What’s the difference between a perfect workspace and a place to work? If you’re sick of reviewing spreadsheets on the kitchen counter or crunching numbers in the bedroom on a card table, it’s time to build a home office that suits your personality and work style. With a few simple solutions, you can assemble a room that encourages you to reach greater heights. Here’s how to create the perfect workspace.
What Goes on Here?
Consider what you plan to do in your office. It’s more than having a place to sit and a table to rest your computer. Consider the tools and requirements of your profession. A writer needs that previously mentioned chair and table, but what about a shelf for books and reference materials? Is there a place for speakers to play music to write to or wall space available for inspirational images? Likewise, a designer or architect may need a desk for daily business and a drafting table to draw. Start by making a list of what you need, then create a sketch of where it all goes as a guide. This blueprint will come in handy later.
Where’s It All Happening?
If you have a house or apartment with an extra room, the decision about where the office should go is simple. But consider whether it’s really the best place to work. Are you easily distracted? A room at the front of the house, overlooking a busy street or nearby backyard filled with, let’s just say, “lively” children may be convenient, but it won’t be conducive to productivity. Or perhaps the reverse is true—while the basement may provide a quiet space, you work better in an environment with more light and life, like the corner of the living room. If you work with your hands and use various tools, chemicals, and materials, you’ll need a space with adequate ventilation, room for equipment, and access to a water source but also one where you can safely meet clients. Whatever the case, pick the spot that’s most beneficial to your work habits.
Supplies and Infrastructure
Remember that the work you do may take place at your desk and computer, but you still need room for all the accouterments of your business. Stationery, pens and pencils, printers, scanners, shredders, routers, internet cable hookups, electric plugs, and more—they keep an office running smoothly, but where will they go in your new workspace? A spare closet is a big asset, of course, but if you don’t have one, investigate movable and portable organizers that let you stow all that stuff in your office or workspace. Cover up unsightly things like surge protectors and cables as best you can without sacrificing safety. Keep recycling and trash bins available but just out of sight. If you use your workspace for meetings with clients, remember that an uncluttered office presents a better impression.
Set Up the Backdrop To Your Business
Before you place the first piece of furniture, think about setting the mood with a new coat of paint. Go with a lighter and nonintrusive color. Designers and decorators often recommend a calming blue or green, but you should go with a color that best suits your style and personality. Still, lighter colors are a better “canvas” for your office and can also provide the illusion of more space even in a smaller room. As for lighting, maximize the amount of sunlight you get by investing in lighter drapes and other window treatments. Again, a lighter and brighter room looks like a larger room. If you aren’t getting enough light, pick up a few table lamps and floor lamps for each corner, or save floor space by installing wall sconces that spread a soft, warm light across the office.
Picking All the Proper Pieces
Going back to your sketch from above, it’s time to pick out the furniture. Your desk and chair are the centerpieces of your business and the place where you’ll spend most of your workday, even when you tuck them away in a corner. Here’s your first goal: select a comfortable chair. Don’t break your back; give your back a break instead by choosing an ergonomic chair that’s adjustable, provides lumbar support, breathable fabric, and a wheelbase that permits smooth and easy maneuverability. Aid that wheelbase with a clear plastic mat that can provide a smoother surface while protecting your rug or hardwood floors. Keeping visiting clients in mind, make sure they have a place to sit too. Choose comfortable chairs that you can store in other unobtrusive parts of the room until your customers show up. You might want to use them as temporary storage space, but it’s better to resist the urge. You don’t want to rush to clean them off when clients show up.
Select desks according to size, space, storage, and style. Make sure you have space to spread out and work, but don’t let it dominate the room. Depending on your office’s layout, position it so that it doesn’t interfere with traffic patterns and airflow. The ability to get up, stretch, and pace while you ponder your next move is vital. Custom solid wood desks provide a classic look and long-lasting service, but if your taste leans more toward the contemporary, modern metal desks look sharp and professional. Leave some space underneath the desk to extend your legs and perhaps add a comforting device like a foot massager. You may need it during an all-nighter!
Bookshelves Are Boons
When considering how to create the perfect workspace, a series of high shelves is indispensable. Not only do they keep your books at your fingertips, but they also act as a display space for family photos, awards, commendations, certifications, and the like—all the items that say something about you, your accomplishments, and your goals for the future. Visiting clients’ eyes will immediately gravitate to shelves. Give them something worth looking at that speaks well of you, your experience, and your services. Make sure your shelves and desk stylistically complement and echo each other, expressing a theme of professionalism, creativity, and reliability. Occasionally rotate your displays and wall art to keep your workspace looking fresh, and add a few plants to bring a little life (and oxygen) to the space!