Its no wonder that today’s technology is guiding us to new paths (instant photos, continuous updates, virtual design …etc). A lot of people has adopted this new opportunity & it’s magical features to work from home. Its a fact that more than 2,000,000 people in Canada work from home according to statistics Canada, and this number is increasing every year. Wonderful!! isn’t it! This has led thousands of laid off, laid back or jobless workers to work at their own base, comfort and from the heart of their crib. However, when you start working from home it is difficult to get into the productive mindset without the right office atmosphere. Thus, today I will be sharing with you my ultimate guide to designing your home office; a productive, functional, green and multi-purpose space.
STEP ONE: Location (Select the room you will be working in)
Just like retailers and businesses, the location of the room you will be working in, even in your house will influence your work productivity. A small nook in the kitchen, might not be the best choice!! Pick a room that is adjacent to the rest of the work you will be doing all day, for example, if you are nursing a baby, make sure your office is close to the baby’s room. If you are doing the cooking, make sure your office is close to the kitchen. However, no matter how close you are to the house keeping “other” work, make sure you have a room with a door, to be able to get some work done without any interruptions.
STEP TWO: Space Planning
Start by measuring the room – Refer to our measuring guide blog post for more information.
After measuring the room, start measuring furniture or listing down the dimensions of the office furniture you will be using. If you’re still at a planning stage and you are not sure what you will be getting for the office, I suggest sketching standard dimensions and laying those out on the floor plan you have created. Think of the following while doing this exercise:
The rest will come naturally. For instance, your pedestal or filling cabinet will automatically be set next to your office desk, your task light will be on your office desk and your guest chair will face the desk to host your clients… Here is a simple example:
STEP THREE: Conceptual Planning
Conceptual/Mood board is a great tool to guide you throughout your design process. Its meant to direct your design and keep you on the right track in terms of color, theme and style choice. Here is a sample of a contemporary/minimal conceptual board:
STEP FOUR: Paint & wall finishes
After you complete your conceptual board, you should have an idea of the finishes you aim for. There are so many options to finishing your walls, but, here are my 4 main choices for an office design:
Decisions on painting your office walls is as important as picking your task chair. This can be a big part of your branding and the colors you pick will definitely effect your productivity.
A designer advice is to keep the color choice limited to one or two max:
If you have a small room stay with light color tones; and make sure that your field wall color is timeless. I usually suggest colors in the family of neutrals for field walls, yet keeping an open mind for the accent wall. Initially, I start by selecting the accent color and then picking a field color that works with its tone. Refer to our Paint color guide post for more information on selecting your paint colors.
Now we can get a little bit more creative! Select a wall paper that represents your branding and that is interesting in the room. Make sure your wall paper goes on the accent wall. Do not wallpaper the entire room if the room is too small and the wallpaper is too busy. On the other hand, if you’ve gone for soft colors and delicate textures, by all means, wallpaper everything!
Chalk board (Magnetic)
Paint a wall in Chalk Board Paint and be creative in representing your branding, logo or style on it by painting in chalk or using typography. This paint can also be magnetic chalk paint allowing the surface to be used as a pin board for all the TO DO lists and notes.
I Personally Like to Use this wall as an alternating surface, where I can have art one day, to do list the next day, and maybe my logo with all the future goals/ideas the following week. It can also be handy when brainstorming ideas, or to remind you of milestones. Its unmissed contrast between the white chalk and the black will work as a great focal point that you can’t mess. Nowadays, chalk paint is available in different colors, so don’t hesitate to get creative and pick a color that suites your brand.
Add extra interest to this wall by installing a wall sconce or floating shelves with under-mount lighting to light up all the art work and important notes.
If you look around you in your current office, I bit you’ll find a marker board. Any easily wiped surface can work as a marker board, such as your office window, a glass partition, the mirror storage door, or the office glass shaker door. It can also be part of your storage solution that has translucent glass for example. Get creative making decisions on what to make your marker board, as the limit is the sky!! Here are some Ideas that we thought are interesting:
This is mostly a pin Board, but you can Cut the Cork in many different shapes and styles and use it to create a unique wall covering. You can also cut your logo out of the cork and use it as a pin board, I bet that would be interesting!
STEP FIVE: Pick your office furniture
Big, adjustable and glam is my goal. I always make sure to have lots of room when selecting my working desk as I like to spread out and get messy. I like to have a desk with room for work files, drawers for stationary and space to add paper organizers. Ergonomic is my ultimate goal when I work, I set on my desk for long hours, finalizing floor plans and contracts, thus, I like to stand up when I can and still work. Undoubtedly, an ergonomic desk is a great feature, if you have the extra buck for it!! Another goal for my office desk is to glam it up and make it feel high-end. Most office desks are boring and not stylish, but with little DIY projects you can make it special, unique and attractive.
