Having worked from home for twelve years, I’ve had my office in my living room, my bedroom, family room, but never my garage. That was, until my husband, myself, and our two kids (a teenage girl and a younger boy) moved into a new house that only had three bedrooms, a small living room, and no family room. We did have a two-car garage, however. That was the only place my office could go. I really didn’t like the idea at first, but in the two years since, I’ve actually converted my garage into a comfortable home office for myself.
For anyone who works from home (or would like to) and needs a space of their own (which I highly recommend) but lacks house space to do it, the garage really can be a great place to set up your home office. Here are ten tips on how to convert a garage into a home office, making it not only functional but comfortable as well:
1. If your garage is unfinished, be sure and get a decent space heater for the colder months. I find that the radiator-style oil heaters are the best; while these are electric, they are safer than the standard electric coil heaters and still heat surprisingly well.
2. Cover all the cracks to the garage from the outside and cover the garage door with stylish comforters or blankets. This way you will not only retain the heat better, but will make the room more homey and comfortable. However, if you do this, planning on keeping the garage door shut so you don’t have to keep replacing the covers.
3. Section off your office space from other things that might be in the garage, such as storage items, that are not related to your work. Use folding, stand up screens which can add “walls” for privacy as well as decoration and a sense that this is a room just for you. This can help for the home office deduction as well when you file your taxes.
4. Get outdoor carpeting to make the floor warmer and cleaner, cover any stains, etc. It comes on a roll so just take your floor measurements to your local hardware store and they can cut the right size for you, or you can always do it yourself. Large throw rugs can also do the trick.
5. In most cases, you probably don’t have any windows in your garage. Being able to have some natural light come in and actually see outside can do a lot for your working moral. If you own your home you might consider creating one or two. If you are a renter, instead of actual windows, you can hang pictures of outdoor scenes. Blow them up larger than normal size, have different views (a lake or river scene, the ocean, or a mountain), different seasons, locales or more.
6. Invest in a good fan for the summer. Again, if you own the house, consider putting one or two windows into the garage walls and get a portable window air conditioner.
7. Again, a lack of windows can make the garage darker than the rest of the house. Make sure you have decent lighting and, if possible, place your work space or desk directly by/under the light source. Add desk or standing lamps if extra light is needed. You don’t want to feel like you are in a dungeon!
8. Depending on what type of location you live in, your garage office (especially if it is unfinished) might be noisier with outside traffic, your neighbors, and/or children playing. If you are easily distracted by noise, buying some noise-cancelling headphones can help.
9. If your garage has a lot of clutter, invest in a backyard shed to store your non-office items. It will give you more space in your office and will help you concentrate better while you work. Plus it will look more like a professional work space should you need to have clients over for meetings or appointments.
10. And lastly, this goes for whether you convert a garage into a home office or use a whole separate room inside your house: invest in a good, comfortable chair and quality furniture. Your body – and your income – will be the better for it!