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Decorate With Intention: Get Your Home Office Right

Decorate With Intention: Get Your Home Office Right

Help personality and productivity team up in a home office for a win-win situation

I am a proud new mama in the process of creating a home I love on a tight... More »
It's so easy to let a home office slide off the bottom of the decorating to-do list — after all, many visitors will never even see it. But the way this space is arranged and decorated can greatly impact productivity (and happiness) at home. From finding the right space and furniture to organizing ideas, ergonomics, personal style, dealing with distractions and more, let's tackle that home office once and for all.
Remember, the luxury of a home office is that you are at home. Don't be afraid to forgo typical office furniture in favor of a style that blends with the rest of your home. A Chippendale-style chair with armrests and a thick cushion is incredibly chic and almost as comfortable as a traditional desk chair. And unless you like the look of a bent-arm task lamp, no one is stopping you from choosing a glam table lamp with a silk shade instead. Do what makes you happy!

Style notes: In this home office space, floral shades dripping with lush trim set a warm, romantic tone, echoed by the portrait, the floral painting and the bright orange armchair. Glossy black accents ground the arrangement and take the room in an elegant direction.
Check your ergonomics. Pay attention to how you feel after logging a few hours at your desk at home. If you have any pain or soreness, it's time to check the ergonomics of your setup.

• Your chair height should be adjusted so that your feet can be flat on the ground.
• Align your screen with your sight line to avoid eye strain and shoulder stiffness. If you have a laptop, consider putting it on a stand to adjust the height.
• Check the lumbar support of your chair. Add a pillow or get a new chair if you have been experiencing lower back pain.
• Invest in a few cushy pads to keep your wrists elevated as you type and use the mouse, especially if you spend a lot of time at the computer.
contemporary ottomans and cubes by CB2
by CB2
by CB2
Consider adding a pouf. More than just a fun accessory, a pouf of the appropriate size can be tucked beneath your desk to use as a footrest. When not needed, you can pull it out and use it as a mini side table for stacks of books and magazines.
Go beyond the desk with an extra work surface. Avoid clutter pileups by placing another work surface near your main desk. This will make it easier to keep your computer area clean and clear, and provide dedicated space where you can spread out a project and not worry about cleaning it up. This extra surface (if you have room for it) is a wonderful place for incorporating meaningful objects and art that inspires you. It's also great for stepping away from the computer every once in a while to brainstorm, read or just sit with a cup of tea.

Style notes: This workspace feels crisp and clean in all black and white. A rotating display of artwork on floating shelves and a 3-D wire deer sculpture keep it feeling personal and fresh.
Don't need a serious office? Bring your desk out into the open. If you don't use your home office a great deal, it may make more sense to preserve that spare room for a more useful purpose. Look around your home for another space within a larger room instead. Take advantage of a long room (like the one shown here) by placing two desks beside each other. Piano stools, vintage schoolhouse chairs and café chairs are all stylish and airy, perfect for occasional use.

Style notes: A tiled runner on the floor, simple industrial-style pendant lights and clusters of green plants combine to create a greenhouse feel, and the lines created by the row of desks and lights draws the eye out to the patio beyond, expanding the sense of space.
Add a special zone to keep kids occupied. If you have little ones at home, it's worth it to make an extra effort to make the office kid-friendly. Sure, in an ideal world, we would just close the door and everyone would not bother us — but as any parent knows, that's just not how it works.

Consider adding these kid-friendly features to your office:
  • Chalkboard or chalkboard wall
  • Playhouse or play cupboard that children can climb into
  • Child-height activity table and chairs
  • Comfy rug
  • Baskets or bins of toys or art supplies
  • Play kitchen
Create privacy within a larger space. If you do not have an entire room to dedicate to your office but really need one, you can still carve out a private nook with a few space tricks. You could use an open-backed bookcase as a room divider, placing your desk on the other side (as shown here); create an office corner by strategically positioning a decorative screen; or even place a large potted tree behind your desk.
Make a closet office more than an afterthought. If your only available office space is in a spare closet, that doesn't mean it has to feel like second best.

Specifics to keep in mind when converting a closet into an office:

Lighting is key. Add recessed lighting in the ceiling if possible, plus one or two desk lamps.
If you can't find a desk that fits perfectly, have one built (or try a DIY project) to make the best use of the space.
Measure potential desk chairs before buying to be sure they will tuck under the desk enough to close the door(s).
Speaking of doors, try swapping out the standard-issue closet doors for French doors, pocket doors or even crisp curtains.
Plan office storage with efficiency in mind. The storage areas directly around your desk — drawers, shelves, cabinets and surfaces — should be reserved for frequently used essential items. If you purchase some office supplies in bulk or have equipment that is very seldom used, store it on the highest shelves or in a different room altogether if you are short on space.
Surround yourself with things you love. What do you need to add (or remove) to really love your home office? Give favorite colors, artwork, photos, plants and personal items pride of place, and get rid of (or at least hide in a cabinet) anything that is bumming you out, from ugly tech equipment to bulky binders of old work material.
Commit to keeping a clean and clear desktop. For ultimate productivity and peace of mind, make a habit of completely clearing off your desk before ending the day.