If Back-To-School also means you just gained a bedroom, i.e. the college years, then you may have some decisions to make.  What to do with that spare room can be exiting, fun and challenging.  Some of the more common options are exercise room, media room, craft room, and home office.  However, before you start packing up everything your college student didn’t take along to school, you might want to check (or at least warn) him or her of the impending changes.  With home offices becoming such a huge trend, we’ll concentrate on that area to give you some helpful pointers whether you have an entire room, a portion of a room or just a nook.  The home office trend makes sense, it’s hard to resist a 30-second commute, tailor-made hours, a relaxed dress code and a work environment of one’s choosing.  Setting up an effective home office can be more difficult than it sounds.  Finding space with enough elbow room and privacy is only the first obstacle.  You also need an efficient desk setup, adequate storage, the right equipment, and proper lighting.

Pick the Right Spot

With proper planning, you don’t need much space.  You can turn a closet, an alcove or the corner of a room into an effective home office.  Think twice about where you set up shop – a kitchen or family room can make it difficult to concentrate on your work, while an office in your bedroom can make it impossible to sleep when the work to be done is staring back at you.

Don’t forget to put YOU in the center of your workspace.  You need to be able to perform multiple tasks – working on your computer, printing, talking on the phone, filing – from one location, so make sure you have enough storage within easy reach for essential supplies and equipment, and backup storage elsewhere for items you don’t use as frequently.  In tight spaces, make sure there is enough room to open cabinet doors and drawers.  Pay close attention to the lighting.  You don’t want to spend time and money creating a workspace only to end up at the kitchen table because of poor lighting.

Buy Furniture That Is Stylish and Functional

Designers say that form follows function, in other words, style is great, but the furniture must meet your needs.  The good news is that functional doesn’t always mean unfashionable when it comes to home office furniture.  Use built-ins that maximize every square inch in tight spaces, such as a closet or the bay under a stairway, and double-duty pieces such as armoires, foldout desks and storage chests you can use for seating too.  For shared spaces, such as a corner of a bedroom or den, use a folding screen, drop-down blinds, or a pull-out curtain to close off the area while you are working. 

Storage/Compact Equipment

In areas where space is limited, use narrow, adjustable shelves rather than deep, long ones.  Shallow shelves use less floor space and make it easier to see what you have.  Space support brackets close together for heavy loads that can cause shelves to buckle.  To maximize storage space, consider installing ceiling-high shelving.  Don’t forget to use the walls; they are a perfect place to affix phones, lights, shelves, and organizing boards.  You can cut down on clutter by purchasing multi-use equipment.  Consider a laptop computer, or tablet instead of a desktop; a large screen monitor can double as a television; use an all in one device for printing, scanning and copying.