You’ve been reading about it since March 2020: millions of Americans are working from home. For some, their home offices are dedicated rooms. For others, they’re office “nooks” tucked somewhere in the house.
Whatever the case is, there are central design components that make all the difference. A well-designed home office will:
• Make you more productive
• Help you minimize work stress
• Keep work separate from the rest of your life
• Be a beautiful space you feel inspired to look at
• Give you the BEST backdrop for all those virtual meetings!
Just like each homeowner will learn what “works” for his or her home office, even WE have learned a lot this last year about design in home offices. We already knew the design-build necessities, of course…26 years in business has made us extremely versatile. We also had fun advising homeowners on other considerations for their home offices, like maximizing a room for technology and making interior design selections they could spend day after day looking at.
There was still more to learn, though. We talked to homeowners who were just discovering what they like and need. We also watched the growing trend of design selections made specifically for home offices during the boom of remote work.
With all we learned plus everything we already had to say about home offices, we felt inspired. You deserve the space that does everything you need it to. This guide is your practical checklist of things to consider when designing the dream home office. We can’t say if you have your dream job—but we can definitely say that factoring these items in will make your home office a joy to be in!!
“Open” designs through your home are usually a good thing. And for those of you working from home while kids are in the house, it’s especially tempting to keep doors open to see what’s going on…
When it comes to home offices, though, remember that interior glass doors (or choosing NO door) will not give you the sound insulation you need…so everyone will hear you, and you’ll hear everyone. It’s a two-way problem!
Dogs barking, by the way, is NEVER an attractive sound to have over a work call. Trust me.
If you already have a door to the room you’re using (or are going to use), great! If you need to add one, be sure to budget right. It’s not just “adding a door,” because there will also be the framing, drywall, and possibly painting.
(Before hiring someone for ANY of that work, be sure to read our Questions You Should Really Ask Before Hiring a Contractor).
This is an investment that is as essential as your work chair and desk!!
For added sound insulation inside your home office, check for echo. You can reduce this with a soft window treatment. A rug in the room under your desk can help as well.
Speaking of rugs, you DEFINITELY need to get the right type of flooring AND flooring protection in your home office.
OK…so maybe you’re not wanting to budget for a whole new floor install right now…but floor protection is an absolute must. You will wear the floor down with rolling chairs and all your scooting around. Floor protection will also help to further reduce sound echo.
Don’t forget that you need enough SPACE for all your work equipment, too!! Most people nowadays work on at least two monitors, if not three…so yes, we’re talking about DESK space as much as we are the total size of the room.
With all the equipment that some jobs require, don’t forget about electrical outlets, either! You’ll want them in the most convenient places so you have NO wires crossing the room…because, well, that’s pretty ugly! It’s also an invitation for damage to devices or an even bigger accident.
If you have video conferences on a regular basis, this is a BIG consideration. Yes, people are accustomed to seeing the random nooks around people’s homes…I’ve even seen the inside of someone’s tool shed.
But what if you could set an IMMEDIATE tone for your calls with the right backdrop? What if you could wordlessly communicate just how much taste and class you have?
Do that with the right backdrop.
Wherever your desk is set, decorate the wall behind it with your favorite selection of art, media, or shelves adorned with beautiful items plus favorite books…
My two cents: yes, virtual backdrops are a “thing” now. You can even join a call from the Millennium Falcon if you want. Those virtual backdrops do fail, though, and are obviously artificial. For a real impression, create the backdrop you’ll be proud to show off.
This one’s a biggie!! If the space you use for your home office use to be a living room, guest room or something else, it probably doesn’t have enough light for a workday. You don’t want eye strain for 40+ hours a week!!
Lighting solutions can come in the form of stunning lamp selections or new overhead lighting installed. Be sure to install a dimmer, too, so you can keep the light “just right” no matter the time of day.
Interior Design = Productivity
Don’t forget that this is YOUR place to crank out the brain power!
Do you need your home office to be a mentally stimulating space or a relaxing one? Do you squirrel at every shiny object?! Or is your work particularly demanding, so much so that you need to hunker down and focus EXCLUSIVELY on one thing at a time?
These different requirements bring different design choices. For example, if you’re easily distracted, face away from the window if it looks out to a busy street or the backyard. Otherwise, you’ll glance, and…an hour later you’ll be shaking your head out of a daze!
Be sure to schedule a virtual interior design conference with us if you’d like to work through the best design for you!
Some professionals don’t really need storage for their jobs…but others REALLY do. Be sure you have what you need to work, and that everything is as accessible as you need it. Obviously, if it’s something you use all the time, it needs to be at arm’s reach!
Then, of course, there’s the reality that many home offices still double as another room. Maybe it’s your small library. Maybe there’s a twin guest bed in the corner. If you do have “non-work” storage in the space, be sure it’s kept out of sight and out of mind so your workday is never distracted.
This one goes with layout, but it’s worth digging into…because OMG, that chair MUST be picked with your comfort in mind!! The wrong chair can mean anything from an aching back or neck to the absolute comfort you need for optimal productivity, happiness and health.
You want the second one, don’t you?
Find the furniture that will support ALL your needs, starting with your chair and desk… A really nice chair will probably set you back some in your home office budget, but these kinds of investments are just that important.
Think about how many hours you spend a week at work!!
A final design tip on furniture…be sure to factor in only what you NEED so you can avoid clutter. For example, you might not need that additional shelf, or trashcans in opposite corners of the room, or the mini sofa for family members to come in and visit (they shouldn’t, anyway).
There are SO many other things to consider, but these are the points that have come up most as we’ve seen, heard and learned even more about all these home offices popping up!!
There’s air quality, for instance, plus added tips for sound isolation…this list should get you started, though.
The whole point of creating a home office is so you can have a suitable space to really work in. That means it needs the practicality and functionality your work requires. You could love specific design selections or styles for the rest of your home that just don’t work for an office, so be prepared to “divorce yourself” from some of those preferences. Before you purchase anything, just ask: what is practical, and what is functional? (Obviously, you want it to be both!)
Have any tips you’ve learned as you’ve built your home office? Start the conversation with us on Facebook!!