The ‘Cloffice’ Is the New Cubicle

closet office

By Becky Bracken

EXPERT INSPIRATION TO PUT THAT CLOSET TO WORK BEAUTIFULLY

The dining table was fine for a while. We were supposed to be working from home for only a few weeks. But then the weeks turned into months, and now the months have turned into (gasp!) nearly a year.

So we found refuge wherever we could—behind closed bedroom doors, out on the patio, or even inside our closets.

And so the “cloffice” was born.

Sure, we used to dream of closets filled with designer handbags and red-bottomed heels and stacks of cedar shelves meticulously filled with new fashions. But times have most certainly changed. And for so many of us trying to type and Zoom through the chaos, the closet has become the last bastion for something resembling a dedicated office space.

In fact, the idea of the cloffice has become so popular it’s been called out by Pinterest as one of the hottest trends to watch for in 2021.

“Say goodbye to open floor plans,” the folks at Pinterest say. “Pinners are getting creative with closed doors. In 2021 we’ll all learn what a ‘cloffice’ is. Even when doors aren’t available, people will find new ways to create some personal space.”

While the circumstances surrounding our collective cloffice creation are undeniably garbage, that doesn’t mean our personal spaces need to be, too. We reached out to the experts for their best advice on creating a cloffice—these smart ideas will make you want to work overtime to transform that cluttered, dust bunny–filled closet into a bona fide home office fit for a boss.

Your ‘cloffice’ must-haves

There are three primary things every good cloffice needs, according to Ginger Curtis, owner of Urbanology Designs in Dallas: a place for everything, good light, and comfort.

“Good lighting is extremely important to a functional and pleasing workspace. If you are lacking natural light, make sure you have good overhead lighting,” says Curtis. “Having a designated spot for everything is also critical to making it a comfortable spot.”

Ideally, a cloffice should be a beautiful, personal space that helps set the tone for the workday, even if there are barking dogs, leaf blowers, and TV cartoons blaring in the background.

“I would elevate a cloffice by doing some really fun wallpaper paired with amazing art,” Curtis advises.

For inspiration, Instagram and Pinterest are filled with gorgeous cloffice spaces—some more lavish than others—but all manage to carve out a tidy, functional, and beautiful professional oasis in the middle of home.

Plan how you’ll keep your cloffice organized

Kayla Wallace, the designer behind Chippy Charm, says she’s thrilled with the results of the cloffice (above) she just installed in her home.

“When designing your cloffice, keep in mind what is going to be the most effective for your family to keep it organized,” says Wallace. “Open storage is usually best, so utilize as much wall space as possible for shelving.”

That’s why the shelves in her home cloffice are custom-shaped, she explains.

“Our closet is deep past the wall on both sides,” she says. “This is why our shelving makes U shapes instead of standard straight-across shelves. This way we can still utilize the free space between what would typically be the shelf and wall. It also creates a more custom built-in look.”

But you don’t need custom-shelving talent to create your own cloffice. This chic, airy closet-turned-homework station for the kids was done by Jennifer Gizzi, the talent behind the blog Making Pretty Spaces.

She created it with the Elfa system from The Container Store. Here, the wallpaper gives the area a bit of fun and focus, and helps define it from the rest of the surrounding room.

Keep your closet-office hybrid simple

This cloffice space is done in a beautiful blue, anchored by striking art, and even has a high shelf for functional storage with offsetting wallpaper for a finished, detailed look. The designer Lahari Rao calls it a “space within a space, ‘Inception’-style.”

But even though it looks complicated, creating a beautiful cloffice of your own is all about keeping things simple, Rao says.

“With a cloffice, you can leverage the existing features of the closet easily—for example the side nooks to tuck away bookcases or the top shelves for storage/books,” Rao says. “Since it is a smaller space, it’s critical to add just enough to still maintain an open, seamless feel.”

Pick a neutral paint color and/or wallpaper (pictured: Benjamin Moore’s Gentleman’s Gray and a terrazzo print), she suggests, and be mindful of the small space.

“Avoid too many decorative accessories and clutter,” Rao adds. “Swap the desk lamp for a ceiling one, or the horizontal paper tray for a vertical magazine file to store papers.”

And don’t forget to have something inspirational to look at during the workday.

“I’m a big proponent of surrounding yourself with imagery that reflects and inspires you,” Rao adds. “For me, that was powerful brown women that broke norms.”

