Having only a small space to work with has its disadvantages. However, with a bit of focus and forethought, you can design a home office that is not only practical and functional, but is also conducive to your style and personality. This holds true when accessorizing any room in your home. The only difference being that when you design a small home office you would want to choose space conservative options as it pertains to a work station, shelving, storage and lighting.
It obviously would not be practical to purchase large bulky pieces of furniture when creating your perfect small home office. The workstation/desk is the centerpiece, focal point, and most used piece of furniture in any home office.
There are various options to choose from when selecting this important feature. Two of these options include compact and wall-mounted desks. They are both practical for a small home office and each has its pros and cons, which are largely dependent on your unique style and needs.
Compact Desks are wonderfully suited for your small home office if you have ample space for storage furniture such as a file cabinet, bookcase, or an optional room divider.
Wall Desks are ideal if you desire an all-in-one solution that includes space for both your computer system and office supplies.
Designing a Functional Small Home Office
When designing a functional small home office, you would need to consider four essential elements. These include the wall color, lighting, storage and organizational needs of your small home office.
All these factors are important in creating an ideal workflow that would, in turn, increase productivity.
Setting the Mood of Your Small Home Office with Use of Color
The use of color is essential in the functionality of your home office, as it will help to create a particular “mood” as you enter the space. Will you be seeing clients in your home office? Do you want your home office to be warm and inviting? Do you want your home office to blend in with the rest of your home’s décor? Do you want your office to be stimulating and conducive to creativity or calm and relaxing?
These are just a few of the questions you need to ask yourself before choosing a wall color for your small home office. It is also important to remember that some colors can make the small space appear even more cramped and may not lend to a spacious feel.
According to behr.com, wall color can lighten the mood and improve productivity in your home office. Here is a run down of colors on the color wheel and what “mood” you can achieve with their use.
- Cool Colors – greens, blues and purples are shown to have a calming affect. If you are easily stimulated, it may be helpful to choose a cool wall color to help you relax and “get down to business”.
- Warm Colors – reds, yellows and oranges give any space a warm, inviting feel. These colors are also invigorating and can help to awaken your creativity. As a word of caution, warm, muted tones should be chosen over bright, bold colors as they tend to be distracting and may not be conducive to productivity.
- Whites – perfect to give your small home office an open spacious feel. However, too much white can be straining on the eyes. A wonderful alternative is to use another wall color, but have white as an accent color or for trim and moldings. This would give your small home office a crisp, clean look.
- Neutrals – earth tones such as charcoal, umber, ochre and sienna would be ideal if your small home office is open to other rooms within your home. A neutral wall color would blend perfectly with other surrounding color choices. Neutrals are also not considered distracting and would aid in keeping your mind centered on the “business at hand”.
Meeting the Lighting Needs of Your Small Home Office
There are three ways to light your home office. These include:
- Ambient Lighting
- Task Lights
- Accent Lights
All these play a part in striking the right balance between business and pleasure in your small home office.
Basically, ambient lights provide lighting for the whole room. This can be accomplished through the use of ceiling light fixtures, torchieres and table lamps. Ambient light fixtures are a necessity in any small home office as they account for the majority of illumination in the space.
Those on a budget can afford stylish ambient lighting for their small home office by purchasing torchieres or floor lamps. There are a plethora of lighting accessories to choose from in either a local furniture store or on-line. One such on-line store that provides a wide selection of torchieres, ceiling light fixtures and table lamps is LampsPlus.com.
Task lights are another home office necessity and provide directional or focused lighting for reading, filling out paper work, working on the computer, etc. Many task lights come with the added feature of an adjustable base that allows you to direct the light where you need it most. These light fixtures help to avoid eyestrain and headaches, thereby, boosting productivity.
Unlike ambient and task lights, accent lights are viewed as optional. However, they are useful in adding a decorative element to any space. If you want to showcase a particular object or wall hanging, then accent lights are ideal. The use of accent lights in your small home office may be just what is needed to add a personal touch to your office’s décor.
Storage Furniture in Your Small Home Office
As mentioned previously, if you choose a wall desk, it includes space not only for your computer, but additional storage for office supplies. This may alleviate the need for some office furniture. However, you may find that you still need a bookshelf and file cabinet. If your office space doubles as a bedroom or other living area, you may desire to purchase a room divider as well.
Before purchasing additional office furniture, it is important to measure the area to ensure that you buy pieces that accommodate the space in your small home office. This will help to alleviate the hassle of having to return merchandise when you discover that the piece is too large for the space.
