What do you need to create your dream home office?
Your home office doesn’t have to look like a cubicle at a corporation or a kitchen table hastily placed in the corner of a room. Your home office should reflect your personality and make you feel comfortable and inspired!
You don’t need acres of space to work from home, but if you have the space it’s best not to skimp on it. You’ll be spending hours in your home office most days, so it’s good to have room to move!
Here are the essential things to consider when creating your perfect home office:
1. Your Room or Space
Take the time to look at all of the spaces available in your home. If you need peace and quiet to work, then a corner of the kitchen (the busiest room in the house!) probably won’t be suitable.
What about that guest bedroom that is only used once or twice a year? There’s no point squeezing into your home office in a closet or under the stairs every day when there’s a room lying empty most of the year.
Alternatively, if you want to be near the family, perhaps the end of the dining room would be ok – but you’ll need to be able to train your family not to disturb you when you’re working.
A room with a door that you can close when you do not want to be disturbed is ideal, but that isn’t always possible. You could put up a “Do Not Disturb” sign on your desk when you are working if you can’t have a separate room!
Ideally you will have some natural light (a window or skylight) in your office space, as this helps you to concentrate and stay wide awake especially in winter. If you can’t get natural light into your space, you can use lights with “natural” bulbs to create the perfect atmosphere.
Some people go the whole hog and build a separate room in the garden – lovely in the summer but you’d need some good heating in the winter!
2. Your Style
Just close your eyes and picture your ideal office!
Search Pinterest to find pictures of offices that you really like. Use searches like “Small home office” or “Perfect minimalist home office” etc. Here are some of the home offices that have really impressed and inspired me:
Then all you have to do is find the furniture and lighting that will allow you to re-create your chosen style. Head along to your favourite interior design store, or even easier, search the web!
3. Your Desk
There are as many different designs of desk as there are people who want to work from home! Some would prefer a huge manager’s desk with draws and even a blotter, whilst others are happy with a small kitchen table.
Just make sure the desk is big enough to fit all your working tools. If you need a large monitor, computer, keyboard and mouse set up, you will need a bigger desk than someone who uses just a laptop computer.
If you go for a small desk you might need a separate side table for your printer or your desktop scanner.
Quenton has a huge desk as he likes to work with 3 computer screens, and he needs space for his photography equipment too…
If you have back problems, you can consider a standing desk, where you can adjust the desk height so that you can stand or sit at different times during the day.
There are electronic ones which allow you to alter the height at the touch of a button, or less-expensive mechanical ones where you can wind the desk up or down by hand.
4. Your Office Chair
It really is worth investing in a good quality office chair as you’re going to be spending many hours sitting in it. You could be using it for over 1900 hours in a single year, especially if you’re working at a computer most of the day!!
The features you need to look out for are:
- Adjustable backrest that follows the spine, supporting the curve in the lower back
- Memory foam cushions for comfort
- Adjustable height so that you can put your feet flat on the floor
- Adjustable armrests – this allows you to rest your shoulders
- Swivel base – so you don’t have to over-reach
- Breathable fabric
If you have the luxury of a separate room for your office, you might also consider some extra seating for you to relax in during your breaks – an armchair or a small sofa perhaps. This will encourage you to get up and walk around when you take breaks from work rather than sitting rooted to your work chair.
5. A Small Filing Cabinet
If you run a business from home, there are certain documents that you’re required to keep by law – tax forms, company accounts, company documents etc. You can keep these in a cupboard or drawer, but it might be worth getting organised and keeping them in a small filing cabinet.
There are many attractive filing cabinets available, and you should be able to find one to suit the style of your room. You might even find a desk with a small filing cabinet drawer built into it.
It’s great if you can have natural light in your home office, but you’ll need electric lighting as well, even if it’s just for the winter evenings when it’s dark outside.
In our office we have a traditional combination of two windows, with overhead lighting in the centre and two standard lamps at the side of the room.
This set-up seems to light the room fairly well, however, we use computer screens most of the time, so the room might look a bit gloomy to someone who reads paper documents or books instead. We could easily fix this with a couple of individual desk lights of course.
You can use lights more creatively, with coloured bulbs and spot lights to create a particular mood. I love this office with hi-tech mood lighting and robot figurines standing guard:
The amount of technology you need in your dream office will vary with the type of work you do.
I think everyone needs access to the Internet, a phone, a computer and a printer, but you might need more – video camera, lighting and microphone if you’re making Youtube Videos, speakers if you want to listen to podcasts or music at high quality and so on.
If you’re making YouTube videos, natural lighting from a window is great, but you can create a similar effect with an artificial lighting system if necessary.
If your work involves creating your own photographs, you might need a home photographic studio. I love this setup where half of the room is an office and the other half is a photo studio:
Changing the decor allows you to make your home office truly “yours”.
It always helps to add a touch of the things you really like – you can do this with prints on the wall or your favourite nicknacks on a shelf (perhaps not on the desk as they might get in the way).
Plants are an excellent addition to your home office. They are great to look at, they give a feeling of a living thing amongst the dry electronics of the office and they are are great for air quality and humidity.
Plants turn carbon dioxide to oxygen during the day, but it has also been found by NASA that they can purify the air of low levels of harmful toxic substances. Even the humble spider plant can remove low levels of carbon monoxide and formaldehyde from the air!
We cheat a bit with our office plants – we have a lovely fake bay tree that’s taller than me, but looks very realistic. I don’t have to remember to water it – I just dust it once in a while! Of course we don’t get the air quality benefits…
We also have a lovely red Persian rug in the centre of the office, which keeps the room cosy and bright, and reduces any echo from the wooden floor.
One last idea, which isn’t for everyone, is to have a pet in your home office! It has been proven that pets in the working environment can reduce stress levels, and I quite agree.
I love having Oscar around in the office every day – he’s happy to snooze at our feet whilst we are working, and then reminds us to go out for a proper walk during break time.
You might prefer a different sort of pet to bust your stress – a fluffy cat to stroke (especially for Bond villains planning to take over the world!), or perhaps a tank of beautiful tropical fish for a more tranquil environment.
Have you created your dream home office yet – or are you still at the planning stage? What would you have in your perfect home office? Let me know in the comments section below.
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