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How to create your perfect home office

Working from home is now commonplace, so, it’s important to create a home office which is both pleasurable and productive.

We’ve been providing bespoke furniture for home offices for many years, creating wonderful spaces for people to work and relax in.

If you’re thinking about creating or improving your own home office, then this advice should steer you in the right direction.

How will you use your home office?

The first question we ask clients is how they will use their home office. The answer isn’t always as straight forward as you might think.

A good starting point is to consider how many people will be using the room. If there is more than one person, does this require two separate desks, a double-sided desk or a long desk?

Do all the users have the same requirements in terms of the ergonomic layout, eg desk height? If the second space is for your children to do their homework, then they are likely to require a slightly different set up.

This double-sided desk provides ample space for two people to work.

Will you be inviting clients to your home office? If so, will you need a meeting table of some description? Or space on the wall for an LED screen?

The number of monitors each person requires is another consideration. If you use dual screens then the desk size needs to be able to accommodate them.

And will the room be used for other activities, such as hobbies or relaxation? If so, this needs to be taken into account in both the workspace and storage planning.

We incorporated a media area within this study so that, when the day’s work is done, the family can use the room to watch TV or play computer games.

Ergonomic design

Designing home offices to suit the people using them is essential.

Starting with the desk, this needs to be at the right height to allow the user to sit or stand at it with their feet flat on the floor and, with their arms bent to 90°, their forearms parallel to the floor. They should have enough space under their desk to move their legs around freely.

If the office is going to be used for several hours each day, then a fully adjustable ergonomic chair is a must have. This will allow you to get the seat height, arm support height, back rest angle and lumbar support just right for you.

The more your office chair can be adjusted, the more comfortable you will be. Find out more about this office design.

Another consideration is whether to incorporate a standing height desk in the design, so you can vary between sitting and standing over the course of the day.

The space on your desk is also an important factor. Your screen needs to be between 50 and 100cm away from your eyes and have space for you to position your keyboard and mouse correctly.

It’s enticing to design your office so everything you need is to hand without getting up. However, with Public Health England suggesting that you should be standing up or moving around for at least two hours each day, perhaps having to get up to reach your printer isn’t such a bad thing?!

The right storage for your office

When designing storage solutions for our clients’ studies, we firstly need to understand what they are storing. Is it a lot of paperwork? Equipment of some description? Home items overflowing from other parts of the house?

Walls of open bookcases are a popular choice, providing a lot of easy-access storage in a small area.

The important thing is to have enough storage of the right kind that you can keep your office free of clutter. A messy office is distracting and can be stressful; not what you need when you’re working from home.

Open shelving is ideal for items you need to access frequently. Closed drawers and cupboards provide dust-free storage for less commonly used items or books which you want to preserve from fading.

Bespoke cabinetry can accommodate and conceal bulky office equipment such as printers and shredders.

In this home office we balanced easy-to-reach open shelving with closed cupboards and drawers, to give the homeowner flexibility to store different items appropriately.

Particularly in smaller spaces, it’s important to make the most of every inch you have. Installing shelving over doorways or above desks is an excellent way of doing this.

In this design we extended the shelving over the wide doorway to provide extra storage capacity.

Even the smallest detail, like how your stationery drawer is divided, can make your home office more practical and pleasurable to use.

Our fully customised storage designs ensure that there is a place for everything and everything has its place.

How to light a home office

Having natural light in a home office is very important.

A 2014 study by Northwestern Medicine and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign showed that office workers who had access to natural light slept better, were more physically active and had a better quality of life. This finding can be applied to home offices just as much as big office blocks.

But it’s also important to consider this natural light in relation to your computer screen. Glare from daylight or artificial lights can cause eye strain and should be avoided. The simple way to do this is to ensure that your screen is perpendicular to the light source or tucked away in a corner beside the window.

Situating the computer in the corner of this desk unit will protect it from glare, while the user still has plenty of natural light coming in. The secondary desk facing the window means that they can enjoy the sunlight and view while carrying out screen-free tasks.

Ideally, you shouldn’t be facing a window when using your screen either. While this won’t cause glare, your eyes will have to strain more to read the screen.

If you have no choice but to have your screen facing a window, then install shutters, thin curtains or light diffusing window film.

When designing this double-sided desk layout we curved the seating area to improve the angle of the screen facing the window and reduce glare. The thin curtains across the French doors will diffuse any light when needed.

The same considerations apply with artificial lighting within the room. Be careful not to fit harsh lights which will reflect on the computer screen. Equally, ensure that the lighting isn’t too dim otherwise this can strain your eyes.

Colour choice

Neutral colours such as whites and greys are often chosen for offices. These can give a professional feel, but be careful not to choose colours which are too cold, otherwise the room can feel clinical. Natural wood is a great way to contrast a neutral colour scheme, bringing a wonderful warmth to the office.

But there are plenty of other colours you could consider. Tones of green are said to have soothing qualities, perhaps useful if you have a high pressure job. Blues aid concentration, which might be important if you have a tendency to procrastinate when home working!

Pops of brighter colours can also inspire your work. Orange is said to be fun and energising while yellow can stimulate your mind and lift your spirits.

In this home office we’ve used yellow to brighten the scheme and stimulate creativity.

No space for a separate study?

While having a dedicated room for your home office is ideal, many people simply don’t have the space. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t create a professional and practical office space elsewhere in your home.

This neat office area fits beautifully and unobtrusively into an alcove.

There are plenty of places you can find space for an office. Perhaps the corner of your bedroom, the space under your stairs or an alcove in your living room?

Fitting neatly between two wardrobes, this teenager’s work space shows how your bedroom can stylishly double as your office.

Clever furnishing of your office area can still give you all the storage and workspace you need. For example, this can include slide out trays for keyboards or printers, wall mounted desks, bureaus and cupboards with sliding doors. You can even mount your storage cabinets on casters, so you can tuck them away when you’re not working.

If space allows, you could install a low partition wall to create a demarcation between the working and living zones. This would also provide a larger wall area for positioning storage cupboards and shelves.

Finishing touches

There are a few other considerations for your office design.

Plants

Way back in 1989 a NASA report demonstrated how indoor plants remove pollution from the atmosphere.

Since then, further studies have shown that indoor plants can also improve concentration and worker satisfaction when placed in an office environment. So, make sure you create some space for plants in your home office.

Wall space

While storage is very important to home offices, our designers also consider whether you need empty wall space for other purposes. For example, this could be to display planners, keep important notes visible on a pin board or hang inspirational pictures.

Security

An office can be an appropriate place to store valuable items, whether they are business related or personal belongings.

Bespoke storage units can incorporate concealed safes or safe boxes to provide a secure location, while maintaining the overall style of your room. All our cabinets and drawers can also be fitted with locks to safeguard the items within.

Anything goes!

Because this is your home as well as your office, you don’t need to feel too constrained by the typical office design.

So, if you fancy an open fire, a fish tank or a beer fridge in your office, then go for it! It’s not like you have to ask the boss for permission in your own home!!

A stylish log burner means that this home office can be quickly turned from a professional workplace to a cosy snug for the family to enjoy.

Ready to work from home?

If you’d like to discuss your plans to create the perfect home office, then give us a call on 01959 53 22 33 to speak to one of our designers.

Jack Hone

Chief kitchen designer (and chef in a previous life), who loves creating perfect spaces for people to make memories in.

Great British Kitchens & Interiors