How Renters Can Create a Home Office in Chicago Apartments

Finding an apartment in Chicago that has room for a home office is quickly ascending the list of renters’ priorities as more companies postpone their eventual return to the office, with some businesses instructing employees to work remotely into early 2021. Room for home offices was frequently labeled a “nice-to-have” feature for many renters who may have occasionally worked from home. But now there are multitudes of renters confronting the necessity of working out of their apartments full time.

The Coronavirus pandemic has upended many norms in the lives of Chicago apartment renters, and finding an apartment that has the flexibility to meet the demands of the new normal may be a challenge for some renters. Creating a home office space can ease the transition to working from an apartment rather than going into an office building. The benefits of having a dedicated home office space are numerous, and just by virtue of having a little space carved out for focus it’s amazing what apartment renters can accomplish.

Tips for Creating Space for Home Offices in Chicago Apartments

In a perfect world, renters could find an apartment that has enough space for a clear demarkation of work, home and play — all underneath one roof. This might be a two bedroom apartment or even a large one bedroom that has a den. Reality often comes up short of dreams, though. What can renters who have enough budget for a large studio or one bedroom apartment do to make up for the lack of dedicated home office space? This is where flexible furniture, roomy closets and a bit of DIY ingenuity all come in to play.

Renters who are browsing apartments during the Coronavirus pandemic would be wise to spend extra time considering the amount of closet space. Apartments with ample closet space are for more than just fashionistas as it turns out. Renters who are turning their homes into workspaces may be especially in tune to this apartment amenity because it allows them room to set up a functional home office without sacrificing floor space elsewhere. 

Setting up an efficient home office in a closet is easier said than done, of course. The amount of effort involved and the amount of displaced clothing, sporting goods, shoes, linens or what-have-you will vary depending on the type of closet. First, renters should consider which room has the added storage potential to absorb all the items that get displaced when the closet gets converted into an office. Is there enough room in the main bedroom to add a standalone wardrobe, freeing up space to turn a bedroom closet into a small office? Does the apartment building have additional storage space? Is it worth it to rent a storage unit for the next year? These questions need to be parsed before setting out to create a working home office space.

a spare bedroom converted into a home office with dual computer monitors on a white desk in a vinage Chicago apartment

Creating Home Offices in Vintage Chicago Apartment Closets

Many of the places for rent on Domu at any given time are vintage apartments. Renters may have affinity for these places because of their warm interiors (hello, radiator heat!), old-fashioned craftsmanship and handsome wood trim. But one thing that many vintage apartments lack is a versatile closet space. In many cases, the closet configuration in these vintage places is a case of feast or famine.

Traditional Chicago two- and three-flats are usually outfitted with a large walk-in pantry near the kitchen. These can be a nifty place to create a focused workspace. All it requires is a small desk, comfy chair and maybe some added lighting such as desk lamps to turn one of these large pantries into a fully functioning home office. If the pantry is off limits or non-existent in the apartment, renters may turn to one of the bedroom closets in their vintage apartments for creative solutions. Vintage apartments in Chicago frequently boast high ceilings of at least nine feet, if not higher, so renters can stack their belongings vertically to carve out enough room for a laptop desk in their bedroom or hallway closet. It may not be perfect, but it’s better than working on the sofa or the edge of the bed all day.

Creating Home Offices in Apartments with Closet Organizing Systems

Newly constructed apartments and luxury apartments frequently come with sophisticated closet organizing systems. These wireframe systems have flexible configurations for storing clothing and other household items, but do they work for creating an efficient work space? Unless the built-in supports are sturdy enough to hold up a tabletop, it may not be possible to convert the bedroom closets in newer apartments to a home office. There is, however, a silver lining in many new construction apartments: the office nook. Many developers included the versatile office nook in new apartment floor plans with the rise of telecommuting and co-working in the late 2010s. If renters are fortunate enough to be renting one of these newer apartments with an office nook, then their office shortage may have been solved long ago by simply finding a desk or small table that fits into the nook.

a Chicago loft apartment with exposed brick walls and convenient office nook nearby a window in the second bedroom

Ask the Right Questions During Virtual (or In-Person) Apartment Tours

Renters should take full advantage of the virtual tours offered by landlords and agents. With virtual tours, renters can tour a new apartment from the comfort of their current living rooms. But renters shouldn’t skip out on the all-important question, “Is there room to squeeze in a home office?” If creating a home office in the apartment is a priority, then renters will want to get a comprehensive view of the closets, office nooks and all rooms (including bedrooms) to scope out which area is most suitable for work space.