As the United States and even the world practice social distancing in response to COVID-19, many homes are now full of family members of all ages. Not only are many adults rearranging furniture to work from home, but also students from preschool to college have returned home to attempt distance/eLearning. If you’ve found yourself in this position, how’s your home environment working for you? With the distinct possibility that we may need to extend these work-from-home scenarios for weeks, if not longer, your surroundings are definitely something to contemplate. Perhaps this change to our environments will even lead to more people working from home on a permanent basis.
Our design team is sharing these 5 tips for creating home offices and studying spaces that truly work well for you and your family. We’ve included LOTS of examples, too. Yes, personal, professional and academic routines really can co-exist with some careful planning.
1) Desk Design
Let’s start with your workspace. Having a dedicated area to work or study is important, and the right desk allows you to personalize your space for maximum comfort and efficiency. The above Briarwood Desk from Vanguard Furniture offers a clean, top surface for various work types — from typing at a computer to reviewing plans or assembling materials. Not only does the Briarwood Desk look good, it’s functional with a filing cabinet and a drawer for supplies. We love the Facet Face front with the soft geometric design combined with the satin brass drawer pulls and metal leg. This is great for work areas that may be tight on cubic space, considering many professionals are transforming guest rooms or other spaces into offices. The Briarwood Desk measures 68 inches wide by 27 inches deep by 30 inches tall.
Thinking about options for a more traditional desk brought up memories of one client’s home office, where we used the Mahogany kidney pedestal desk from Jonathan Charles Fine Furniture, shown below. This desk has three drawers on the left for files and supplies and a single cupboard on the right, making this ideal for those in paper-intensive industries. A favorite feature on this office desk is the remote-controlled monitor lift (Suitable for 20-22″ monitors) that allows its user to raise a computer or TV monitor during work hours and close it up after work for a clean office look. This desk is also fairly spacious (70 ¾ inches wide x 37 inches deep x 30 ½ inches tall), allowing must-have tools to remain within arm’s reach. Of course, we’d add a beautiful accent or two to the desk to top off the interior designer look.
Perhaps the most important factor in selecting a work desk for your home is that it feels right to you. While that may seem a bit vague, each individual has unique needs and preferences for their workspace. Since I’m often looking at floorplans, fabric swatches and other design finishes while also taking notes and working on a computer, I like a workspace with ample top space that functions as well as it looks. This is just one example of why our team gets to know each client and how they intend to use their spaces. Then our decorators turn up our creativity to unfold areas that help professionals and students work well.
2) Where and How You Sit Matters.
We believe in stylish, ergonomic chairs at Pamela Hope Designs.
Danna Smith, our managing designer, has the Mirra Chair by Hermann Miller in taupe as shown above and I opted for the Generation chair by Knoll, like the one on the left, although mine is in taupe leather. Our team emphasizes the need to provide good seating to our clients, especially if a lot of time will be spent at the desk(s). Luckily today, there are great chairs for everyone, whether it’s library-style home office or a sleek spot in the corner of a modern living room.
Wheels or casters on an office chair can make moving around your workspace easier, especially if you have a rug or carpet in the designated work/study space. Still, some clients just prefer a more stationary chair for work.
“We like to use a clear floor protector for office chairs on casters,” Danna said. “We use them for ease of motion in the chair as well as for protecting the floor.” We have ordered them for clients with carpet and hard floors. These floor protectors are available in standard sizes and can be customized as well to a shape that best fits our client’s desk.
Other office chair considerations include the material (fabric, leather, metal or plastic to name a few), adjustability in terms of seat and arm height, lumbar support and swivel capabilities.
Danna recalled gorgeous office chairs that our team installed at a client’s home office. These leather guest chairs from Hancock and Moore featured a quilted, inside back (shown at right) with a dark brown hair-on-hide for the outside back of the chairs.
Danna thought these chairs were so cool. Placed in front of the desk of a former-Navy-man-turned-executive, these chairs presented the right mix of sophistication with rustic feel.
