Home Office Design & Decor

Function is first when designing your home office!More and more people are working from home these days.

With technologies like Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP), broadband Internet connections and On Demand Software, the home office trend will only continue to expand, making our lives easier with less commute time and more flexible work schedules that allow us to better balance our professional and personal time!

But, if you work at home full or even part time or have your own home-based business, then having a home office that is comfortable and well designed is critical to your productivity and work efficiency.

Locating Your Home Office

If possible, it’s best to have a room devoted completely to work; a space where you can close the door to reduce the distractions that are an inevitable part of working from home. Convert a spare bedroom or other area in your home to serve as your permanent home office.

Ideally, the best location for your home office is a room as secluded as possible; away from the kids’ bedrooms, the kitchen and the front door, which are all sources of noise, distraction and unwanted disturbances while you are trying to concentrate on work, talk on the phone, etc.

If you don’t have a spare room available, choose a corner of your largest bedroom, the living room or other space that is large enough to set up your home office area. If you can set aside enough space for a desk, filing cabinet and storage for office supplies, it will make your time spent working from home far more productive and enjoyable than if you have to set up at the kitchen table and put your laptop computer, phone, files and other office necessities away at the end of each work day.

Even if you may not have room for a dedicated room, you can locate your home office in a corner of the living room or even under a stairwell as this nice, organized home office setup demonstrates!

Home Office Function and Style

Unlike designing most other rooms and home interior spaces, function needs to be the primary consideration when designing your home office.

Before you start work on your home office, you will want to consider and plan a few functional aspects carefully, including:

  • How much time do you plan to work at home? If you only work from home one day a week, you may not need an elaborate home office space, but if you will be working at home every day, then you’ll want to invest more in the design, furniture and other aspects of designing and setting up your home office.
  • How easily can you connect the phone, fax machine, copier, computer and other office equipment? If you don’t have adequate electrical wiring, Ethernet and phone cabling you will need to either install more wiring and electrical outlets yourself or else consider hiring an electrician.
  • Does the room have adequate lighting? You don’t want to work in a cave, so having a window to let in natural light, ambient and task lighting is critical to making your home office design work for you and not against you! On the other hand, consider adding window blinds or shades if your home office has windows that get direct sunlight or you may have trouble seeing your computer monitor when the sun beats down.
  • Does your home office space have adequate heating and cooling? If you set up your office in the basement or attic space, you may want to consider adding HVAC vents, a ceiling fan and/or portable heater for those cold winter days!

After you have answered questions of function, then you can begin to consider design elements:

  • Do you have a desk, filing cabinet and storage space already available in the room? If not, you might want to consider a modular home office furniture system, which will be perfectly suited to accommodate your home office needs.
  • Does your home office have space for a full desk? If not, a computer armoire can be used to hide a small home office set up when not being used. This can be a great set up for the part time home office and serves as a nice piece of furniture in just about any room, while also hiding it from view.
  • One item you will not want to skimp on is your home office chair; it is important to be comfortably seated while working.
  • How much storage space do you need in your home office? Use cabinets with doors to help hide clutter and plenty of interior shelves to keep things organized.
  • If you need to add a home office space, but can’t afford to buy new office equipment and furniture, try looking around your home or shopping at garage sales for a table you could convert to an office desk. Borrow lamps and accessories from other rooms in your home to decorate your office space and make it more comfortable.

Modular home office furniture such as the PAX system from IKEA offer a way to organize your home office in a very small space, such as the corner of a living room or bedroom.Home Office Layout

Home office layouts range from a small space under a stairwell to a large and well-appointed office that can feel like a corporate boardroom! How you choose to lay out your home office will depend a lot on how much space you have available.

Here are a few considerations on home office layout:

  • For a home office with extremely limited space, consider using something like the PAX system from IKEA; you can quickly and easily design a custom home office and storage solution using the PAX online planning tool.
  • For a more elaborate home office, try using an online system such as Design My Room, which offer free tools that let you create different room layouts.
  • You may also want to consider hiring a professional interior designer to help design your home office if budget allows.

Functional Home Office Furniture

You don’t have to choose furniture intended specifically for home office use. A simple table can be adequate for use as a desk; especially if you use a laptop computer and have relatively limited home office storage needs.

Consider the following home office furniture and equipment as you plan your home office design and layout:

Home Office Desk

Typically you would want a table or desk that is at least 20 inches deep and allows a minimum of 18 inches on either side of your computer keyboard and mouse; much smaller than this and you are likely to feel too confined to work comfortable.

Position your desk against a wall or beside a window if space is limited. For a larger home office, you might like to have a desk that sits more in the middle of the room and provides seating on either side, which is convenient for business meetings and collaboration.

If you home office is quite large, you might even consider a second table with several chairs, especially if you tend to have meetings often or regularly work together in the space with business partners, employees, suppliers or customers.

