Creating an environment that is both productive and professional is key to setting up a home office, says Margi Kyle, president of Interior Design Society and owner of The Designing Doctor near Charlotte, N.C.
In this age of the Internet and the state of the economy, having a home office just makes sense, Kyle says. There is an art to working and living in the same space.
For half of Kyles 40-year career as an interior designer and educator, she has chosen to conduct business from her personal home, in Cornelius, N.C. The secret to a successful in-home office (or hoffice, as Kyle refers to it) is to create different spaces for work and a personal life under the same roof.
You really cant conduct business from a corner of the dining room table, Kyle says. If you take your professional work seriously, the space in which you conduct business should be all about that. Its just that your commute to the office takes one minute, instead of one hour.
An in-home office affords Kyle the flexibility to work early or late on a project by simply walking down the hallway to an extra bedroom thats been converted to suit her needs. My personal bedroom and living room have nothing to do with work, so I dont bring it into those spaces, she says. Dont share your work space, you need to be able to delineate when youre at work to be able to leave it there.
After choosing the space for a home office which preferably has a door the first step is to paint the walls with a color that is pleasing, but not a favorite shade. The object is to create focus in your hoffice. You dont want to be looking at the walls, you want to be working, says Kyle, who is also the executive director for We Make Color Easy The Dewey Color System. I hate white walls, but thats the color of my home office walls. Its not offensive, but I walk into my hoffice to get down to business.
What you hang on your freshly painted home office walls is highly personal such as awards and degrees but items should primarily pertain to work. When selecting a desk for adult homework, its all about location, location, location. Its a Feng Shui principle that a desk should be facing the door, Kyle says. You need to be able to look up from your desk to see who is coming and going.
Measure the area of the room where the desk will be located and if space is tight, consider a corner desk, or a small desk that comes with a hutch to store books and vertical files. Todays home office desks are not only functional, they can also be fashionable, ranging from contemporary clean-lines to ornately scrolled furniture. Kyle says the style of a home office desk can take a cue from other furnishings found in the home. If your home is filled with antiques, your desk may be a refinished quarter-sawn oak bankers desk. If your home has a modern aesthetic, consider a black minimalistic desk for your office.
No matter what your desk looks like, you need to allow for plenty of storage for client files, Kyle says. Having a cabinet that provides sufficient storage frees up your workspace.
Kyle has a multilevel L-shaped desk in her office with a special storage area in which she files finished projects. Manufacturers, such as Pottery Barn, are building desks that are modular, with the capability to add hutches and bookshelves as needed.
Manufacturers are also adding technology-driven functionality to home office furniture with desks that feature built-in power strips with USB hookups for computers, electrical outlets to plug in a printer, cell phone and MP3 player. These features are often hidden inside a drawer or cabinet to keep cords and cables organized, so the workspace remains uncluttered.
Selecting a comfortable, functional chair is a decision that should be made sitting down. Its important to invest in a really good desk chair that works for you and your space, Kyle says. An ergonomic chair, with castors that roll and adjustable features that support your posture, help make long work sessions more comfortable.
Task lighting, not overhead lights, will shed some real light on the work you do in a home office. Dont rely on recessed or track lighting for reading light. Lamps are relatively inexpensive, personalized accents that can be as stylish as they are useful.
If your work requires telephone time, consider using a headset or speaker to avoid the strain from using a handset. And, after adding organizational items to a home office to keep all papers and supplies in order, remove any distractions that might decrease productivity, such as loud music or television. Kyle says working from home is a privilege she doesnt take lightly.
Its an honor to be able to narrow the gap between two things I love home and work and to be my own boss, she says. When you feel good in your home office, youll create good stuff.