21 Tips For Designing A Home Office On A Budget

By Zach Buchenau

Last Updated: April 9, 2021

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If you are designing a home office on a budget, there are a ton of simple things that you can do to keep costs down. And with more of us working remotely than ever before, our productivity depends heavily upon creating a professional and productive workspace.

But that doesn’t mean you have to break the bank.

In fact, for the rest of this guide, I’m going to cover 21 of the best tips for designing a home office on a budget.

So, if you’re ready to upgrade your home office without draining your bank account, keep reading!

1. Decide On The Essentials

Before you jump right into building out your ideal home office, it’s really important to figure out exactly what you need.

You may find that some items are optional, while others aren’t necessary at all.

For example, if you typically work paperless, you can probably do without the expense of a scanner or printer.

Sit down and create a list of all the items that you need including furniture, technology, office supplies, and decor. Be sure to include everything you can think you’ll need.

Then, once your list is complete, look at each item individually and decide if it is essential or just nice to have. Don’t be afraid to be aggressive with eliminating items. You can always add them back later if you realize down the road that you can’t live without them.

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2. Set A Budget To Keep From Overspending

Once you have your essentials list, you should set up a budget for your home office. Without a budget in place, it’s very easy to let your spending get out-of-hand quickly. Before you know it, you’ll have spent way more than you were expecting.

So, figure out how much you are willing to spend, and then write that number down.

Then, next to each item on your list, write down the cost. Your goal should be to come in at or under your budget. So, if after adding up the total cost, you find yourself over-budget, you may have to cut a few more items from your list–or look for cheaper options.

3. Repurpose The Furniture You Already Have

Furniture will likely be your most expensive cost when designing your home office space.

Whether you need a desk, chair, or other storage areas, the costs can add up.

The good news is, you may already have furniture around your house that can be used or modified for your office.

For instance, you could convert an old entry table into a desk or an extra dresser into a file cabinet. A little creativity can go a long way.

One thing to be cautious about when reusing or repurposing furniture is keeping ergonomics in mind. While it might be cost savings to turn an extra piece of furniture into a desk, you could end up working in discomfort because the surface isn’t the right height.

This is especially true for a proper desk chair.

Remember that you are going to be sitting for hours on end. And what’s the point of saving money on your new office space if you’re just going to end up spending more on chiropractor co-pays.

How To Design A Home Office On A Budget | Be The Budget

4. Shop Savvy

Creating a great-looking space doesn’t have to be expensive—especially when there are lots of places to pick up inexpensive office furniture and supplies.

Budget-friendly retailers like Home Goods, IKEA, and Amazon are a great place to start if you’re looking for brand new items.

Just keep in mind that some items need to be more durable than others. Therefore, consider how you plan to use the item and how long you think it will last. Saving money is great, but it doesn’t make much sense to opt for cheaper items that you’ll end up having to replace in six months.

Thrift stores are also great if you want to find quality pieces at a steep discount.

In fact, in my experience, older furniture from a thrift store tends to be of better quality than some of the new items you might get from discount retailers.

Don’t overlook items that only need cosmetic repairs like a new coat of paint. Even simple modifications like changing hinges or knobs can make a piece look brand new.

Side Note: When shopping around, don’t forget to take advantage of couponing or cashback apps like Rakuten or Honey for additional savings.

5. DIY As Much As Possible

If you’re trying to set up a home office on a budget, you don’t have to purchase everything pre-made.

If you are feeling crafty, you might be able to build or create some unique pieces for your office space such as shelving, additional storage, or desk space.

Perhaps some old milk crates can be repainted and mounted to the wall for some unique shelves. Or, if you need a place to brainstorm ideas, you can paint a wall with chalkboard paint for significantly less than buying a real chalkboard.

That being said, these kinds of projects can get a little out of hand, so make sure you compare the price of purchasing an item versus the DIY budget. The last thing you want is to put a lot of time and money into something that you could have just purchased.

6. Hide Your Wires And Cables

One of the downsides of office equipment is the number of various cables and wires hanging around. After a monitor, mouse, keyboard, printer, and power strip, your office space can become a little cluttered, not to mention full of tripping hazards.

There are lots of cheap alternatives to hide your cables including clips, covers, and cord management boxes. You can even hide your cords behind a small plant or picture frame. Some desks even come with a special compartment for hiding cords.

If you really want to make your space look professional, do your best to conceal as many cords as possible.

7. Paint The Walls

Adding a coat of paint to your new office is an inexpensive way to update the look of your space. There is a lot that you can do with paint. If you are using only a part of a room as your office, you can use paint a single wall to separate your office from the other area.

You can also get creative with accent colors or a cool design if you are feeling bold. 

8. Don’t Forget About Plants

There is something about nature that helps make a space feel welcoming. Keep this in mind when designing your space.

A few plants will help make the space feel comfortable and professional. You can also add a design element by selecting decorative pots that match the decor or color scheme.

If you don’t have a green thumb, you can incorporate other natural elements such as natural wood, cork, or stone within your space. You can also keep a vase stocked with fresh flowers for a pop of color and a pleasant fragrance.

9. Upgrade Your Lighting

Updating old light fixtures can help your office space feel more modern.

This can also ensure that you are getting the right amount of light to keep you from straining your eyes. If your current lighting situation is too far from your desk, you might want to add a lamp or two near your work area.

