9 Essential Tips When Building a Home Office
Where a lot of us have been working from home these last several months, many will even continue to work from home…for the foreseeable future, or maybe even from here on out!
Today, with far more creative means to allow workers to log in virtually and get just as much (if not more) work done, the home office is an area of interior design that has seen a HUGE degree of interest and growth this year!
In all actuality, we’ve had a LOT of the related technologies for years…but now, everyone is looking for the best way to design the perfect home office—and FAST, to keep up with everything this year has thrown our way.
These 9 simple interior design tips will help you EASILY stay productive in your home office space. For so many folks…the home office is NO LONGER JUST A “LUXURY.” And these crucial office spaces have to be designed right! Whether your home office space is built to run a whole business or if you just need a space to float to when you pay bills and organize your schedule, the following 9 tips are the interior design ideas you’ll definitely want to take into account.
First: where do you start?
The one thing you’ll want to figure out before getting into ANY design tips is the purpose of your home office. Will you be working there every day? Do you want it to feel like the rest of your home, or like its own, independent space? Will it be more of a study nook? Will you keep your personal paperwork and storage there as well as your business stuff?
Whether you’re building (or want to adapt an existing space to) a dedicated office or a small study corner with BIG impact on your day-to-day, you deserve to design specifically to that purpose. Start with articulating what you want, and then continue through these 9 tips to get every detail just right!
1: Choose the location that suits your work
The VERY first thing to determine when designing your home office is what part of your home it will GO in. Yes…it’s true, some of us will have fewer choices than others—perhaps you don’t happen to have a spare room in exactly the ideal space to get out of the main flow of your home, for instance.
That said…walls can go up! You can shift things around. Don’t limit yourself, because the best solution might be a creative one! And remember—choosing your work space also means hashing out how well you can actually do your job…not to mention the comfort of everyone else you live with.
What you definitely want to avoid is using open spaces. If you have a nook between the kitchen and the dining room, for example, don’t even THINK about using it as an office. No matter the nature of your work, the one universal need will be to make it soundproof…especially with the number of video conferences we’re all on these days! So you WILL need that distance from the hustle and bustle of main rooms…
And, by the way…if your office (and, specifically, your web cam) have ANY vantage point into family spaces of your home, you’re seriously asking for it!! Just ask the guy we were on a call with recently whose girlfriend walked behind him in her panties during our call! Those weren’t cheeky briefs, let me tell you!!
2: Determine what you NEED in your home office
- How much desktop space do you need (maybe you have multiple monitors, filing systems…or multiple coffee cups)?
- What kinds of storage do you need? (This is always plural—so get all your storage needs figured out BEFORE you start designing anything!)
- Do you have printing or scanning requirements? What other office equipment will you need?
- How much of your time in your home office will be spent on the phone? What other equipment does your phone or on-hand things do your phone calls require?
- Do you tend to be untidy in your office space? (Be honest on this one!)
Once you have these answers, the steps to determine some of the BIGGEST selections of your home office (like what kind of desk you need…or how much space should be devoted to shelving) will be a cinch!
3: Form or function?
I’ll say it: DO NOT sacrifice form for function!! Think about the total number of hours you’ll spend in that office…everything from your DESK to your SHELVES and STORAGE should serve you. That should never be the other way around!
Start by asking, what’s your workflow like in a typical day? What items do you need at your fingertips? You can then look for the beautiful selections that fit the function bill AND tickle your design fancy.
You can also determine how much you want your office to blend in with the rest of your home (as long as you still keep function top-of-list). Or do you want stepping into your office to be like “stepping out to the office,” with a bigger break in style and look from surrounding rooms? There’s no right or wrong answer there—this one IS a matter of preference!!
4: Function also means technology
Let’s get real: any home office today MUST take technology carefully into account.
For example, if you want to put your desk right in the middle of the room, what will you do to ensure cables run safely to outlets? There are SO many options here! Talk to your designer and you can make this happen…just be sure to think of it ahead of time so it’s not an expensive switch later!!
And, for that matter, how many outlets will you need? Think about computers, printers, TVs, music system, cellphone charge ports, lighting, Alexa…coffee maker?! Every electronic that will be in your office on a typical day should be accounted for.