Rao’s cloffice came about because trying to get work done in the common areas of her home just wasn’t cutting it anymore.

“Like many others during the pandemic, I tried to work in transitional spaces—the kitchen, living room, front door area, etc. It wasn’t working,” Rao says.

“I realized I owed much more importance to my workspace—it wasn’t selfish, but rather a self-care gesture to provide my mind and productivity the respect it deserves.”

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Get To Work! How To Make Your Home Office Space a Huge Selling Point

home office space

By: Lisa Marie Conklin

It’s been six months since many of us were last in the office, tapping away on our ergonomic keyboards and drawing on whiteboards in conference rooms during (gasp!) in-person meetings.

Since then, we’ve been forced to find a new path forward in our homes, to create feasible workspaces where there really are none. And frankly, the kitchen table just isn’t cutting it anymore.

Buyer demand for home office space has accelerated during the pandemic. In a realtor.com® survey conducted this summer, 63% of respondents indicated that they plan to buy a new home in light of their ability to work remotely. And, on average, listings featuring a home office command a 3.4% price premium and sell nine days faster than listings without one, according to realtor.com data.

“Showcasing a dedicated working area can help attract buyers to your property,” says Jennifer Smith, a real estate agent at Southern Dream Homes.

So, sellers, take note: If you have a home office, now’s the time to promote it. Here’s how to set up a space that will bring in the buyers and seal the deal.

Be mindful when converting a room into a home office

If you don’t have an official home office, you might be frantically looking around your house, wondering which room could be converted into a workspace. But before you go all in swapping out guest beds for built-in desks and bookshelves, know this: While buyers are looking for home office space, bedrooms still take priority, according to real estate agent Susan Bozinovic of Century 21 Town & Country. And you could inadvertently turn off buyers if one of your three bedrooms suddenly works only as a home office.

Instead, look for opportunities to create dual-purpose spaces. After all, you’re probably not entertaining many guests during the pandemic (we hope), so now’s a great time to create a combination guest room and office. Remove the bed, and replace it with a sleeper sofa or love seat.

“This will result in less visual clutter while you’re working in the room, but allow it to easily be transformed back to a bedroom for guests,” says Smith.

Choose a free-standing desk to fit the space without overwhelming it. Or consider a wall-mounted desk as an alternative.

“They can be installed in virtually any room of a home and can be easily put away when not in use,” says Smith.

And don’t forget to update the closet.

“Maximize your closet space with shelves and containers to store office and bedroom supplies, while also making the space available to store your guests’ belongings,” recommends Smith.

Short on bedrooms? Try carving out space in another area such as the dining room. Keep the dining table, but remove the buffet or remove the leaves in the table and extra chairs to make room for a chair and desk.

“As a seller, you are not erasing the dining room, but signaling to the buyer that the room can be repurposed further to suit an office,” says Bozinovic.

Pick a quiet area

The noisy central hub of any home is hardly conducive to productivity, so setting up a workspace in the kitchen or the TV room isn’t likely to woo buyers. If you currently don’t have a designated home office, consider the location when staging one.

“It’s best to choose a room with adequate space that’s far from the main living spaces and not frequented by family members or guests,” Smith advises.

Transform an unused area into a workspace

Take a look around at the underused areas in your home, and you can probably find a place to carve out a workspace buyers will covet. If you have a finished, walkout basement, you can turn that into a comfy and private workspace. The area underneath the staircase or the dead space at the top of a staircase, or even an alcove, makes a compact office.

If you have no choice but to set up a home office in the main area of the house, present it in the most appealing way possible.

“Separate the work area from the rest of the room with portable dividers such as a curtain, a folding screen, partition wall, or even tall houseplants,” says Smith.

Keep the area tidy, and neatly bundle up computer and extension cords. Illuminate a poorly lit zone with a small desk lamp.

Flaunt connectivity

If you have access to dependable and fast internet, flaunt it. Buyers are looking to make sure there are enough outlets, ways to minimize cords, and locations for wall-mounted routers, Bozinovic says.

Also critically important is the quality of the Wi-Fi. Buyers want dependable and fast internet with ample bandwidth to be productive at home.

Stage your home office as you would the rest of your house

If you already have a dedicated home office, the time-honored advice of staging—beginning with a clean and clutter-free space, void of personal objects—stands true. If needed, invest in fashionable, functional office storage options like wall shelves or a filing cabinet, Smith says.

