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Plan a Home Office That Works for You

Creating a stylish, comfortable and productive home office in four steps

As more and more people are bringing their work home with them, starting home businesses and telecommuting, building and designing a home office is becoming less of a trend and more of a necessity. With a little bit of planning, you can easily turn your workspace in to a comfortable and fashionable space in your home.

It may seem like planning your home office is a daunting, impossible task, but it can easily be broken down into four steps. First you must choose the space in your home that will become your work area. Next, outline the way this space will best suit your needs. Third, decide what the necessities are for your home office, and purchase stylish fixtures that will not only create a productive work space, but will produce the environment you want to work in. Finally, it is time to arrange your home office, and accessorize it to create a workspace that is productive, beautiful and a complement to the rest of your home.

I. Choosing Your Space

Deciding where in your home your office may be one of the most important parts of the process, but it is not nearly as complicated as it might seem. This decision depends on what your needs will be in your home office, as well as what space you have available to dedicate to it.
  • Assess Your Needs. Just how much are you planning on using your home office? If you are running a home-based business or expect to be using your home office often, you should consider dedicating an entire room to this purpose. A busy home office requires a lot of space for desks, bookcases and more. Also, having your workspace separated from other parts of your home will prove to be less distracting, and create a much more productive workspace. Don't feel restricted to eliminating the guest bedroom, or walling off a part of your living room. Consider finishing a part of your basement as an office, or using an accessible part of your attic space.
    If you aren't planning on having a high-usage home office space, then you have even more options. While you still can create a room dedicated solely to this purpose, you can also simply place your desk or computer armoire in a living room or guest room. To keep the office as organized as possible, look for a desk that includes plenty of storage space for your office supplies, like a secretary desk or a computer desk with file cabinets. This will help keep the clutter of paperwork and supplies that accompanies every home office from encroaching on another part of your home.


  • Assess Your Space. While knowing what you will require out of your home office is very important, you may be restricted in the amount of space you have to work with. If you have extra rooms or ample floor space, then you have nothing to worry about. But if you are restricted, like in a small apartment or a home where every room is already used for something, there are still ways to successfully design a productive and stylish home office. One thing to consider is to create a multi-purpose guest room/ home office. Use a daybed for your guests, and try using your file cabinets as end tables. For another option, use a corner in any room as a home office. A corner desk can provide ample work and storage space, and a small bookcase can be used to store your office supplies. Look into secretary desks for an option that comes equipped with ample storage of its own. If you do place your office in a living room or bedroom, you can easily separate the area with a stylish room divider. Having a dedicated space like this helps keep the space more productive, as well as keeps the thought of work out of your relaxing retreats.

II. Outline Your Workspace

Now that you know where your office will be, you must determine the basics of the space, and begin to create the environment you want to work in.
  • Electricity. This is a deciding factor in the layout of your home office. Keep in mind that your desk must be situated near ample electrical supply to run your computer, task lighting, printer, fax and any other electrical appliances you might wish to use. Also, make sure that lighting fixtures are accessible, or that it would be possible to install them if they don't already exist.


  • Natural Lighting. Having an available window or skylight will make your space more productive, as well as add a calming feel to your workspace. You'll appreciate being able to access fresh air and natural light. Be careful not arrange your furniture in a way that impedes the flow of light. For instance, don't frame your window in tall bookcases.


  • Wall Color. Painting may be the easiest way to completely revitalize any room. For your home office, carefully choose what color will work best for you. If you want a vibrant, high-energy workspace, try a bright color with a semi-gloss finish. If you need a calm workspace, choose a deeper color or a muted, earth tone for your walls. Use a less shiny paint, like a flat or eggshell. Different shades of blue tend to be calming yet not somber, and some believe that it is a color likely to inspire productivity.

