Your home office should offer comfort and inspire creativity while you churn out your best work
And now that you’ve done your taxes, you’ve probably realized that the laptop propped on the dining room table just doesn’t cut it.
Check out these seven easy tips for creating an effective work zone at home.
1. Suss out your space
If you’re lucky enough to have a whole room for your office, give it a look that makes it feel separate from the rest of the house, yet still cozy. Choose warm neutrals for the walls and use touches such as photos, artwork and other personal objects to add colour and style.
If you don’t have a separate room, cordon off a corner, closet or open wall space with a divider or curtain. If you’re living in a small apartment check out bookshelf/desk combos and “office in a box” solutions that allow you to pack your workspace away when you’re not using it.
2. Decide on a desk
Fit your desk to the shape of your space (Image: Flickr/Sean MacEntee)
Think about your space and the look you’re going for. Want an ultramodern office? Glass surfaces go great with high-tech gadgets and are relatively easy to clean.
Or, for a more traditional look, splurge on a heavy wood desk. Watch the size, though: if you have only have a corner, a compact foldaway model may meet your needs. If you have a separate room, you can go for more surface area.
3. Choose a chair
It really comes down to how much time you spend sitting. If it’s just now and then, a funky dining room chair makes a decent – and stylish – work seat.
If it’s more often, you’ll want a basic swivel chair at the very least. Cushioning, armrests and ergonomic design will ratchet up the price, but make you much more comfortable. Leather chairs attract heat and can be sticky in the summer, so if you don’t have air conditioning, you might want to look into a chair covered in a synthetic material such as faux suede.
4. Choose the best lighting
Better lighting makes for better productivity. Orient your workstation in a manner that makes the most of natural light and install blinds to control glare.
For artificial lighting, try full-spectrum bulbs, which emulate daylight, and space your fixtures evenly to diffuse light throughout the room. Use a mixture of lighting sources, such as overhead fixtures, floor lamps and under-shelf pot lights. Then add some style – and spot illumination – with a desk lamp or two.
5. Stick to a filing system
Start as you mean to go on, by creating a system for filing and sticking to it. Invest in a small filing cabinet, or keep your paperwork organized with colour-coded folders. Consider turning paper files into electronic ones using a scanner, or opt to go paper-free with your billing companies.
Make the most of vertical space with a wall-mounted shelf that can accommodate magazine folders and colourful boxes. Transfer old paperwork to storage after six years – or shred it, if you’re brave.
6. Unravel your cords
Does this look familiar? Maybe it's time to organize your cords with wire ties
Mount a power bar on a wall or hidden surface to keep cords out of the trip zone. Wire ties are another simple solution for stray cords, and there are tons of cable management gadgets out there, such as retractable cable holders.
When you’re buying new electronics, check out wireless options and go cordless where possible.
7. Sort your supplies
Pens, paperweights, envelopes, highlighters, safety pins, sticky notes, staplers, scissors, flash drives, calculators, loose paper, coffee mugs – there always seems to be more clutter in a home office than any other spot in the house.
Find some chic little odds-and-ends baskets, bowls or cups to sit on your desk or in a drawer, or use a slotted desk organizer to keep your sundries shipshape.