Telecommuting and operating out of a virtual office has become more and more popular with businesses today – especially for small businesses who cannot afford the monthly cost of a long-term lease in a traditional office environment. Finding creative ideas for home offices is important not only for function, but for style.

For those who work for a business or even own a small business, finding that space or extra room for a home office is not always easy. Having to find or take up space that is already designated for another function requires getting creative on how the home office blends with the rest of the room or space.

It might seem easy to find a nook to put a desk, but upon second consideration it might not fill your home office needs. You have to think of the other things you need for an office that you can conveniently have near your desk. You may even want to bring in a cabinet maker to help you design shelving and work surfaces that will fit in the space that you intend to call your home office.

Starting with a Google image search of creative home office designs will certainly inspire you, but some of these professionally designed and built offices might not fit your budget. Visit the websites associated with the images to see if they were custom created or built from standardized pieces that you can easily purchase yourself through a retail outlet.

Before you buy home-office components online, take measurements of the space that you intend to use for your home office and pay a visit to a storage solution store and a do-it-yourself furniture store like Ikea. What might look great online (because the images were professionally arranged), may not be what you want – or may not work in the space you have allocated. Besides, walking through a showroom might give you other ideas that you had not previously considered.

Creating a home office is usually a delicate balance between style and function, because you also have to enjoy working in the space you select. If you are looking to set up your home office in the living room, you do not want to feel like you are still in your office while you are enjoying your favorite TV show or entertaining friends.

Setting up a home office in your bedroom may have worked when you were in college, but unless you are living in a single-room studio apartment, it is much better to separate where you sleep and where you work. Why? Because sleeping in the same room as your home office can actually affect your ability to sleep. If you want to be productive when you are working, you must get quality sleep.

If you are living in a single-room apartment or condo, you may want to consider a loft bed for sleeping, with your home office below it. This is because when you live in a small apartment, you need to use all the space you can. This type of option allows you to view from bed the rest of your apartment and not your office. You can even add a curtain or divider to hide your home office when you are not using it.

One creative way of sharing your bedroom and office in the same space and to minimize the overlap, is to purchase a convertible desk/bed. These beds switch from being a desk to a bed and can be a great space saver – but are not so practical when you have a partner who wants to sleep when you need to work.

You have to remember that a small home office does not require much space, but it does require a large amount of creativity to make it work functionally and aesthetically. You have to plan your office area so that you can stay productive and organized. The last thing you want is for office to take over your home, so organization is key to maintaining a good work/home balance. Keep your office things in your office space and your home items in the rest of the house to avoid overlap.

Choosing a desk, shelves and other storage solutions can be choices in setting up a creative home office design. But have you considered your office chair? While not recommended (see our blog on sitting), many people who work from home spend a great deal of time in their office chair at their desk. It is important to find an office chair that is both back-supporting and aesthetically pleasing, so that it fits with the rest of your creative home office.

When space is not an issue and you have the option of your home office occupying an entire room, the possibilities are practically endless. But you still want the final set-up to reflect your home and your style. If you do have that extra room, avoid having it double as a guest room. Combining a guest room as your office can be a disruption to your work when you have guests staying in it.

Being creative in establishing your home office, you also have to take into consideration the accessories that you will need and how they will fit in with your overall feel of the room. If you are in need of a desktop computer, how can you creatively conceal the PC tower – and does your monitor blend with the surroundings and environment. You also have to consider that the lighting you need when working might be different from when you are using the space for other purposes. A trip to a lighting store might help you find the right lighting solutions that can serve this dual purpose.

In choosing a location for your home office, you should try to place it where you can get the most natural lighting. Natural lighting can be very important in keeping you both creative and productive. Natural lighting can also be enhanced by the wall colourings you choose for your home office and for the space around it. Spaces filled with natural light can also help reduce stress.

Regardless of the type of work you do, it can be easy to combine your professionalism and your style in your home office design – you just need to find the best combinations.