The pandemic changed our lives and our work styles.
At the height of stay-at-home directives, we switched from our offices to remote online work. Many of us were challenged to be imaginative and create makeshift spaces in our bedrooms, dining areas, and hallways to accommodate our work activities. As work-from-home became the new normal, we were forced to change our perception of work and what we consider important in the workplace.
A hallway space in a four-bedroom, 3,990-square-foot Contemporary style home is wide enough to build a well-lit workspace equipped with chairs, cabinets, and storage drawers. The home includes a Great Room, open kitchen with an island, secluded bedrooms, formal dining room, a theater room, and an outdoor kitchen room. (Plan #153-1746)
Research shows that prior to Covid, just 3.4 percent of Americans worked from home. But when the pandemic hit us, a study conducted by Upfront/MIT revealed that nearly half of the U.S. workforce was working from home.
Everything changes – and we learn to adapt.
While the office environment provides many immeasurable benefits – face-to-face training, mentorship, fellowship, and collaboration – the value, convenience, and safety of working from home cannot be overlooked.
So, where do we go from here?
How nice it would have been to already have an office space in the home. But we can be creative and focus on how to reinvent and redesign our home offices – now that a space that was once an option or a wish list item has become a must-have.
A spacious office in a luxurious ranch style home with 3,757 square feet of finished space offers privacy and access to views, natural light, and a covered deck. The four-bedroom, 3.5-bath residence features a vaulted Great Room, dining area, kitchen with a large island, covered front porch, four-car garage, and a lower level with a recreation area, wet bar. Exercise room and theater. (Plan #161-1088)
Things to consider when creating your home office
We all face the need for a workspace that helps in separating the different aspects of our lives from our work activities. Our big task is adapting what we have so it fits in the home and allows us to work as productively as we can in that zone.
Whether working in a bedroom, a hallway, a stair landing, or a dining area, it is important to designate a specific location for work.
Suffused with natural light coming from the large window, the study in a one-story, four-bedroom, 3,206-square-foot Rustic style home has an area big enough to be marked as a “work-from-home corner. Re-arrange the furniture, clear the countertop to make room for office equipment, and you’re ready to go. Aside from the private study, the residence has other impressive features: vaulted front porch, Great Room with exposed beams and a stone fireplace, kitchen with an island, breakfast nook, and pantry. (Plan #153-1029)
That space must have a desk/countertop, a lamp, a chair, computer (desktop or laptop), storage files, office supplies to clearly mark it as a work zone. Marking that space will make the transition from home to work or vice-versa a lot easier.
If you want to build an entirely new addition, think of office size, the position of the window and door, and the style and size of furniture for the space.
Come up with a budget that makes sense for you and discuss every aspect of construction with your contractor.
Remember that with construction, a conversion, or a remodel, be prepared to remove items that are in the way, protect flooring and other areas. You should even consider moving out temporarily while the construction and remodeling are underway.
What should be included in a home office?
As you design your office or work-from-home space, the most important thing to remember is to have an area that is comfortable, convenient, and functional – and allows you to work efficiently and productively.
In addition to office supplies and equipment, these elements should figure when designing your home office.
1. Preferably, a private space within the home – or in the backyard, like a garden shed. Most designers and architects emphasize the need for a home office that is away from daily home traffic. In fact, in some new builds, home offices have their own entrances so that clients and/or business associates can stop by for meetings and consultations – away from family activities.
A simple, functional, private, and attractive space in a one-story, three-bedroom, 2,854-square-foot French Country style plan is an ideal home office. (Plan #142-1209)
2. Office furniture should be appealing as well as functional. Choose comfortable furniture that complements the style and décor of the home.
3. An ergonomic chair is worth every dime – and keeps your medical bills down.
A Cottage style backyard office – with its clerestory windows, light fixtures, and furnishings – provides a relaxing work atmosphere. (Plan #100-1363)
4. If your office is an area within the home and not a separate room, choose a workspace with a window or a view. It is ideal to have natural light filter into a space, but if you can’t have a window, hang a painting or poster so that you don’t stare at a blank wall.
