How to Organize a Home Office While on a Budget (My $76 Home Office Makeover)

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Carrie Smith Nicholson

January 14, 2015  •  6 min read

In 2014 I celebrated my first full year of self-employment for my online business. During this time I made a lot of changes, flipped my schedule upside down, and finally found a daily routine that worked.

The only thing that was still frustrating was my home office environment. We live in an apartment so there isn’t a lot of space, which means I had to get creative with storage.

And of course, me being a budget-conscious entrepreneur means that I didn’t have a lot of money to spend either.

So during the fall of that year I decided I wanted to invest in my business by creating an organized and functional home office.

Create a productive at-home environment

You may think that working from home means less distractions than going into the office, chatting with your colleagues, answering the phone, and getting called away for meetings.

But I’ve found this to be the opposite; especially if you don’t have your own workspace.

In addition, I learned this past year that it’s vital you create a space that allows (and promotes) creativity, inspiration, and productivity.

After only a few months, I was quickly becoming antsy with how my office was making me feel. I moved the desk around multiple times — faced the window, faced the door, moved my chair to the other side.

But nothing seemed to work! It was like I could feel this creative block every time I walked in the office.

before - home office

I finally came to the conclusion that my current office layout and furniture wasn’t cutting it and it was time for a home office makeover.

Organize a home office space

As you can see from the before pictures, my home office started out very dark and cluttered. It’s hard to work efficiently in a space like that because I never felt inspired, and I could never find anything I needed.

I was always wasting time looking for things, and moving around with my laptop trying to find a comfortable space to think. Everything just felt so disorganized on the outside, and somehow that was encroaching on my mind too.

after - home office

Anyways, I started a new Pinterest board where I could find the design ideas to match the feel of what I wanted my home office to be. I was spending 6-10 hours a day in this one room, so it might as well be an atmosphere I liked in order to function at 100%.

My brand and blog colors are purple, teal, with pops of white and gray, so choosing the colors I wanted was easy.

And now that I settled on white furniture (instead of the dark black or brown I had previously) the only step left was to find pieces that I could afford.

Find home office furniture on a budget

When it comes to office furniture, you can spend boatloads on just the desk. I had my eyes on this one, from World Market, but knew it was completely impractical.

I was only able to save $50 a month towards my office makeover, so even on sale it would take 3+ months to afford, and that would just be the desk, much less shelves and other organizational items.

After looking around at local consignment shops, office stores, and online, I found the following pieces of furniture that fit my budget and the feel I was going for.

Ikea Table Top – $29.99

Naturally every home office makeover should start at Ikea! And since my previous desk was also from Ikea I knew I could purchase a new table top and reuse the legs.

In your case, you can simply use any type of table legs since Ikea’s furniture already has holes to insert screws.

new workspace after

No creative workspace would be complete without original artwork and a fancy @ symbol to show your geeky side.

Clear Plastic Over-the-Door Organizers – $9.98

When you live in a small apartment, your rooms and closets are usually double-duty (as you can see from the Christmas stuff, gift bags, and other boxes).

I had to get creative with my office supply storage (especially since the Ikea desk doesn’t have any drawers).

I bought two clear over-the-door shoe organizers from Amazon and hung them over the closet doors as an extension for more storage.

organized closet - home office

The main difference with the office closet is that I cleaned it out and threw a lot of stuff in the trash. Sometimes just organizing the paper work, shredding things you don’t need, and using storage bins or file cabinets can work wonders!

I recycled the file cabinets that were purchased from Ikea at a previous date. They’re still the dark color that match my other desk, but since I’m only using them in the closet, it doesn’t mess up the feel of my new office environment.

I also store my printer and paper shredder in the closet so it doesn’t clog up the space on my desk.

White Bookcase Shelf – $32.99

I was hoping to find a nice bookcase from a flea market that I could sand and repaint, but when I found this bookshelf at Target right before the holidays, and marked down slightly to $29.99, I snatched it up.

I know my office will always be a work-in-progress and I still have some bookshelf inserts I want to put into it, as well as other organizational things for my desk.

But it’s a much more creative and serene workspace now, and I only spent around $76.

If you’re thinking of redoing your home office space, or just need some new stuff to brighten up the atmosphere, you don’t need a lot of money to do it.

My $76 home office makeover

Ikea and Target are some of my favorite places to find furniture, office supplies, and organizational items. I’ve also been checking out local consignment shops, Goodwill, and even flea markets.

You can make some great finds and improve them with just a bit of paint and creativity.

I also recycled many of the items I already had (like the file cabinets, and white shelves under my desk), so don’t be afraid to use items you already own for other purposes. Experiment, and try new ideas!

And for those calculating, here are the final numbers on what I spent to redo my workspace (current prices may have changed):

  • Table top from Ikea – $29.99 (I purchased for $25)
  • Shelves from Target – $29.99 (small discount)
  • Over-the-door organizer from Amazon – $9.97 each
  • Total spent on home office makeover = $75.92 

I’ll likely redo my home office space again (when we move, or when I get bored of this layout), but until then, phase 1 of this home office makeover is complete.

And that’s how I save myself and my business money when creating a new workspace!

A home office affects your productivity

Alright, now that you have some ideas about you can makeover your home office on a budget, you’re ready to take things to the next level!

You’ve seen how important a zen home office space is for your productivity so, I’m hosting an online course that dives even deeper into how you can take the stress out of getting things done.

This post is part of the TaxACT How I Save blog tour which teaches you ways to keep more money in your pocket. Last year, TaxACT saved America over $240 million on tax preparation. How much can you save? I invite you to join in the conversation on Twitter with #howisave.
Makeover your home office on the cheap. Use these home decor ideas and see how I created my home office space for just $76 (with before and after pics)!