Home Office Decorating
a growing trend. Thousands of Canadians are choosing to work from
home. Many cite the increased flexibility that a home office provides
and the time saved in long commutes as reasons. However, a truly
productive home office requires more than a phone, fax and computer.
So, whether you're contemplating making the move or just want a
handy place to work in your house, it's time to create a comfortable
office space that's right for you.
Choosing a location
Ideally, a room devoted entirely to housing a home office is the
best option. A guest room or underused bedroom can serve a dual
purpose. If you have tight quarters, a closet, corner nook or stairwell
landing can also work well as office space, provided it's thoughtfully
Designing a layout
Calling in a professional to help you design your space is a good
idea. If that isn't an option for you, then do your homework. In
order to create an efficient floor plan, you'll need to consider
all the equipment you'll be using. Most people require two different
work stations: one for administrative duties, such as billing, faxing,
phone calls and computer work; and another that is project related,
such as a meeting, drafting or sewing table.
When choosing home-office furniture, look beyond furniture designed
specifically for offices. For example, entertainment units or armoires
adapt well to home-office use - their doors can be shut at the end
of the day to hide clutter. Standard kitchen cabinetry can also
be called to duty with great flexibility. The following is a list
of basic items to consider.
Desk: The work surface should be at least 20 inches deep
with about 18 inches on both sides of the computer.
Chair: For a perfect fit, look for an ergonomically designed
office chair with an adjustable seat, armrest and back, as well
as tilt tension. A traditional-style chair should have a seat height
between 16 inches and 20 inches.
Filing cabinet: A vertical file cabinet approximately 30
inches deep offers ample storage.
Bookcase or shelving: Look for deep, sturdy shelves for
convenient at-a-glance storage.
Because you're trying to artfully blend home and work, organization
is key. A well-organized workstation will make both your life and
job easier. First, analyse your technological needs. Prioritize
equipment purchases, such as a computer, printer, fax machine, photocopier
and software, according to what you need most.
An efficient home-office work area requires both ambient and task
lighting. To avoid eyestrain, lighting should emanate from above
or from either side of your computer. Facing a bare window is never
a good idea. Shutters, decorative blinds and sheers can provide
relief from glare. If your space is limited, consider a tertiary
option, such as a floor lamp that will light the ceiling and provide
ambient light without taking up desk space. A clip-on light can
provide space-saving task lighting.
When buying a computer, consider purchasing a UPS (uninterrupted
power supply) as well. Computers, laser printers and large photocopiers
should be put on separate circuits because they each draw a lot
of power. An electrician can guide you in the best placement of
lighting, phone lines, power supplies and cable lines.
Inject your work environment with personality to spark creativity
and prevent you from feeling isolated. Surround yourself with objects
you love - showcase treasured collections, display family photographs.
Draperies and wall-to-wall carpeting will provide warmth and control
noise. Since you'll likely be spending a lot of time in your office,
it's important that you love your colour scheme. Intense, warm colours
are a great stand-in for sunlight - choose terra-cotta, Provençal
yellow and eggplant hues. If you love dark walls, weave in texture
so that the space doesn't feel oppressive - try wicker, wood and
Style at Home, February-March 1998