As a couple with no children, my husband and I have almost always had a spare room to designate ‘the office,’ no matter how small our living quarters. Considering the future possibility of children or the need to move to a smaller apartment, I have often wondered what I would do to create an office space elsewhere. It seems odd to place desks in the living room or kitchen, too crowded in the bedroom, and there’s not enough space anywhere else. Or is there? The question can be answered by examining my (and your) definition of ‘office.’
For instance, does your image of an office include a heavy desk with a filing cabinet and a bookshelf? Reconciling that image with the modern concept of a home office will go a long way in offering hope of finding an idea that meets your small-space needs.The key to accomplishing this is to think outside the ‘office box’ regarding what your office really needs, and where it can be located.
In doing this, you’re not alone. Regardless of the size of their homes, an increasing number of people are moving away from traditional whole-room offices and creating versatile, even incognito office spaces in various areas throughout the house, often in the form of multi-function stations.
So let’s get started. What exactly do you need for an office? Well, there are basics like a computer, a desk, a chair, and office supplies. Keeping it as simple as possible is the easiest way to guarantee versatility. Do you really need a desk with drawers, or a filing cabinet? The essential paperwork you need shouldn’t fill more than a small file box. If you’ve got more than that, it’s probably time to sort and pitch old records. After all, so much is stored online and on hard drives now, there isn’t a need for paper copies.
Utilizing a simple one-drawer, table, or ‘floating’ desk allows you to consider placement options like these:
- A hallway/entryway table. A slim-line table doubles as a drop-off zone, mail station, and command station. Use a ghost chair or ornate dining room chair if you don’t want to detract from the rest of your decor. Just make sure it tucks completely under the table and out of the pathway.
- A corner desk. Desks that fit in a tiny corner utilize wasted space and can be made into their own little world without drawing attention or detracting from the rest of the room.
- A customized bookshelf. Purchase a combination desk/bookshelf or customize one you have by inserting an extended shelf as a writing surface. Voila…instant desk! You can even ‘hide’ your office supplies in magazine holders, baskets, and other items that double as decor.
- Built-in shelves. Does your place have shelves that are built into the walls? Adjust them and designate one of them as a desk surface. By keeping everything minimal and interspersed with decor, no one will even know it doubles as a desk.
- A closet. This is one of the most creative ideas I’ve seen. Insert shelves, place a small table or desk in the closet, and you’re good to go. The best part is you can close the door on your ‘office’ when it’s not in use, so messiness isn’t as much of an issue. You can even get artsy and paint the closet or replace the door with a tension rod and drape.
- A cabinet. This works similar to a closet since you can shut the doors on it. Adjust the shelving to accommodate your computer (perhaps with a roll-out), printer, file trays, and other office supplies. A cabinet doesn’t take up much space and can be placed in virtually any room without looking tacky.
- A mobile cart. If you’re a minimalist with your office, a mobile cart or folding laptop stand/desk will more than suffice. You can take your work to any room and then push it out of sight.
Files & Office Supplies
After sorting and condensing your files down to to the essentials, keep them either in an attractive file box (avoid plastic or printed cardboard) easily stored on any shelf, or a rolling filing cube stashed under an open desk or table.
If there isn’t enough concealed storage space in the area you’ve chosen, get creative with office supplies by mounting them above your desk space using magnetic or zip-tied cup holders, cloth-covered cork or peg board, and wire baskets (perhaps hung from a rustic wood plank for some instant art).
Your Anywhere Office
Thanks to the growing interior decorating trend in minimal, flexible office spaces, there are plenty of resources and ideas for designating and designing a personalized home office virtually anywhere. Check out some of these ideas, and I guarantee you’ll be itching to give your office a new, streamlined location in your apartment home.