How To Create a Custom Home Office On A Budget

We're always in a decorating mood at Brit + Co, from summer entertaining outdoors to fall coziness indoors. Here, we tapped Tiffany Leigh Piotrowski, founder of Toronto-based Tiffany Leigh Design, for tips on creating the perfect home office. Take it away, Tiffany!

If you've been working from home for the past year, you have likely discovered the importance of a functional workspace. Whether you have a whole room for a home office or just a quaint nook for a desk, your WFH (work-from-home) space should be able to accommodate your distinct needs. Creating a proper office space seems like an expensive undertaking, but I can assure you that it doesn't have to break the bank. Everyone deserves a comfortable at-home workspace, regardless of budget. With that, today I'm taking you through how to create a custom home office that is beautiful, functional, and affordable. Say goodbye to the dining room table and hello to a fresh space to inspire productivity!

home office decor

In "one bedroom plus den" apartments, the "den" spaces often make the perfect little WFH areas. I did just this in my downtown Toronto condo. My one-plus-den unit came with a den large enough to accommodate a full transformation into a home office with not one, but TWO, workspaces.

Since the space needed to allow for both myself and my partner, Luke, to work from home, a large work surface was a necessity. While I love custom desktops for large-scale renovations, a custom piece just didn't make sense financially for the rental. Instead, my team and I opted for two wood-look IKEA countertops set atop drawer units (from IKEA's ALEX collection) for a sleek yet affordable DIY desk. The three units plus desks tops came in under $500. We love this solution as it allows you to customize the size and look of your workstation more than standard IKEA desks could.

home office decor

Another major consideration for your home office is storage. Many homeowners and renters underestimate how much storage space they'll need, so my advice is to always maximize storage within your designated office zone. Keep in mind that we collect things over time so the number of items you have now will likely grow in the coming years.

For Project Mutual (my condo), we installed two massive IKEA PAX units opposite the desk wall for tons of storage. Again, we opted for ready-made furniture as built-ins would have been too costly for the rental. To elevate the basic IKEA units, we added affordable long brass handles to the cabinet doors for a more custom look. We then positioned another ALEX drawer unit in between the two cabinets for a tucked-away printer station (with printing supplies easily accessible in the drawers below). Above, we mounted some inexpensive laminate shelves to hold baskets of fabric samples; these woven baskets (also IKEA) were a worthwhile addition to the space as they tuck away clutter while adding a textural element to the room — they house all of my fabric samples!

home office decor

If you're spending hours upon hours at a desk, proper seating is an essential element of your WFH space. There are tons of options when it comes to office seating so you can always find the perfect fit for your space and your needs.

In most cases, I recommend ergonomic chairs with adjustable settings for home offices. People spend long days sitting at their desks so a proper office chair is a smart investment for both short-term comfort and long-term wellbeing. When looking for an office chair, prioritize seating options with adjustable heights; this is an important factor as the chair's height can be customized to your preferences as well as the height of your work surface. I also recommend upholstered (or semi-upholstered) options as having some cushioning can majorly increase a chair's comfortability. Click here for a chair similar to ours.

home office decor

While I always aim to create layers of lighting within rooms, this is especially important in home offices. By "layers of lighting", I mean multiple mediums for artificial lighting to cater to different times of day as well as tasks performed within a space. I find that the best home offices have a combination of ambient lighting (overall illumination) and task lighting (illumination provided to aid a certain task). In my apartment, a milk glass pendant lights up the space as a whole, while black desk lamps illuminate the work surface for a comfortable lighting level at the desks.

In terms of natural lighting, I believe that daylight should be maximized whenever possible. That being said, natural light is variable and shouldn't be the sole illumination for a workspace. Anyone who works after hours requires artificial lighting, as well as those who live in a place like Canada where in the winter, the sun goes down before the workday is over! Often, a combination of daylight along with one or two artificial fixtures creates the perfect mix of lighting for an office space.

home office decor

Even though home offices exist for functional purposes, they are still a part of the home and as such, require personal touches and accessories. Especially if you're relying on IKEA furniture for your space, you'll want to customize your space through decor.

For my office, we mounted two rows of shelves above the desk area to provide a fun decorative moment. Without the collection of objects on the shelves where we rotate our TLD Curated collection, the office might have seemed a little sparse or sterile. In this WFH space, the styled shelves, cool artwork, and patterned area rug help elevate this room and give it a custom appearance. If you're stumped on what kind of decor to include in an office space, start with the basics: office supplies! There are so many stylish alternatives for office gear these days, so select functional objects that are also beautiful. I love things like this cool acrylic file sorter.

Thanks Tiffany!

Design: Tiffany Leigh Design | Source: The Identité Collective | Photography: Kiely Ramos

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