While most people are currently practicing social distancing due to COVID-19, it’s a good idea to plan your home office design with a longer term view. If your profession typically meets face-to-face with prospects and clients, keep that in mind so you can adequately plan enough space for all your office furnishings. Even if you don’t plan to outfit the entire home office at once, professional interior designers with a design plan help you address all your needs while addressing the space you have.
3) Storage Is Not Just Functional.
Most home offices also need some sort of storage for items like reams of paper, binders and other office supplies. The best options for home office storage depend on how much space you have, how much you need to store, if the contents should be visible or hidden from sight, and of course the budget.
The Sinclair Etagere, shown above, includes four cabinet doors for storing items (like paper) out of sight, one drawer in the center as well as two internal shelves, plus nine adjustable shelves for displaying items such as books, awards and other personal effects. It measures 113.5 inches wide by 20.75 inches deep and 84 inches high, so a large wall is needed for placement. We like this office furniture option because it still has a personal feel, rather than an industrial office look.
Two other storage solutions for home offices with more vertical space available are the Brae Home Office (left) with one filing drawer, one regular drawer and three adjustable shelves and the Luminary Bookcase (right) with five glass shelves and interior lights to showcase important accessories. Both are from Vanguard Furniture. Double up on the Luminary Bookcase to display products openly. Students and professionals could also place a desk in between two Luminary Bookcases when wall space is ample. The Brae Home Office is ideal when you have a combination of items to display and tuck away out of sight.
4) Art: Place to Rest the Eyes
Artwork can be used to give a person’s eyes a resting place but also make the area feel official. This is similar to the idea of rising in the morning, dressing for the day and heading to work, even if it’s in your home. Preparing your physical appearance impacts your mental and emotional outlook. Similarly, art can also influence your mood and our team is all about working within happy designs. Pricing and quality varies widely, so we recommend either contacting us to help with your art selection or giving yourself permission not to rush into buying a piece of art found online that is less than your top choice. These two scenarios are even more likely if you’re practicing social distancing due to the coronavirus and, thus, are limited on your shopping expeditions. However, paint is a good alternative.
5) Painter’s Palette for the Desired Results
Choosing the right color for the walls of your workspace is important. The type of work you perform is also a consideration. I am partial to clean white walls (Sherwin-Williams Snowbound is a favorite white!) and blue-green hues. A dingy white is not in the cards here, though. Crisp, warm whites like Snowbound can also help you limit visual distractions. Our interior design team also enjoys adding coral, pink and various purple/violet hues for some of our female clients. These colors make them happy. We use color a lot in our projects. Whether a soothing combination of neutrals or a bright pop on the walls, color can inspire you every single day.
Consider painting one accent wall in a bold color or even creating a geometric design for a feature wall as suggested in the article “The Best Paint Colors for Your Home Office” in Martha Stewart magazine. Another tip offered by that article when going bold with paint color is to keep furniture and accent pieces neutral to avoid looking too busy or cluttered. White furnishings are popular as you’ll see in the photos below.
Since most professionals and students spend a lot of time in the home office, it’s important to create an atmosphere that fills you with positive energy. A high-stress role may lead you to choosing paint colors that are more soothing like soft blues and greens. A well-painted office certainly looks more polished, which goes a long way when trying to summon the energy needed to finish that big project.
Another fun option with paint is to use Notable® Dry Erase Paint by Benjamin Moore or Sketch Pad Dry Erase Coating by Sherwin-Williams to turn an ordinary wall into a dry erase board on which you can brainstorm and doodle. Adults sharing home offices with kids can conquer multiple jobs at once; brainstorm on the next project while students practice spelling words or illustrate the latest science experiment.
We work with great painters (and wallpaper installers as well), so give us a call to determine when a paint project could be scheduled for your home office and beyond.
All this said, if the thought of re-vamping your home workspace has your stress rising, use our online 24/7 contact form to request help. Our award-winning interior designers can conduct virtual consultations to see your current interior and learn more about your needs. We can share paint colors, fabric swatches and much more digitally or arrange for samples to be delivered to you safely at home. We’ll collaborate with you to ensure your health and safety are maintained, while creating personal spaces that help you thrive well into the future.
So, which part of your home office challenges you the most right now? Share your thoughts via the comments feature below. We want to hear from you and can even send you some suggestions tailored to your needs.