III. Choose Your Office Necessities

You already know much of what your office will need. A computer, a comfortable chair, a printer, a few legal pads, a place to keep your business cards, a stapler and some other items that are sure to come in handy while you work. But do you know what kind of desk you would like? Have you chosen your lighting yet? If you plan out what you need and what kind of items you are looking for before going to the furniture catalog, you are more likely to be pleased with the end outcome of your purchases.
  • The Desk. This is most likely where you will be spending the most time in your home office. As the centerpiece of your workspace, it is important to find one that will meet all of your needs and exceed your expectations. Think of how much area you need on the desktop. Surely, room for a monitor, perhaps a keyboard will be necessary. If you think this is all you need, look into a laptop desk, or a small secretary desk. If you expect to be spreading out documents, doing research, filling envelopes or other common office activities, you might need more space to work on. Check out a workstation or a computer desk with plenty of space. Corner desks are a great way to save floor space while getting a large desktop. If your office is a part of another room, think about a computer armoire so that your business materials can be neatly stored out of sight when not in use.


  • File Cabinets. Many people think they can do without file cabinets in a low-usage home office. Although with a little effort this is probably true, you will be pleased with the way a couple of filing cabinets will simplify your life. Even if you are not running a business out of your home, you will still need a place to put the pile of important documents you have most likely acquired over the years. Tax statements, financial documents, insurance paperwork and more can be neatly organized and easily accessible in a file cabinet. If you don't have much room, look for a desk that includes at least one, or choose a bookcase with file storage. If you already know that your filing needs will be high, look through file chests and file consoles; both of which work great to add storage and shelf space.


  • Bookshelves and Shelving. An excellent way to keep all of your research materials, supplies and other items is on a stylish bookcase. Try finding baskets the same height and depth as your shelves, and use them to store your pens, paper, staplers and other odds and ends. To save a little floor space, you can also try wall shelves to stack books and supplies on. Hang them overhead, but still low enough to access from your computer chair.


  • Lighting. Make sure that there is ample overhead lighting to illuminate your entire office. Ceiling fixtures in a home office should be bright enough to display the entire room, and you should stray away from dark shades that will dim the room, making it more somber and less productive of an atmosphere. You should also include some sort of task lighting on or near your desk. A floor lamp in the corner near your desk makes a beautiful addition while saving your desk space, but it is not as easily accessible. Try a table lamp or desk lamp for the most effective task lighting.


  • Supplementary Pieces. Some offices require much more than just a desk, a lamp, and a file cabinet. If you plan on entertaining clients, remember that you will need to provide them seating. Don't just look through the standard office chairs, though; check out a stylish and comfortable accent chair or arm chair to invite your clients into. For more drawer space, look for a storage cart for keeping your extra supplies. Remember that a storage cart or file cabinet also works great as a substitute for a printer stand, or to use as an end table in a multi-purpose room.

IV. Arrange and Accessorize

At this point you have chosen your space, installed lighting fixtures, painted the walls, found your desk, and are ready to put your office together. To finish making this a stylish part of your home, try starting from the ground up in arranging your office.
  • Area Rugs. This is a splendid way to add a little extra flair into your home office. Whether you decided to purchase contemporary or traditional furniture, there are plenty of styles of rugs to choose from. Choose the weave of your area rug to fit your needs; whether you want something extremely comfortable under your feet, or something that is low maintenance. For an office that expects high traffic, choose a rug with a complex pattern, as it will help hide the signs of wear over the years. For a small space, it is best to choose a rug by color, as lighter colored rugs make any room seem larger.


  • Home Accents. Don't let your home office be nothing but a few painted walls and a desk. Remember, it's as much your home as it is your office! Spice up your decor by decorating your wall space with clocks, wall art and wall sculptures. Decorate the shelves in your office with table accents like decorative bowls, and try keeping a houseplant in a decorative planter. Not only will these things add style to your decor, but they can serve as useful additions to your office ass well. A bowl or tray can be used as a candy dish, or a decorative vase can be used as a pencil holder.
Now that you have chosen your accessories and arranged your furniture, take a seat in your new home office and look around. Remember that the majority of the time you view your home office it will be from your office chair, so make certain that your comfortable the way things are. Is there anything you would like to change? If not ...
Time to get to work!