The idea of working from home is a dream for many of us – no more lengthy commutes, battling peak hour traffic, office politics or overpriced café lunches to contend with. But like anything, success lies in the planning. A practical home office setup, with plenty of well-organised storage, is just one of five key features you need to set up a functional home office.
Create a dedicated work space.
Working at the kitchen or dining table allows you to stay connected with the other members of your household, but it’s all too easy to get distracted. Instead, aim to create a clear distinction between work and home life by setting up your home office in a separate room altogether. This will allow you to close the door for privacy and quiet when you need it. If you don’t have the luxury of a spare room, consider turning a section of the living room into a work space, and screening it off for privacy, or concealing a desk behind joinery in the kitchen or under the stairs.
Invest in quality furniture.
You don’t need much in the way of furniture for a home office, but what you choose should be sturdy and comfortable. Ensure your desk is large enough to accommodate a computer and paperwork, and is at a comfortable height - 70cm is generally ideal. If you have a window, position the desk so it’s looking out over the view (if you’re concerned about being dazzled by sunlight, consider hanging semi-sheer blinds that will cut the glare but not the light completely). Choose a comfortable office chair with good support and an adjustable seat. If you expect to be sitting at your desk for extended lengths of time, consider investing in footrests and ergonomically-designed mouse instruments.
Keep your desk clutter free by creating a place for everything; filing trays for paperwork, holders for stationery, and open shelving next to the desk for larger files and books. This will also mean everything is within easy reach, so you won’t have to stretch or strain to access them. If you find you need additional storage, consider a drawer unit on castors that can be rolled under the desk, or floor-to-ceiling shelves on the wall opposite your desk.
Decent lighting is a must in any work space. Boost natural light with a dedicated desk light that allows you to read paperwork and the computer screen without straining your eyes. There are myriad lighting designs to choose from, including wall-mounted lamps (which won’t clutter up your workspace); standard lamps that go on the floor next to your desk, and desk lamps with flexible arms that clip to the side of your desk. Whatever you pick, make sure it casts a good, even light, and that there’s no globe in your line of sight when you’re seated at your desk. Also, avoid positioning the lamp directly above your computer screen where it could create glare.
When planning your home office space, make sure you factor in enough power and data sockets for all your electronic devices now and in the future (it’s a good idea to opt for more than you think you’ll need). If you like having the flexibility to move around and work from another room occasionally, a wireless internet connection is a wise investment.
Calming colour scheme.
Colour can influence your energy levels and concentration, so think carefully about the type of work you do before selecting a paint colour for your walls. If you need to be energised and inspired to come up with creative ideas, go for bright whites, cheery yellows and vivid purples. If your work is calmer and more contemplative, consider cooler shades of green, grey and lilac. To make the room feel warmer and more inviting, consider a grasscloth wall covering or textured wallpaper.
Don’t forget to personalise the space. Decorating your office with a few family photos and souvenirs from your last holiday is sure to bring a smile to your face, and will give you another reason to enjoy spending time working there.
Georgia Madden is a freelance interiors journalist and writer. She is a regular contributor to House & Garden magazine and a number of interiors websites. Confessions Of A Once Fashionable Mum is her debut novel.
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