How to renovate an at-home office
Here’s our complete guide to designing a home office space that fits your needs. From cost, to design, to renovation planning - this article will take you through everything you need to know to get working.Jul 28, 2021 • Kira Barrett
Now that the U.S. is slowly starting to move out of the pandemic state and back to normal life, many of us are realizing we’d still like to work remotely - or at least continue with a hybrid work model.
Therefore, having a personalized and comfortable workspace is essential. Your bed or your flimsy folding chair may have cut it at the beginning of the pandemic, but it’s time to level up! Many homeowners choose to create a home office in a spare bedroom, sun room, part of a basement, or even a garage.
When you renovate your home, it makes sense to create a space that’s conducive to your work style. Think about your current makeshift work space and what you’d like to change to make it better for your permanent office. Do you need peace and quiet? A separate room with fewer distractions?
From desk position, to square footage, to windows and more, there’s a lot to consider when you’re remodeling a home office.
If you’re considering building or renovating a home office, read on to learn about all the things you need to know before you get started.
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How Much Does a Home Office Remodel Cost?
Renovation costs for a home office space vary depending on how you’re building the home office. Are you transforming a bedroom? Adding a wall in a living space? Installing a new window, maybe?
If your new home office is a small part of a larger home remodel, some of the costs, including electricity, demolition, and structural elements might be wrapped into the total budget breakdown, and it’s hard to say exactly how much just the home office portion will cost.
However, HomeAdvisor estimates that a home office renovation costs around $15,000, or roughly $100 per square foot, assuming that most home offices are around 100-200 square feet. (If you’re self-employed, you can even use your home office space to qualify for a tax deduction.)
But what aspects of the project make up this total cost? It’s a number of things, including:
- Building permits - $1,300
- Built-in Desk, Bookshelf or cabinets - $1,200-$3,900
- Load bearing wall demolition - $1,200 - $10,000
- Non-load bearing wall demolition - $300 - $1,000
- Painting - $100 - $600
- Furniture - $100 - $3,000
- Soundproofing - $1,000 - $2,400
- Lighting - $150 - $800
- Electric outlet installation - $120 - $200
(Avg costs for 100 sq ft, according to HomeAdvisor.)
All of these costs will vary depending on contractor, market, office size, and project. The best way to accurately estimate cost is to get quotes from 2-4 contractors for your home office renovation, rather than solely relying on internet research.
According to Fixr, converting a bedroom to a home office will cost an average of $3,500, whereas building a home office from scratch will cost $18,000 to $35,000.
Depending on your budget and needs, your project will probably fall somewhere in between these ranges.
Top 8 Home Office Ideas
Before getting estimates from contractors, it’s time to collect ideas and inspiration for your office design. What aesthetics inspire you? What kind of colors, shapes and materials do you want to be surrounded by while you’re working?
First, you’ll want to focus on the essentials. Whether you choose a rectangular, corner, or standing desk, the layout depends on your available space, personal preference, and how you work. Don’t be afraid to splurge a little on the best office chair to meet your needs and help improve/maintain your posture. Proper storage & organization units are optimum for productivity, and you’ll want proper lighting including plenty of natural light if possible.
The bottom line - your desk, shelves, seating, and storage should serve you. Don’t sacrifice form for function. Consider what items you need at your fingertips.
The following design ideas will help you maximize your home office space.
Having a lounge space in your office allows you some flexibility to move around throughout the day. If you want to take a break or take a call, you can move to a comfy chair. If a family member or friend comes into the room to chat, they have somewhere to sit. It’s not difficult to add some furniture, side table and lighting to make the office a lot more versatile.
There’s nothing more boring than staring into a blank wall from 9-5. Why not position your office on the edge of your home and give yourself a view? Being able to take a look outside during the day and get some sunlight will brighten up the space and inspire you as you work.
If you know you need a new home office but aren’t ready to let go of a bedroom, consider creating a transitional office space. This is a room that can functionally serve as both a bedroom and a home office, allowing you to get more use out of the area. Guests can sleep and work from the room while visiting, and you have the perfect area to get your work done when it’s just you.
One aspect of your home office that you shouldn’t fail to consider is storage space. If you treat your desk like a dumping ground, it’ll soon get cluttered and filled with stuff! It’s important to think about exactly what you’ll need to store and how you want to do it efficiently. From family photos, to notes, to monitors, to office supplies, there are lots of things you might want to house in your new home office.