“For decorating and design, it’s best to keep colors neutral and avoid bright paint or busy patterns on the walls,” she adds.

But the office shouldn’t be too bland. Create ambiance with pops of color in office essentials such as an area rug, houseplants in pretty pots, or fresh flowers. If blinds are the only window covering, consider buying some curtains or drapes to add warmth. Be sure to raise blinds, draw the curtains to the side to allow natural light, and feature a lovely view if you have one.

The desk should be featured prominently in the room, Bozinovic says. After all, it is the main component. Facing the desk to the entrance looks more dramatic, hides background clutter, and enhances the room’s purpose—all while offering a welcoming atmosphere.

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6 Home Upgrades Buyers Want in the COVID-19 Era

outdoor space

By Lauren Sieben

If you imagined 2020 was the year you would finally list your house for sale, you may have hit the brakes on those plans when the coronavirus pandemic arrived.

But now, we’re more than six months into the COVID-19 era with no clear end in sight. As many people continue working and logging in to school from home, the real estate market is again heating up with buyers eager to upgrade to a new home.

So stop putting it off: Now is the time to step on the gas in preparing your home to sell. We talked with experts to learn which home improvements will hit the right note with buyers during the pandemic (and beyond).

1. Upgrade your outdoor space

Most of us are suffering from an acute case of cabin fever these days. It’s little wonder that outdoor space has become more important than ever to prospective buyers.

“Even pools are becoming more popular in areas where they weren’t before,” says Bill Walker, chief operating officer of Kukun, a web resource for home improvements.

If you live in a cooler climate, extending the usability of your outdoor space will be a big draw for buyers.

“Get a low-cost outdoor heater and area rug to stage the space as an outdoor living room,” says Francie Malina, a real estate agent in New York’s Westchester County.

2. Create a functional home office or classroom

Many workers aren’t heading back to the office until 2021 or even later, which means home office space is at a premium, along with space for kids to log in to their virtual classrooms.

“People need a dedicated space for multiple people to be able to be on calls at the same time,” says Walker, who currently works at home alongside his wife, and his kids attending school virtually. “It definitely creates challenges when we all need to be on calls and need space to work.

Even if you don’t need two home offices or a remote learning station for your own family, consider staging your home to show the possibilities for buyers.

“Staging a guest bedroom as a home office or classroom is a good idea,” Walker says. “The potential buyer can see the room being used in a versatile way and visualize it for themselves.”

Plus, most of us host guests in our guest rooms for less than a month per year, Walker says—and probably even less during the pandemic.

3. Add separation of space

Open floor plans are so 2019.

“Open floor plans are losing a bit of luster,” Malina says. “Homeowners are looking for distinct spaces for family members to work or study.”

If your space isn’t well-segmented, you may want to create separate spaces by adding barn doors or pocket doors—or even room dividers for a quick and easy solution.

Having distinct rooms helps to minimize volume from other people’s activities, and can also create a different feeling in each part of the house.

“As people are spending more time at home, they want room and different environments to not feel stuck inside,” Walker says.

4. Add space for a home gym

Many people are forgoing the gym during the pandemic, preferring to work up a sweat from home to minimize risks of coronavirus transmission. That means people are looking for space to house gym equipment, from yoga mats to treadmills and stationary bikes.

Your home may not have the space for a fully equipped home gym, but you can still carve out a corner where home buyers will be able to picture their future at-home HIIT workouts or yoga flows.

5. Give your in-law suite a makeover

If you have a guest house, this can be an attractive feature for buyers right now—especially those with multigenerational households, or people looking for a potential source of rental income.

“With people bringing elderly family members home, [additional dwelling units] are a good option, especially if there is a kitchen and bathroom,” Walker says. “Even if this space isn’t used for personal reasons, it can be an investment property.”

6. Spruce up the laundry room

Concerns about cleanliness and hygiene have been at an all-time high during the pandemic, which means “laundry rooms are more important than pre-COVID,” Malina says.

People are doing laundry more often after running errands, and many of us have become more diligent about washing our bed linens. Plus, who couldn’t use more room for ironing, folding, and hang-drying clothes?

“Having a dedicated space to do laundry is a wonderful luxury, and buyers often want the space to be beautiful like the rest of their homes,” Malina says.

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