Modern technology has created a new industry of work from home professionals. With a wider and more diverse range of jobs being performed at home, the landscape of home office design has also changed. A home office should be tailored to fit the individual and the type of work he or she needs to perform, while also fitting in with the design of the home.
The most important element in a home office is functional furniture. Functional furniture will vary by the work being done.
Long hours spent behind a desk working a full time job should be spent in an ergonomically designed office chair. This type of office chair is specifically designed to improve posture and relieve back pain by focusing on key elements such as:
- Seat height: Should be easy to adjust so that your feet are flat on the floor, your thighs are horizontal and your arms are even with the height of your desk
- Seat width and depth: Seat should be deep enough to allow 2 to 4 inches between the back of the knees and the seat of the chair when your back is positioned against the back of the chair. Standard width should be 17-20 inches.
- Lumbar support: Chair should support the natural inward curve of the lower back and this support should be adjustable.
- Backrest: Standard backrest size should be 12 to 19 inches. If the backrest and seat are one solid piece, it should be adjustable in forward and back angles with a locking mechanism to secure it from going too far backward.
- Seat material: Should have enough padding to sit comfortably for long periods of time with a breathable cloth fabric preferred over a hard seat
- Armrests: Should be adjustable allowing the elbows and lower arms to rest lightly with relaxed shoulders
- Swivel: Should have easy rotation allowing the user to comfortably reach different areas of the desk without straining.
You can go for a chair with looks doing light or part-time work, but it should still be comfortable to sit in.
The home office desk is the other key piece of functional furniture. The desk needs to be large enough to suit your needs but not so large that it overwhelms the space. Choose a style that ties in with the architecture and style of the home and your other décor.
The desk can be as simple as a small table or shelf large enough to hold a laptop computer and a cup full of pens, or it can have multiple drawers and cubbies with a pullout keyboard and plenty of space for a desktop computer. It could also be designed as a hi-tech workstation; it simply depends on the needs of the user.
Storage and Organization
A home office should have adequate storage for important documents, office supplies and any other materials needed for home-based work. Organize your office with:
- Built-in shelving
- File cabinets
- Rolling carts
- Floating shelves
- Decorative boxes and baskets
- Cups, mugs and cans for pens and pencils
Shared Space Office Ideas
Home offices don't always have the luxury of four walls, as limited space often calls for an office set up within an existing room. When this is the case, organization and decluttering is a must.
With the right type of furniture, you can pack up your office and put it away when not in use. A computer armoire is the perfect solution for an office that can be discreetly hidden behind cabinet doors.
Remove the doors from a shallow bedroom closet and you'll have a convenient nook in which to set up a small desk. Install additional shelves overhead for extra storage. Hang drapes or curtains in place of the doors which can be opened and closed as needed.
Take advantage of unused space whenever you can. A small alcove under the stairs may be a perfect fit for a custom made desk or a small table converted into a desk.
Sneak a small working station in behind the living room sofa. A tall sofa table serves as a desk and you can get your work done while catching up on your favorite weekly drama. If TV is too distracting, use the same idea behind a sofa facing a fireplace or window with a view.
The style of a home office can be influenced by the type of work being done in addition to the overall style of the home.
Hi-tech or Modern
With a hi-tech job such as video editing, consider a modern office set up with smooth surfaces and clean lines. Ergonomically designed office furniture is needed in this type of office. Use a modern, state-of-the-art video editing desk, which will not only provide the right look but will actually help in productivity and comfort. Minimalist style furnishings and decor provide a professional look.
Go eclectic with an art or design related home office. Think outside the box with bright, colorful décor and unconventional furnishings for a workspace with a creative side. Picture a dress form and bolts of colorful fabric mounted on the wall in the office of a fashion designer or an easel with floating shelves filled with abstract sculptures in an artist's home office. Keep a cohesive look in an eclectic home office with:
- Similar colors
- Furnishings with the same visual weight
- Similar textures, shapes or themes in décor
Provide a masculine theme in a traditional man's home office with rich leather and suede upholstery and Old World style wood furniture with ornate carvings and oversized scale. A large desk and built-in bookcase give the office a library-like feel. A reproduction antique globe adds sophistication.
Some home offices serve as a multipurpose room for paying household bills and figuring quarterly taxes, browsing online or doing homework. Make this a comfortable workspace with a contemporary look. Go sleek with a metal and glass desk, simple with a corner workstation or roomy with an L shaped computer desk. Add greenery with house plants and accessorize the desk with family photos. Provide simple comfort with neutral colors and an occasional bright accent color.
What Every Home Needs
Even if you don't work from home or run a home based business, a home office helps you stay organized when running a household. Once you have a room or a space set up and begin using your home office on a regular basis, you'll wonder how you ever got along without one.