devices for cheap home office equipment. Can you get by with a smaller computer and sacrifice the second monitor? What program functionality actually contributes to your role? Can you condense the space and costs of a printer and scanner into one multifunctional tool? Again, with digital storage, you’ll save on toner, paper, and ink (and power). That’s another cost-friendly tip – always power down for the day to save on electricity.
If your job isn’t doable on the bare basics, see if your company will loan you the equipment or cover the upgrade costs. At the very least, you can write these purchases off on your taxes as a business expense (you can actually write off every office essential in this guide). For more on which home office essentials should fit into your budget, read 10 Way to Make Working From Home More Productive.
Outsource Your Office Decor
There are endless easy ways to decorate a home office on a budget. As for your desk area or spare corners, you can always bring in family heirlooms and keepsakes to add a few sculptural details. Then add a cheerful planter or two. Cut costs with artificial plants and flowers or grow your own. They’ll add tons of color and texture.
You can save money on wall art by buying prints separately, then placing them in less expensive frames. Maybe source the art from a talented family member or friend. The same goes for photos hiding in a scrapbook – put them up on the wall with a low-cost frame. Empty picture frames can even become budget-chic home office decor. Simply mark up the glass to create a calendar. You can make use of mementos by hanging them on a pinboard. Or avoid wall decor altogether by painting or papering walls in a bold pattern or color. Coated in black, it can even become a chalkboard.
Explore even more inexpensive office decor ideas in our Home Office Style Guide.
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