June 22, 2010

A Well Designed Home Office

Recently my friend Erin from Inside at Home asked me to contribute to her site by writing an article based on the home office. Erin says that Inside at Home "is a place designed to Inspire the Entrepreneur by focusing on the spirit and motivation of the home business owner. It shares human interest stories that inspire practical business sense and helpful strategies that can turn passion into at home earning potential". Here is my article outlining the most important details in getting the home office you deserve.

Things to consider when devising your plan:

It is important to devise a plan when tackling the redesign of a home office. First, check with your local government. Some cities or counties have specific regulations on what type of work is permitted in the home. For example, if you are going to have clients visiting your home, then you may need a separate dedicated entrance to your space. Second, KNOW YOUR SPACE – take measurements of each wall, window and door – then draw out a floor plan. This doesn’t need to be perfect, but having a plan will make shopping for furniture and layout a breeze. Here is a short list of things to consider when designing your home office:

1. Painting the walls - when choosing the color for your workspace consider these tips: •For small spaces use a color that makes the room seem larger like blue or green, both are calming colors. •If you prefer red or yellow use caution, both colors can make a small room feel even smaller. •If colors aren’t your thing and you prefer a more neutral palette, then choose ivory or crème, which are elegant choices and can be accented by any color - my favorite is charcoal.

2. When choosing furniture for an office, be sure to look for functional and comfortable pieces that are timeless. If the space is small, use a table style desk, which allows the eye to “see” more of the room. Lateral file cabinets offer more flexible storage options as they accommodate both letter and legal sized file folders. Bookshelves are a necessity because we often have a lot of reference books and binders that need storing. If you are limited on floor space, consider using wall mounted bookshelves.

3. It is important to practice proper ergonomics so be sure to invest in a comfortable and sturdy desk chair. A chair mat placed beneath your chair will make it easy to move around while protecting your carpet or wood floor. If you have room, place an occasional chair in your home office, thus providing an extra seat for a guest or client.

4. Proper lighting is essential in your space. Invest in ceiling mounted task lighting, such as track lighting or pendant lighting and install a dimmer for these lights. Illuminate your workspace with the best possible light.

5. Don’t forget the window treatments. My rule of thumb is to use a roller shade or roman shade AND curtains. The shades can be closed at night for privacy and don’t get dusty (like venetian blinds).

6. Set up an organized filing system. Utilize binders for quick access to items such as bank statements, invoices, proposals, even electronic and computer manuals/warranties. Use document boxes for storage of receipts by month and year. Periodical holders are great too, everyone has magazines and catalogs that tend to pile up in the corner.

7. Be creative with accessories. Place a mirror on the wall and use it as a dry erase board for those important reminders. The mirror will add style to your space and make a small space appear larger. (Avoid using chalkboards, which can create a lot of extra dust - not good for your electronics.)

8. Keep office supplies such as paper, pens, staples and folders, stowed away in a cabinet or large desk drawer. Storing supplies together is efficient; you will always know where to look for supplies.

Yes, there are many factors involved in setting up your space and having a plan will make it easier to execute the change. After all in the end it is most important to feel organized, efficient and productive in your home office.


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