The popularity of a dedicated home workspace is still on the rise as more people discover how incredible it is to work for yourself. As one of these people, I often find myself bemoaning the fact that I don’t have a home office. Being an interior designer, I collect things: color books, paint chips and samples, fabric swatches, magazines, odd tiles, an unnecessary amount of tiny screwdrivers. I also like to draft spaces by hand, so I have a lot of paper floating around. Without proper storage and space to work, I can get quite overwhelmed. Today’s post is a collection of tips on things I consider essential for home offices, as well as some really lovely images.
Storage is probably the most important part for me when it comes to home offices. Having specific organisation means that you always know where everything goes, and nothing ever gets misplaced. It’s also a way to keep messy things out of eyesight. Magazine boxes are great for sorting catalogues, boxes in various sizes are perfect for client paperwork and physical things like fabric samples and paint chips, and I’d love some lucite drawers to store markers and pencils.
A neutral color scheme is probably your best bet for an office. You can pick something that helps you feel focused, like white, tan, ivory, or grey. Then you can accessorize with an accent color: purple for creativity, blue for a soothing or healing space, green for a natural and healthy space, etc. I like to accessorize with things that compliment my brand and my field, so that when I’m in my workspace I can be surrounded with the things that inspire me and help me to focus.
I like to take up as much space as I can. Without a large work space and places to put things, I can get frustrated and feel cramped. This is why I have a larger than normal desk, and an additional desk for drawing. Big, smooth surfaces are really important for people who do a lot of drawing. I can also have physical work stuff on my desk at the same time as my computer and other things I might need (aka snacks and flowers).
It’s important to be able to close yourself off into your work space while you work, so that you’re not distracted by the rest of the house. The same applies in reverse; you’ll want to be able to shut your office door at the end of the day so that you aren’t tempted to wander inside and stay up on Pinterest until three in the morning. Having a door to shut will also let other people know only to disturb you if it’s really important – letting you focus on the things that you need to get done.
If you’re a painter, don’t install silk carpet in your studio space. If you share an office, make sure to have more than one workspace so that you don’t fight over who gets to use the desk. And make sure that you have things you need to be able to work in a functional space – proper lighting, curtains or blinds to use at night, ergonomic chairs. It can be tempting to splash out on really stunning aesthetic things, but always consider how practical it will be to use.
Have you ever guiltily plugged one power strip into another? You’re not alone. Having multiple places to plug in all your equipment is really important, as is having a phone jack to plug in your office phone or modem. The last thing you want is to overload your power strip and lose all your work. I also like to keep an extension cord at hand, and another nearby just in case. You never know when you’ll need to quickly straighten your hair before a Skype meeting.
Good, comfortable seating away from your desk is another thing that I always like to add for home offices. It means that you have a place to sit if you have clients over, or when your butt has gone numb from being glued to your office chair and you want to curl up somewhere and work on an iPad. Seating can also double as storage, and as an easily changeable aesthetic aspect. If you have the space, consider adding a window seat, so that you can read in the sunshine.
Natural Light, and Fresh Air
Nobody likes to work in a dark and stuffy space. Nobody. Natural light is really important for creative work, so that you can properly see what you’re doing. I prefer to do any drawing in natural light, and I have my drafting desk set up in front of my window for that reason. It causes so much less eye strain than artificial light. It’s also important to be able to open a window and get fresh air circulating in the room. You’ll be healthier and more focused with fresh air, and it’ll help to remove any odd food smells (like those leftovers you had yesterday for lunch, and now want to eat again).
If you’re like me, if you’re in the zone then you’ll work straight through a meal despite being starving. I prefer to have snacks within reach so that I can nibble as I work, and I don’t have to break concentration to make a proper meal. A mini-fridge would be great for keeping cool drinks and produce at hand, and having a basket with little packets of popcorn and almonds would be handy as well. I also really like dried young coconut, but I also have a block of chocolate in my stationery drawer – it doesn’t always have to be a healthy snack! #treatyoself.
Task lighting is definitely another essential aspect. Without proper lighting, you’re going to end up with headaches, strained eyes, and potentially sloppy work. I demand a high quality of work from myself, which can be difficult without proper lighting. Adjustable lamps are great, and choose a lightbulb that will suit your needs.
A Display Space
I really love how this office display is styled. The clothing would be so much easier to style with the inspiration right next to it. I’d love to have a huge display space in my office so I can pin images to it and separate them by project or by room. Shelves are another way to display important things, like products you make, or picture ledges with featured photos and qualifications. Having physical things to represent your accomplishments and the things that you love will always be inspirational.
An office without personality is like an empty cubicle. Your home office should not only reflect your personal style, but also the work you want to do in the room. Adding in personal touches will help you feel more at home and comfortable in your space; more importantly, it will encourage you to be in the space and do your work. You should never worry about conventionality – decorate to represent yourself. Decorate to inspire yourself!
Sometimes, you just don’t have the space to have an entire room dedicated to an office. If you need it to double as a guest room, bring in a sleeper sofa or invest in a murphy bed! You can also carve out a space in your kitchen, your hallway, or even your laundry to use as an office. As long as you have proper storage, a work surface, and a comfy chair, then anything can be an office.
If you prefer to work in silence, then you can probably skip this category. Working from home can be distracting with all the sounds going on. You can hear the washing machine, the coffee maker, someone watching Say Yes To The Dress, your neighbours bickering over who was supposed to water the begonias. I like to have white noise by playing old episodes of SVU while I work, or having an ambient noise program like RainyMood going. I find classical music too invigorating, and modern music too jumpy to help me focus.
Proximity to the Bathroom
There is pretty much nothing worse than being in the middle of something important, and having to take a five mile trek through your house to get to the bathroom. If you have the space, add in a little half-bath with a private toilet and sink. Or make sure to be within a few metres of one when leaving your office. This means that you won’t really have to get out of the zone if you need to use the toilet or splash some water on your face. An additional tip: if you have a more simple office space, use the bathroom to add a punch of personality and interest!
Naturally, everybody has different requirements for their space and not all of them will be similar to mine. Always decorate your spaces in a way that works with your lifestyle and your tastes. When planning an office renovation or redecoration, the things you need to consider are: the space that you have, how you plan on using it, storage and any special technical needs, and how you want the space to feel! These are the four factors that will ensure you get an office that you truly love being in. And if you haven’t already, don’t forget to check out my dream office inspiration to see what kind of office I want!