Are dream home offices just something we see on Pinterest or in magazines?  Sadly, sometimes that is the case.  The home office can be boring, unorganized and unattractive.  Budget, time, and necessity all play into why these spaces are not dreamy like what we see in magazines.  If you are the owner of a dull home office and want a change, you are in the right spot because I have tips for a dream home office makeover on a budget!

Pink file folders in an upright file holder, vase with flowers, pencil caddy and file with "Dream Big" on front

Is it really necessary?

Do you need more convincing on why you should invest in your home office?  Well, here are just a few reasons:

– an attractive home office space will be inviting and therefore you will want to spend more time there getting work done, rather than avoiding the room and the tasks;

– a functional home office will make getting the tasks done easier and quicker;

– a well planned home office could double as a guest room, a craft room or even an exercise room;

– a dedicated and attractive home office will increase the value of your home;

– when it comes time to sell, your home will be more attractive to buyers as many people have a home office space on their “must” list;

– a dedicated space for work tasks will keep that paper work, crafts or whatever it is that you do in this space, out of the rest of the home;

Do you have a small budget and no money for new furniture?  No worries because I am going to give you plenty of ideas of how to create this space that are budget-friendly.

Designing women tell all banner

Before I go any further I should mention that it is that time again for another feature by the “Designing Women Tell All” group.  I have joined together with two other amazingly talented interior designers to do a monthly post where we share all our tips, knowledge and experience in the realm of interior design. This month the topic is…you guessed it “Home Offices”.  Be sure, to read to the end so that you can see what Kristy and Sheri have to share on this topic.  

Step 1: Determine your style

The first thing you need to do is to determine your style.  Perhaps you already know, but if not a great way to figure this out is to look through Pinterest and make a board where you pin every home office image that appeals you.  You can also do this with magazines.  Below is a sample from my Pinterest board for home offices. If you would like to see more, just click this link.

Sample Pinterest Home Office Board

Once you have collected many images, see if there is a common style emerging.  Are clean modern spaces appealing to you, or are you leaning towards an ultra feminine space?  If this space is closed off from the rest of the home, you don’t necessarily have to consider the style of your home as it is.  It is always good to have continuity through a home, but if this is your spot to work in, make it what you want!  

I did this in our home.  The rest of our home has almost all white walls and floors are a soft gray for a very airy vibe.  While I still wanted an airy feel for my office, I wanted a bit of color so I opted for the most serene bluish green color (Benjamin Moore HC 147 Woodlawn Blue).  I have never regretted this choice.  

If figuring out your style is not easy or is causing you stress, you may want to hire an interior designer to assist you and provide you with design tips so that you get the project started with a clear direction.  You do not want to have to start this project all over again.

One major part of determining the style is choosing paint colors, flooring, lighting and window coverings.  Make sure that you pick paint colors that compliment the flooring if you are working with pre-existing flooring.  Paint does not cost a lot and you would not believe how much just painting can go towards achieving the fresh new look you are looking for.  

Step 2: Consider your needs

The next step is to consider what you need to do in this space.  Are you doing computer type work such as bookkeeping, accounting, sending emails, etc.  Or are you a designer and need an area to lay out plans?  Or are you a crafter or artist and need ample space to store materials and a table or easel to complete your art on?  

Whatever it may be, carefully think of the tasks you need to complete and the equipment, furniture and storage required to complete those tasks.  Make an inventory of all the pieces and measure approximately how much space they take.  

Step 3: Draw a floor plan

Measure the room and transfer the dimensions and shape to a piece of paper.  I like using graph paper and dedicating each square as a foot.  Carefully lay out the floor plan and then add all the pieces of furniture. I actually cut pieces of paper out for the bigger items so that I can move them around the space until I have something I like.

Does everything fit properly and do you still have space to work and move around?  

Do not forget to plan for all of the electronic equipment such as your desktop computer, laptop, printer, etc.  Make sure each piece has a spot that they will fit in.

Once you have a plan, a great way of seeing if it works is to use painters tape and block out the pieces on the floor of your actual office.  Then move around in the space doing the tasks you would on a day to day basis. Is it working for you?  You may need to re-think things a few times before you get it exactly perfect.  Believe me, this step is so important and can save you time, money and grief later on.

