How to upgrade your home office on a minimal budget
I’m sure a lot of you have also been spending more time in your home office nowadays as we are all trying to flatten the Covid-19 curve. All the time now spent in my home office, working from home has given me the itch to speed up the home office upgrade project. I’m telling you, we have never spent so much time in that office in the six years we’ve lived in this house.
Even though I know we can only start the work when our lockdown is lifted; it cheers me up to plan the home office revamp. This is how the room looks currently.
We have a couple of problems in the room – mostly related to the furniture:
- There is too much furniture in there, and it feels cluttered. We can’t really change the layout because of the amount of furniture.
- None of the furniture match and the room lacks a cohesive design.
- We need more storage, and I would love to have it more streamlined.
- We are kind of stuck with a built-in-closet – though it is not pretty, it does provide storage and hides the DB Board.
- There is not enough light in the room – only the one wall sconce, so it is difficult to use the room at night.
We’ll try to solve these issues, to make the room more functional and pretty on a tight budget.
My inspiration for the Home Office Update
Firstly Brianna from Bloom in the Black has a gorgeous built-in in her library. I love the combination of dark blue shelving and wood. I also love the symmetry with the wood accent in the middle and shelves on either side. Her moody library is genuinely inspirational.
Secondly, Sarah, from Thrifty Decor Chick’s built-in units in her office. She used dark green for the built-in colour but installed wallpaper on the wall behind. I love how it makes the built-in unit look lighter.
I will now give you six ways to save on your home office upgrade, just in case you are itching to revamp your space too!
1. Plan your Home Office Update Properly
This is always an essential step in any project. Proper planning can save you so much time, effort and money. Here are a couple of ways you can go about planning your project. You do not have to use all these methods, but it sure helps a lot!
- Draw your room to scale and play around with different furniture layouts.
- Make sketches if you can of how the interior elevations will look like. Maybe you have a built-in unit planned or a window seat – sketch it or make photoshop mockups to help you visualise it. Our proposed built-in unit will be a bit challenging, and I’m definitely going to do some photoshop work to help us plan it out.
- If you can’t draw or sketch, at least make a list of what you would like to do in the room.
- Draw up a proper budget – this will quickly make you realise how much you are looking at and help you to plan.
- Make a mood board of the furnishings, finishes and accessories you would like to use. I always use CorelDraw, but I know Canva works excellent for mood boards too.
In my initial room design, I did not pay attention to a budget. It was part of an assignment, and we did not have a budget for the assignment. In the real world, however, we have to consider a budget. This mood board will still dictate the overall design, but I have made some budget-conscious changes to the room design. I’ll also be switching to satin chrome finishes instead of gold or brass.
2. Use what you already have in the room or elsewhere in the house
You do not have to buy a whole new set of furniture if you have something already in your possession that will serve you just as well. I had planned on buying two new desks to create an L-shaped workstation, and even though I adore these desks from Coricraft, our current big desk with drawers will work well too, and save us a lot. I’ll probably also add a small side table from elsewhere in our home.
I’m also keeping the curtains. The floral pattern will soften up the dark green of the built-ins. These curtains were my Grandmother’s, and my older Sister used them for a time as well before I took them over. For their age, they are in pristine shape, and they were my colour inspiration for the room.
3. Work with what you have
Hang on, didn’t I just say this in the paragraph above. Well, you see, they differ. At point number two, I discussed how you could use items as is without doing any work, and in this point, we are talking about how to update certain things to make sure they work better with the room design.
We are going to use the current built-in-closet as well as our small bookshelf as part of the built-in unit. This means we only have to buy new timber for 50% of the built-in unit. We will make some adjustments to the closet and paint it, of course, but it helps a lot.
I will reupholster the chair back (the purple one), and might even have fabric at home that I can use! That chair is so comfy, and I like the design, so it helps a lot as swivel office chairs can get pricey.
4. Limit the number of items you buy
While we will mostly work with what we already have in the room, there are a couple of items we need to buy. But even on these, we will source them at the best prices we can find to save even more.
It is always a good idea to add some greenery in the room. I might try a real potted tree first as they are less expensive than faux and I will use a basket I already have at home as a container.
I love the look and feel of this visitor’s chair at the moment. Our second swivel office chair is really past its lifetime, so we do need to replace it. But we will buy a dining chair instead of an office chair as it is less expensive.
I mentioned that the lighting is an issue, and we will, therefore, install new downlighters and buy a new desk lamp to address that problem.
5. DIY as much as possible
We are used to doing most projects ourselves, so for us, it is no biggie. If you have the skills and knowledge, it is almost always less expensive to do the work yourself. That being said, if you do not have the ability and tools or the time, get someone to do it for you. You might make expensive mistakes that might end up costing more if you run into problems.
We’ve installed flooring, we’ve built bookshelves, and we’ve also installed lighting before. So I see no troubles ahead of us, it is jobs that are entirely in our skillset to do. This once again saves labour and contractor’s costs.
The only new job I’m attempting is the new back cover for the office chair, but I’ll call in some help from my Mom and Sister-in-law, who are more skilled than I am with sewing to help me on that one.
6. Omit non-essential items
Yes, we all want a room to look pretty, but rugs and décor accessories are amongst the most expensive items. They are not essential; they are decorative and will not make you use the room less if they are not there. It will also allow you to evaluate the space and get a sense of what you want to add to the room décor wise.
I will not buy a new rug and will postpone that buy until I’ve saved up for it. As for décor accessories, shop your own home first, or make use of one of these methods to save on wall art.
My thoughts on our problem areas
So let’s see if we’ve addressed out problem areas with the home office design plan:
- We’ll be removing one big desk, a chest of drawers and a big office chair. It will open the space up and make it feel less cluttered.
- We are keeping the darker wood items, and removing the Oregon stained ones. With reupholstery on the chair and a new built-in unit, the room will have a more cohesive look.
- We will be incorporating the existing closet and bookshelf into a new built-in unit to create more storage space, but this will read as one unit instead of three separate furniture items.
- We are adding downlighters and reusing the existing wall sconce to make sure we have enough light in the room to be functional at night as well.
I’m confident that we have addressed our problem areas sufficiently. This updated home office will add so much value to our house and lives. I’m excited to start working on it. But will in the meantime continue with the detailed planning until we are allowed back out again.
My Thoughts on Covid-19 Lockdown
We’ve been in lockdown for two weeks now, and it has just been extended for three more weeks. We also received notification that I’ll have to work from home until the middle of June, even if the lockdown measures are lifted. What I’m immensely thankful for at the moment is our uncapped internet and the fact that I’m able to work from home without losing any income. My heart goes out to everyone who is struggling financially and emotionally in this time as it is circumstances beyond our control that lead to this state we find ourselves in at the moment.
I struggle with time management. While everyone thinks I have so much more time on my hands, I have much less. It is a challenge to balance work time, forced home-school time, blogging time and regular household activities daily. While I know this time is challenging for most of you as well, and the uncertainty of the future might be getting to you, I know this: God knew about Covid-19. We are not alone, and we are not left to our own defences. He is always there, and He will carry us through this time as we continue to pray. If you need someone to pray with you, please send me a mail through the contact form – you are not alone in this.
Until next time, stay safe and take care!