It’s a sign of the times nowadays that nearly half of all Canadian small businesses are now run from home. Whether you use your home office to make your living, pay bills or work at the computer, making your workspace comfortable and efficient can greatly improve the hours you spend there. And if it’s stylish, inviting and properly organized, you’ll look forward to going to work every day – whether you’re creating spreadsheets or writing your memoirs.
1 Colourful creativity
One of the many advantages of the home office design is you don’t have to settle for the serious, neutral, beige decor of the corporate world. Start by painting it in a colour that stimulates (or if you prefer, relaxes) you. Yellow is thought to stimulate cheerful, positive thinking, while warm tans and soft blues help keep stress down. Avoid pure white, which tends to get dirty and can be fatiguing.
Give your office some executive polish with great artwork and an attractive area rug, which can help to minimize noise and is comfortable underfoot. If you have the space, the room should have an extra chair or loveseat with its own lighting for a change of scenery.
2 Lighten up Think carefully about the lighting options in general. A good task light at your desk is a must. While a pretty table lamp may seem like an attractive choice, a desk lamp with an adjustable arm allows you to control the direction of the light and avoid glare on a computer screen. There are many well-designed desk lamps available nowadays, from reasonably priced models at IKEA to mid-century modern classics costing hundreds of dollars. Overhead ambient lighting, especially if you work at night, is also important to help reduce eyestrain.
3 Great seating Even if you don’t use your office for eight hours a day, invest in a really good chair with lumbar support, padded seating and adjustable settings, if possible. If you can’t stand the look of the standard-issue home office chairs available at business supply stores, simply have one reupholstered in a custom fabric to match your decor.
4 Declutter Every working office tends to accumulate “stuff” over time – books, papers, reference materials, prototypes of great inventions, and so on. Schedule a day to do a clean out and recycle or repurpose everything you don’t need. Organize what remains so that you can retrieve it easily. Bookshelves arranged by subject matter and file drawers arranged logically are an incredible time saver. Purchase attractive wicker, wood or acrylic boxes to store materials neatly out of sight and keep them together.
A key source of disorganization in home offices (or any other room in the house, for that matter) is insufficient storage. If needed, invest in extra bookshelves or filing cabinets. There are many attractive options for home offices these days, or you can buy standard office storage units and paint them in a kicky colour.
5 Gadgets galore
Here’s another reason to love the home office: The fusion of the design world and the techie world. Now you can find tech chic office gadgets of every kind aimed specifically at the growing part of the workforce that doesn’t think “putty” is a real colour. Among the options are modern-art desk lamps, desktop phones and other electronics that are as beautiful to look at as they are useful. The new Polaroid mobile printer co-designed by Lady Gaga (who has a financial interest in the company) features leather and stainless steel accents. Apple computers have been understated works of art for many years and Dell offers laptops that feature interchangeable lids in a plethora of designs. And IKEA has known for years that office furniture and accessories can be beautiful.
Whether you’re just organizing a home office for the first time, or you’ve been working out of your back room for years, look at it this way: It simply makes good business sense that it should be a functional, inviting and stylish place.