Article: Design a Home Office on a Budget

I just came across an article from the Los Angeles Times with some helpful hints for building a home office on a budget. While I plan on doing a full feature on this very topic, I thought I’d share the article now because it has some interesting tips. In the article, interior designer Lauren Rottet is shopping brick-and-mortar office supply stores and liquidators, but the fundamental principles she outlines could easily be applied to online ordering:

“Because it’s quick and easy, there’s always the temptation to buy a whole room ensemble – matching desk, chair, cabinet and hutch – but they really dominate a room, and chances are you don’t need all four pieces.”

She moves on, gravitating to the simplest desk – nearly black with unfussy hardware.

“Wood veneers and laminates look cheap,” she says. “The darker the piece, the more it tends to disappear.”

And in the lighting aisle?

“Most people probably have a lamp at home that would serve their purposes,” she says, passing on the options here. “Or they could find a cool one at a vintage furniture store.”

Rottet’s main piece of advice is to keep your home office as much a part of your home as possible. Use design choices that match your personal style, rather than making your home office feel like a workstation or cubicle. Mix-and-match pieces and look for vintage or pre-owned materials to accent your new hardware. One of the ideas I really like was using two pedestal file cabinets as pedestal ends for a desk, and laying a piece of thick glass or granite across them for a DIY feel that still has charm and elegnace.

However you end up kitting out your home office, be sure to do it with quality materials from a reputable retailer. While the temptation is there to trawl the bargain-basement offerings and your local big-box store, you’ll more than likely end up with cheap particleboard junk that falls apart before too long. You don’t need to break the bank; just buy a few quality pieces and accent them with personal touches wherever you can. If you’re going to be spending a lot of time in your home office, you want it to be as comfortable and natural as possible.

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