Tip: Wall to Wall office desk is a great idea! – If you have enough space in the room and need a big desk, go wall to wall, not only it provides extra working surface, but it also makes the office space look spacious, well thought and finished.
2. Smart Storage
Don’t limit yourself to the old same style filling cabinets, pedestals and office boxes!! – find creative ways to store all stationary and office clutter such as:
Here are few pictures of what we thought is current:
Invest in a good quality and comfortable task chair, not only it will help you get the job done, but it will keep you healthy, and in love with your work.
If you have enough space for it, add a lounge chair or a sleeper sofa. This can be used to get some rest, or when you have guests over. it will also add warmth to the space and make it feel more welcoming. I am a fan of multipurpose items, when I create a room for one purpose, I always consider the possibility of using it for another. Such as adding a sleeper sofa in the office; which could work as an area to meet clients, but also to host guests or to just lay down with your off school kid.
Organization is key to success and time management. Make sure you have lots of organizational solutions to separate your papers, tasks, stationary and jobs. This will help you be effective, fast and on the dot. You can start by using:
Tag everything, make it evident, when the days with “I don’t have time” come your way, you are ready for it and can still tackle the load with professionalism. However, no matter what you pick do not settle for the old fashioned standard solutions, create your own, make it personal and branded!! – Make it stylish and well thought out!!
Here are few stylish and clear ideas:
Side note: Working between materials and finishes, we ought as designers to have a small sample area & it’s vital to keep it organized and labeled, otherwise, it will turn into deep mess real quick. Stay tuned for our upcoming post “The best organizational solution for a sample room”
STEP SIX: Lighting Layout
Layout your lighting sources as you layout your furniture. Your lighting must include the following:
Many studies have reported on the importance of lighting and especially daylight to enhance productivity and wellness. Be sure to open your window shades to let the day light in, and if you are working at night make sure you have multiple light sources, such as shown below! You can have under-mount shelving lighting (ambient) as well as a task desk light or a ceiling direct light that works as a task light. Get creative making choices of what to light, for example, if you have a logo on the wall, it will be interesting to light it up with a wall sconce. Light fixtures can also be decorative focal pieces in the space that reflect style, branding and theme. I personally like to add more than 3-5 sources of light in an office environment. I usually add light in the shelving to showcase decor and accessories. I also like to showcase an interesting chandelier, or flush mount fixture on the ceiling. Then I add a task light at the desk for work and lastly, a table or floor lamp next to a guest chair.
STEP SEVEN: Add Decor and Accessories
Introducing plants to the working space reduces stress, sickness and noise, while enhancing productivity, breathing and creativity. In addition, plants in the space break the straight lines and help in viewing a healthier and more welcoming environment.
Faux plants or real deal!! Here I am talking about real plants and fresh flowers; those will naturally do the magic, all you have to do is maintain them. My favorite best indoor plants that are easily maintained are:
a. Rubber Plant (Jade Plant)
c. Peace Lily
2. Decor and Accessories
It’s never complete before you put the final touches. Pick unique items that represents you and your business. Always add some throw pillows & blankets to the task chair or guest chair, those will make the space feel more cozy and welcoming. Art on the wall is great to represent branding, a motto of your business and motivational text. My favorite decor pieces for home offices are the sand clock and a stylish gallery wall. The first one helps me meditate and its so cool, and the second one used for business motto’s, goals & quotes.
STEP EIGHT: Sense of your brand
I can’t emphasize this enough, as it is important to feel your brand, live it and experience it every-time you enter or work at your office; even if its at home! Bringing your business branding into your office space will constantly help reinforce your business position, your identity and unifies your ideas and culture.
Brands like Apple get it. Their interiors represents a whole experience that speaks one language on every country of every continent. Yea!! You’re not apple, but remember they started their brand from a garage of an old house.
Last but not least, find time and space to do some mojo exercise! I am big on starting the working day with some exercise. Make a small stuff-free area where you can alter into a workout zone. It doesn’t have to be a dedicated area for workout, but it could be as simple as alternating your task chair with an exercise ball at least for half an hour a day, or swapping a yoga mat with a pedestal on wheels to practice few push ups at your lunch break.
Whether you’re ready for a complete office makeover or just simply updating the existing, you can do few things of the above list here and there to refresh your working space. I hope this simple eight step guide will inspire you & help you succeed in whatever work you are practicing in life.
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