The office in this two-bedroom, 2,744-square-foot Texas-style ranch house plan is perfectly positioned in front of a large multi-paned window that allows natural light into the area. (Plan #161-1126)
5. Add some personal touches – photos, posters, rugs, throws.
6. Add elements you find in a traditional office space – like plants, flowers, drinking water, a wall/desk clock that will remind you to take a break. Yes, it is a home environment – but be sure to get away from that desk for a lunch, afternoon tea, or even a short walk outside to refresh your mind.
Check out the fixtures in this backyard home office that make the space comfortable and calming. There are picture frames on the wall, desk lamps, area rug, plants, and overhead light. (Plan #100-1362)
7. A splash of color is always helpful. Office white or beige is boring. So, be bold and experiment with other shades to perk up the home office, keep you awake and motivated to get work done.
8. Use task lighting in addition to overhead and natural light.
A blue-patterned wallpaper adds a pop of color to the white walls in the home office in a one-story Cottage style home. The 928-square-foot home has two bedrooms and two baths. (Plan #177-1057)
What is the average cost for adding a room or just renovating a current space?
From a refurbish, conversion, and a new 12x12 square foot office, today’s homeowner faces a wide range of costs. According to fixr.com, the average cost can run from as low as $2,000 to as high as $20,000. Ultimately, the option you choose will depend on your budget and requirements for the space.
A simple remodel of an existing home office that includes a new desk and lights will cost $2,000.
A room conversion runs between $2,500-$4,000. Bedroom, attic (depending on the condition of the attic), shed to office. Basically, a conversion includes painting and floor upgrades.
The most expensive is the construction of a new space – which ranges from $18,000 to $35,000. The average homeowner can expect to spend at least $20,000 for a 12x12 square-foot office that includes a desk and bookcase.
What size home office should you make?
A home office can range in size – from a foldable desk, wide and sturdy enough to get a laptop on, and a comfortable chair to a small nook inside the house (under the stairs, a hallway, stair landing), or a large, dedicated space that can accommodate basic furniture and guests.
The size of the home office depends on several elements:
Who is using the space – and what it is being used for (arts and crafts, hobby corner, paying bills – or a full-blown work-from-home station).
The existing square footage that you have in the home
Features and accents you have in mind for the space
Stand-alone room with all the add-ons and finishes
The average size home officeis 50 to 150 square feet. Some people can work very efficiently in a space as small as 30 square feet while others prefer about 200 square feet or more for storage and workspace.
You can have this simple workspace: a built-in desk just outside the living/kitchen areas in a three-bedroom Ranch style home. (Plan 141-1134)
A fully furnished vaulted room in a two-story, four-bedroom Rustic Contemporary style plan serves as the home office. The room has a desk, built-in seat and shelves, a huge glass paned window, exposed beams, ceiling lights, a chandelier to make work a very pleasant experience. (Plan #161-1108)
Should the home office be outside in the backyard?
Traditionally, home offices have always been located inside the house – in every imaginable existing space or a bonus room. However, with the popularity of sheds – and their different purposes – home offices are moving outside - in the backyard.
A shed conversion to a work-from-home option may be one of the best ways of using an already existing structure – and keeping the work-life balance. Just think, you can still “commute” to work and be at a safe distance from the activities around the house.
Depending on the electrical supply and the need to install an HVAC system, a shed to office conversion can run homeowners anywhere between $1,000 to $10,000.
Consider building an office "outside" and check out our collection of home office "sheds".
A backyard bar cottage features this very attractive home office. (Plan #100-1364)
If you are in the process of remodeling your home or building a new one, remember the importance of a home office. From small to large, to garden sheds these home plans have the space you need to work from home.
In this age of video calls and Zoom meetings, what’s in the background has a big impact on the audience. So, it makes sense to present a home office that is “worked/lived in” but organized, neat, and attractive.
Footnote: The lead image in this article is a fabulous 192-square-foot backyard office. For more on the outdoor office/shed, go to: (Plan #100-1362)