How to Turn Your Basement Into an Office

Put your Monmouth County basement to work as a productive, comfortable home office. Here are 12 tips to help you get started

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If you want to put a new office into your home, you may not need to look any farther than the basement. A lower level can be the ideal spot for a home office, since it can offer the necessary quiet and separation from the rest of the home.

Could your basement be a great home office? Consider some tips from design professionals.

1. Assess the basement. "Make sure the area is suitable for furniture; business equipment, such as computers and fax machines; communication lines, such as phone and Internet; storage needs; and basics such as lighting and heating," says interior designer Charmean Neithart.

2. Don't forget an inspection. Neithart also advises having the space inspected for leaks. "Make necessary repairs or take waterproofing measures before any finishes are installed," she says.

3. Consider the noise. "Plan your basement space so that the office is at one end of the basement and noisy areas, such as playrooms or media rooms, are at the other," says designer Debbie Wiener. For extra insurance against noise, add sound insulation between the studs or have a contractor add foam insulation to common walls.

4. Think about a separate entrance. "If the office will be visited by clients, it is always nice to have a separate entrance for privacy," says interior designer Letitia Holloway of Myers Designs. "As a reminder, always check with local business codes to be sure you are legally able to conduct business out of your home, and use an architect to be sure you are meeting building codes."

5. Plan your floor layout before any constructive work begins. For the best outcome, measure available space, then lay out furniture and organize it in the area. "Consider proximity to existing outlets, any natural light and surrounding noise," says Neithart. "Check out access points to ensure that furniture will fit through doors and stairwells, including any turns and ceiling heights."

6. Wire for technology strategically. "Be mindful of equipment specifications when designing or selecting office furniture so that printers, scanners, monitors etc. are properly placed," says Holloway. "It is always better to have a plan for furniture prior to wiring."

7. Consider including a bathroom or kitchenette. "Adding a bathroom and kitchenette as a part of your office environment can help you stay on track and keep from family or home-chore distractions," says Holloway. "These added amenities will also be beneficial to the privacy issues one has if clients visit your home office."

8. Invest in a quality dehumidifier. One thing that can make a beautiful basement office even better is a dehumidifier. "It's a good idea to have one of these units around even if the basement has been checked for leaks," says Neithart.

9. Get the lighting right. Good lighting is critical to a workspace. "In addition to overhead recessed lighting or ceiling fixtures, make sure you have the receptacles for lots of undercabinet and plug-in task lighting," says Wiener. "If you're short on table space, consider a clamp-style lamp — they allow you to add an adjustable task light anywhere that an edge is available."

10. Select hardworking storage. "Of all the versatile office furniture I've seen in every price range, nothing beats Expedit from Ikea," says Wiener. "The cubby-style wall units come in all sizes, many colors."

11. Don't skimp on the seat. You'll be spending tons of productive hours in your office chair, and you don't want to end the day with a sore back. "Spend your money here and get the most comfortable chair you can afford," says Wiener, who recommends giving office chairs a test-drive before purchasing one.

12. Leave your walls open for inspiration. Keep wall space, even the back of the door, open for posting your best ideas and those ever-important reminders. Wiener recommends using whiteboards instead of blackboards to avoid dust allergens, and suggests hanging magnetic and cork strips to keep track of small paper items and office supplies.

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