A great addition to your home office remodel is custom shelving. While it is expensive, custom shelving not only looks amazing, but it’s a really functional element of a room. If you’re an avid reader, your home office is a great place to store all of your books. The great thing about custom shelving is that you can design it to fit your needs perfectly.
Modular shelving is another great option that provides flexibility. Our work needs change over time, and with modular shelving, you can update your storage space as you go. Maybe one year your office serves as a place to start your small business, and the next, your children use it as a homework area. Modular shelving allows you to put up and take down different shelving pieces that all fit together as part of one collection.
While floating shelves are a bit smaller than massive wall-to-wall shelving, they’re a great option to house decor and desk toys that you may have amassed over the years. Your succulents, drawings from your kids, flowers, candles, etc. may look great, but they might not all be able to fit on your desk. Floating shelves are a great way to display all of the important mementos that you want to keep with you while you work.
Multi-purpose elements are the backbone of the home office, and window benches are no different. They serve as a spot to lounge and work in the sun, a guest seating area, and if they open up, can be used to store office supplies and books.
To create an office that truly feels unique to you, it’s important to add some personal touches. You can decorate the walls with diplomas, awards, inspirational sayings, and other things that will motivate you and remind you of your past achievements.
A cheap way to add some design flair is with an area rug that fits your style. You can also hide unsightly cords with a fabric cord cover or tubing that attaches to the desk and lifts the cords off the floor.
Other personal touches include: photos, houseplants, framed wall art, an accent wall or wallpaper, decorative waste basket, trendy notepad and matching office supplies.
5 Productivity Hacks For Your Home Office Remodel
It’s easy to get caught up in the visuals of a home office for aesthetic purposes during a remodel, but ultimately the purpose of building one is to work more efficiently and comfortably. Any old room in your house won’t do, and there are some great elements that can make you even more productive.
Lots of homeowners who’ve made a home office part of their remodel will say that they regret this feature after they’ve renovated. It’s not hard to understand why; especially if you have kids or your spouse also works from home. When you have multiple conference calls going, your kid has a playdate over, or the neighbor is using the leaf blower yet again, soundproofing is going to be a godsend and well worth the expense.
The ergonomic chair is an easy win for your office renovation because its affordable and doable no matter what your space looks like. During the pandemic lots of folks started experiencing back pain due to bad chairs and lack of movement - don’t let that be you! If you spend 75% of your day at your desk, you should be sitting in a healthy position.
Another way to stay healthy while you work is to get up and move. Having a large white board on your wall is a great way to motivate yourself to stand and take notes or brainstorm. It’s also nice to have your to-do list in view throughout the day.
This is self explanatory - sometimes when you’re in a flow state, the last thing you want to do is get up and go to your kitchen to grab food or a cold drink. Putting a small fridge in your office makes it easy to stay hydrated and full when you’re working without having to move. Workaholics, this is your best friend.
On that same note, keeping your source of caffeine near your desk is a game changer for lazy mornings and afternoons. When you wake up with little spare time before your morning meeting, it’s great to be able to make your coffee right there next to you and still stay on track.
How To Stay On Budget With Your Home Office Renovation
It can be difficult to minimize costs during a home office remodel, but there are some easy tips you can use to make sure you don’t break the bank account with your project.
Keep a Buffer: Most renovations come with unexpected costs, due to a whole range of events. From inclimate weather, to last minute changes, material shortages and more, you should expect that at least one aspect of your home renovation won’t go perfectly to plan and you’ll have to pay a bit more. The worst thing you can do is keep a razor thin budget for yourself, especially if you’re paying in cash. Most experts recommend adding on an extra 2-3% buffer in your budget so that your renovation is stress free when it comes to budgeting.
Look at Renovation Loan Options: If you simply don’t have enough to pay for your dream renovation in cash, there are lots of renovation loan options to look into to finance your home office remodel, including RenoFi Loans. You don’t want to end up forging ahead and getting into credit card debt over your project, when you could have planned in advance.
Check Out Facebook Marketplace: Reduce, reuse, recycle and purchase furniture and decor on Facebook Marketplace. This is a great place to purchase high quality items in your area for less than half the original price.
Make a Priority List: We recommend breaking down every item on your home office renovation list and putting them into two categories: wants and needs. That way, if when you get estimates you realize you need to downsize, you know what you should cut first.
All in all, remodeling a home office is a great investment into your career, your home life and even your health and happiness.
Want to learn more about how to finance your home office remodel? Check out the RenoFi Loan Calculator to see how much you can borrow with a RenoFi Loan.