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Tips for designing a Home Office

Whether our home office is designated space for running a business, the occasional telecommute, or simply a nook for paying bills and organizing our schedule, we deserve more than a metal desk and extra chair stuffed into a spare corner.

Because an office that reflects the design and comfort of the rest of our home is a place we will want to burn the midnight oil. Here are some tips for creating a charming, practical work space.

1. Location
We may spend a lot of time at the home office, so don’t stiff on space, such as squishing a tiny desk into a windowless closet to preserve the rarely-used guest room.

Also, if clients will be stopping by, a private space with ample seating is a must.

2. Don’t sacrifice form for function
Desk, shelves, and storage should serve us, not the other way around. Consider the workflow and what items are in need at the fingertips before investing in furniture, and then look for pieces that are both beautiful and functional. Home office furniture should complement other rooms in the house instead of screaming “soulless cubicle.” If the home has traditional décor, warm wood and soft, comfy chairs or a loveseat are ideal. A contemporary home office can feature artistic pieces or modern metal furniture.

3. Invest in a great chair
We spend hours parked in the office chair; a beautiful, ergonomically-correct, comfortable seat is worth every dime.

4. Paint the walls a colour we love
Forget “office beige”: we need a colour that gets our work motor humming. For some people, that’s a bright, cheery colour like orange or lime green. Others need a calming shade of botanical green or sea foam blue to perform. Find out more about how certain colours can affect our mood.

5. Give a view
Position the desk where we can stare at something more interesting than a blank wall when we glance up from the computer. A window’s natural light is ideal, but if we are in a windowless space, hang a pretty picture above the desk, or position the chair to face the door.

6. Choose homey accessories
Unless we are going for a contemporary look, choose extras that enhance the comfy feeling of our home office, like a pretty mug for a pencil holder, trendy notepads and sticky notes, and a decorative waste basket. Wrap the 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 our kids’ framed artwork or a classic painting.

7. Organise vertically and horizontally
Many home offices aren’t swimming in square footage, so using space efficiently is imperative. Hang floating shelves on the walls to get papers and office equipment off the desk, and use vertical file folders on the desk to keep important papers within arm’s reach. If one tends to make piles, get a nice basket to tame our mail, notes, and papers. If we prefer a clean desktop, designate one drawer for our “to-do” papers. Wooden or metal cube storage is a fun alternative to bookshelves since each space can be used for books, knickknacks, or baskets of odds and ends.

8. Master the technology
There’s not much we can do to beautify the computer, printer, and phone, but we can hide unsightly cords. Start by making sure our equipment is close to outlets and easy to access if we need to unplug. Encase cords on the desk in a pretty fabric cord cover like this one from Taylor Gifts, and 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. Tame the cord jungle on the floor with cord winders, tubing, or a wire organizer that’s attached to the desk and lifts the cords off the floor.

9. Let there be light. Here’s a bright idea
Make sure the office has plenty of light to cut down on eye strain and headaches. Position the computer monitor so there’s no glare from a window or overhead light, and put a small lamp on the desk for task lighting.

10. Inspire oneself
Set up a mini-shrine — a few cherished knickknacks, a piece of framed art, a special photo on our desk — that motivates us to create and/or get the work done so we can get out of there. A print of Paris can channel our inner muse, or a photo of our children might remind us that we are doing it all for them.


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