Need help creating a home office

I might be dreaming of a solution that doesn’t exist...

Since SIP started, I have tried working at the dining table, putting a folding table in the hallway, and backyard. None of it is ideal and being distracted constantly. Spouse is using the plus room as his office. We tried sharing that office but it didn’t work because we are both on conference calls constantly. Both parents in the smallest room in the house means kids also try to cram in there. kids are young enough that they want to “work” where parents are. We have a small basement space but one parent working in the basement is grossly unfair to the other parent on the main floor with kids. But, the mom (me) that works at the dining table ends up being the magnet for kids. I have to keep telling them to go ask dad but that simple interruption is killing me. Also, the dining table is constantly cluttered with kid stuff which makes it hard to concentrate on work.

Kids have a desk but they want to work with parents...

I think I need my own workspace — a proper desk, lamp, and a door to shut when needed. 

I have a few ideas but I think I need a bit of professional help to clear junk, organize stuff, and reimagine the existing space and help procure and set up office furniture/equipment. We don’t have a lot of money but I desperately need to find a way to carve out my own space. I am miserable trying to work from the dining table while staring at kid debri. 

House is small and each bedroom is just big enough for a king size bed and a dresser.  (2+ room, ~1500 sq ft. It has quite of unusable space because the hallway is oddly large. We are not looking to remodel or do construction. 

If you know an interior designer who also helps with organizing and setting up a home office or a professional organizer who helps with home office set up and has interior design background, please let me know. I hope to achieve all of this within $2000 or less budget which includes a desk and lamp purchase. 

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I suggest you swap your king-size bed for a queen and put a small desk in the bedroom. You need to be able to work behind a closed door sometimes.

This may not be ideal, but my mom did her entire master's program working from a little office set up in the small hallway coat closet. And it was so cozy, once she was done after 2 years we all used it. To set up a table, she painted wood square plank thingy and rested it on wood strips nailed in the walls, so the height was perfect for her and the chair. I know it's not the ideal office but she was so tucked away we didn't even notice her when she was in there. This closet was something like 2.5 ft x 2.5 ft. Then later she moved her sewing machine in there and surprisingly that worked too. Not sure if this will work for your situation but just to help look outside of the box.  

I just got out of the dining room. Take it from me - you need to get out of the dining room! 

It sounds like from your post that you have two workable spaces - the basement and the plus room. Have you considered alternating who gets what room either by day or on a morning / afternoon schedule? That will force the kids to bug the parent in the plus room because the parent in the basement won’t be available. That might even out your “go ask dad” issue.

Regarding desks, the IKEA sit / stand desk is affordable and ergonomically great. I’m not sure how it will stand the test of time, but it’s high enough quality to make it through a few years. I highly recommend it.

Hi there – don’t know if you found someone but a friend of mine does exactly this and she’s super reasonable. I haven’t used her but I’ve had a few friends and work colleagues where she transform small pet spaces for them and they’ve been really happy. She does organizing and design and is a mom of two. 

She’s in SF but definitely does work in the East Bay. Here’s her contact info

Emily Timby

Emilytimby [at]


I'd like to recommend an interior design website called  I took a design quiz and answered a few questions, then sent pics of the space. An actual interior designer completes the layout according to your needs.  Great customer service, and they'll create a custom 3D design of the room with furniture that fits your budget.  You can use their site to swap out furniture and change the layout.  It's less than $100 for a design and completely worth it. If you're interested I can send you pics of the designs they made for us, and there's a referral code for 20% off the design fee. 

Sigh. Been there, done that. So how about you and your husband switch off between being “it”?  The parent in the hot seat fields questions and is the one to deal with kids while the parent in the back office gets uninterrupted time. Your husband has to be the one equally committed to being present and available to children to make this work. Yes, there is an inexplicable draw to mama. But it can be fixed so you can get work done. But you can’t have a partner who is taking the path of least resistance by allowing the default to occur- that the needs of the kids to fall to mom all the time. My husband has an invisibility cloak of sorts that had my children seeking me out even when dad was set up in the kitchen and I was on a rickety TV table in a tiny back room trying to do telehealth during shelter in place. It has to be spelled out clearly to all involved and consistently enforced who the parent on duty is and when. But it takes the parents being on the same page and being a united front.

depending on the employer, one or both  of you can take jntermittent FMLA and have reduced work hours In order to cover educational needs of children. Of course that involves loss of income given that time off is not reimbursed. Otherwise, mom and dad need to come up with an equitable plan regarding use of office space. My husband initially tried to capitalize on my kids’ tendency to come to me for everything -even though he has total flexibility and very little actual work involved in his job- when mine in telehealth is camera facing and literally back to back meetings 8 hours straight with 3 and 8 minute breaks interspersed. I put a stop to that quickly and my husband learned to step up pretty quickly. This is the season of boundaries. If you can’t set and enforce them , you will get eaten alive by your children and put your job in jeopardy.  So three choices: equitable use of space and mutual support for  getting work done and getting kids supervised. Or, get a caregiver solely to supervise and support kids (But still requires major boundary setting to remain unpestered)  or 3, one or both parents switch up work schedules and take unreimbursed FMLA to be able to supervise kids. Only option #1 does not cost money, so I’d start there. Good luck!