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Working Out Of Your Closet
When putting a home office together, space is always a factor we must take into account. And unfortunately, that space is often limited in most homes, resulting in home offices sharing the same real estate as the family kitchen, living room, dining room, den, bedroom, or even a garage. But when a spare room or space is simply not available for a dedicated home office, there is still one space that is almost always overlooked as an effective place to locate your office -- the closet.
Yes, a closet. Assuming, of course, that you do have one available. And even if you think you don't, chances are good that a closet in your home is being used to store possessions that could find a more suitable place in the attic, basement or garage. Move these items to a more appropriate location and you will free up valuable space that can be used as your custom built home office. But the best feature? The ability to conceal your office when not in use. You simply can't do this with a standard home office.
The closet was the solution I chose when in need of a non-invasive place to work in my own home. The only available space was already taken up by my wife's home office, so I had to be ultra creative. Taking queues from home design and decorating shows, I scouted the closets throughout the house and located the one space that was not being properly utilized: the spare bedroom closet.
Although not used regularly, I refused to convert the room into an office, which would have rendered the room useless for overnight guests. But the closet was simply irresistible and became the focus for my home office. As I sorted through the closet's contents, I realized that everything in it could be donated or stored in bins elsewhere, like the attic. This left me a clean canvas where I can work my creativity.
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Organizing The Space and Building The Office
While not every closet will work, I find that most residential bedroom closets are perfectly sized to build a home office. The secret? Build up!
By building up, you can take advantage of the available space throughout the full 8 feet, or more, of ceiling height available. And with the correct furniture, design and layout, you can put every cubic inch of space within a closet to good use.
- The first step is to scout the available closets in your home. Don't sacrifice a fully functional closet for this project. Instead, locate the closet that gets the least amount of use.
- Relocate all its contents and clear the space from any shelving up to 6 feet in height. This will accommodate just about any piece of furniture, including an armoire like the one I use, while allowing storage overhead.
- Shop for furniture to fit the space. Because armoires are all about concealing, they are fabricated with many pull out sections, making them ideal for the space. Many basic tower design workstation desks will also do the trick. But. make sure that you take into account every piece of office equipment you will need.
- Accommodate the furniture in the closet space and setup your office as needed. Remember, always build up and take advantage of as much vertical space as possible.
- Use small bins to store supplies and other less used materials on the top closet shelf above the 6 foot mark, while also taking advantage of the top shelf of your workstation furniture.
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My Personal Home Office
To put this entire project in perspective, lets take a look at my personal home office. You will be surprised at how much can actually fit in such a small space.
I employed the use of a computer armoire and a small used server rack positioned side-by-side.The armoire is just under 4 feet wide and the rack is 2 feet wide, taking up all the floor space available in the closet. In order to allow the bi-fold doors to close, I removed the armoire doors, which would have been redundant to leave on the furniture since the closet doors will take care of the concealing aspect of the design.
And at a height of 7 feet, I installed a vinyl coated wire shelf, providing me with a foot of clearance for storage bins at the very top, and an additional foot of clearance on top of the existing server rack and armoire, which are both about 6 feet tall. This above-head storage space provides room for 16 small bins holding every imaginable office supply I will ever need.
The armoire has plenty of built-in storage spaces above the space for the monitor, along with a drawer for daily supplies and a letter sized filing drawer to fulfill my needs. And for writing space, a double expandable tray that pulls out, revealing a keyboard tray that is 37 inches by 17 inches in size and an additional writing shelf of the same dimensions, tripling the overall desk space when fully extended.
So exactly how much equipment can be "stuffed" into this closet? The numbers are quite impressive.
The server rack holds all the networking equipment (i.e. cable modem, wireless router, multi-port switch, and VoIP telephone equipment) on the top rack. There is a fax machine, color ink jet printer, 3 PCs and 3 UPS units to sustain power in the event of a temporary power glitch. The armoire holds dual monitors and keyboard/mouse sets: one set for my main system and the other set through a KVM switch for the other two PCs. Additionally, there is a digital tablet, label printer, pocket PC dock, USB hub, speakers, laser printer and DVD duplicating machine.
And there is plenty of space to spare!