A stylish and functional office is a useful addition to every home—whether for serious work or surfing the net. If you don’t have a dedicated room, squeeze a desk or table into a corner of your family room, bedroom or dining room. Even a closet or hallway can be transformed into a functional work space by slipping in a small table with a few hanging shelves above it to hold file boxes and office materials.
Most budgets don’t allow for the iconic burl-wood desk and an eight-way hand-tied club chair, but don’t despair. A little money paired with a large amount of creativity and initiative can make the best interior designs.
Where do you start? By selecting a desk. Refinish or repurpose what you have—black or white paint modernizes most secondhand pieces. Farm tables or roughed up old dining room tables can go modern, shabby or old world. Cheaper yet, lay a hollow core door over two filing cabinets or screw on inexpensive legs for a bargain desk.
If the budget allows, buy the biggest desk you can afford that will fit the space comfortably. Make sure you select the desk to fit your height, chair and flooring. Color and style are personal choices but the piece should suit the space stylistically and proportionally. For the most design flexibility choose a desk with clean lines in a neutral color or wood tone.
Consider using the desk and a shelving unit as a room divider. Place the desk oriented with a view toward the door or a window; use the wall as the anchor for a shelving unit that sits near the work surface. For even more storage, tuck a low shelving unit behind the desk so it’s within easy reach.
Add task lighting using a hanging light or desk lamp. Study your storage needs and preferences. No matter how good the system is, if you don’t use it, your office function suffers.
Do you prefer open trays, file cabinets with hanging folders or neatly stacked boxes with labels? Select storage solutions that truly solve clutter and also offer color and design interest. If possible, purchase products that will be available for longer than a single season in case you need more of them. Resist the temptation to overdecorate with unnecessary accent pieces that may increase the clutter factor. Instead, add live plants to help keep the air clean and bring in fresh color.
Take a Seat
You may have the prettiest office on the block, but if your chair is an unbearable cast-off, you’ll be miserable putting in desk time. Look for one that has an easily adjustable height and that swivels so you can reach items. A pneumatic adjustment lever is the easiest way to personalize comfort. The seat height should rise 16 to 21 inches off the floor and allow your feet to be flat on the floor, thighs horizontal and arms even with the height of the desk. The seat depth should allow your back to be against the chair back and leave about 2 to 4 inches of room between the front edge of the seat and the back of your knees. The best chairs tilt to relieve back pressure. Adding a small pillow can help lumbar support. Padding is a must for great comfort.
Technology is an essential element of a functioning home office, but the tangle of cords and chargers can be a serious clutter conundrum. Look for cord holders and charging stations with multiple ports for a convenient spot for a smartphone, tablet and computer.
Contain and Conceal
Magazines, office supplies, files and papers add clutter to a space. Use storage boxes, magazine holders, vertical files or horizontal files to contain the clutter and add color and interest to your office shelves and desk surface. Labels help to quickly and easily locate items, and can add personality and color. Coordinate storage solutions to fit your color scheme for a cohesive look that adds calm to the space.
Large pieces of furniture such as a china cupboard or shelving unit can neatly store a great number of items—books, magazines, scrapbooking supplies and paper.
Frequently used supplies and accessories such as pens and mail storage units should be placed at seat height and within reachable distance. In this home office, one row of the shelving unit has been given over to a stackable letter tray and binders for magazines, while adjacent cubes store pencils and envelopes.