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Expert Roundup: How to Create the Best Home Office: Tips & Insights

| Design & Architecture, Featured, Office, Q&A| Views: 0

As more companies send their employees to work from home, more workers are trying to set up the perfect home office. In doing so, they may be wondering, what should it look like? How big should it be? Does lighting matter?
To find out, we asked interior design experts for guidance on behalf of those who are looking to create a home office. Specifically:

  • How to choose a room for your home office
  • Separating work life and home life
  • Must-have items in your home office
  • Important steps in creating a home office
  • How space and lighting affect productivity
  • Tips and insights

Our Experts

Kerrie Kelly

Creative Director of Kerrie Kelly Design LabNorthern California interior designer, Kerrie Kelly, founded Kerrie Kelly Design Lab in 1995. Kerrie is an award-winning interior designer, author and contributor, product designer and multi-media consultant, helping national brands reach the interior design market.

Anna Tatsioni

Lead Interior Designer at DecorillaAnna completed her five year studies in Architecture Engineering and then she obtained a Master degree in Monuments’ Management. For the last six years, she worked on many residential projects as a freelance architect and as a designer for architecture offices and construction companies.

Devin Shaffer

Interior Designer at DecorillaDevin is currently holding a Bachelor of Arts in Interior Design. He has versatile working knowledge of both commercial and residential spaces and is focused on holistic approaches to projects with comprehensive phasing.

What is the first thing to consider when choosing a room for your home office?

Kerrie Kelly

Make sure you have room to spread out while receiving plenty of sunlight and fresh air. You will most likely be taking notes, sifting through files, not to mention drinking coffee. Choose a space where you can do this while connecting to the outdoors and [also] have the ability to hide it away at the end of the day.”

Anna Tatsioni

Privacy and comfort would be the first things to consider when choosing a room to use for your home office. The current circumstances have resulted in full families being at home all at the same time. They are working from home, homeschooling, working out, among other things, so home offices need to be considered as a space to work in privacy and separate from the rest of the house and people. Many people need to be on voice or video calls, so it’s especially important to have a quiet and private place.

Devin Shaffer

One luxury of working remotely is that you get to decide where you work. I find this to be the most exciting step in creating a home office.

How can people create a home office when they weren’t exactly prepared for something like this?

Kerrie Kelly

You can create a home office in almost any area of your home. To create a separation from ‘work life’ and ‘home life,’ consider setting up in the formal dining room that isn’t used often. Have a console that could turn into a desk? Take it into the guest room and set up shop.

Anna Tatsioni

The move from office to home can be disorienting. However, 77 percent of people actually say remote work increases their productivity. The trick is to create the perfect conditions that harness your energy. Before the coronavirus pandemic, maybe people were already checking work emails and working lightly from home, so it isn’t a totally new situation. This space can be small but somehow separated from the home’s basic everyday activities. Equipment can be limited, but once someone gets settled, it can be less stressful, too. To create a home office, we mostly need an appropriate space and some good vibes!

Devin Shaffer

Planning is definitely key to maximizing the functions of a home office. Last-minute home office design doesn’t have to be makeshift. And, there are many quick and affordable interior design solutions to optimize a work space.

[For example,] the process of painting is not only costly; it’s also invasive. To avoid repainting an entire room that you’ve designated as your office, focus on scaled-up art pieces that cover at least 30% of the wall space.

In order to not feel isolation from the warmth and homeyness of your other rooms, it’s important to accessorize and decorate with items that matter to you. This can easily be done by doing a few scans of your home’s decor and borrowing pieces from other rooms that easily and quickly incorporate with your office design.

What should people working from home have in their home office at all times??

Kerrie Kelly

Plenty of chargers — this means for your phone, laptop and any electronics necessary for your work. Make sure your communication is on point, especially working from home. This means you are always charged up and ready to go so you can tend to all clients, colleagues, friends and family

Anna Tatsioni

Elements like design pieces, painting, colors, plants, sound and lighting have all proven to impact concentration. These, plus a comfortable office chair or seating, would be enough to feel good when working.

Devin Shaffer

Good health is what you should have in your office at all times. There are a few steps to staying healthy both mentally and physically..

Bright lighting will make you happier automatically. The color temperature of the light is most important. Warm white lamps and natural daylighting from windows are most comforting and effective.

Invest in furniture with ergonomic supports that are practical. For example, a standing desk and/or a laptop stand to make sure the screen is constantly level with your line of sight.

Adequate electrical outlets. When selecting the room you would like most to work from, always check for at least 4 GFIs and outlet sources, including internet connections, should you need stronger connections.

What are the most important steps in creating a home office?

