How to Set Up Your Home Office for Success

Tips to Designing Your Home Office

Home Office Set Up
•••  Credit: JZhuk | Getty Images

One of the big perks of running a home business is setting up a home office that's comfortable and inspiring. But before you head out to the office store to by a new chair or file cabinet, you'll need to plan your home office set up to insure you have a space you can be productive in.

1) Select Your Home Office Location

Stories abound about successful entrepreneurs starting their home businesses on the kitchen table or the garage. But these locations are not necessarily ideal. For one, if you eat at your kitchen table, you'll need to constantly pack up your office, which takes up time. Here are a few things to consider when choosing your home office space:

  • Is it separate from living areas? Ideally you want a place that is free from distraction.
  • Can it be designated as a home office? To take the home office tax deduction, your space needs to be used regularly and exclusively as a home office.
  • Can it hold everything you need so that you can work? You don't want to have to leave your office to find a file. Your home office space should be able to house everything you need to run your home business.

2) Prepare Your Home Office Space

One you have your home office selected, get it ready to be turned into your work space. To do this step, you'll need to know your essential needs for your home office, such as work space, lighting, outlets, etc.

  • If practical, remove any existing furniture and plants from the room or space that you will set up as your home office. If you're converting a closet, remove all clothing and other items from the closet. This will help you start with a blank canvas that you'll fill in with your home office design ideas one step at a time.
  • If you need some remodeling done to accommodate your home office set up, the next step will be demolition to remove existing partitions, shelving, etc. that are not part of your new home office design ideas.
  • Install any electrical, phone or cable outlets, cabinetry, shelving, and/or wall partitions on your plan - ideally while the space is already empty.
  • Thoroughly clean and paint, wallpaper, add floor coverings, hang light fixtures, etc. before bringing anything into the new space. Without furniture and equipment to get in your way, this step can be completed much more quickly and easily. However, while you don't want the furniture in the way at this stage of setting up your home office, you'll want to make sure you know exactly where your furniture and equipment will be placed in the room. For assistance, see the Home Office Furniture Plans step in this series.

    3) Set up Your Home Office

    Now that the space is ready, you want to fill it with all the tools and resources you need for your business.

    • Bring furniture into your office space. It's best to start with the larger pieces first so you'll still have the maximum amount of floor space to move them around. As you set up your office and bring in furniture, dust and polish it as needed.
    • Bring in your home office equipment and place it where it needs to go in the room. As you place each piece, check to see if it needs to be cleaned, oiled, or otherwise serviced, and that all cords are long enough to reach your outlets or power strips.
    • Before connecting everything, make sure you're still happy with your home office design ideas, especially the layout of your work area and that no unexpected problems have cropped up – such as a monitor screen receiving too much glare from a nearby window, or your desk area not receiving adequate light. Sit in your desk chair and take in the view.
    • Bring in smaller items to complete the set up of your office at home, such as lamps, organizers and desktop items. If needed, clean or dust them as you place them in the room.
    • Add bulletin boards, white boards and other organizational wall items.
    • Add desk accessories to help you stay productive and organized.
    • Make one last check to be sure you're happy with the layout and that it will serve you well in the days ahead. You home office design ideas may have seemed great, but when you go to set up your office at home you might find they really don't work well for you. A few adjustments now will save you grief later. Your work area needs to function efficiently so you can be more productive. Accessing files and supplies needs to be an easy chore so you'll spend less time doing it and more time working. Once you're satisfied that your home office design ideas are going to work, connect and test all equipment to make sure everything's working properly, that all cords are long enough, and that you haven't overloaded any circuits.

      4) Add flare and Inspiration

      Running a home business can be hard. Fortunately, you can add items to your home office that can calm and sooth, inspire and motivate, and make the space your own. 

      • Hang art work or other decor on the walls.
      • Get indoor plants that will help keep the air fresh, boost mood, and improve productivity.
      • Add pictures of your family or other items that make you feel good and inspired.
      • If you have a vision board, hang that.

      Stay Flexible with Your Home Office Set Up

      Once you've set up your office at home, you'll want to monitor how well your home office design set up is working in practice. Here are some questions to ask yourself as you settle into your new home office space:

      • What do I like most about how my office at home is set up and laid out? What do I like least?
      • Did I overlook important home office design ideas? Was I not able to put some of those ideas in place when I set up my office at home? If so, can I now make or plan accommodations to correct what's not working out with my home office setup?
      • Is my work space quiet enough? Cool enough or warm enough? Too bright or too dark? What needs to be done to make corrections?
      • Fill in the blank: "I could be more efficient if I only had __________ when I set up my office at home."

        Keep an Open Mind to New Home Office Design Ideas

        A good home office work environment means you'll work more efficiently and will be more likely to enjoy working at home.

        Even the best home office design ideas and plans can be improved, and hands-on experience is the best way to learn what changes are needed. Will you need to think about adding more space in the future? Make note of any mistakes or incorrect assumptions that you'll want to avoid when the time comes to expand or improve your home office.

        Also, even if your home office set up is great, you may find that over time your excitement about it wanes. Sometimes a home office makeover can help re-energize you in your home business. 

        And don't forget, as a home business owner, your home office isn't the only place you can work. If you're ever feeling cramp or uninspired, there are plenty of other places you can work when you need a change of scenery.