A home office, whether tucked into a kitchen corner or encompasing a designated room, handles multiple operations. One computer station may accommodate a telecommuting parent, a game-playing teen, and the household's financial manager.
Because these spaces juggle a number of activities (and family members), it's important to consider usage as you plan your home office design. Who will be the primary user? What professional or household duties must it support? Make a list of the items, documents, and files you'll need to store, plus the equipment, furnishings, and supplies required to successfully complete all jobs. With the list in mind, review your home's interior to find space conducive to your labors.
If you're lucky, you may have an unoccupied room or a rarely visited guest room that supplies space for a home office. If not, look to underused closets, isolated corners, and empty walls or bay windows for home office space. Make sure the area is equipped with overhead lighting; electrical outlets for computers, printers, fax machines, phone chargers, and task lights; and a phone jack if a landline is desired. Bonus office space features include stretches of wall (for hanging cabinets, bulletin boards, and shelves) and windows that let in views and light.
Furniture and Storage
Measure your office space and sketch out a plan that incorporates a work surface, storage pieces, and display areas. Whenever possible, choose or build workstations that match your style preferences (comfortable and eye-pleasing environments promote good work habits). Opt for a home office desk equipped with file drawers, or top two file cabinets with cut-to-fit stock countertop. Get a vintage look by moving in a farm or library table large enough to house a keyboard and computer screen, file organizers, and in-progress projects.
Select a chair for your desk that is compatible with other home office furniture. If you spend hours sitting at the computer, spring for an ergonomic desk chair equipped with wheels and an adjustable seat. Stretch the office's purpose by including colorful upholstered seating that can accommodate business clients, kids' game-playing comrades, and solitary hours spent with a good book.
Extend your storage reach by mounting shelves that take advantage of the full height of a wall and/or by hanging kitchen cabinets above your workstation. If there's extra floor space, bring in bookcases to catalog research materials and control incoming and outgoing paperwork. Consider repurposing pretty furniture pieces (like trunks, commodes, nightstands, and end tables) as stands for printers, computer equipment, fax machines, and stackable organizers.
Decorate with Purpose and Panache
Home office decorating ideas aren't all utilitarian. Energize your home office by laying down plush area rugs, exhibiting personal-favorite collections, and using utilitarian organizers rendered in appealing colors and interesting textures. Hang a vividly framed magnetic chalkboard or a fabric-covered bulletin board to post memos and show-off inspirational mementos that double as artworks.
Before you stock up on baskets, bins, boxes, and binders, determine the types of documents, office supplies, and modern media you need to store and have accessible. Gather similar items to determine what organizers will work best, and then shop for the finest-looking types you can afford.
Don't forget to repurpose your prettiest possessions (think silver trophies, vintage toolboxes, china eggcups, vintage wall vases, and Fiesta creamers) to hold paper clips, pens, scissors, and other work and art supplies. Use a floor-set umbrella stand or colorful sap bucket to hold rolled up sketches, blueprints, and wrapping paper rolls; tuck oversize baskets into a corner to use as caches for not-so-pretty things, such as extra printer ink, copy paper, photo paper, and file folders.
Keep function and fun in mind when decorating your home office to create a space that is personal, attractive, efficient, and a great place to work, no matter the task at hand.