Forget the cushy startup with its catered lunches and beanbag chairs. As an independent worker, you have the freedom to create an office that’s specifically suited to your needs. Just think: You can have a fancy coffee machine and take yoga breaks whenever you want. There’s no need to work elsewhere. The design of your home office can be as elaborate or as simple as you’d like, but, of course, you’ll need to make sure you can pay for it all. Here are three ways independent workers designed their dream home office setup — without breaking the bank.
Don’t Buy It — Build It
What do you do when your health is a priority, but the price tag of a fancy walking treadmill dampens your dreams? Miranda Nahmias didn’t let that hold her back. “A walking desk was important for me to include in my home office because I spend so much time working while sitting down. My husband and I realized that this wasn’t healthy, so we decided to do something about it … I didn’t want to sacrifice precious working time by going to the gym, so instead, we created a solution that would allow us to work and exercise at the same time.”
Nahmias continues, “The building of the treadmill desk was actually less complicated than I thought it was going to be. First, we just bought a regular treadmill. We chose one with wheels, so we could move it in and out of the office as necessary, too. Once we had the treadmill in place, we did some measurements. Then, we bought and cut a piece of wood to act as the desk. We used clamps to attach it to the arms of the treadmill, and my husband added small pieces of molding to the sides to prevent stuff from rolling off.”
“The perfect home office is simply a space that fits your needs,” Nahmias explains. “We decided to forego a beautiful office, and instead have an amazingly functional one. And instead of purchasing crazy expensive furniture to fit our unique circumstance, we chose to be frugal and create something, instead.”
Think Big: Reuse and Upcycle
If your future office is currently an empty room, the cost to purchase the basics can be overwhelming. But there may be items in your home you can use temporarily (or permanently) while you save up to purchase what you really want. Anna Frances Wood, founder of Brains over Blonde, says, “I like having a huge desk space to spread out. Lots of desks aren’t that deep, so I use a dining table from IKEA, instead.” Feel the same way? Try repurposing an old table. Sand it, prime it, paint it — and you’ll have a brand new place to brainstorm. If you’re not in the mood to redecorate, check out your local Freecycle, Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace or yard sales for a pre-owned office steal.
Frances Wood offers one more tip that’ll help you get the job done (and save you money): “You can repurpose old TVs as monitors. Now, I have a huge screen, which I love.”
Feeling uninspired by your “blah” blue walls? Longing for wallpaper, but can’t justify the price tag? Design doesn’t have to cost a pretty penny. “Instead of wallpaper — which is expensive to purchase and install — use decals,” suggests writer Jenny Powers. “I bought rolls of thick black adhesive tape from Target and created a pinstripe look using the white walls and the black tape to create lines. It looks like wallpaper, and it cost less than $100 to cover two walls.” If your heart is set on wallpaper, ask the store if they have any old samples they’d part with for free. Then, create a gallery wall by framing similarly colored samples on one wall.
You can also create a similar look with a little creativity and supplies you already have on hand. Use paper and watercolors to paint your own designs. Hang them with frames or washi tape, or consider stringing a clothesline from the wall and hang your work off of clothespins.
Your perfect home office setup should be based on your own working preferences — no one else’s. Whether you care about function, design or both, know that you can achieve the look you want with the price tag you need.