Real life example

To give you a real life example, let me share with you my most recent personal home office design.  My office had to serve 5 functions – arts/crafts, real estate tasks, bookkeeping, blogging and home management.  I needed to have a large table or desk for my computer to layout paper work, and to do crafts on.  I also needed ample storage for art supplies, files for real estate and bookkeeping, equipment such as a printer, paper cutter, Cricut, and lots of books, etc.  A spot for my easel to reside was also important.  Lastly, I needed bulletin type boards so that I could lay out visually all that I needed to do – somewhat like a content calendar.  

My space was not large so I had to be very careful when designing the flow.  Knowing how much storage I needed, I made it a priority and dedicated a closet to house books, files, the printer, paper and other equipment.  

Closet office storage filled with books, printer, paper, etc.

A large drawer set with many shallow but deep drawers that I received from my father was another amazing storage spot where I could put all my pens, craft supplies, etc.  

Multi drawer storage unit in a home office

I found an old tobacco leaf sorting table on Facebook marketplace and it became my desk/work table.  

There was no room for a free standing easel, so Bentley made me a stationary one that was affixed to the wall.  

Home office with table desk, grey chair, multi drawer unit, easel and bulletin board

Bentley nicely framed two large cork boards.  One has my content calendar on it and the other a photos of all my goals for the coming year.  This keeps them in front of me and on my mind.  Lastly a rolling caddy houses all my paint supplies.

As you can see, fitting a lot into this office was necessary, but with careful planning I created a great work space.

Desk or work table

When figuring out what to use for your desk or work table, be sure to check out local thrift shops, Facebook marketplace, consignment stores, garage sales or estate sales.  You would not believe the beautiful and unique furniture that you can find.  

I never would have thought that we would have found a vintage table used to sort tobacco leaves on.  I don’t know when the last time was that tobacco grew here, but lucky me a family wanted to get rid of this beauty.  The other great feature of this table is that it has small wheels on it so I can move it around by myself.  Bentley sanded it down and gave it a white wash and voila, I had the perfect desk.

Wheels on table

Tip…

Another great place to look is in your own storage room or that of your parents or other family members.  Send a message out and see if anyone wants to get rid of something that could work for you.  

Chair

When it comes to an office chair, this is one item you may want to splurge on because nothing is worse than having an uncomfortable chair, especially if you need to sit in it for any period of time.   I waited for sales and got my chair on Amazon.  It is stylish, pretty and oh so comfortable! I love the tufted back, the thick cushion on the seat and the silver rivet detailing around the base.

Grey chair with pink pillow beside a window

If you really want to keep this on a budget, once again check out any where that you can find second hand chairs or put another call out to family and friends and see if they have anything they wish to get rid of.

Storage

The key to having a functional work space and one that you will be happy to work in, is if everything has a proper place to reside.  

I cannot emphasize this enough but plan for lots of storage space.  Outfitting a closet with shelving has been a lifesaver.  It was inexpensive and it works perfectly.  Besides that I can close the door and the room looks tidy.  It is so nice to be able to close a door on the less attractive pieces.

File cabinets, large banks of drawers, rolling caddies, wall mount file storage units, etc. are all great options to remain organized and keep the clutter off your desk. If you want to spice up a regular file cabinet, Lindsey of Repurpose and Upcycle has the perfect diy to make your cabinet look like it is out of a high end store. Just click here for her post.

I have found shallow drawers with tags on the outside are perfect for putting away office supplies.  Can you believe this drawer set?  My dad got it second hand and then stored it in our basement which periodically flooded.  It was in terrible condition, but I saw what great bones it had and could not wait to restore it.  No one could believe it was the same set when I was done.  

This is exactly why I say to ask around – see what people want to get rid of and then see if it meets your needs.

Antique multi drawer cabinet with candles, books and clock above

A decorative spinning pencil holder is a lovely way to bring some style to the space and keeping a few items at hand without spending a lot.

Light blue pencil caddy with felt pens and an envelope opener in it

Don’t forget to always check out your local dollar store because there are great deals!  There are so many options at affordable prices that will help you sort your supplies and keep them tidy. I found this cute holder for my paint brushes at the dollar store!

Paint brush holder that hangs on wall

Bulletin Board

Are you a visual person who needs to keep their projects, deadlines and goals in front of them?  I sure am and I have two cork boards framed out in a nice wide white frames to make them look more substantial.  This was an easy and inexpensive project.  One of the boards houses my vision board for goals.  If you would like to learn more about how I created it, just click this link.  