You would also want to consider the arrangement of your furniture pieces in your small home office. By placing the pieces in an “L” or “U” shape, all supplies would be in easy reach. Some experts purport that arranging your furniture pieces in this fashion would boost your productivity.
Two options that would provide needed storage are modular bookcases and room dividers that have bookcases built right in. The second option serves two purposes in that it lends both privacy and shelving for office supplies, books, etc.
Bookcases are also designed with adjustable shelves, which accommodate oversized books and supplies and those with doors. Those with doors would add a stylish and personalized touch to your home office’s décor.
When deciding on a file cabinet, there are several things you should ask yourself before making a purchase. Some of these include:
- Do you work primarily with legal or letter size paper? Some file cabinets only accommodate for one or the other. However, some are available that would provide storage for both.
- Is your storage needs more conducive to a vertical or lateral file cabinet?
- Will you be filing important documents? If you are, make sure that you inquire specifically if a particular file cabinet of interest is fire resistant.
- Do you want to ensure that the file cabinet will not tip over (who doesn’t right)? There are file cabinets available with an internal locking system that will only allow you to open one drawer at a time and those equipped with a safety device that would guard against the file cabinet from tipping if several drawers were opened at once.
This may appear to be a lot to consider, but it is best to answer these questions beforehand as it will save you from having to return or exchange items that are not conducive to your small home office needs.
Staying Organized: Essential in Any Small Home Office
One important factor that affects productivity is organization. By storing items you use frequently in an area that is easily assessable would increase what is accomplished each day by decreasing the amount of time it takes to retrieve essentials.
Experts at OnlineOrganizing.com state to have “a world of organizing solutions” and have suggestions on how to organize your home office to promote efficiency. They recommend that the least needed storage files should be furthest away from your workstation in an inactive “work zone” and those items used frequently need to be close at hand.
A simple solution would be to have three different storage zones that include items used frequently, occasionally and rarely.
Storage Zone One – Frequently Used Items
These items need to be easily accessible. One idea would be to place papers you need on a daily basis in a bin on your desk. If you have books that you use each day, consider locating them on a wall-mounted shelf above or near your desk. Another solution would be to designate the shelf in your bookcase that is most easily accessible as the area to place books you use frequently.
Storage Zone Two — Occasionally Used Items
These are items used from time to time but not on a daily basis. You would want to keep these items in your “work zone”, but their accessibility does not need to be at “arms length” as is preferable with items used frequently.
For example, you could store these essentials in a file cabinet under your desk. If you had books you use occasionally, you could store them in the highest shelf, or the one directly above the one that is most easily accessible.
Storage Zone Three – Rarely Used Items These are basically archived files. You could purchase a different cabinet for these files and they would not necessarily need to be in your “work zone”.
For books you rarely use, you could designate the lowest shelf in your bookcase for their storage. This would eliminate the need to bend down often, as you would only need to retrieve these books or rare occasions.
Although it only takes seconds to bend or stoop, over a day’s time, these seconds add up, therefore, decreasing your overall productivity.
Designing a Personal Home Office
This is where you can add a few personal touches to your small home office. A few ideas would be:
- Include a few family photos or pictures that are relaxing or lift your spirits. If you want to bring a little of the outdoors in, you could incorporate a vase of flowers or a few potted plants for greenery.
- Include items in your small home office that reduce stress. This would not only add a personal touch – as these items would be unique to you – but may also boost productivity. Two such items could include a stress ball to squeeze or a small basketball hoop placed along the wall to shoot baskets when things get a little tense.
- Include a water element, such as a small water fountain or fish aquarium. This would not only aid in relaxation, but would add a decorative touch to your small home office.
Summary: Creating the Perfect Balance in Your Small Home Office It may not be effortless, but you can create a small home office that is not only professional but also includes elements that are unique to your personality and style in home furnishings.
To sum up, Practicality + Functionality + Personality = a small home office that is both personal and professional.
You also want to ensure that your small home office is conducive to productivity and exudes professionalism. This is especially important if you “entertain” clients and business associates in the space.
However, you don’t want to exclude personal touches altogether as this is one of the many advantages to working from home. You are basically your own boss and call the shots per se. Isn’t that the allure of working from home in the first place?
It is important to find the perfect balance of business and pleasure without one interfering with the other. If you frequently have clients in your small home office, it may be essential that it retains a professional look and feel and may not allow for too many personal touches. You also wouldn’t want your “personal” items to interfere with your workflow and productivity. However, you can still express your style in the furnishings you choose for the space.
These are all points you should consider when creating your small home office. With forethought, you can design a working environment that is not only conducive to productivity, but also expresses your unique style and personality.