Your Personal WorkspaceBy: Allison Havill Todd
Photo Courtesy of Hooker Furniture
Photo Courtesy of Hooker Furniture
The kitchen desk, a traditional study and catch-all spare bedroom have ceased to function as an office in the capacity that our families need. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 20 million Americans work from home at least once a week and the numbers are growing every year. Since the home office is more often than not "shared space", its function and organization are paramount. In a room that is so critical to both your career and the smooth function of your family unit, it is crucial that you plan carefully when designing the space.
When considering a re-vamping of your home office, you'll be happier with the results if you first answer a few important questions first. They'll help pinpoint your family's needs, ensure maximum flexibility and increase functionality.
- Who will use the space and will you use it simultaneously?
- What design style best suits the primary users of the space?
- What specific activities will take place in the room?
- Will it double as a guest room, game room or other purpose?
Consulting a professional designer at an early stage can help validate your ideas, and give you some unexpected ideas or options to help you design a more functional layout. Your advance planning should account for additional power outlets and phone jacks to accommodate all your electronics and lighting as well. Whether you work with a designer or go it alone, there are several major components that a well-planned home office simply cannot be without.
The Nuts & Bolts:
A proper work surface and storage are paramount for the optimal functionality of your home office. Your desk and accompanying storage form the basis of your work space so don't be afraid to think outside of the box. A writing desk or table might work instead of an executive desk, a china cabinet can store files and books while providing display space and an armoire is great for hidden storage. Custom built-ins are efficient, but stand-alone shelving gives you more flexibility.
Before selecting these items, look at how you plan to use the desk and how much equipment, filing and materials will need to be contained. For children's study items, baskets, bins, magazine organizers and decorative boxes are great ways to keep the mess under control. Most experts recommend a minimum five feet of clear work space. Also, consider how much leg room you need - a good rule of thumb is if you can cross your legs comfortably under the desk, you should have enough space, and 2 ½ feet between objects keeps pathways navigable.
Take a Seat:
Next to a work surface, chairs are the most important selection for a home office. Don't cut corners here since it can have a direct impact on your comfort and health. Make sure your computer chair has good lumbar support, wheeled swivel base and adjustable height. In addition, consider the different users of the space and what type of seating would best suit their needs. A small loveseat or sofa that converts to a bed can make a great reading nook and guest retreat. Likewise, a table with multiple chairs is great for group "study sessions" or multiple family members to use their laptops simultaneously.
In the Spotlight:
A layered plan is always the best approach for lighting a room. Home offices suffer from computer screen glare, which can be eliminated by keeping the monitor away from windows and adding adjustable blinds or shades to control light. For optimal screen clarity, overhead lights on dimmers allow you to adjust the brightness from day to night.
Also, task lighting at your desk, reading and studying areas provides targeted lighting to suit every family member and activity. A floor lamp or accent lamp in a bookcase can be used to add soft background lighting, making the overall environment more pleasing.
Make it Personal:
Your family will enjoy being in the room more if it reflects all personalities with both function and fun. The home office is a great place to display awards, photos, personal items and inspirational objects. Cool colors like greens and blues are calming, while warm tones like reds and oranges are energizing. Adding a rug and fabric window treatments will give the room more warmth, absorb sound and unify it with the rest of your home.
This may seem like a lot to consider, but with some advance planning, you can have a space that inspires and makes efficient use of your family's time. With the right plan, your home office may just be the hardest working and most beautiful room in your home!
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Allison Havill Todd is the president and director of design of AHT Interiors, a North Atlanta design with a reputation for creating memorable living spaces. From our design studio and resource library conveniently located near Lake Lanier, we offer world class service in a relaxed atmosphere. We pride ourselves on exceeding expectations while delivering inviting designs that truly reflect our clients' lifestyle and personality. In 2009, we founded Designing Dreams, a 501(c)3 foundation that shares our resources and talents with our communities' less fortunate. Learn more about us at www.ahtinteriors.com or call us at 770.887.7612.