By Kerrie Kelly, ASID
Whether you’re just unloading a briefcase full of work a few nights a week or you actually run a business from your home, your environment has a lot to do with your productivity and motivation. If you blend the efficiency of the office with the comforts of home, you’re a lot more likely to stay productive and get the job done. From cable management to proper lighting, it’s important to create an environment conducive to work.
Here are three simple steps to get your home office working hard for you.
Create a Work Sanctuary
Start with basics in creating an entire environment that relaxes and rejuvenates you at the same time.
Make sure your paint palette is not so soothing that you’d rather nap than work, or so bright that it stresses you out. Soft neutrals (gray, taupe, tan) as opposed to warm pastels, or rich, deep colors (browns or blues) as opposed to bold will serve you best in an office setting.
I say it all the time: The trick is to layer ambient, task and accent lighting. Start with a dimmer switch on the overhead light in the room to control ambient light, then place the task lighting where it’s needed. Finally, add accent lighting to show off favorite artwork or professional awards, degrees and certifications.
For me, music makes any task more pleasant. If you’re really into it, consider wireless, wall mounted speakers that work with your computer and don’t get in the way of your work. A stereo shelf system is another discrete option for audiophiles. Sound bars are so plain and simple that they fade into the background of any decor, but you can’t miss them when the sound comes on!
Get the Right Furniture
You may not be spreading out blueprints, sketches, and fabric and carpet samples every day, but you likely have some need to spread out once in a while. Twin desks are one way to solve that dilemma stylishly—and make space for an office mate, if you need it. Built-in work surfaces are more affordable than you might guess, too, and offer a streamlined way to maximize your space, giving you lots of room beneath to hide equipment, files and to add the drawers and cubbies you need to stay organized
Here’s where you want to invest both time and money. Try out as many chairs as you can. Look for those that offer adjustments where you need them. Lumbar support is key when sitting for long periods of time, but we all have our own quirks. Whatever yours are, indulge them with a chair that fits you correctly. You’ll find you’re able to keep at a task much longer when you’re not interrupted by discomfort.
Take the Time to Get Organized
Take a minute to decide what kind of work is going to happen in your home office. What electronics will you need? What can you store, and what needs to be handy? What will you need to accommodate those needs and keep the space looking homey and orderly?
I don’t love the look of filing cabinets in any space — but especially not in my home. Consider less blatantly utilitarian methods like shelves where you can keep baskets and binders that keep paperwork handy but out of site. It’s also very easy these days to find attractive furniture that comes with built-in file racks if your work is especially paper intensive.
Computer equipment, electronics, and all the cords they require can quickly detract from your sense of order. Keep it simple. Get a printer that copies and faxes, use your computer for music and video when you need it, and you’ll cut down on your cable management issues significantly. There are lots of cable management options out there, and this is a small project with a huge pay off. It keeps your office looking more efficient, and cord replacements and repairs are much simpler when they’re not a twisted mess. Look for cord covers for the floor as well as desk cable managers.
Do you have any design tips you’ve acquired from your own home office?
To see some of the home electronic options including cable management solutions like those in Kerrie’s tips, visit The Home Depot website.