Efficiency is probably on the short list of goals you have in mind for turning a bedroom into an office. The more efficient you can make your office tasks, the less stress you'll feel when you're looking for that receipt, bank statement or insurance policy. The process of getting organized can be painful, but in the end, it's liberating, too.
The best approach by far is to empty the room and start from scratch. Take rough measurements to determine the best place to locate large items like desks, file cabinets and work tables. Make a drawing of the room, noting the location of electrical outlets, door swings and furnace vents. If you have interior design software or feel comfortable using online design sites to structure a virtual office layout, you can save yourself time (and physical labor) auditioning different furniture arrangements before you settle on one that works.
Bedrooms can be small, so using the space creatively will help you make the most of the area you do have. Put wire shelving in the closet to hold office supplies, and take advantage of the room's vertical space with wall shelving to hold catalogues and lightweight equipment. Consider using other space saving measures, too, like adding a desk with a dedicated hutch for vertical storage or lateral files that open from the side instead of pulling out lengthwise.
Since corners are often underutilized spaces, think about installing a dedicated corner desk unit instead of a standard desk. If you need a long table to assemble pamphlets or do other tasks, a corner desk could be just right for you. It may also work as a second desk for a spouse who only uses the office for household accounting a couple of times a month.
Your office should be comfortable as well as functional. Lose the kitchen chair in favor of a dedicated office chair with lumbar support. A chair that will support your back and neck and adjust to allow your feet to rest flat on the floor is a necessity, not a luxury. Invest in task lighting with desk, table or track lights that provide good illumination for all of the workstations you use regularly. You shouldn't have to squint to see the label on a file folder or to make out the instructions on an operating manual.
When you evaluate common office functions, define short- and long-term tasks. If you focus on a few customer files for weeks at a time and then only revisit them occasionally, consider filing solutions like rolling carts or organizers that let you keep current information nearby. Together with standard file cabinets, you can set up a system where you can rotate files from an easy-access location to long-term storage without making a big production of it. It's one way to avoid file bloat around your desk and maintain a more streamlined workspace.
On the next page, we'll take a look at some specific tips that will help you turn a bedroom into an office.