Since COVID-19 doesn't appear to be going away anytime soon, you might be thinking it's time to turn your "temporary" home office into a more permanent solution. Or, maybe you've decided that as it turns out, you prefer to work from home. Regardless, over the last few months, you've probably realized that when you work at home, it can be very difficult to draw clear lines between work and home time. Dedicating room in your home for office space not only draws the line, but it also keeps you more focused and organized, and may qualify for valuable tax deductions.*
It's not always easy to carve out a little space at home, even for something as important as your occupation. A large closet or wardrobe could be retrofitted in a pinch, but if you're looking for something a bit roomier, consider claiming a guest bedroom, basement, sun porch, garage, or even a larger outdoor shed for your professional purposes. Then make the necessary adjustments.
Consider, however, what remodeling something like the garage might mean for your home's value, as well as your family's needs. A home addition might be the best solution, adding value and square feet to your home, and giving your family some needed breathing room. Plus, you'll have creative freedom to design your ideal workspace.
Imagine the End Result
To design the best home office for you, take some time to consider what you need regarding your work style, your personality, and the nature of your job. Nothing says you have to recreate a cold, boring office cubicle. Make your home office as welcoming as the budget will allow, as long as the new space promotes productivity.
- A crafter/artist may need easy-to-clean flooring, plenty of cabinets and cubbyhole units around the perimeter of the room, and a large island worktable in the middle of a room flooded with natural lighting from large windows or a skylight.
- A graphic designer may prefer a darker setting to keep glare off of the computer screen – track lighting would be just about right, even in a dim basement.
- A work-at-home mom will need a kid-friendly design with work related items at adult elevations and storage for activity supplies within easy reach for keeping small hands occupied.
Will clients come to call? This puts more on the design table for seating, the overall look of the interior, and possibly an outdoor access door to receive business guests directly to your home office rather than letting them in through the family entrance.
Online organization tools like Pinterest.com can help the inspiration phase, but eventually you'll need to put together a design plan with color schemes and paint chips, textile samples for flooring and window coverings, and sources for office furnishings.
Get Down to Practicalities
How many outlets will you need? Do you need a phone jack, or network cabling? What kind of work surfaces and storage do you need for your job? These are the issues to address for any new office. Remodeling a basement or a garage will have other issues, like controlling the environment for the sake of your equipment and comfort, finishing wall surfaces, and providing a desirable level of lighting.
Whether you take on the work of renovating yourself or hire a contractor, stick to your budget. It's easy to get carried away with wishes and dreams for any home remodel, and you may be tempted to over reach your finances for a home office renovation, promising you'll work extra hard at home to pay it off. That may be, but you could also take it slowly, buying materials beforehand as you find sales, or doing the work in stages. Keep receipts and records for tax time – you can qualify for a deduction as long as the space is dedicated solely to business (not doubling as a guest room or family room during evening hours). A home office renovation could also pay off should you decide to refinance, so hang on to the records to help prove your home's increased value.
Ready to get out of the commuter routine and operate from a home office? You're not alone. Take a closer look at your home; it could be the answer to a more enjoyable occupation.
*consult your tax advisor for advice on your specific situation