Design Guide: Creating the Perfect Home Office
Working from home is on the rise. Census. Gov states that in the last decade, the number of Americans who work from home at least one day a week has increased by a staggering 35% (that’s 4.2 million Americans!) in the last decade. The importance of having a well-planned, well-designed, and well-organized home office space cannot be underestimated. Having a clutter-free, organized home office space integrated into your interior design can vastly impact your productivity, stress levels and overall well-being. Here is a practical guide to designing your perfect in-home office space
1.) Choose the right space:
The answer may not be as obvious as you might think. While, geographically, that corner in the living room may seem to make the most sense, its important to consider the level of distraction you may be facing in the future. Televisions, children, telephones, and pets can all come as unexpected distractions to your productivity. Choose a space with minimal traffic, minimal use, and minimal access to distractions.
Also, its important to be able to separate work life from home life- the ability to shut a door and “leave work” is absolutely crucial for reducing stress levels and reducing the risk of “burn out”. Perhaps an unused dining room, or formal living room could be a better option than using a spare bedroom.
2.) Compliment, not Contradict:
Your home office should compliment the rest of your home. If your home has a traditional design with lots of warm tones- then stick with that. Your home office space should seamlessly blend into the design of your home, not scream “cold, soul-less cubicle”. You also want to avoid clashing design themes- you may have that great desk your mother-in-law gave you- but if it clashes with the flow of the room, it may be worth the additional cost to avoid those architectural hiccups. After all, you want your home office to give you a sense of comfort and ease- not be a stark shock to the senses.
3.) Built-in storage:
It may seem like a superfluous or excessive expense to incorporate built- in organization or storage into a home-office when the option to run to a local store and purchase a desk or shelf (with assembly required) is always there, but adding furniture to a home can cause clutter- and when it comes to home office, clutter is the enemy. Talk with your designer about incorporating built-in shelving, cabinets, and drawers into your space. This will not only increase how seamlessly your home office space blends into your home, but will also avoid potential issues with purchasing organizational tools which inevitably add to the problem rather than solve it.
4.) If you invest in nothing else, invest in a good chair:
Likely one of the most crucial elements of any home office- the perfect office chair should be of utmost priority. When it comes to picking the perfect office chair- spare no expense. You’ll be spending a huge portion of your time sitting in that chair, so make sure it is as comfortable and functional as possible.
5.) Disregard the Norm:
Make your space uniquely “you”. Forget the muted, office beige (unless that’s what works for you) and paint or accent your space a color you love. We’ve already had some discussion about how color can affect your mood, and when it comes to productivity in the office place- we all know how much mood can affect productivity. Set your space up to be relaxing, permanent, functional, comfortable, and is tailored to your needs and wants. Don’t be afraid to be daring- as long as the space is functional,then who’s to say you can’t design your desk to have a built-in snack bowl, perch for your kitty to sleep next to you, or even something as radical as a place to put a patch of grass underneath so while you’re working you can take off your shoes and feel the grass under your feet? If you’re working from home, you have the distinct freedom to toss aside convention when it comes to design- use it!
6.) Don’t underestimate a good view:
In an ideal situation- we could all build our home offices to overlook the skyline of our city, or overlook a white sand beach, but the reality is that we have to use what we can. Giving yourself something more interesting to look at during those brief moments when looking away from a computer will make you more comfortable. A window is ideal- but even a picture or painting you really enjoy can provide those mental breaks that are so important to a productive work environment. No one likes staring at a blank wall, so while most of us can’t be afforded the perfect view, treat yourself to the best of what you can.
Give yourself plenty of light. Of course natural light is preferred, but the daylight hours are limited- so make sure that your office space provides ample, bright light with a good hue. You will likely need more light than you’d anticipate- so adding additional light fixtures is an important consideration. Increased light will reduce eye strain and prevent those pesky headaches. Don’t forget to choose a bulb that offers light in a spectrum that works for you! Pale, crisp light sitting nearer the blue side of the spectrum often offers added energy and produces ample light. Stick around 900 Lumens minimum (depending on space) and make sure that your light source is in easy access from a seated position.
8.) Ergonomics are your best friend:
We see this word a lot- but when you’re setting up your home office design, make it priority. You can save yourself so much time and energy while avoiding serious long-term problems by making sure that your home office space is as ergonomic as possible. We spent hours a day at our desks, and studies show us more and more how negative being seated in the improper posture can wreak havoc on the body. Protect yourself, your safety, comfort, and well-being: make sure you do whatever you can to make your space friendly to your body.
Consider incorporating office plants into your home office design. Adding a plant or two to your office space can have more of an impact than you may think. Studies have shown that having live greenery in a work space can improve air quality, make your room more comfortable, reduce stress, and increase productivity. A plant is a welcomed and reasonable distraction in the moments you take to care for it by watering or pruning- and besides, they look fantastic!
10.) Cable Management:
Often over looked and unjustly so. Nothing can create more of an eye sore in a home office than a nest of cables cluttering a desk or floor. Velcro cable ties are your friend! Talk with your designer about incorporating ways to hide a mess of cables. Make sure that your space is set up for any connection you might need, including adequate electrical outlets. Make sure to leave your equipment layout open to be altered- you never know when you’ll be getting some new piece of office tech, or when you may decide to remove a piece of equipment. If the cables are hard to access, or difficult to add to- you’ll end up at square one with a nest of cables. Increasing ease of access and efficiency is key!
In building a home office- you should invest as much as is comfortable for your budget. It cannot be said enough how important to mental well-being, productivity, and mood it is to have a working environment that entices you to be there and doesn’t add any additional factors which may cause stress. You’ll be spending more time in your home office than you will in most other spaces or rooms in your home- so make sure that your home-office reflects that and suits you perfectly. Experimentation is key- and with a great interior designer- the possibilities are endless