A separate room for a home office may be ideal, but it's not realistic for many people who live in small homes, condos and apartments.
What do you do if your space is already filled to capacity?
Convert a room area or a shared space.
The area will need to be compact and self-contained to squeeze everything in, and you will probably want it enclosed or at least out of sight when not in use.
Here are some possible alternative office areas:
Dining room--Not only is the room rarely used, but the dining room table is large enough work on.
"Machinery could be hidden behind a very attractive Chinese screen," said interior designer Jackie Jacobson of Creative Dimensions of Laguna Beach.
Carmen Olsson of InterSpace Design in Rancho Santa Margarita used a 9-foot-long, glass-top desk to double as a dining room table. The desk was flanked with credenzas to be used as work surfaces or buffets.
Landing--The upstairs landing in a house converts easily into an office area, said Eva Lennen of Avart Interior Design in Santa Ana. "This is usually wasted space in a home. It's not enclosed, but it's sufficient enough to have a desk, bookcases and files."
Laundry room--Jacobson has designed an office in a laundry room. A side area features a desk with sliding, pull-out files and drawers. The closet next to the dryer and washer is a storage area.
Bedroom--A bedroom can easily share space with a home office. Lennen designed a built-in bedroom unit for Mary Petropoulos of Newport Beach. "It's amazing how much is hidden in the built-in," Petropoulos said. A computer, typewriter, files and books--as well as a stereo and TV--share space in the wall unit.
Kitchen--Space can often be added to and expanded on, Jacobson said. Cupboards and drawers can be converted to file drawers, while a enclosed unit or standing cupboard can accommodate equipment.
Armoire--Convert an armoire into a computer/office center, Lennen said. Closed, the armoire makes an attractive addition to a dining room, bedroom, living room or other areas.
Extra space--"Look around for oddball space or corners where nothing really fits in," suggested Mary Swift of Mary Swift Interiors in Laguna Hills. Consider a spare closet, a pantry, a used corner of a room, the area beneath a staircase or an alcove.