You’re far more likely to be productive in a space that you enjoy.
For a casual, creative atmosphere, seek out interesting pieces in second-hand stores or on eBay – think upholstered chairs, desktops with character or old-fashioned bureaus. Choose accessories that are attractive enough to be left out on display, such as old timber boxes.
Personalise the space by hanging pictures and photos on walls, or casually prop them on shelves. You don’t necessarily need a traditional board – a more fluid arrangement will allow you to add and remove pieces whenever the mood suits.
Colour can also influence the way you work, so think carefully before repainting your walls. Dark hues are soothing, vivid shades might energise or distract, while bright whites can clear the mind.
Lighting should both set the atmosphere and perform efficiently. Ideally, you should combine good overhead illumination with a desk lamp or wall-mounted light. Natural brightness is a must during the day, but be careful to position the monitor away from glare.
A home office that occupies an awkward space – such as within another room, in a hallway or beneath stairs – presents unique challenges. Careful planning is vital: take measurements of the space and ensure that desks, chairs and freestanding storage will all fit comfortably, while allowing you room to move around.
Small spaces are best served by built-ins that use every available centimetre of space – think floor-to-ceiling shelving, an office built into a cupboard or furniture that conveniently folds away and conceals its often-cluttered contents.
If your home office is part of another room, integrate the two styles by looking for similar colours, materials and textures.
Alternatively, consider a screen that acts as a design feature while also keeping the spaces separate.
Think about how you’ll use the space. If you only need to check a few emails or pay bills, perhaps a flip-down wall shelf for a laptop will suffice. If you require access to files and cabinets only part of the time, seek out units on castors.
The type of work you do will largely dictate the look of your office, but there are things you can do to add style. If you want a sophisticated office space that blends with your whole home, today’s technology is your new best friend. It’s sleek, small and less obtrusive than ever before, so your desktop computer or laptop needn’t visually monopolise.
Look for an all-in-one printer/scanner/copier and a cord management system for trailing wires (other solutions include docks, which require a single cable for everything, or a wireless system).
Ensure you have enough power sockets and phone lines, and consider installing separate lines for your business and home phones.
For multiple computer users, opt for a networking system that allows for remote printing and for everyone to be online at once.
Furnishings don’t have to stick with tradition – once all ergonomic criteria are met (e.g. a supportive chair, desk at the correct height, etc), you can choose pieces that satisfy all your design and aesthetic needs.
Shuffling through a sea of papers is a waste of energy and a serious impediment to maintaining a stylish space. Instead, focus on creating a practical storage system that allows you to fi nd things instantly.
Once you’ve de-cluttered and are left with the things you really do use, then you can evaluate the type and size of storage needed.
A mix of sizes will work best – such as large filing drawers, stackable boxes with labels and small drawers for stationery.
Position items so that anything indispensable is within easy reach, occasional necessities are on nearby shelves or in boxes and anything less essential is stored further away. Built-in shelves can be tailor-made to fi t your needs, whereas a freestanding unit offers flexibility. Use low-level storage opportunities, too – filing cabinets and drawers beneath a desk can be space-savers.
Aim to keep the desk as clear as possible. Consider a wall-mounted computer-monitor arm or a floating shelf for much-used reference materials. Store magazines and brochures in coordinated files – all properly labelled so that you can fi nd what you’re looking for. And don’t forget the little details, such as smart desk accessories.