I met Michelle Newman at a writers’ conference and when she mentioned something about her home office, I asked if I could feature it on Working Naked. She gave me a strange look that was somewhere between What the Hell? and She doesn’t look like she runs a porn site. After I described the site to her, she quickly agreed. It helped that we were at a cocktail reception and the wine was flowing freely. [Read more…]
The right home office can inspire you to work harder, or keep you from working at all. It all depends on where you set up your home office, how you furnish it, and whether the space fits your needs. Recently, ODDEE featured 10 cool home offices that prove a little creativity can go a long way. Here are two of my favorites:
The Beach Home Office
The Backyard Home Office
When I started working from home two decades ago, I did my best to hide the fact that I had a home office instead of a corporate office. It wasn’t cool to work from home and run a company.
As far as my clients knew, I was working in a stuffy office building instead of in a comfy home office. One of the drawbacks of working from home was that my only home office furniture options were cheap, badly designed computer workstations and desks that fell apart after one or two moves.
Now that working from home is more celebrated than criticized, furniture manufacturers — even from the commercial side — have created functional, stylish and even affordable home office furniture.
Some of my favorite places to shop for reasonably-priced home office furniture are Crate & Barrel, Pottery Barn, West Elm, Z Gallerie and commercial furniture dealers—they sell to individuals too. Sometimes you can find home office furniture by well known and respected manufacturers at Costco and Sam’s Club.
Before you buy anything, check for quality. You may think you’re getting a bargain, but don’t be surprised if you have to replace that same item after a few months. I’m still shocked when I walk into an office supply superstore and see a chipped or dented desk. If it doesn’t hold up in a store, is it really going to last in your home office?
With more decent furniture choices available, your home office doesn’t have to reflect the corporate office you just left (or feared being trapped inside for at least eight hours a day). Instead, your home office can, and should be, a reflection of your interests, taste and design sense.
Guest Post by Jay Harris
When you work from home and have children, finding a proper work/life balance can be challenging. One option for keeping your kids out of your home office so you can actually accomplish something during the workday, is to set up their own little home base.
From establishing a separate play area in the next room, to equipping full-on outdoor playsets, if you are willing to invest in a “quality time” project with your child on the front end, you can pave the way for more productive workdays down the road.
Create a Custom Play Area.
Since the invention of chalkboard paint, those expensive, trying, and time-consuming days of painting over your kids’ wall graffiti are gone. By selecting a large bookshelf or wooden toy chest for your multi-purpose painting project, your pint-sized Picasso has multiple surfaces on which to draw, write, scribble, or whatever. At the same time, she has somewhere to store her books and toys after she’s finished playing with them.
Consider these painting pointers:
- Paint the entire playroom to match your home’s décor, or choose from loads of paint colors available.
- For the little Type-A angel, paint each shelf a different color that relates to a specific item that “lives” there. For example, store books on blue, cars and trucks on teal, the stuffed Rabbit family on red, and so on.
- Always paint in a properly ventilated room and allow adequate drying time before using your new pieces.
- Make sure the shelf is sturdy and attached to the wall so your child can’t pull it down. Also, make sure the toy chest does not have a lid that can come crashing down.
Take it Outside.
For kids who don’t need constant supervision, here are some basic tips for making sure your child is safe and sound when out of your sight and spending time with his or her outdoor playsets during your workday:
- Make sure all areas are covered with shock-absorbing materials like rubber or mulch that can serve as a buffer between your child’s head and the hard ground.
- Wooden swing sets should have soft rubber seats, not ones made of hard wood.
- Don’t attach any other ropes or cords to the play set — there’s no need to “Pimp your Playset” with dangerous extras!
- Be aware of exposed areas of metal that can harm your child. For example, chains that can pinch and large bolts with jagged, protruding surfaces should be covered with protective materials.
What new ideas for occupying your kids during the day come to mind?
Jay Harris is a regular contributor to Home Depot’s website. His interests range from providing tips on playsets, to homeowner advice on outdoor projects.
Some days you may look forward to working in your home office, while other days you may go straight to a nearby coffee shop to work. If you’re spending more time working away from your home office, than in it, it may be time to make a few home office changes.
Consider whether your home office still inspires you to work.
Whether you’ve had a home office for many years or you’re ready to set up a home office for the first time, start by asking yourself a few questions: Is there enough light? Is your home office in a high-traffic area? Is the space too isolated to let you accomplish anything? It’s important to find the right place for your home office so you actually enjoy working there. If you’re tired of your current office and want to try to work in another part of your home, do a 30-day trial. If after that time you still like the new space, move everything from your old home office into your new office.
Move your furniture around.
Consider moving your desk from against the wall to floating in the room. Maybe I’ve seen too many horror movies, but I never feel comfortable having my back to the door. You’ll feel less isolated and may even enjoy a view of the outside if you look into the room instead of stare at a wall all day. Moving your furniture around can change your outlook (literally).
Add a bookcase.
Out of the last 10 home offices I’ve seen, half of them didn’t have a bookcase. What’s the problem with that? Without a bookcase or shelves, there’s no place to store books, reference materials and even knick knacks that can add a little something to any home office. Not only can a bookcase be functional, it can serve as an interesting design element within your home office, or as a divider in a large room.
Keep your family in mind.
You may want to keep your family out of your home office while you work, and if so, you’re not alone. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep your family in mind while you’re working. Hang a bulletin board near your desk and add family photos, or keep family photos on nearby shelves.
Your home office should be a place you enjoy spending time. Until you take the time to consider whether or not your current set-up is working, you may not realize what a difference a little change can make.
