If you’re working from home, one of the most important spaces is your home office. It’s where you’ll go to focus. It’s where you’ll turn your goals into reality. It’s where you’ll execute some of your best ideas. The key to unlocking the benefits of this space is setting it up properly. Home offices run the gamut of small corners in existing rooms to large, dedicated studies. If you aren’t sure where your office should fall on the spectrum, or how to furnish it, you should keep in mind what you really need. Make the set up easier by starting with the basics.
Where is the Best Place for Your Home Office?
Home offices usually find themselves in one of three places, according to Jena Hall, American Furniture Hall of Famer, Designer and Creative Strategist. “The kitchen is the nerve center of the home. The family room or a spare bedroom will also work,” Hall says.
Kitchen – “New homes are commonly built with open floor plans. Following this trend, people who renovate their older homes often take out walls to open up the space – usually the wall between the kitchen and dining or the kitchen and family room,” Hall says. “Since modern families no longer do the majority of their entertaining in the dining room, getting rid of these walls makes the dining table a more accessible surface. When the kitchen-dining room space is opened up, the dining table now becomes a possible homework station, study center or a place to play games.”
Hall goes on to discuss alternate kitchen work surface options. “Some kitchens include built-in desks. These surfaces are sometimes equipped with drawers and offer enough space for desktop computers. This is a step up from the dining table-kitchen counter work surface. Should you have enough space after opening up your dining room and kitchen, you can always add a small desk if your kitchen doesn’t have one built-in. ActiveLife™ adjustable height desks from Twin Star Home™ make great office workstations and can double as a bar when entertaining.”
Uptown Loft™ Command Central Desk and Lift Top Coffee Table from Twin Star Home
Family Room/Den – If you want to be close to your family while you work, the family room might be another good option. “Multipurpose furniture helps transition the family room from lounging to working and back again. ActiveLife lift top coffee tables will raise the top surface, making it easier to use it as a desk while you sit and have a snack on your sofa. There is a little extra storage space under the top, so you can keep some small supplies there as well. Rolling filing cabinets can also be used as side tables and include file and storage drawers. You can place your printer on an open shelf or unused surface,” Hall advises.
Spare Bedroom – For the entrepreneur or at-home 9-to-5’er, the dual kitchen or family room may not be enough. You may need a dedicated space to plan and accomplish daily and long-term goals. “Since it’s likely you will be sitting for a long time, make sure your chair is comfortable,” Hall says. It’s just as important as getting the right desk. An ill-suited chair will keep you from getting work done, the antithesis of your goal.
How to Choose the Perfect Desk for Your Home Office
Depending on how you work, the desk is presumably where you’ll make all those high-level decisions and crank out important projects. Before picking out your desk, keep the following points in mind.
- Are you sharing the office? You may want to have separate desks or share a partners desk, such as the Uptown Loft™ Command Central Desk from Twin Star Home. These desks allow one person to work on either side and will save a lot of space in a two-person office.
- Do you want the option to expand your workspace? Some desks have expandable sides, like the Swedish Classics™ Writing Desk, so you can benefit from extra space.
- What kind of surface do you need? Glass tops are much easier to clean than wood, making them more kid friendly and dry erase compatible.
- Do you prefer to stand while you work? ActiveLife adjustable height desks from Twin Star Home are great home office desks that let you sit and stand with a light touch of the control panel. If you already have a desk, but you’d still like the option to stand, desk converters can be placed on any existing surface to turn it into a sit-stand workstation. Intermittent standing has several health benefits, as discussed in our blog titled 5 Ideas to Help You Work and Live Healthier.
- Will a single desk not give you enough workspace? Hall suggests considering an L-shaped configuration or a U configuration.
Twin Star Home ActiveLife Adjustable Height Desk with A Dry Erase Compatible Glass Top
How to Choose Storage for Your Home Office?
What should you do with all your stuff? How should you organize it? Start with what you need and go from there. The only items you need at an arm’s length away is what you reach for frequently. Anything more, and your workspace could become too cluttered, causing you to lose focus.
- Filing cabinets – store all your documents in hanging folders and label them so you can get to what you need quickly. Jena Hall suggests using the closet for dated document storage. “As much as we’d like to go paperless, there are some important documents that you can’t get rid of. Keeping a filing system in your closet keeps these papers safe and separate from your day-to-day work. A well-organized home office will help you find everything you need at a moment’s notice, thus allowing you to work more quickly and efficiently. “A place for everything and everything in its place,” says Hall.
- Bookcases & bookshelves – anything you want displayed can go directly on the shelf. Organize these items in baskets if you need them to be concealed. Tall storage solutions let you use the vertical space and are great for small home offices.
- Credenza – keep office supplies out of the way and add another surface. You can place it behind you, or even use it as a return.
Swedish Classics™ Bookcases and Writing Desk with Drop Leaf Sides from Twin Star Home
How to Get the Right Lighting for Your Home Office
It goes without saying that you can’t work efficiently without good lighting. But lighting is often an afterthought. Natural light is better than artificial light because it decreases energy consumption and promotes workplace satisfaction and effectiveness. If natural light isn’t enough or the sun has set on your work session, use task lights to supplement natural light.
Reporting on research from Human Spaces, Work Design Magazine states, “proximity to natural elements, such as greenery and sunlight, [are] associated with a 15 percent increase in improved well-being and creativity, and six percent higher productivity.” Work Design Magazine also states that we “need both daylight and darkness to regulate [our] sleep patterns” and “disruption to this circadian rhythm has negative consequences for our health and well-being — not to mention our ability to work.” Using natural light when you can will benefit you in the short term via your utility bill and has long term impacts on the environment and your health.
Ashford™ Collection from Twin Star Home
How to Customize Your Home Office
To make the most motivating and inspiring place to work, you’ll need to customize your home office to reflect your personality. Make it a warm and welcoming space.
“If you’re unsure how you’d like to decorate your office, you can always start with essential pieces, finished with your favorite accent color,” Hall says. Once you have your desk, chair and storage set up, you can add décor pieces. When it comes time for you to update your office, you can easily swap out the décor and refresh the look. You can even bring in a little greenery by adding your favorite plants.
You might want to consider adding sound to your home office, suggests Hall. “Add a sound system for music or NPR.” You can always start with an inexpensive Bluetooth® speaker and scale up to a sound system, or furniture with integrated sound such as the Don’t Fret™ Bluetooth® Compatible TV Stand from Twin Star Home.
Depending on your space, you may not have a great view – unfortunately not every room does. But you can do things to overcome that. “If you don’t have a great view, add a picture or a mural,” Jena Hall recommends. “Keep photos nearby and add things to your office that you really like. Make it great. It’s one of the most important rooms in the home, so treat it that way.”
All home offices aren’t created equal, nor should they be. Keep that in mind and be honest with yourself about your routine and how you will be using your home office. Creating a motivating and well-equipped space to work will make getting thing done so much easier.