Whereas the kitchen table once served as a place for the adults in the house to make phone calls or pay bills, today’s home offices show how that concept grew up and got serious. Home offices are a permanent thing in today’s floor plans, in demand because of the number of people requiring dedicated business space within their homes. Instead of formal living rooms, builders now design gorgeous, regal office settings in open spaces next to entryways, either open to other spaces or contained behind French doors.
But if your home did not come with a space like this, how do you design a dedicated room or area that reflects comfort, fosters creativity, spurs thought, and offers you an organized, charming and — most of all — practical place to work?
What it is reflects where it is. Considering the number of hours you’ll spend in your home office, it’s wise to be generous with space. Taking over the corner of the guest room simply may not cut it, even if it’s a rarely-used room. Natural light, your home’s traffic flow and your ability to withstand distractions are all important considerations. If you are someone who can’t take interruptions until your work is done, placing your office in an open area near family will not work. But if you are an easygoing multi-tasking animal, able to deal with the hustle and flow of your family as you get work done, a quiet closed-off room may not be necessary or even desirable. If your home office is located in a very visible space, such as one of the first rooms others see when entering the house, however, making it beautiful and organized should be a priority.
Make it serve you. What do you need at your fingertips? How much desk space do you require? Do you store hard copy items and need lots of office supplies? Before investing in furniture, determine the answers to questions like these. Home office furniture can be both stylish as well as practical, complementing other rooms in your house instead of looking like a leftover IKEA storeroom with no color or personality. A home office can feature artistic pieces, display meaningful artifacts from travel, or feature family heirlooms, or it can exude modern industrial flair with pops of color.
Your chair is your throne, so make it a good one. Make sure it’s beautiful, ergonomically-correct, and comfortable so that even if you blow the wad on it, you’ll never have regrets.
Surround yourself with colors you love. Bland colors do not get your creative juices flowing or your mind humming. An accent wall painted a lovely color like a burnt orange, or seafoam blue have the power to affect your mood in all the right ways.
Give yourself a view as a respite from the computer screen. We’re not talking ocean vistas or forests out your window. We’re merely talking staring at something more interesting than a blank wall when you glance up from your work. Natural light is ideal, but if you’re in a windowless space, give yourself a beautiful focal point or position your chair to face the door.
Make it you. HGTV recommends you choose extras that enhance the comfy feeling of your home office, like a pretty mug for a pencil holder, trendy notepads and sticky notes, and a decorative wastebasket. “Wrap your bulletin board in a gorgeous fabric, and hide utilitarian bookshelves behind curtains made from the same material. Hang inspirational prints on the walls, whether that’s simply your kids’ framed artwork or a classic painting.”
Use both vertical and horizontal space. Hang floating shelves on the walls to get papers and office equipment off the desk. If you tend to make piles, get a nice basket to tame your mail, notes, and papers. Wooden or metal cube storage is a fun alternative to bookshelves, capable of handling books, knickknacks, or baskets of odds and ends.
Hide power cords and unsightly technical clutter. Start by making sure your equipment is close to outlets and easy to access if you need to unplug. Feed the cords into a desk grommet, a plastic or metal cap that helps guide cords through a hole in the desk and hides them underneath. Run them under your chair mat. Or tame the cord mess on the floor with cord winders, tubing, or a wire organizer that’s attached to the desk and lifts the cords off the floor.
Lighting is crucial, whether it’s overhead, natural, or desk lighting. Position the computer monitor so there’s no glare from a window or overhead light, hire someone to throw a few recessed lights overhead or place a small good-neck lamp on the desk for task lighting that isn’t in your way, taking up valuable desk space.