A good friend of mine spent more money than she cares to admit on furniture and accessories for her new home office. For the first few months she loved it and couldn’t wait to take the 10-second commute to her home office to get to work every day. Then everything changed. She realized she was wasting time looking for supplies, her files were out of reach, and she started to feel claustrophobic.
On the surface a home office may seem picture-perfect, but what it has in style, it may lack in function. You don’t have to spend a fortune to turn your home office into a well-designed, functional space.
Think compact, yet not too confined.
Create a work area with everything including your desk, credenza, file cabinet, and supplies within reach. This will keep you from wasting time jumping from one area to another to grab what you need. Several years ago when I worked with the winner of the “Most Disorganized Home Office” contest, we turned her enormous attic home office into a cozy, workable space. By the end of our organizing and design session, we had set up her home office near two windows, and left the rest of the space open.
Limit the number of accessories.
Think of your desk as valuable real estate that you don’t want to clutter with unnecessary items and instead want to leave open for work. Keep in mind that design magazines “stage” their photos. They add more accessories than normal, place furniture in awkward places because it photographs better, and, in some cases, create a room that no one could comfortably live or work in. The photos look amazing, but if you take the time to look at a home office photo you may see a rigid chair instead of an adjustable one, and plants and knick knacks on the desk instead of accessories.
Go for less.
Your home office should be comfortable, yet functional, stylish, yet not overstuffed with excess accessories. The rule of thumb is less is more. Buy what you need for your office, but make sure you can find what you need when you need it.
Whether you redesign your home office or start from scratch, buy what works and buy what fits the way you work. At the same time, remember that you don’t have to sacrifice style and design to achieve function. The two can work hand in hand.
For years I’ve said that the worst place for a home office is in a bedroom. The main reason is that it’s too hard to get away from work when your desk is only a few feet away from your bed. Ally Loprete’s home office changed my mind.
Her 10’ x 20’ office, in the back part of her bedroom, is separated from her bed by a large headboard/shelving unit. Not having a clear view of a home office can make it easier to keep business and personal life separate.
As a business coach for work-at-home parents, Ally is a master at inspiring her clients to stay focused on their goals. She follows her own advice by hanging motivational quotes above her desk. Her office also includes vision boards and a bulletin board filled with family photos.
While Ally’s bedroom serves double-duty as a home office, her home office serves double-duty as an art studio for her son. Rather than plaster his masterpieces all over the wall, she uses clothespins to attach them to a long string that hangs along one side of the space.
Do you know how some women can wear a paper bag and look gorgeous? My friend, Allen Hart, who is also an interior designer, can make any simple space look fabulous.
He recently moved and transformed a small home into a showcase. My favorite part of his home is, of course, his home office.
His design revolves around a huge, colorful, contemporary print above his desk. He has a completely paperless home office and stores everything electronically. That means he didn’t have to find room for a file cabinet. He found a creative place to store his all-in-one machine: under a sofa table.
The layout of Allen’s home office makes it easy to convert the space into a cozy conference room. When he has a client meeting, he pulls a table from the window to the center of the room, and then moves the chairs in front of and next to his desk to the table.
Each time Allen moves, he creates an even better, inspirational space. This one definitely is my favorite.
Guest post by Amy Wettig
Let’s talk about what your home office is all about according to Feng Shui.
Your office represents your career goals and your potential for success. A well-organized office can lead to increased productivity, while office clutter can muddy your goals or cause obstacles that may block your success.
Office clutter represents confusion about money matters. It can also signify obstacles that may be causing difficulties with clients, coworkers, and colleagues.
Consider these Feng Shui tips for your home office:
1. Put your desk in the command position. Position your desk so that you can see the door easily when seated. You do not want your back to the door. If you cannot position your desk so that you can see the entrance to your office while seated, hang a mirror on the wall so that it reflects the doorway.
2. Clean out your file cabinets regularly. If you let old business papers fill your file cabinets, you may prevent new business from coming your way. Remove paperwork that’s no longer current. A good rule of thumb is to leave about 1/3 of your file cabinets empty to indicate that you are ready to receive new business.
3. Use wooden furniture to encourage expansion. In the Chinese elemental system, wood is linked with growth. If you use wooden furniture, your business or finances should increase.
4. Fix or replace damaged office equipment. Broken furniture symbolizes broken deals or promises, damaged relationships with customers or suppliers, and other problems. These are the exact kinds of things you do not want. Repair these things promptly to keep your business running smoothly.
5. Use a black phone to encourage prosperous communication with colleagues and customers. Black is associated with wealth in China and it is a water color which emphasizes qualities such as flexibility and cooperation. Using a black phone can help stimulate business and prosperity, especially if your work involves a lot of phone contact.
6. Use white in your decorating scheme to promote stability & structure.
7. Paint your office door red or green. Red is the Chinese color of luck. Green is the color of money and can increase prosperity. In some countries, it’s believed that you can attract money to you by painting your door green.
8. Consider options other than paint. If you can’t paint the door, tie a red ribbon around your office doorknob to help attract good luck to you and your business.
9. Rearrange your office furniture periodically. This will encourage new business and stimulate new opportunities in your work life. Once a year may be often enough unless you find yourself getting into a rut. By changing your interior, you’ll change things in the outer world too.
10. Add live plants to your home office. Plants symbolize growth and life. In some countries, their green foliage represents the color of money. Place one or more healthy plants in your office to encourage the growth and prosperity of your business.
Amy Wettig is a Feng Shui expert who likes to combine the art of Feng Shui with coaching to help her clients move forward with their lives. She helps people clear the air in their homes and in their heads so they can lead the life they were meant to lead.