Create a Functional Office Space From Just a Closet

How to Turn a Closet into a Home Office

Your space is stretched to the limits and you just want a home office. Is that really too much to ask?

Whether your family is growing and you just turned your old home office into the new nursery, or if you have just a really tiny apartment or condo, or if you need to maximize every square foot of your place, a closet home office might be just the ticket for you! (I have other ideas for small spaces in this blog here.)

A home office doesn’t have to be the type of expansive space you see on Mad Men or in Architectural Digest. You just need a space to work, for your laptop, and to store your stuff. It’s for your eyes only, anyway, unless this is for a vacation rental, in which case having a desk for office work is a huge bonus to your business traveler or blogging junkie!

Step #1—Decide on a Space

Where are you going to put this new office of yours? I’m going to suggest a closet that you won’t be using for a while, or one that has never been used except to store your out of season clothes, your skis, and your golf clubs.

  • Do you need it to be convenient to another room, like the kitchen (so you can grab a quick cup of coffee), or near the baby’s room, so you can tend to her at a moment’s notice?

  • Will it be on the first floor of your home, or up on the second? Do you need to be away from everyone to be your most productive?

  • Is it close to electricity to power your laptop and printer? Is there an overhead light?

  • Take all of these into consideration. If it’s not convenient or private enough, you will never use it, and just resort to working from your kitchen table.

Step #2—Measure the Closet

Now that you have selected a closet that might work, measure it. Front to back. Side to side. Top to bottom. If you plan on keeping the door(s), take those into consideration for drawers that might need to open.

  • Does the closet already have a shelf? Great; you can keep that and use it for storage.

  • Find on a chair that is comfortable enough to sit in for a couple of hours. While you are sitting in it, use a tape measure to measure the height for a table. 29”-30” is a good working height, and will actually accommodate a 2-drawer file cabinet beneath it. (You could even use 2 file cabinets to support your table top.)

  • Be certain your file cabinets will not be too deep to fit in the closet. (Measure, measure, measure!)

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Step #3—Determine your Storage Needs

Your office won’t be useful to you unless it fits what you need.

  • Are you a paperless office, and really don’t need a file cabinet?

  • Can you deal with paper and pencil clutter on your work space, and so you don’t need a pencil drawer? Then you are going to need something to hold your utensils.

  • How big is your computer or laptop? How much real estate will that take up on your work space?

  • Where will the printer go? Beneath the work space? On top of the shelf?

  • Where will you store computer paper, envelopes, stamps, etc.?

  • To look for inspiration, go look at Pinterest boards for Closet Home Office Ideas. You will find loads of ideas!

Step #4—Determine your Lighting Needs

Remember I asked you to look for overhead lighting or an outlet nearby?

  • Do you plan to use a small desk lamp, or is the overhead light sufficient? Do you want to change out the overhead light to something more decorative?

  • Don’t be afraid to hire an electrician to get this EXACTLY the way you want it.

Step #5—Paint

SW 7004 Snowbound

SW 7004 Snowbound

If the closet needs it, I recommend painting the interior a nice light color. I like Sherwin Williams’ “Snowbound”.

Step #5—Install

Now off you go to the big box store and the home organization store.

  • At the home organization retailer (or office store), purchase the file cabinets that will fit the closet. If you chose to go totally paperless, you will need to install support brackets for the work space top.

  • Have the big box store cut a piece of 3/4-inch plywood to the specifications of the interior of your closet, minus about 1/2” from the length and width.

  • If you need brackets, have them assist you with purchasing those, as well. You will probably need at least 4 brackets; one for the left and right and 2 for the back. You could also just create a “floating shelf” buy using 1” x 2” pieces of wood to support the desk.

  • Have them cut a trim piece to go on the front of your desk, which you will nail to the front of the desk to make it look finished.

  • Consider buying some cork strips to hang on the back wall to hold your calendar or other important reminders.

  • Assemble within your closet. Add the trim piece with finishing nails, remembering to counter-sink nails and fill in holes with wood putty.

  • Prime and paint (or stain) the work space top and shelves.

  • Add lighting, your organizational baskets and bins, your laptop and electronics, and you have a new office!

With a little imagination and some careful measurements, you can create a little room within a big room—and it would be functional. If you don’t have another room available for your home office, and using the kitchen table is getting old, you can create your very own home office from just a closet! What closet can you use in your place that will be perfect?