5: “No clutter allowed”
Before clutter EVER becomes a problem in your home office, banish it by designing the RIGHT storage system. Clutter will get worse in your home office than in ANY other area…and you’ll want to make sure this doesn’t negatively impact your day-to-day.
Consider planning fitted cupboards and units for some of the big items that you KNOW will be permanent fixtures, like scanners or printers. Shelving for books and filing you’ll need will be crucial, too.
Pro tip: The more you-specific you make your storage, the more inclined you’ll be to use it! Going for the most stylish option that fits your need will help, too.
Since some of you might be dealing with serious space shortages in your home office, be sure to consider solutions like floating shelves if need be. Just be aware (yet again) of cords and how you’ll route them where they need to go. Your desk choice will be a key selection in your storage plan, too!
6: Make it YOUR space that you truly LOVE!
Once you have the big design components figured out, the next (and EASILY most fun step) is to make that home office YOURS.
So…what about paint colors?! When it comes to the walls (and even the trim and window treatments), the colors you plan to sit in for HOURS each day can either make or break your home office! Forget that “office greige” unless it’s really what you want—pick the color that gets your work going and your mood flowing!!
Also consider what view you’ll have in your home office to make the space a place you LOVE. If you’ll be sitting in front of a window, will the area outside be distracting…or delightful? If you’re up against a wall, will that be helpful or harmful? Do you need a vantage point to the kids on the occasions you do leave your office door open? Get these questions answered, and then you’ll REALLY be off to creating a space you adore…
7: Get the light right!
Here’s a BRIGHT idea…make sure the light in your office is the PERFECT lighting for your tastes and needs. If you’re under fluorescent lights all day, it might feel like your typical cubical environment…but who’s really going for that?! Besides, those lights will do damage on your eyes over time.
Choose not only the light fixtures that you like best, but ones you can adjust for brightness! Dimmers are a MUST for any space you’ll be staying in from morning till dinner, because you’ll have to adjust at least once or twice a day.
And speaking of light…remember to position your desk to get the most natural light you can, if possible. The right window treatments will contribute to the light control you need to avoid any glare when the sun comes directly through, too.
I can’t stress this enough—the lighting in your home office is the most ergonomically AND emotionally-important feature for you to figure out! Turn to your designer to get this just right…
8: Window coverings with the look AND function you want!
You can dress your office windows as beautifully as you want to add that design “oomph” you’re after! That is, you can do that as long as your covering selections are still practical for your functional needs.
• For example…how WONDERFUL would a remote lift be for your office windows, so you can continue plugging away during the day without constantly adjusting the blinds?!
• And when it comes to window location…will you have direct sunlight coming into your home office at sun up or sun down? Light control options will be a MUST if this is the case!
We’re your local Graber Blinds dealer, so take a look at the Graber gallery to see what kind of options you could consider for the home office space you can REALLY fall in love with…
9: NO MORE NOISE!
I saved the best for last…YES, I know, said location is the first thing to consider! The most important thing, however, will ultimately be the noise control for your space.
Will you be going on a lot of conference calls? Even if you can hear the other parties just fine on your headphones, will they be able to hear the kids scream? Are you right next to a bathroom where you (or your meeting attendees) will hear flushing all day?!
To sound-proof your office, consider selections like:
• Sound baffles on the wall (this CAN be done artfully)
• Solid-core doors instead of hollow-core
• Caulk any extra spaces in the drywall
• Select soundproof window treatments
• Use a draft stopper on the door to the rest of the house
And remember—not only do you want to seal sound OUT, you’ll also want to control the sound that bounces around inside your office. To do that, try:
• Electing a sliding surface that your chair will roll across without damaging the floor or rattling
• Favor soft surfaces instead of hard surfaces to avoid extra echo
• Add more canvas art to the walls!
• Get a white noise machine
We’ve been over so much…and there are still SO many more topics to cover! I’ve hardly even touched on ergonomics, for example…
Seriously, though, with the sheer amount of time you’ll spend in your home office, getting the design just right for the function AND feel will be a make-or-break project for you! Work with us at Signature Home Services for more ideas and to get the specifics on all these selections perfectly fit to your lifestyle and needs!!
Start by taking our Remodeling Personality Quiz to see what kind of project client you’ll be!! Then, go with the design plan that makes the most sense for you.