So you’ve read and heard about telecommuting and now you have the chance to trade in your drive to work for working at home. Or maybe you just want a place in your home where you can write the great American novel. It all starts with a home office, well planned out and well furnished.Before you head to the furniture store and plop down a week’s salary or more, do some research — on yourself. How do you work? Do you like a roomy environment, or do you like to have everything within arm’s reach? These work characteristics can make a big difference in what type of space you carve out and the style of furniture you select.

Location
Consider your workspace. Is it a spare bedroom or part of the family room? Perhaps you can convert a little-used dining room into an office. As you look for space, consider how much furniture it can hold and don’t forget to measure the doors to ensure the furniture you select will fit through them.

Of course, you want to consider budget, too. You could spend as little as a few hundred dollars or up to several thousand. Figure-up a reasonable budget and stick to it. If your budget is tight, consider buying used furniture and equipment.

Desks
Because the desk is the hub of any office, it’s a good idea to select it first. Look for ample surface space for equipment and activity, as well as enough drawers or shelves for supplies, frequently used resources and active files.

For as little as $100, you’ll find a variety of easy-to-assemble modular desk kits made of pressed board and laminate. Or you might rather pay a couple of thousand dollars for a traditional solid-wood desk or a high-quality wood armoire with power strips already installed. Take a test drive of the best candidates at your local office-furniture supply store.

Chairs
The more time you plan to spend at your desk, the better your chair should be. Look for chairs that contour to your body and give you a solid feeling of support as you labor over the desk area. Consider lumbar support, tilting and the chair’s ease of movement. And don’t forget to provide a chair or two for occasional visitors.

Storage
Storage units range from traditional wood cabinets with file folders and tabs to contemporary rolling plastic organizers. Again, select a system that offers the capacity and ease of use you need to work the way you want.

Connectivity
Consider how much electronic equipment you’ll need and where it should be located. Are there enough wall sockets? Does your space have more than one outlet for connecting a phone, fax machine or computer? It may be time to upgrade your Internet access by having a broadband system, such as DSL or cable, installed.

You may also want to consider a home computer network. After upgrading over the years, many families are finding themselves with several computers. For a few hundred dollars, you could put together a home network that lets the kids work and surf on one computer, puts a family-organizer system in the kitchen and leaves you alone with your own system in the office, all the while sharing system resources such as printers.

Comfort
Finally, take a look at your space ergonomically. Place your computer monitor in the right place and at the proper angle to reduce neck strain. Make sure nearby windows won’t be spilling light directly across your monitor’s screen. Are your desk and chair set at the proper height to reduce arm and wrist strain when working with mouse and keyboard?

A well-structured home office can be a wonderful addition to your home and provide you with yet another selling point in the future.