Kerrie Kelly

Make it feel as close to your ‘real’ workspace as possible. Get your favorite pens, your notepad and maybe even a framed photo or quote. Gather everything you would normally have if you were in your office to give you a familiar feeling.

Anna Tatsioni

Make sure you feel comfortable to spend time in the new home working space because this is a new condition. So, equip the space with all you think necessary from furniture to decor or else. From a large desk or table to nice artwork that will help you focus or think.

The color scheme of your home office can have one of the biggest subconscious impacts on your productivity. And, while it’s not likely that you can repaint during quarantine, little color choices can add up to a noticeable difference.

Stay away from drab tones like gray, white and beige, which can create a negative atmosphere. Interestingly, these colors are found to have negative impressions on women, in particular. Instead, light greens can complement any plants you have in the space and continue the theme of nature, openness and freedom. Be careful not to opt for fluorescent greens, as this can be overwhelming and conflict with natural light.

Finally, be sure to have a space that looks finished. Going to work in the old storage room or in the kids’ old bedroom won’t help productivity and it won’t help you feel relaxed.

Everything should be in place, and even if you are working in a multi-purpose room, be sure to organize the space you will be working in as if it was a permanent space.

Devin Shaffer

For most of our clients, layouts are their biggest concern and what they want to address first. Our designers have learned that horizontal and vertical organization makes all the difference.

Determining your horizontal work surface requirements you need is crucial. For example, if you’re an artist or creative person, you will need a much larger desk than a transcriptionist or accountant that has more digital storage and work flows.

Working vertically is life changing! For example, the overall footprint of shelving that goes vertically is much lower than a large horizontal credenza or side table.

Do light and space matter when choosing a room for your home office? Does it help with productivity?

Kerrie Kelly

Absolutely. If you can, choose a space with plenty of natural light. Vitamin D makes everyone feel better. If a room with good natural light isn’t available, make sure you have great accent lighting, such as a table lamp, floor lamp, sconce or even candle for the end-of-day ambiance.

Anna Tatsioni

According to a recent article, bright light is said to make people happier; white noise helps focus; while the color blue facilitates feelings of calmness and stability. The more natural light your home office gets will greatly improve your energy levels.

The space itself can make a difference, as well. If it is well-designed and well-organized, it will help to adjust on the new condition and be more productive. Brighter colors help make a space feel larger, as well.

What are some of the best home office tips you can give us?

Kerrie Kelly

Get organized, have your healthy snacks on hand and make it possible to easily shut down at the end of the day. Having the combination of structure plus comfort keeps the productivity high and mood positive.

Anna Tatsioni

Feel free to add your personal touch — the one you couldn’t add to your regular office — because you will most likely embrace the space sooner. Consider a large indoor plant, some music or great art.

Also, resin, glass, stone and metal furniture may be stylish, but it isn’t always comfortable. When it comes to your home office, prioritize comfort over appearance and function over form. That doesn’t mean you have to compromise on aesthetics. A lot of furniture can be both practical and attractive.

Invest in furniture and ergonomic supports. A standing desk to stretch your muscles, a chair with back support, a laptop stand to make sure your screen is level with your eye. Back and neck pain caused by bad posture costs U.S. employers $7 billion per year in lost work days and productivity. How you feel physically has a big impact on how you process information and your levels of creativity. You can’t think clearly if your furniture is causing you pain.

Devin Shaffer

Color coordination is, by far, one of the biggest factors promoting focus and mental health. The color scheme of a home office can have one of the biggest subconscious impacts on productivity.

Another neat tidbit of information is that working in colors of the brand colors of your company is a great way to ground your attention. This can be done simply and affordably through desk decor and storage accessories.

Are there any other insights you’d like to share?

Kerrie Kelly

While this situation is temporary, look at your space to see if this is a new way your home can support your lifestyle. Maybe your new work-from-home setup will allow for a few ‘working remotely’ days in your future.”

Anna Tatsioni

One of the biggest benefits of a home office is that you can shape a unique workspace for yourself, tailored to your individual preferences. It can also be a fun project to keep your mind occupied during social isolation or simply a chance to explore the budding interior designer in you.

A well-thought-out home office can help heighten your concentration, plus aid mental health and reduce feelings of anxiety. Creating your own perfect spot is great for both your professional and personal well-being.

Devin Shaffer

For those that live alone and aren’t ready for the commitment of pet ownership, I personally love plant adoption! Not only do plants purify the air of their environment, they provide a set routine for their owners, including daily watering, trimming and maintenance. I love the challenge of adopting a more complicated type, such as a Bonsai tree!”

There you have it! Make sure to keep these in mind whenever you’re thinking of designing or changing your home office.

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