A Home Office for $55

by Jennifer Hollowell

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Convert the end of a hallway (5 ft. 6 in. x 8 ft.) into a home office.


- Cappuccino brown walls and surfaces: dark and chipping
- Beige linoleum floor: beaten up and ugly
- No window treatment: very stark and bare
- Door to the bedroom covering half the north wall
- Attic door covering half the south wall
- Window covering half the east wall

Budget: $75.00 or less


  • First, I decided a coat of paint would not only cheer the space up, but also give it a cleaner look. Because this is a small space, I chose a light color. (1 gallon of Antique White paint: $4.99 per gallon at the local surplus and salvage store.)
  • Next I focused on the floor. I couldn't tear up the linoleum, so I decided to cover it up with something that would bring color to the space and some elegance. I wanted to choose a rug that would bring warmth to the "room" and be easy to maintain. (5x8 hunter green, beige and mauve imitation Oriental rug: $19.99 at the local discount super store.)
  • The window couldn't be left bare, especially since it faces a main road. In an effort to keep the space from looking too cluttered, the choice to use a valance and blinds instead of curtains was made. (Vanilla colored blinds: $7.42 at the local discount super store, lace valance: $2.99 at the local department store.)
  • For furniture, I was able to move existing furniture into the space: computer desk (fit perfectly in the corner on the north wall next to the bedroom door), desk chair, and a small ornamental phone stand to hold essentials. I found a bookcase someone wanted to throw away that worked well in terms of squaring off the "room" on the west end. Then I added an existing picnic basket and a wooden filing box into the empty spaces.
  • The next step was to find storage solutions. I found a two-tiered shelf to go over the desk ($9.99 at the local discount super store) and I built a five-tier wooden unit (4 feet 6 inches tall x 3 feet wide) out of wood that the local lumber yard was planning to throw away. Painting it the same color as the walls enabled it to blend in nicely.
  • The finishing touches included a bulletin board above the desk ($2.99 at the local surplus and salvage store), a brass wall lamp with a white shade ($6.99 at the local discount super store), and a wall calendar (free from the local bakery). I also gathered graphics that were already existing in the apartment, a basket taken from the living room for office supplies, and existing candles and knickknacks scattered sparingly on empty surfaces.

But, where do I fit the printer? These days, printers seem to be getting bigger and full of more options. This is great from a business standpoint, but terrible when you're working with limited space. In this case, we're dealing with a printer/photo copier combination. The cords weren't long enough to put it in the southeast corner and I couldn't put it next to the desk because it would obstruct the door.

The computer desk has a pull out keyboard tray, bringing users about a foot away from the desk. I found a storage box holding rarely used craft supplies, stuck the unit on top and pushed it under the desk. There's still enough leg room and space to lift the top to make copies. Users only have to remember to keep the tray pulled out so the chair doesn't run into the printer.

After it was all done, the total came to $55.36 for a savings of $19.36 to use toward transforming another room in the apartment into a "livable" space.

I'm not afraid to go knocking on doors to find good deals, which, ultimately, aided in the success of this conversion project. By shopping around, buying or acquiring things used, adding a fresh coat of paint and using space saving solutions, I was able to convert what looked like a cramped and dark space into a usable bright working environment without going over budget.

Jennifer Hollowell is the Editor of J.M.H. Creative Solutions.

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