We all have that special place in our house named ”the office”, whether it’s a desk and a chair, both crammed in a corner of your living-room, or an elegant well equipped room, with the single purpose of being an office.
In most families, the home office has many roles: it can be the place where you are developing your business, a place to spend your free time, a place to verify your e-mail and pay the bills, and even a place for doing home-works.
If you have a large house, you will probably have no problems inserting an office in the existing layout. But if you live in a small house or an apartment, then you will have to be creative and use the ”back-up” spaces: a niche in the wall, a pantry, a large hallway, an enclosed balcony or even a corner of your living-room.
But creating a home office isn’t just a matter of bringing a table, a chair and plugging in some equipment. The challenge is even greater if you’re actually working from home. Because you have to mentally ”leave” your home and enter the ”office” mode, even if your bed is at less than one meter distance from the spot where you work.
Before choosing the designated area for your office, ask yourself these questions:
- What kind of work needs to be done in this home office? Is it computer based or is it handwork? By asking yourself this question, you can establish the dimensions required for your physical working space.
- Will you receive visits from colleagues or clients? Will you be needing a conversation place also inserted in your working space?
- What type of equipment will you be using? If your work is computer based, you should try to avoid placing your screen under a direct light or facing directly the window.
- Will you be making video-conferences? Because if you do, you must have a background that will support your activity. If your work consists in trading shares of a company stock, you wouldn’t want your clients to see a messy kitchen in the background, but rather an elegant book case.
- How much storage space will you be needing? If you work with actual files and you need to store them, you might want to consider placing your office near a niche or maybe a staircase that has storage space under it.
So, what can you do in order to feel that your designated working space is in fact a working space?
Here are a few guidelines to make your designing task easier:
1. Emphasise your working area
It doesn’t matter if it’s a corner of a room or an entire room. You have to decide which part of your house will serve the purpose of being your office.
Isolate the designated area from the rest of the house by :
- using different lighting elements for the office area than for the rest of the house
- use texture, color and furniture to separate the “work-zone” from the “home”
- establish what will become your main focal point by choosing a frontal placement of the principal object(s) of your activity. These objects will tell your brain “this is the place where you work”.
2. The perfect color – create a space you want to work in
Create your perfect environment by starting with the walls. The color on the walls can and will play a major role in your productivity, work performance and emotional state. So choosing a certain color can have a positive or a negative influence in your professional life.
And remember: what defines whether a color is beneficial or not in creating an atmosphere is not the colour itself, but the intensity we use.
Blue: is the color of responsibility and reliability. This is a color that can help you reduce work-induced stress, creating an atmosphere of relaxation and order.
Actually, blue is a colour that increases productivity but slows the heart rate, so if you have a heart-based sensibility, blue is the perfect color for you. Some might be afraid that painting a room blue might be boring. Fear not. Here come the color accents: if you’re doing work that keeps your brain at 100% intensity all day long, but in a monotonous way, and you’ll also need a creative sparkle, you might consider painting your office blue, but with an accent of orange or yellow for emotion and balance.
Keywords for blue: authority, reliability, integrity, peace, calm, contemplation.
Green: is the predominant color in nature and it is considered a relaxing one. This color can be related to balance and to mind-harmony.
The addition of green in your working area can help you concentrate and will enhance the balance of the space. But you have to be aware of the psychological effects of this color: an overdose of green can lead to feelings like envy, greed and selfishness. For a balanced atmosphere in a green space, you can use accents of color: yellow elements, red or white and accents of texture: why not use an old hard wood desk?
Keywords for green: balance, vitality, reliability, renewal, generosity.
Yellow: is a color that asks for attention. It catches your eye and stimulates your ego. It can make you happy and optimistic. If you are a person that needs creativity on a daily basis, yellow is your color!
But too much yellow can be distracting and it can make you lose your temper, especially if you choose the wrong intensity. Try to use it as an accent and don’t paint your entire room yellow. For example,if your office is placed in a darker part of the house, painting a wall yellow will give you the impression that a ray of sunlight pierced trough the walls.
Keywords for yellow: optimism, fun, creativity, originality, criticism.
Red: is definitely not a color for those with a weak heart. Charged with social and cultural meanings, red is energy, passion, action, strength and excitement. It is the ultimate statement color.
The insertion of red in a room will give you an atmosphere that will stimulate your senses. But if you have a high blood pressure or heart problems stay away from this color.
Red is a color that can create aggressiveness and anger, if used excessively in the wrong areas and with the wrong intensity. Because of it’s intensity, red is usually used as an accent color rather than a predominant one: you can use it to decorate a wall, or you can place a piece of furniture painted red. But if you like this color and you want it as a dominant in your space, consider choosing your furniture in a neutral and balanced color, like white or cream. And be careful as in not letting this color dominate you.
Keywords for red: action, power, energy, speed, passion, aggression, lust, ruthless.
White: is one of the most popular colors in interior decorating. It is the color of a new beginning. It is light, it is neutral and it matches with any type of furniture you may choose after you have painted the room.
Because white reflects light, it can generate a positive feeling in a room. By not being a sense-stimulus, this color opens the way for creation in all directions.
White is the best color to use when you don’t want to use the classical office furnishing. If you have white walls, you can use colorful furniture, different types of textures, from glossy desks made out of plastic to rugged wood textures.
Keywords for white: simplicity, organisation, neutrality, order, equality.
3. Invest in a great chair
For those who spend a lot of time in front of the desk, choosing a chair should be a priority. The chair should be both aesthetic and ergonomic. Before buying an office chair, read specialised reviews because you wouldn’t want to buy just a pretty chair with no ergonomic values.
The scale (dimensions) of the chair should be related to the space where you want to place it. For example, if your office desk is located in a niche, don’t choose the executive type of chair. Try to choose a chair who will serve it’s purpose without invading the entire space.
Try to position your desk in an area of your house from which you can see something more interesting than a blank wall. And the TV is not an option. Arranging your office desk near a window would be the ideal case, but if you can’t do that, try to position the chair so you can see the door or the stairs.
Organising your working space is the key to a pleasant environment. Don’t keep your files in piles on the desk (or under it). Try to eliminate unnecessary elements like wires and cables. You can use a wireless router, mouse, keyboard, etc. Try to organise the remaining cables using dedicated ties and clips.
A good light is essential for a healthy work environment. Of course, having natural light in your office is the ideal situation. So, if you have the possibility, place your desk near a window. It is recommended to use also a tasking light, besides the natural light.
If your desk is located in a space without windows, or if the window is too far from your working area, you have to use a combination of general and high quality task lighting. You should try the day-light replicating systems and not the neon’s cold light. Try to avoid placing a light source right above your computer screen. It can cause eyestrain and headaches.
7.Choose wisely your furniture
Choosing the office furniture depends on: the work that needs to be done, the equipment that needs to be installed, the needed storage space, the place where your office is located, and, of course, your budget. If “designing by a tight budget” is your motto, you can try using some old furniture and give it a spark of modernism (a DIY project). IKEA might be an option for normally sized offices. But if your office designated area is in an unusual place, you will have to either be creative and good at DIY (Do It Yourself) projects, or to order a customized office furniture.
The real secret…
…in making the perfect home office is creating a spectacular space from an ordinary place. Your home office should reflect your personality and increase your productivity. So start thinking about what motivates you in your work, about what you like and what characterises you. Once you’ll determine these aspects, the pieces of the puzzle that is “the home office” will come together and your much needed office will come to life.