Designing a home office is easy for some people, while others find the process daunting. Whether you want to set up a new home office or redesign an existing office, there are several ways to select the right furniture, provide enough storage space and create a home office design that meets your needs and work style.
Setting up a home office doesn't have to be difficult or overwhelming. By planning ahead, selecting the ideal space and finding the right furniture, you can make the process easier.
Ask yourself some important questions
The first step in home office design is to make sure you carefully evaluate every room and ask yourself a few questions:
Will you actually work in this area?
Will distractions be kept to a minimum?
Is there ample lighting?
Is there enough room for all of your equipment, files, and supplies?
Are there enough electrical outlets?
Would it be difficult to run a phone line and Internet access into this space?
By answering these questions, you will identify the best space for a home office.
Functional home office furniture should fit home décor
Invest in functional office furniture that fits the décor of your home. Whether you want a simple writing desk with a lap drawer for supplies, or a large desk with drawers for supplies and files, determine whether the piece is functional, and whether it matches your décor. When purchasing home office furniture, look for an ergonomically correct desk and chair as well as a bookcase to store reference and business books.
If you have limited home office space, or you need to "close up shop" at the end of the day, a computer cabinet or a computer armoire with enough space to house your office equipment is ideal. Plan ahead by measuring your space before you buy any new office furniture, making sure it will fit through a doorway or stairway.
What type of desk arrangement works best for you?
Choosing a desk arrangement that best suits you is an important part of the home office design process. Decide which of the five basic desk furniture arrangements for your home office is best for you: L-shape, Parallel, U-shape, corner, or reverse corner arrangement. The L-shaped work area allows you to store equipment off your desk and move it onto a secondary surface; the U-shaped work area makes it simple to keep everything within reach on three surfaces; the parallel layout positions your desk facing into the room with your secondary surface behind you; the corner arrangement and reverse corner arrangement include a desk with returns on each side. The desk faces into the corner or out into the room.
File storage can be beautiful
Be creative with file storage. Instead of using a grey, metal file cabinet to store your files, find other alternatives. You could store files inside a decorative wooden trunk, within a piece of furniture that is disguised as a storage chest, or inside a storage ottoman with a lid that doubles as a seat. Set up an easy-to-use filing system using hanging folders for main categories with interior (they're cut lower than manila) folders inside. Lateral file cabinets like those offered by Hooker Furniture are designed so well, no one would even know they are a file cabinet. A Preston Ridge file cabinet, for instance, would look lovely in a living room, hall or beside a bed.
Save space within your home office by using multifunction or "all in one" equipment that faxes, prints, copies and scans documents in color. The smaller footprint (and often low price) of these machines makes them ideal for most space-challenged home offices. Keep storage space on your computer to a minimum by storing information online through a virtual filing system, and eliminate the need for a special photo printer by using an online photo processing service.
Design your home office to reflect your taste, interests and style. If your office isn't carpeted, add an area rug to reduce echo. For privacy and to minimize the effects of direct sunlight, add window treatments. Don't forget to provide enough light for your desk and overall office.
Planning for client meetings
If you are going to meet with clients in your office, set up a space within your home office complete with guest chairs and a meeting table to spread out paperwork. If the kitchen is not nearby, set up a small break area with a coffee maker, dishes, utensils, and if possible a small refrigerator.
Lisa Kanarek writes about home office furniture, home office designs and home office trends for Hooker Furniture. Hooker Furniture (http://www.hookerfurniture.com) is an 82-year-old manufacturer and importer of high-quality, value-priced furniture for your home office, home entertainment, bedroom, dining room and bathroom rooms.
Lisa Kanarek is also one of the nation's leading home office experts and the author of several books including Home Office Solutions: Creating a Space That Works For You, and is the founder of HomeOfficeLife, a firm advising corporations and individuals on all aspects for working from home.