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Home Office Ideas on a Budget

Home Office Ideas on a Budget
Kristin Luna
Kristin LunaUpdated October 18, 2022
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Editor’s note: Lantern by SoFi seeks to provide content that is objective, independent and accurate. Writers are separate from our business operation and do not receive direct compensation from advertisers or partners. Read more about our Editorial Guidelines and How We Make Money.
An attractive, functional home office can help make you more productive. And it’s a space you’ll enjoy spending time in. But if yours is badly in need of a makeover, you’re in luck. These home office ideas on a budget can help improve your space without draining your bank account.  Read on to learn how to create a home office budget.

Budget-Friendly Home Office Ideas By Category 

While it’s far less than the cost to remodel a home, tackling a full renovation of your home office can run anywhere from $5,000 to $22,000, or $50 to $200 per square foot. But you don’t have to spend that much. You can create a home office on a budget by breaking the job into smaller projects and spreading them out over time. These tips are a great starting point.

Wall Art

One of the great home office ideas on a budget is to add interest to your walls. Whether you add one splashy piece of accent art or create a gallery wall of photos and other items like a college diploma or certification, wall art is a good way to change the vibe of your home office with minimal effort and investment. Consider searching for art at flea markets and antique malls. Buy some frames and mount photos and diplomas or certifications yourself and hang them up.  

Desk

A new desk can make all the difference. You can purchase a desk for less than $200 (they can go up into the thousands). To maximize space if your office is small, you could consider installing a corner desk. Standing desks are also trendy now; you can find them for under $200. If you want a more expensive desk, there are ways to finance furniture you can check into.

Technology 

When creating a home office on a budget, you’ll want to be thoughtful about how you spend on technology. You can find a desktop computer for less than $500 and a laptop under $400 by shopping online. Printers are also available for less than $100. You can also buy slightly older mode computers and printers, which you should be able to get at a discount once the newer models come out.

Rugs 

Even if you don’t have money for new flooring, a colorful area rug can perk up your space and help detract from the existing floor. The cost of an area rug will depend on the size you need and the material it’s made with. You can find synthetic area rugs online or in stores for less than $50. If you prefer a rug made with natural materials, jute, a natural fiber, is one of the most inexpensive. Jute area rugs are available for under $100.  

Shelves 

Need a place to corral your papers and other office clutter? Adding storage will solve the problem. Shelves are a great way to maximize floor space if your office is small. You can purchase prefab shelves from a big-box store for as low as $10 a shelf. Or use reclaimed wood to make your own if you’re handy. Either way, you’ll save a bundle over built-in cabinets, which cost anywhere from $1,200 to $3,900.

Light Fixtures 

A well-lit office will make it easier to work and also cast an attractive glow without being too harsh. You’ll likely want a desk lamp for your work space as well as a standing lamp to illuminate the rest of the room. You can purchase a desk lamp starting at about $14, and adjustable ambient lighting for about $60. You might also want to consider installing ceiling track lighting. A bar with four track lights is about $30. 

Demolition and Room Remodeling 

In some cases, you may need to consider demolition in order to turn a room in your house into an  office. The cost for the demolition of a room is approximately $4 to $6 per square foot, including labor. If you don’t have a dedicated home office space and converting an existing room is not feasible, you might consider adding a partition to your living room to create your own small office area. You can also remodel a dining room that isn’t heavily used and turn it into an office.

Other Costs Associated With Home Office Remodels 

If you live in an older house, you might need to upgrade the electrical wiring for your computer, printer, and other office tech. You may also need to install internet cables. And finally, you could put new flooring in and paint the walls of your office to complete the look. 

Paying for Your New Home Office 

When creating your home office on a budget, there are several options for borrowing money for home improvement if you don’t have the cash on hand to cover the costs. You will want to research terms, fees, and conditions of the different methods before deciding which is the best one for you.

Cash-out Refinance 

With a cash-out refinance, a borrower taps into the equity of an asset, like a home, for  a new loan or mortgage. The new mortgage is for more than you owe on your current mortgage, and you cash out the difference, which you can use to create your home office. How much you can get with a cash-out refinance depends on the equity you have in your home. Lenders will look at your credit score and debt-to-income ratio to determine whether to approve you for a cash-out refinance. You typically need 20% equity in your home to be approved. But know this: If you default on the loan, the lender can foreclose on your house.

HELOC 

A home equity line of credit (HELOC) is a revolving line of credit that lets you borrow against the equity you have in your home. Instead of receiving a lump sum, however, you borrow funds as needed during the draw period, which typically lasts up to 10 years. After that, the repayment period begins, which can be as long as 30 years. The interest rate on a HELOC is usually variable, and loan terms will differ by lender. Because your home is the collateral for a HELOC, if you fail to repay the money you borrowed, the lender can seize your home.

Credit Cards 

Credit cards are easy and convenient to use, but they often have high interest rates. But as long as you can pay off the balance before the billing cycle ends, you won’t owe interest.You can also use a rewards credit card to earn points for your purchases, which you can later redeem for travel rewards or cash back, among other things.

Personal Loans

A home improvement loan is one of the types of personal loans that you can use to pay for home repairs or renovation projects. Understanding how personal loans work will help you decide if it’s the right option for your financing needs. With a personal loan you get a lump sum of money that you pay back in monthly installments with interest over time. When comparing a personal loan vs. credit card, one thing to consider is that the interest rates for personal loans tend to be lower, which can help you save money in the long term.  

The Takeaway

Creating a functional and attractive home office on a budget can help boost your productivity. Small improvements that you can make on a budget, like installing a new desk, adding an area rug, or upgrading your lighting, often can make all the difference in the look of your space without costing too much. And if you opt to do more extensive renovations to your home office, or you don’t have the money upfront for a smaller upgrade, there are ways to finance the project and help you pay for it.

3 Personal Loan Tips

  1. Shopping around helps ensure that you’re getting the best deal you can. Lantern by SoFi makes this easy. With one online application, you can find and compare personal loan offers from multiple lenders.
  2. If the interest rates you’re being offered seem too high, try lowering the loan amount. Generally, the larger the loan, the greater the risk for lenders, who likely charge a higher interest rate for the increased risk level.
  3. Read lender reviews before taking out a personal loan. You’ll get a sense of how long it can take to receive the funds and how good the customer service is.

Photo credit: iStock/jacoblund
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Frequently Asked Questions

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About the Author

Kristin Luna

Kristin Luna

Kristin Luna is a Tennessee-based journalist with 20 years of writing and editing experience. She has contributed to such publications as Southern Living, This Old House, Real Simple, Parade, Conde Nast Traveler, Travel + Leisure, and various other titles. With her spouse and fellow journalist, she runs a public art nonprofit and also purchases and rehabs older model homes.
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