How many of us run home-based businesses or need to catch-up on tight deadlines at home? When this is done in small apartments, it is often quite the task to seemingly integrate an office into a limited space.
I wrote 2 posts about decorating small spaces (Part one & Part two) where I mentioned the importance of zoning and how it was a crucial step in creating harmonious and practical interiors. Setting-up an inspiring and comfortable fixed office is part of that process. It is all about optimizing space without compromising on style, function or practicality.
The key word here is planning. Several possibilities are within reach as long as proper planning is done beforehand. Below is my six-step guide to create stylish and practical home working-stations:
1/ Allocating the right spot: If you don’t have an extra room that can be turned into a home office, then your next-best option is to incorporate a work-station into the living space, landing or even the passage-way/hallway. Setting-up the workstation away from the bedroom establishes a clear separation between work and sleep – a needed division to efficiently work from home.
If you are lucky, you may be able to place your desk by a window, à la “Carrie Bradshaw” and enjoy the outside view and natural light, however, if you are just like the rest of us (grrr), you may have to face a plain white wall. Fortunately, there are many creative solutions to help you define your “office area”. Style the blank wall and make it a great decorative focal point with paint, red brick wall tiles – New York style, wallpaper, floating shelves, favorite arts, photos or accessories.
Of course, if your space allows you to have a floating desk then that is a better option.
2/ Measuring the available space: Before starting to take measurements, you should first consider any constraints you may have to work with: i.e, doorways, staircases, windows or any element that might make the available space unpractical or reduced. Here are some basic measurements to keep in mind:
- Depth of the desk area: there should be enough room for both the chair and a walkway. A walkway size is usually 80-100cm starting from the desk end.
- Desk height: average of 75cm.
- Desk width: a minimum average of 120-140cm for hands to rest comfortably on either side of the computer.
- Computer screen should be at arm’s length.
3/ Choosing the right desk: The desk is considered the main element of home office design, so choosing one can either lead to great impact or expensive disasters. Two simple ways to save the day: a convenient one that achieves consistency in style by matching the desk to the room’s overall design, or a more daring one that creates an interesting contrast instead. However, please don’t buy your desk just yet, read rule number 4.
4/ Planning for storage and filing systems: An uncluttered and clear desk will motivate you to use your office space every single day. Organization with effective storage and filing systems is essential. In my opinion, the process of selecting the desk and storage solutions should go hand-in-hand, so you develop fully-fledged solutions that not only cover all your storage needs but complement your chosen design style.
To do so, I personally follow this process: firstly, I gather my work files, supplies and documents. Secondly, I organize them in 2 piles: a pile of items I use on a daily basis and that I keep handy in the office area. These can be kept in drawers, portable caddies, boxes, open shelves or bespoke cabinets. Another pile is for items I use occasionally and that I store in another part of the house wherever storage is available like TV cabinet and bedroom drawers.
Let’s not forget the printer. Luckily, modern printers are almost all cable free (apart from the power cable). Below are clever solutions for integrating printers to workstations.
5/ Choosing the right lighting: Lighting is strategic in creating the right work atmosphere. Mellow and dimmable lighting is preferred. Having a dimmer switch will allow you to adjust your lighting levels when needed. A plethora of aesthetic and practical fixtures are available: from overhead spotlights, integrated LED, wall lights to ceiling pendants and task lamps. Choice is plenty and can suit any budget and style.
6/ Personalize et accessorize: You can further express your individuality and personal taste with accessories, plants, flowers, objects, photos, own work, art or anything that can inspire you to successfully go through the working day. Keep your décor dynamic, creative and inspiring by regularly adding “coups de coeur” of the moment to your collection.
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