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How to create a home office space in a tiny apartment

If your employer won’t cover the costs you incurred from converting a space in your home to an office, check with your tax preparer to see if you can write them off. (Daniel Acker/Bloomberg News)
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It seems like many of us will be working from home for the foreseeable future. It’s hard to believe that this pandemic has been with us for about a year now.

It is a much bigger challenge to find your work-life balance when you are working from home.

We have had many clients who needed us to find them larger homes with extra space for their home offices. If you are living in a smaller space and don’t have a salary to support a new home with bigger space, you need to find a way to create a work area with the space you have.

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Here are some ideas to help you with the challenge of creating a home office space.

There are many choices for all needs and budgets. A wall-mounted, fold-down table can be an easy solution for a desk. An old-fashioned or modern portable writing desk is another easy solution. You can use a dining table you already have as a desk as well.

If you are using a multifunctional space like a dining table for a home working space, you will need a place to store your work items when you are done working for the day. Safe storage space, especially for your laptop, is particularly important to lower the risk of accidents or spills. The risk of accidents is higher if you might have potential visits from a dog, cat, spouse or child on your lunch break or in general before the work day ends.

If you have a closet you are not using, you can turn this into a makeshift workspace. You can install some shelves and a small desk or a floating desk to create a workspace. You will just need a chair to complete the space. Some daring people will use an exercise ball or skip a chair and go with a standing workspace.

Whatever you choose, depending on the size of the closet, you might be able to move the chair and close the door on your workspace at the end of the day.

If you have a nook or just a small wall space or hallway, you can also create a workspace with a floating desk or a small desk. Floating shelves and drawers can help keep your workspace organized.

Hanging a curtain that you can close over the workspace will work as well and will probably be affordable. A room divider or a screen are other options to keep your workspace hidden. Making a curtain yourself can often lower the cost, but do a price comparison with materials needed to be sure. I am no seamstress, but this type of sewing is easy to learn, if it will be a more cost-effective solution.

You can make the most out of a corner by making or installing a corner wall desk. You can make a basic one yourself, which lends the opportunity for you to customize it, if you are handy. You can also buy a wall desk at not too high of a cost if you are not handy. Compare the prices of the amount you will spend on materials and time vs. buying an affordable ready-made solution.

The hideaway beds of yesterday have come a long way. There is a wide variety of convertible furniture available. There are beds you can convert from a bed to desk or table. There are coffee tables that lift up to convert to a desk and have storage for your laptop once you convert it back to a coffee table.

A fold-down desk that hangs on the wall is another option. A fold-down desk can fold up to conceal what they are and can also provide storage.

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If you have a little more wall space, an armoire desk is another option that closes up and looks like a nice piece of furniture at the end of the workday. They can cost a bit more and often take up more space.

You can buy any of these pieces online or in shops locally. If you are creative or handy or have a friend who is handy, you can make some of these items. Palate wood that stores use for shipping is often a great resource for free wood.

If you are not handy, spending money on supplies might just be a waste of time and money. In that case, it might just make sense to buy the few pieces or shelves that you need. Check with your employer to see if they will cover any of the cost.

If your costs won’t be covered, check with your tax preparer, as these should be work-related expenses that you might be able to write off.

Nancy Simmons Starrs is the founder and president of Apartment Detectives, a D.C., Maryland and Northern Virginia apartment-search service.

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