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Look around to make your home workspace work for you

August 14, 2009|By CHRISTINE BRUN / Creators Syndicate

There isn't a person in America who is not somehow affected by the wild ride we are on at the moment. The economic troubles are worldwide and so it is not surprising that we all feel some degree of pain right now. With underemployment, unemployment and worry over the possibility of being laid off, the tension is palpable, and if there were some sort of Geiger counter for stress, it would be beeping off the charts right now.

Most homes in the United States have some sort of office, even if it is sitting on the couch with a laptop or a docking station in the mudroom or kitchen. It makes good practical sense to get organized right now and prepare a place at home from which you can work, just in case you have to face looking for a new position. This is definitely a challenge when you are also in a downsizing mode, but there are numerous ways that I can help you "find" the space for a new home office. A wise man once said that the less you need, the freer you become. That sentiment may not be too soothing while you endure the discomfort of moving or losing your dream home, but at the core of that idea is truth. There is something quite energizing about simplifying one's lifestyle and in that unusual place, perhaps many Americans can look for a degree of hope and freedom.

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So, let's examine some ideas: Most minimal on the home-work station chart is the idea of a wall-hung laptop station made by Anthro Corporation. When the case opens up, it reveals a stand-up hideaway for a computer and place to charge electronics. The eNook Standard is only 7 inches deep by 25.5 inches high and when it opens up, the entire unit projects into the room only 21.5 inches total. You need to have a regular duplex outlet below or nearby so that you can plug into electricity. This could be installed in a hallway, back porch or bedroom.

For a more traditional home interior, Ballard's office armoire, a simple solid pine piece, is petite and basic enough to blend in with a variety of other furniture styles so that one might create a home office in the living or dining room area. At only 32 inches wide and 52 inches tall, the piece is 17 inches deep overall and when the drop front is lowered, it becomes a 27.5 inches wide by 17.25 inches deep desktop. The unit also features a cable port in the back and a useful lower file drawer for letter- or legal-size filing.

Ironically, in part, it is the fact that we all stand on the edge of a technological revolution that has shaken up the world economy, yet this is the same technology that allows us to work from home in minimal space. The less you need the freer you become... It is not an easy thing to "re-invent" yourself and I am not suggesting that to be true. However, a vision of some other work you might do from home is important even if it is the full-time work of trying to locate another position.

In my college days, we all created bookcases and desks by using large gray concrete blocks turned vertical on the longest side as supports. Then you bought a flat wood door to function as your desktop or sturdy boards for bookshelves. We used primitive supports like real wood sawhorses, but thankfully, today a quick Internet search can yield dozens of slimmer and more attractive types of legs to support your work surface. You can create a home office "on the cheap" very easily if need be and hunt for some of the parts at yard sales, Goodwill stores, and at places such as Walmart, Target, or Home Depot.

If your garage is an option, look out there for a spot in which to carve out a little workstation. Often, a garage or basement needs help with better heating and cooling or bringing in some type of portable lighting to improve the quality of the environment.

Christine Brun, ASID, is a San Diego-based interior designer and the author of "Small Space Living." Send questions and comments to her by e-mail at christinebrun@sbcglobal.net.

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