A ceiling light fixture can also be upgraded to a ceiling fan. This improves the look of the space and helps keep the room at a comfortable temperature all year.

If you are not very handy, don’t forget to include the cost of an electrician to install the new light fixtures in your budget. The last thing you need is a nice office space that is also an electrical fire hazard.

10. Get Used Furniture Or Office Supplies

Your furniture and office supplies don’t have to be brand new.

Check out Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, or local garage sales for used furniture or office supplies. If you are lucky, you might even find some good items listed for free.

When companies go out of business, they usually need to get rid of their office equipment and supplies. Speak to a real estate agent or broker who deals with commercial office spaces. They might be able to connect you with businesses that are selling office furniture, chairs, and other professional-grade equipment.

11. Add A Mirror To Make Your Office Feel Bigger

A mirror can add a polished look to your office space. Not only does having a mirror make the room feel bigger, but you can also use the reflective surface to improve the lighting conditions in the room.

Thrift stores are the perfect place to pick up a good quality mirror. You can always mask off the glass and paint the frame to fit your office decor.

12. Add Some Paintings And Photos

You likely have some artwork or photos around your house that you could repurpose for your office space. So, instead of leaving your walls bare, spruce them up with some paintings or photos.

Not only does this make the space look complete, but it adds a personalized touch.

Just remember, having a bunch of matching frames can make the space look boring. Go with a mix of slightly different frames to create a comfortable yet professional look.

21 tips for designing a home office on a budget | Be The Budget

13. Negotiate Your Internet Rates

The internet is a must-have when you are designing a home office.

Unfortunately, you might be paying too much.

So, call your internet provider and talk to them about options.

If you see a cheaper price from a competitor, you might ask your existing provider to match the price. If they won’t budge, you can also ask them to upgrade your internet service for the same price.

14. Leverage Natural Light

Natural light will not only make your home office look more professional, but It’s also better for your eyes than artificial lighting.

Therefore, if you’re designing a home office on a budget, take advantage of natural light sources.

However, try to avoid having natural light behind you as this could create a glare on your monitor or laptop screen.

As an added benefit, using natural light also reduces the need for artificial lighting, which can lower your electric bill.

15. Get A Wired Keyboard And Mouse

If you are looking to save a little bit of money on office equipment, you might opt for a wired keyboard and mouse.

In addition to being less expensive, you can also eliminate the hassle of buying and replacing batteries.

The only downside is that wired peripherals are a bit less mobile. So, if you plan to move around to various locations throughout the day, you might choose the wireless option.

16. Go With A Minimalist Look

When designing your office space, less is more. And taking a minimalistic approach your home office design is both cheaper and creates a more work-friendly environment.

If you stick with a minimalistic design, you may find it easier to keep yourself organized and reduce clutter within the space. And let’s be honest, cluttered or disorganized office space is distracting and will prevent you from working efficiently.

17. Take Advantage Of Sales On Supplies

If you want to set up a home office on a budget, keep your eye out for deals and stock up on office supplies when they go on sale.

The best opportunity is during the summer months before kids go back to school.

Also, don’t put off buying office supplies. If you wait until you run out of supplies, it is unlikely that you will get a good deal.

Bulk supplies can also help save money. The challenge is that you don’t need 20 boxes of ballpoint pens. Instead, find a few friends or coworkers who also have home offices and place the bulk order together.

You can then split the supplies evenly.

18. Hang Curtains

Curtains or other window treatments are a cheap way to upgrade your space and help control incoming natural light. Curtains also help quiet space, which is a nice benefit when you are trying to reduce noise within your home office.

19. Get An Area Rug

An area rug can make a home office feel more welcoming.

And with a seemingly endless number of shapes, sizes, designs, and colors, you will have plenty of options.

If your office space has wood or tile floors, a rug can also help reduce echoes in your office space for when you have a phone or video call.

20. Save Your Receipts

If you are self-employed, you may be able to deduct many of the supplies and furniture you purchase for your home office. This is one of the many great perks of being a business owner.

So, be sure to save all the receipts to review with your accountant during tax time.

21. Find Budget-Friendly Inspiration On Pinterest

Not everyone has a creative imagination when it comes to home interior design.

Fortunately, there are plenty of places online where you can get inspiration. Websites like Pinterest and Instagram are a great place to start.

Take some time to look through various design ideas. Jot down the ones that you like and feel free to combine or modify ideas to fit your needs.

You’d be amazed at some of the money-saving design ideas you can discover by scrolling through Pinterest for a few minutes.

Designing Your Home Office On A Budget

Remember that you will be spending a lot of time in your new office. You want to make sure that the area has all the technology you need, is comfortable, and is welcoming. Most importantly, you need to make sure to follow your budget.

As you piece together the furniture and decor, you may find that you need to compromise on certain things to keep the cost in check.

Just don’t forget to have fun and be creative.

You might be surprised at the fantastic items you can get for your office space by thinking outside the box.

Do you have any other tips for designing a home office on a budget? Be sure to drop your ideas in the comments below!

Zach Buchenau

About The Author:

Zach Buchenau is a self-proclaimed personal finance nerd. When he isn't writing about budgeting, getting out of debt, making extra money, and living a frugal life, you can find him building furniture, fly fishing, or developing websites. He is the co-founder of BeTheBudget, and Chipotle's most loyal customer.

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