More often than not I see people neglect their home office spaces. I don’t think it’s done on purpose, it just seems to be one of the last rooms in the home to get any interior design attention. Often treated as a “spare room” or a place to store things and keep clutter out of sight, the home office or study is easy to leave at the bottom of the “we’ll get to it later” list.
I’m here to help you change that. You deserve to have both a functional and welcoming home office. Whether you work from home and want a full functioning office environment or simply desire a comfortable place to pay bills or browse the internet I’ll provide you with the knowledge and know how to design a home office space and help you turn that neglected makeshift ‘utility room with a computer’ into a home office you’ll love to spend hours on end.
The work space
First and foremost the work space. This is after all the main purpose of this room and where you’ll be spending the majority of your time. Invest in a large desk which is comfortable to sit at. Even if your room is on the small side it’s advisable to choose a desk with a decent amount of surface space as I find tiny space-saving desks to be awkward to sit at and don’t give you much room to spread out.
Make sure the area around your desk has plenty of storage to keep all home office essentials in easy reach. When buying a desk, consider buying one with built in drawers in maximize practicality. A freestanding set of drawers that sit under or beside the desk is another option to keep all necessities such as paper and stationary neatly stored.
Give yourself something to look at. Even if you’re in love with the wall color it isn’t very inspiring to have to stare at it for hours when you glance up from your computer. If space allows, position your desk so you have a view of something other than the wall perhaps a window or towards the door. If space is an issue and you have to face the wall, then dress it up with some artwork or photo frames.
Good lighting is very important a working environment. Avoid eye strain and headaches by ensuring your work space is well lit with a desk lamp. If you have a large desk, consider 2 table lamps on either side to create symmetry and provide an abundance of working light. Downlights or can lights work well in the ceiling to give you a nice bright overall lighting but I suggest putting them on a dimmer as you may not always want them at full brightness.
Invest in a good quality chair as you’ll be using it quite a bit when in this room. When shopping for a chair make sure it’s comfortable and ergonomically correct. I’d recommend choosing a chair that swivels to give your legs freedom. Avoid using a dining chair with fixed legs as sitting for long periods of time especially when using a computer can get uncomfortable over time.
Include an additional seating area for guests. Whether you’ll be entertaining clients in your home office or occasionally receiving a visit from your children or spouse, give them a place to sit. An occasional chair in a corner is a good idea or if you have the space, a small sofa or loveseat works well too. If you’re using your home office to run a business, providing seating opposite the desk is ideal for client meetings.
Make good use of shelves
Bookshelves add a homely touch your office space. Whether you’re an avid reader or not, displaying books in your office gives the room charm and a ‘lived in’ character. Built in shelving that complement the style of your home is a great option but for those who are on a budget, standalone bookcases can work well too. For a more open and modern feel, use wall hung shelving at various intervals. Be sure not to overload this type of shelving with heavy books as they aren’t designed to hold the same weight as built ins.
When styling your shelves don’t just fill them with books from end to end. Use the space to incorporate accessories to help break up what would otherwise be a wall of book ends. Put things on display, whether it be your children’s sports trophies, memorabilia, family photos etc. Faux plants, photo frames and small objects can be used to create vignettes which give visual interest to your shelves. Remember the ‘rule of odds’ when placing objects, that small groupings of odd numbered items together and at varying heights gives a relaxed and designer look.
Your home office is so much more than just a working space, it’s a living space. When designing your office you should treat it as you would any other living area of your home and decorate it accordingly. Color, texture and pattern all play a role in giving you a cohesive look and feel.
For the walls, choose a paint color that makes you happy. After all this is a working environment, or a place to study and we want to be at our most creative and inspired while using this space. It’s totally up to personal preference what color palette you choose but as a general rule, I feel darker and moodier tones work better in smaller spaces and help give an impression that they larger than they are. For instance, a dark toned grasscloth wallpaper can do wonders in a small area while also giving texture to the walls. If your room is on the larger side, lighter color schemes work well especially if the room benefits from an abundance of natural light.
If you do however choose a darker theme, artwork is a must. When selecting art, choose lighter toned prints or framed drawings with large white mat boards to help keep your space from feeling too enveloping and cave like. If you decide to go with a light color scheme, select larger prints or group multiple frames together to keep your space from feeling too bare. A gallery wall is a great idea in a home office and you can use it to incorporate family photos and children’s drawings to give a personal touch.
Make it your own
As always when it comes to designing a living space for yourself it’s important to make it your own. Choose items and accessories that reflect your personality and inspire your creativity. Your office environment should be a place where you can focus your productive energy in comfort and away from the distractions you might find in other areas of your home. It should most importantly be a space you want to work in and spend time in.
Text by Joel Pesaturo