If you are thinking of or already have made the decision to work from home, you are joining a work population that seems to be exploding. I have worked from home for a couple years now and I’m seeing more and more people making that same decision.
There are a few good reasons why it’s a great choice, from saving money to having more flexibility and balance in your life. The long and costly commutes will soon be nothing more than a bad memory, and your closet will be host to less business clothes that can raid your budget quickly. It also allows for more time to spend with family and friends, or doing whatever you choose to do, as you set your own hours.
It really doesn’t matter if you are a self-employed freelancer such as myself, or are working for a company that allows you the luxury of working from home. The one common denominator that we all have is the need for a home office.
However, finding the necessary space to create a functional, comfortable, and practical home office isn’t always easy. Sometimes it might take a little creativity, as well as elbow grease. So …have you considered the garage?
1. Take a Look Around
There are a lot of variables on whether or not your garage would make a good space for a home office, such as size, entry points, and how much work will be required. If the structure is not secure, in both security and safety, you might want to look elsewhere for space rather than taking on a major home renovation project. However, if your structure is solid, with an entry other than the big roll-up door, you have an option here.
You will also have to decide if you want to park outside, or not. Of course, where you live might play a role in that decision. If you live in the northern regions, with months of snow-filled mornings, you might not want to deal with brushing your car off all the time. Then again, you’re working from home now and won’t have to worry about that as much. That, and an automatic car starter can be useful for the days you do have to get out.
2. Make Room
Now that you know you want to convert the garage, you have to clear it out. As daunting as it seems, it’s much easier to design and develop a blank slate than it is to work around clutter. And, garages are notorious for clutter.
If you don’t have any other area around the home to store everything, and a garage sale won’t get rid of it all, check into renting a storage facility. There are some reasonable rates, and will be worth every penny to have a functional and nice office.
3. Develop a Plan
Once you have an empty space, you will learn more about what will need to be done, and how extensive the work might be. If you don’t already have dry wall up, heating and cooling, and other various necessities, you have a bit of work ahead of you.
Consider the following before you even pound the first nail:
- Permit – Check with your local government to see if you need a permit to do the work you are about to do. It might be a hassle to wait and seek approval throughout the process, but not nearly as much of a hassle than if you don’t get a permit, but are required to have one.
- Space – Is your space large enough to make two rooms, such as a family room or bedroom, so you can make as big of an investment as possible? In other words, we have a 2.5 stall garage, and that would be massive for a single office. However, if we divided it up, it would be perfect for two decent sized rooms. And, you might as well do the basics while you are in the mess.
- Layout – Get online and find a website that you can draw up plans for renovations. I did this when designing our new master suite, which was very helpful. You can put up walls, move them, delete them, put in furniture, get measurements, and more.
After you have done tips 1-3, then the construction begins. You can either do it yourself and save money, or hire it out and save a headache…or, at least not as big of one.
4. Customizing Your Space
The fun part comes in when the room is ready for you to start filling up and put the finishing touches in. Items such as the desk, chair, and cabinets are the ‘norm’ and necessary for you to get your work done. However, you could also add some touches to the room that will make it an office to be envied.
Take a corner of it and turn it into a reading area. Imagine a wall hugger recliner that you could put your feet up in comfort to do some research, and a wall of books. It could make a great environment for some reading and research. Now, consider a coffee center right next to it; a little corner unit with a coffee maker and all the fixings would add a special touch.
5. Finishing Touches
Add some finishing touches that can help guide you to your goals. Motivational pieces that can help stimulate your creativity and provide inspiration are great additions to any office. Simply find what motivates you, such as travel, a new car, financial stability, or even early retirement and then find or create related photos to use as wall art.
Converting a garage into an office can be a huge undertaking, especially if it is not already dry walled. However, the end result could give your career a boost, simply by having a room where you can concentrate and focus on your work. And, if done correctly, it could add value to your home.
Kathy Barber works out of her home office as a freelance writer. She knows the importance of having a functional and dedicated space as an office, and was inspired to write a series on designing a home office after looking for a space-saving wall hugger recliner. She is currently writing articles for www.reclinerchairreviews.com. Other topics she frequently writes on are health, working from home, and entertaining. Married, with a young son, Kathy lives in Michigan where she was raised. When she is not working, she enjoys spending time with family, cooking, entertaining, and various activities with her son.