Empty nesters and entrepreneurs transform parts of their residence into a home office and office workspace
With nearly a quarter of the employed workforce working from home in 2010, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and an increase in stay-at-home entrepreneurial moms (or WAHMs, work-at-home moms), garages, patios and children’s bedrooms have been rearranged and transformed into home offices.
Jeff Hillis, co-owner of Hillis Bolte Luxury Builders in Scottsdale, has witnessed this trend over the past year as well.
“We have many corporate clients and regional sales managers that have chosen to make Scottsdale their home base and incur more traveling rather than moving their families to be closer to their corporate offices or their territories,” Hillis says.
About 30 percent of Hillis Bolte’s projects include some form of an office addition or remodel. Hillis says the home office remodel is Hillis Bolte’s No. 3 most requested project, with kitchen and baths ranking at No. 1 and No. 2.
“We have worked on approximately 10 office projects last year,” Hillis says, “with an increase to 12 to 13 this year.”
What’s important to consider when remodeling a room into an office is location, experts say.
According to Christine Cox, designer and owner of CC Interior Design in Phoenix, homeowners must keep their workspace separate from their personal space.
“Location is important for a productive workspace,” Cox says. “Clients need to make an assessment of what their needs are.”
For instance, if you have children around, where will you hold your conference calls? Find a quiet, closed-off workspace. Or, will you have clients coming to your home? Consider having separate access to your home so they don’t have to walk through the house.
“It’s very important to have business separate from your personal life,” Cox says.
Cox adds that planning is important as well, especially space planning ― knowing the amount of space required for your home office remodel. This includes making sure your furniture will fit in the room, before you spend the money.
Hillis Bolte also emphasizes planning during the beginning stages with its clients. Through a Q&A session, Hillis Bolte “gets them thinking about their overall needs and desires” in order to maximize any room or space with an architect or an interior designer on board, Hillis says.
“The most common mistakes people make when doing a remodel on their own is that they don’t start with a good design,” Hillis adds. “The best way to get the most value out of a project is to create a reasonable budget and utilize the skills of the builder and designer.”
Some easy ways to turn a room into an office include reworking the closet into a useful work storage area. Cox suggests opening up the closet space by removing the doors and adding a built-in. Hills adds that this is both practical and appealing.
Hillis also suggests replacing the carpet of the space with wood or stone flooring, giving the room more of an office feel.
Both agree that doors should be added to close off the space and create separation from the other rooms in the home.
“The key to any office remodel is for it to never look or feel it was a previous bedroom,” Hillis says.
Lastly, you can’t forget about technology, and your Internet, electrical and phone lines. Ask yourself if you have adequate outlets that will keep up with your day-to-day tasks.
Regarding your phone line, Cox says it’s best to keep your business line separate from your personal line. Hillis agrees and recommends to start out with an IT professional to help with your overall computer and technical needs.
Whatever your home business may entail, be sure you plan it out thoughtfully. The more time you put into it, and the more help you seek, the higher the chances the final product will become a productive, regret-free space.
“Everyone seems to find a way to maximize the home office and stay focused and productive,” Hillis says. “It seems that there are many more positives than negatives with the home office.”
For more information about turning one of your spare rooms into a home office:
Hillis Bolte Luxury Builders
8080 E. Gelding, #109, Scottsdale
CC Interior Design, BC Renovations, L.L.C.
2453 E. Prescott Place, Phoenix