What is a cloffice? How I turned my closet into an office space


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I remember the first time I toured this 1,400-square-foot condo with my realtor.

She knew I was in desperate need of a spare room that I could convert into a small office space. But finding apartments with an extra room, at least in my price range (in very expensive Miami) wasn’t happening.

And so, she did what any good realtor would do, she encouraged me to get creative.

She walked me into the master bedroom and showed me the walk-in closet.

“You know, you could turn this into an office,” she said. “You could call it a CLOFFICE!”

We both chuckled as we enjoyed a short self-congratulatory celebration for coining our clever new word.

But little did we realize at the time, that the “cloffice” trend, apparently, was already a “thing”.

What is a cloffice?

A cloffice is a closet that has been converted into an office. It’s a clever solution for people with small spaces who work from home and need a dedicated workstation.

And while its origins pre-date 2020, as one might imagine, the trend has become more mainstream in recent years as the concept of remote work continues to gain in popularity.

How do you turn your closet into an office space?

There are lots of creative ways to turn your closet into an office space. Here are a few of the most popular tricks.

1. Construct a custom built-in desk

Do what I did – gut the entire closet and have a custom built-in desk installed.

The upside to a custom built-in is that it’s the best way to optimize the small space and ensure that it’s working for your specific needs.

I used a kitchen cabinet company for my closet office cabinets, drawers and desk.

However, there are two downsides to this option.

First, it’s cost-prohibitive (more on that later). Second, it’s not easily reversible.

So if you’re on the fence about giving up that extra precious storage space, opt for a cheaper less expensive option before you fully commit.

2. Install a single large shelf

The next best thing to a fully customized solution is installing an extra long, extra wide-shelf that can double as either a desk, or storage space, should you change your mind in the future.

Sure, this option may still be moderately expensive for those of us who aren’t intimately familiar with woodworking and power tools. But it’s also much cheaper, and much less labor intensive than the fully custom built solution.

Plus, there’s no uninstall required should you choose to convert the space back into a closet in the future. The “desk” can just become an extra long “shelf”.

3. Buy a murphy desk

Here’s a slightly less committal – and easily reversible – way to convert your closet into an office: Purchase a small folding murphy desk like this one for $69 on Amazon. While it might not be quite as comfortable as a full desk, they are fairly affordable and can easily be installed to any height for your ergonomic comfort.

Plus, they easily hide away when not in use.

Pair the murphy desk with some multi-purpose shelving that could either be used for office supplies or for storage and you’ve got yourself a real winner!

It’s the perfect DIY cloffice for work from homers on a budget.

4. Purchase a small desk

This is the easiest option on paper. However, finding a desk with the correct proportions for your closet may be quite a chore. Especially if you are converting a hallway closet and not a walk-in.

If you need something extra narrow, writing desks may be a great place to start.

What should you buy for your cloffice?

Now let’s talk decorating.

As someone who spends the majority of her week hanging out in a closet, I cannot underemphasize the importance of making this space both comfortable and functional.

Here are a few fun and easy ways to spruce up your new closet workspace to make it feel less, well, like a closet.

I love my genuine leather high-back Zuri executive office chair from Amazon

1. Find an ergonomic chair

An ergonomic office chair is a must for any work from homer. Trust me, it’s better to make a bit of investment now rather than dish out thousands of dollars on back surgery and physical therapy down the road.

For the budget-minded shopper, I recommend this ergonomic black swivel chair from Amazon Basics for just $59 (at the time of this writing).

I personally use a white genuine leather high-back Zuri (also purchased from Amazon, this chair is currently listed at $475).

Again, I don’t splurge often – but I already have many back problems and don’t need any more. The cost of the Zuri was worth it for me. Plus it looks super swanky.

My cloffice closet office
I opted for a bright red accent wall to match my brand colors

2. Create an accent wall

I think accent walls are crucial to making a renovated closet feel more like a normal room. I chose a red accent back wall to match my brand colors and finished it off with this fun aluminum “M” cutout from Etsy to add a bit of personality.

If you’re not in the mood to paint – or you’re in the market for something easier to apply/remove – opt for some peel-and-stick wallpaper instead.

I love my sputnik style chandelier
I love my sputnik style chandelier

3. Add lighting

Next up, you’ll want to illuminate the space with lighting fixtures and desk lamps.

Because closets are built more for storage rather than living, lighting is usually poor and electrical outlets range from sparce to nonexistent.

Editor’s Note: My closet originally lacked electrical outlets so I had to call an electrician and have a couple installed for my desktop computer. Sure, I could have just used a laptop and recharged it every morning, noon and night, but that felt like a real pain. I paid less than $250 for the electrical work. It was a worthwhile investment, at least for me.

And I made the most out of my dark closet by installing a small chandelier in the ceiling.

I also purchased three USB-powered desk ring lights which really help illuminate my face while on a Zoom call.

I regularly receive compliments on my lighting while on video conferences which makes me chuckle because I would imagine most people would never guess that I’m actually working out of a closet.

sound dampening hexagonal panels
These sound-dampening panels reduce echo while on video calls with clients

4. Incorporate fabrics (like pillows and rugs)

You will also want to add a bit of fabric and softness to the space. Consider adding a pillow to your chair for back support, or a blanket for your legs and maybe even a small rug if space allows.

And if you take a lot of Zoom calls or use the space for recording audio as I do, you may even want to incorporate some self-stick adhesive acoustic sound-dampening panels ($30 per pack on Amazon). They make everything slightly less echoey.

Bonus Tip: Speaking of better sound, I am also obsessed with this inexpensive Samsun Q2U USB-powered professional microphone ($62 on Amazon). Once you start using real microphones on Zoom calls you’ll never want to go back.

zz plants are great for dark offices
This ZZ plant thrives in dark spaces with minimum water

5. Plants and natural light

Next up, you’ll want to add a little light and air to the space to make it feel less stuffy.

No window? No problem!

I use this light therapy lamp to bring “happy light” back into the space which, I feel, tends to improve my mood.

I also purchased a ZZ plant which seems to thrive without natural lighting. I barely even water it if I’m being honest. I’m convinced this thing could live for a year or more in a dark room without any attention.

I also purchased these floating display shelves on Amazon
I also purchased these floating display shelves on Amazon. The Upwork signage is from Etsy.

6. Office supplies

Finally, finish off your new cloffice space with all the typical office supplies essentials you might need during the workday including pens, paper and maybe even a couple of small baskets for organizing.

Looking for a bit of office supply inspiration? Check out my home office setup checklist.

Read Also: Home office setup checklist: 34 supplies, tips, a printable list [2022]

How much does it cost to turn a closet into an office?

The cost of turning a closet into an office varies drastically from person to person, and closet to closet. It really all boils down to how much money you want to spend.

Ideally, you could create a functional space with something as inexpensive as a hideaway murphy desk and a chair you already have lying around the house for $100 or less.

But, if you go the fully custom route you might end up spending thousands.

My cloffice ended up costing about $7,000 all in, with the cabinet, desk and installation making up the bulk of that expense.

For me, the cost was worth it because I knew I’d be spending 40-50 hours a week in this space. Plus, I’m self-employed. This means I could write it off as a business expense on my taxes – which took the edge off.

Are you thinking about turning your closet into a dedicated home office space? Do you have any tips for my readers? Let me know in the comments below. And don’t forget to connect with me on social media using these links:

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