Vision board on a cork board with photos of goals

Lighting

Lighting in a workspace is of such great importance.  Natural light coming in through windows is great, but focused bright lighting for all times of day is a necessity.  

Consider your tasks and make sure you have ample lighting for them.  Once again, think second hand and you will save yourself so much money.  

Having one statement light, is a nice way to bring character and style into the space.  I chose a lightly woven rattan chandelier to go along with my airy natural vibe of the office.

Window Coverings

Whether for privacy or to keep strong sunlight from blinding you, window coverings are a must.  I found inexpensive blinds that are so easy to work at Home Depot and I saved so much money compared to ordering them from a blind or window covering store.  

They provide privacy and block just enough strong sun but still allow my office to remain bright.

White blinds with glass stars in front

A fancy rod with curtains is also a great way to add style but function to your office.

Home Decor

Now for the really fun part and the time to add your personal style to the space – adding home decor!  This is your chance to add your personal touch to the space and make it uniquely yours.

​Here are a few ideas:

– decorative upright file holders with pretty file folders

Pink floral office decor including file folders and daytimer

– an area rug to ground the space and provide a soft cushion for your feet for all the long hours

– a gallery wall of family photos, travel photos or photos documenting special events

– indoor plants add life, interest and joy to a space

Plants on a three level plant stand

– create your own art by doing your own painting or frame wallpaper or a favorite poster

– add decorative pillows to make the seating more comfortable and styled

– a signature clock is also a wonderful piece to add

– a good looking waste paper can.  I used a unique tall copper vase that I had picked up many years ago but had never used.  Look around your home and see what you could use as a trash can that will add interest and save you money because you are re-purposing.

– candles or twinkle lights – sometimes when working I light a candle for ambience.  It is such a nice way to relax after a long day of work.

– buy a pretty journal or daytimer that fits your office style – this way when it is out you don’t mind and it looks like a piece of art.

Home office makeover on a budget summary

I hope that you found lots of great home office tips and suggestions that will help you get your work done and you will feel great while you do it because you are in a beautiful and functional space!

Now let’s see what the other Designing Women suggest

Designing Women Tell All banner with photos of three women

Sheri from Savvy in the Suburbs is also from Texas owned and operated a successful interior design business for most of her adult life.  Now she is enjoying fluffing her own nest, spending time with her family – three married children and five grandchildren, and growing in her relationship with the Lord. As she joyfully enters the last season of her life, she relishs family time and believes in the old adage: God first, family second, all else third. She is enjoying the opportunity to share this truth as well as her years of design expertise and love of all things home.  This month Sheri is sharing her tips on how to turn your dining room into a multi-functional home office sitting room.

Home office glam combined with a sitting room

Kristy from At Home with Kristy is from Texas is a homebody at heart and very passionate about creating a warm & welcoming home environment for family and friends. Kristy has a BS Interior Design and has worked as an Interior Designer for 35 years specializing in Residential Interior Design. She is a planner, perfectionist, & big picture thinker, but also loves getting lost in the weeds perfecting every detail. Kristy loves sharing her knowledge and expertise to inspire, encourage and empower others. This month Kristy is sharing the amazing benefits of a home office library.

Masculine office with large bookshelves and ladder behind a leather chair

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7 Comments
  • Sheri
    August 17, 2023

    Fantastic tips Crystal! So informative and helpful. I love your pretty office space. Especially that cool cabinet!

    • Crystal
      August 20, 2023

      Thanks so very much Sheri! So glad you enjoyed it!

  • Donna
    August 18, 2023

    Nothing better than a functional office space that looks beautiful! Makes working so much fun when you have an organized pretty space! Thanks for sharing so many great tips!

    • Crystal
      August 20, 2023

      Thank you Donna and you truly are the expert on functional office spaces!!!

  • Susan Sikes
    August 20, 2023

    I love this post! I am in the planning stage of redoing my office. This gives me ideas and inspiration!

    • Crystal
      August 20, 2023

      Thank you so very much Susan! You have no idea how happy your comment has made me!

  • Cindy
    August 26, 2023

    Your home office is amazing Crystal! My office space needs an overhaul terribly! thanks for the inspiration!