Out of necessity, homeowners pivoted to remote work in the early days of the pandemic, creating home office spaces rapidly. These spaces were functional in a pinch, but many were not ideal for the long term.
Post-pandemic, the most coveted room in the house is the home office. From location to color to décor, what is essential to design a stylish and productive work-from-home space?
What is the best location for a home office?
Ideally, a home has a dedicated room for home office space, but homeowners should look at floorplans with potential to accommodate a home office, for example with a flex room or even in an extra bedroom.
“A space that allows you to focus without being distracted is the best location for a home office, whether that’s a basement, spare room or a main-level study,” says Bob Turner, vice president, Allen & Rocks.
Consider a potential office space’s proximity to the rest of the household, ideally “away from the busiest areas of the house to allow for privacy and comfort. It is also essential to ensure enough natural light enters the room. Lofts and first-level basements are both great locations for an office,” says Erica Bell, marketing manager, Miller & Smith
For floorplans with a den or an office included, having a room tucked at the front of the home is preferable, if possible “so that you can easily access the front door and front windows to see when appointments or deliveries are arriving. A front office is also ideal as it allows you to be close to the kitchen and powder room,” says Karen Baugher, marketing manager, Brookfield Residential.
With an office at the front of the home, you are usually able to create privacy without physical division, which is a desirable feature if a home office will be receiving external clients.
Home office design strategy
“When designing a home office, homeowners should consider somewhere that’s captivating enough for them to look forward to working each day,” says Turner.
Create an atmosphere that enhances state of mind, which in turn helps with productivity, keeping in mind that a home office is where you may spend a lot of time.
When designing a home office, “good lighting, a door that closes off the space for privacy, sound-proof insulation, a nice view and a strong Wi-Fi connection are all essential,” according to Drees Homes design consultants Suzanne Leopold and Kimberly Wiley.
While being able to work from home is convenient, it can also be noisy, especially with the rest of the household doing their daily tasks within earshot, which is why doors are so valued.
French doors are a good choice, because they still permit the flow of light while muffling noise. Pocket doors are effective, unobtrusive, and provide privacy if needed easily.
Home office décor ideas
Home office design should center around functionality and comfort. Think about workflow and daily tasks, and what design and décor elements are most supportive of those initiatives.
First on the list? A comfortable desk and chair, with ergonomic support that is appropriately sized for the available space. Placement of your desk matters as well. Ideally, a desk situated near or facing a window is best.
Built-in shelving and storage increase functionality and add visual interest. Be careful if using open shelving though, as over-stuffed shelves can make a space feel smaller and be distracting, especially as a backdrop for virtual meetings.
Decorate built-ins “sparingly, with a few color-coordinated books, small, framed photos, plants or baskets for storage,” says Baugher.
Homeowners contemplating bolder décor choices often decide to try them out first in a home office before committing to the rest of the home, with dark colors or rich accent walls.
Feel free to experiment but be mindful that more aggressive décor choices may not be as pleasing over the long term, which can curtail productivity.
Don’t forget color plays into psychology, which is why “it’s best to incorporate a warm color scheme to maintain a calming and comfortable atmosphere,” says Bell.
That doesn’t mean you need to stick to office greige or washed-out institutional tones. Embrace greens, corals, blues and of course- classic white.
Adorn the walls with artwork that you love, inspires you or has an organizational purpose. “A wall board for documents and a calendar to keep all plans within sight are helpful for productivity,” says Bell.
Use accents to infuse color and underscore the “home” in home office. Think cozy throws and pillows, stylish wastepaper baskets, coordinated desk accessories and a patterned throw rug. Incorporate plants.
Hang window treatments that are unobtrusive but add to the décor. Being able to close them at certain times of the day can aid with glare while working on a computer. A statement-making overhead light fixture, paired with table and floor lamps will provide variety in light sources.
If you are lucky enough to have space beyond your desk and chair in your home office, create additional zones that will add value to your day, such as a coffee or beverage station, a yoga practice area or comfortable lounging furniture away from your desk, for reading or answering emails.
Creating a home office space when you don’t have a designated room
For homeowners without distinct home office space, or who are looking to make existing rooms multipurpose, creativity is the solution.
- A hidden or fold-up desk can be handy and can be placed wherever there is available wall space.
- A closet large enough to house a desk and chair can serve as a home office, with doors that close when not in use.
- Use a ladder desk or install floating shelves on the wall over the desk for extra storage.
- Make use of alcoves with a ledge desk built across the opening.
- If you are using your bedroom as your home office, swap out a nightstand for a small desk, tucked against the wall next to the bed.
- Another area that might have unused space that could work for an office area is under the stairs. There might be room to tuck a workspace underneath the staircase, or even against the wall.
- If a workspace is in an open-concept room, use paint, a rug or wall treatments to indicate visually that this is a separate task-oriented space within the space.