A handy home office
It's a growing trend. Thousands of Canadians are choosing to work from home. Many cite the increased flexibility that a home office provides and the time saved in long commutes as reasons. However, a truly productive requires more than a phone, fax and computer. So, whether you're contemplating making the move or just want a handy place to work in your house, it's time to create a comfortable office space that's right for you.
Choosing a location
Ideally, a room devoted entirely to housing a home office is the best option. A guest room or underused bedroom can serve a dual purpose. If you have tight quarters, a closet, corner nook or stairwell landing can also work well as office space, provided it's thoughtfully designed.
Designing a layout
Calling in a professional to help you design your space is a good idea. If that isn't an option for you, then do your homework. In order to create an efficient floor plan, you'll need to consider all the equipment you'll be using. Most people require two different work stations: one for administrative duties, such as billing, faxing, phone calls and computer work; and another that is project related, such as a meeting, drafting or sewing table.
When choosing home-office furniture, look beyond furniture designed specifically for offices. For example, entertainment units or armoires adapt well to home-office use – their doors can be shut at the end of the day to hide clutter. Standard kitchen cabinetry can also be called to duty with great flexibility. The following is a list of basic items to consider.
Desk: The work surface should be at least 20 inches deep with about 18 inches on both sides of the computer.
Chair: For a perfect fit, look for an ergonomically designed office chair with an adjustable seat, armrest and back, as well as tilt tension. A traditional-style chair should have a seat height between 16 inches and 20 inches.
Filing cabinet: A vertical file cabinet approximately 30 inches deep offers ample storage.
Bookcase or shelving: Look for deep, sturdy shelves for convenient at-a-glance storage.
Because you're trying to artfully blend home and work, organization is key. A well-organized workstation will make both your life and job easier. First, analyse your technological needs. Prioritize equipment purchases, such as a computer, printer, fax machine, photocopier and software, according to what you need most.
An efficient home-office work area requires both ambient and task lighting. To avoid eyestrain, lighting should emanate from above or from either side of your computer. Facing a bare window is never a good idea. Shutters, decorative blinds and sheers can provide relief from glare. If your space is limited, consider a tertiary option, such as a floor lamp that will light the ceiling and provide ambient light without taking up desk space. A clip-on light can provide space-saving task lighting.
When buying a computer, consider purchasing a UPS (uninterrupted power supply) as well. Computers, laser printers and large photocopiers should be put on separate circuits because they each draw a lot of power. An electrician can guide you in the best placement of lighting, phone lines, power supplies and cable lines.
Inject your work environment with personality to spark creativity and prevent you from feeling isolated. Surround yourself with objects you love – showcase treasured collections, display family photographs. Draperies and wall-to-wall carpeting will provide warmth and control noise. Since you'll likely be spending a lot of time in your office, it's important that you love your colour scheme. Intense, warm colours are a great stand-in for sunlight – choose terra-cotta, Provençal yellow and eggplant hues. If you love dark walls, weave in texture so that the space doesn't feel oppressive – try wicker, wood and stone accents.
Kimberley Seldon is STYLE AT HOME's decorating editor. For more great decor and design ideas, visit kimberleyseldon.com.