Home Office Seating and Ergonomics

Perhaps the most important aspect of setting up your home office is considering ergonomics. Having a chair that is adjustable and comfortable makes a huge difference in your work productivity and enjoyment of working in your home office!

Don’t skimp and try using a wood chair from the kitchen or an inexpensive office chair unless you plan to work only a short while at a time! Your back, neck, muscles and joints will thank you for splurging on the chair.

Choose a chair that has adjustable seating height, armrests and back support so that you can adjust your sitting position regularly; this helps greatly in keeping your body from getting stiff!

Essential Home Office Equipment

While the type of office equipment you will need varies based on your business or profession, as well as personal preference, here is a list of typical items to consider when setting up a home office:

  • Laptop Computer – these days many people opt to get a laptop instead of a desktop workstation. If your job revolves around using the computer primarily, you might want one of each.
  • Desktop Computer and Monitor – a desktop computer will typically have more storage space, faster CPU and higher resolution video display than a laptop of the same price, so if you don’t need to take your PC with you, a desktop workstation may be the way to go. A larger LCD monitor is a must have if you spend a lot of time on the computer!
  • Backup Storage – be sure to invest in some type of backup storage device for your computer; nothing is more frustrating than losing your computer data!
  • Telephone – you can use a mobile phone, get a second phone line from your phone company if needed, or save a little money and use a Voice-Over-IP set up.
  • Fax Machine – many people opt to forego having a dedicated fax machine in the home office these days, instead going with a multi-function device that provides combined printing, fax and copier features to save both money and space.

Since your home office must blend your home and work life together, keeping everything organized is important. Consider your technology needs and prioritize equipment and furniture needs; you can always add items you find a need later! Buying every gadget and device at once often leads to some items being used very little and simply taking up valuable space.

Having adequate storage space for files, office supplies, books and other small items will help keep your home office space organized.Filing Cabinets, Bookcases and Home Office Shelving

These days, less filing cabinet and storage space may be required in the home office, since a lot of our data now resides on the computer! You may be able to get away with a desk drawer filing cabinet or purchasing a small filing cabinet which also serves as a good stand for you printer.

Add a nice bookcase or wall-mounted shelves to hold books and other smaller items. If you have closet space, then adding shelving will help you keep office supplies and items you don’t use everyday organized and out of sight.

Home Office Lighting

You want to have adequate ambient and task lighting in any home office; the best light sources should be overhead or to the side of your computer to reduce glare. An overhead ceiling fan with a built in light is a nice addition.

Add a nice floor lamp or use a clip on or table lamp to augment your task lighting. Use interior shutters, window blinds or shades to reduce glare from direct window light when needed.

Home Office Wiring and Cabling

When you buy a computer for your home office, you should consider getting a UPS (uninterrupted power supply) so that you don’t lose your work in case of power outages.

If you have a lot of home office equipment, you may also need to add an electrical circuit or two in order to avoid overloading a single circuit since some of these devices draw a lot of electricity.

Use Wiremold or similar cable management solution to help conceal wiring and cabling and help keep your home office looking neat and tidy.

Home Office Decor

Lastly, you will want to decorate your home office to make it a more enjoyable place to spend time and infuse a bit of your personality and design taste!

Modern or contemporary decor is popular in home offices today since the clean lines and geometric shapes will complement most office and computer equipment.Home Office Décor Styles

With the sleek, modern lines and shapes of today’s high tech office furniture and equipment, a contemporary or modern design theme will work quite nicely in most home office environments. Arts and Crafts or Mission style furniture also works well.

If you prefer something more traditional, you might consider a Tuscan décor theme or even something like English country or French provincial style.

If you choose a theme for your home office space within a larger room, it should complement and augment the décor of that room. If you are designing a dedicated home office, you could choose a theme that is entirely different from the rest of the rooms in your home. Perhaps a Hawaiian themed home office will help you feel more relaxed, or a retro décor style could give your home office a unique look.

Home Office Colors

Color can have a huge impact on your mood and motivation. If you are the type of person who is easily distracted, then softer, more muted colors might help you relax and stay focused on your work.

On the other hand, if you sometimes have trouble getting motivated, then brighter colors might help energize you. Color choice is entirely a matter of personal taste and what works for one person may be completely wrong for another.

Choose a primary color to start; neutral or tone on tone color schemes are very popular in home office decorating, as are warmer tones. Once you have chosen a primary color, choose a couple of accent colors to complete your color scheme.

Choose wall art prints, wall colors, trim and accessories that use the 3 or 4 colors in your color palette.

Having a home office can increase your productivity and job satisfaction. Hopefully, by following these tips and ideas you will be better prepared to plan and design your home office for a better work-at-home experience, whether you work full time at home or just need to bring a little work home from the office!

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