The Ins and Outs of a Home Office

The ins and outs of a home office

By Jennifer Cox, Montreal Gazette March 18, 2015

The design of a home office calls for a number of things: efficiency, storage, and a few individual touches that really personalize the space. Whether the home office is integrated into a larger common area of the home or is housed in a designated room, home offices are often used by various members of the household and, therefore, need to be multifunctional.

"Home offices are more of a necessity than a luxury," said designer Lucy Malagisi, of Interiors by Lucy Malagisi.

"Many of us work from home and we all have bills and paperwork to deal with. In most households there's more than one person needing a workspace, and it's important to reflect on the need because there's a solution for every problem.

"Is this mom's office, dad's office, or a family office? Will it be in a separate room or are you incorporating the workspace into another room?

"Take all of this into consideration and make sure that every office is functional, comfortable, and pleasant to be in."

That begins with the furniture. Malagisi stressed the importance of a quality ergonomic chair and a sturdy desk. Colour is also important, as it sets the entire tone of the space.

"Colour evokes emotions and inspires you, so the colour you choose is important," she said. "I usually choose a colour based on inspiration, such as artwork.

"In my own office, I chose the chairs first and then the wall colour based on those."

For those who are dealing with a more modest workspace, such as a home office in a condo, scaleddown versions of office necessities are available.

"Furniture is now smaller and very inexpensive, which is perfect for people living in condos or for people who don't yet have a dedicated home office space," said Pete Gibel, senior vice-president of merchandising at Staples Canada. "And with space being a premium these days for everyone, consumers need to continually look for ways to save space, minimize clutter, and maximize storage to do more with less."

This is why storage is a crucial component of a home office. So is lighting.

"Keep your workspace clean," Malagisi said. "I'm not a fan of open shelves because they become messy, so I keep things behind closed doors.

"Make sure you know where everything goes and that you put it where it's supposed to go or it will get disorganized."

She also recommended taking advantage of natural light and placing the desk close to a window, as well as incorporating overhead and task lighting as needed.

Finally, a few personal decor details should be added to the space. "Show offyour style with accessories and consider putting something appropriate on the wall that reflects your style," Malagisi said. "For one client, I built a frame for an oversized calendar that we hung on the wall where everyone could mark their schedules. That way the whole family knew what they were."

Today's homeowners are continuously looking for innovative, efficient ways to make use of their living spaces, and this is especially true of home offices.

"We've definitely noticed the trend of people incorporating home offices into everyday living spaces like kitchens, dens, living rooms, basements, and the like," Gibel said.

"Persons who now work a few hours - or their total work week - from home, or companies that see an increase in employee morale when members of their workforce can work from home at least occasionally, are requiring home offices.

"Also, we see lots of parents who want their children learning with and through technology, but from the family home office space in the same room as the parent who might be making dinner, paying bills, or listening to music.

Lastly, with more and more people working on computers for personal reasons - on a blog, video conferencing a friend abroad, or working on a personal project - they may prefer to work from a mixed-use room or area that is less designed for work and more designed for comfort and everyday living."

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