My office is wherever I happen to be: In the car, at home or the design studio—basically, wherever my phone is. It’s hard to ignore how many of us are following the shifting trend toward working part- or full-time from home. As a designer, I’ve discovered many factors that can help to make your home office a productive and beautiful place to work.
By Jane Lockhart
Let’s take a look
Today’s wireless technology allows us to work from almost any room, but I suggest you pick one and make it yours. I always recommend setting a home office up in a room with a door that closes and locks, rather than at the dining-room table or in an open-concept loft or basement. For business calls and for concentration, it’s best to have a door for privacy. If you need to share a space, try to make it the guest room or a place that isn’t occupied by others during the day.
The size of the room isn’t as important as how functional it is. Organization is key, and the way to stay productive is by adding proper storage. Having a place to put everything can help to contain clutter and keep your mind focused on what’s important. You’ll need organization systems for paper, and cord/cable management to tame that tangle under your desk. Many office stores carry solutions for tidying computers and supporting tech, but I think that custom built-in cabinetry is the best way to go for storage. When it’s purpose built, every one of your needs can be addressed and interpreted into good-looking yet practical places to keep things.
After all, if you’re going to spend unlimited hours in a space, why not make it functional and beautiful? Your personal style can also carry through into your office from the rest of your home, or you can create a unique, personal space that makes you happy just to be in it.
Light it up
Good lighting is one of the most important considerations in a home office. There’s no such thing as too much lighting—you can always turn a lamp off. If you can, invest in recessed ceiling lights for clear ambient lighting, and good desk lighting for task work. Hire a designer to put together a lighting plan if you’re not sure what you need.
And while you’re bringing in an electrician to update your lighting, ask about raising some of room’s wall outlets to counter height so you don’t have to crawl under your desk to charge your phone and laptop.
Another important factor to consider is your chair. You deserve the most supportive, most comfortable seat in the house, because you will be in it a lot. That means no dining or patio chairs!
An area carpet and drapery might seem like overkill in an office, but both will dampen sound and add character. After all, you’re still in a functioning household and sound travels both in and out of rooms. Remember: Fabric helps to keep the noise level down.
Spread and shred!
If you still work with a lot of paper (like me) then you will need space to spread things out. Yes, having space for a computer is one thing—or maybe two things—but a stretch of counter or table space can make life so much easier. Many home offices integrate counters with cabinetry to eliminate the stand-alone desk.
And my last piece of advice is perhaps the important most to remember: The best way to tame that junk pile is to tackle it and let it go. Get a high-quality paper shredder and use it!