Setting up Your Home Office

Style and function. Ideally, your home office should strike a perfect balance between the two. Whether you work from home daily or occasionally, you require a comfortable, practical space that promotes productivity while adhering to your home’s unique design aesthetic. In other words, your office should be a reflection of the other well-appointed rooms in your home—not your old, drab cubicle!


Here are some quick tips for setting up a home office that’s equal parts beauty and brains.

Many modern homes have a designated office or study. If yours doesn’t, you’ll need to determine the best place to set up shop. If your work requires a great deal of concentration, a quiet, low-traffic area (think guest room/home office combo) will likely be your best bet. If not, you may be able to get away with borrowing a portion of your kitchen, family/great room or bedroom. Keep in mind that whatever space you choose will need to accommodate a desk, chair, computer, printer and any other tools of your trade.

Does your home office have adequate lighting? If not, supplement existing fixtures with floor and/or table lamps, which can add style and help to boost your mood and prevent eye strain. To take advantage of natural lighting, position your desk (or other work surface) near a window or sliding glass door, and consider installing sheer panels, which permit light and provide privacy.

The type and amount of furniture you’ll require largely depends on the size and purpose of your home office. If your workspace is small and you’re just going to use it to catch up on bills, a basic desk and chair might do the trick. But if you work from home all day, every day and plan to entertain clients in your generous office space, you may choose to add file cabinets, additional seating (e.g., sofa, chair, ottoman), a coffee table and end tables.

As far as style goes, let your personal taste be your guide. Select materials and shades that appeal to you and complement the décor in the rest of your home. A little research can go a long way toward choosing items that are attractive, comfortable and functional. Even if you plan to buy your office furniture online, consider testing it out (especially seating options) at a local store. And try to keep an open mind—you may even find yourself making selections you hadn’t previously considered, like a balance ball in lieu of a chair, or a standing desk instead of a traditional desk or drafting table.

Finishing touches.
Now that you’ve defined, illuminated and furnished your home office, you’re ready to add the final touches: paint and some well-placed accessories. Choose a wall color that makes you feel focused, inspired and energized. You may even want to select a shade that you haven’t used in the rest of your home to help distinguish your workspace from your living space.

When it comes to accessories, consider items that are both functional and eye-catching. You may need a wall calendar, whiteboard and/or bulletin board to stay organized and on task, but that doesn’t mean you can’t choose ones with designer details. Think about adding some shelving to display books, photos and houseplants (a great way to freshen up any space and bring the outdoors in!), and dress up your desk with a few stylish accessories, like a memo pad, a letter tray and an elegant glass or stone paperweight. As you decorate, keep in mind that less is often more, and a cluttered office may hinder your productivity.

Happy decorating! Want ideas for decorating other rooms in your home? See:
How to get this designer kitchen look
Designing a bedroom to grown with your child
Dreaming of a home gym? Make it happen this year!