Working, as we are, on a massive home office installation for a Toronto client, we thought we'd share a few C&J design tips - penned by us, we hope they provide useful inspiration!
So you wanna work from home, right? And who could blame you: wouldn’t we all like to escape the rigors of office, shop or factory based toil? Yup, for many, self sufficiency - with only the cat and the TV for company -– would be heaven. Whilst working from home mightn’t be possible for everyone, we thought we’d detail a few options to help create, at the very least, some useful domestic work zones. Even if simply somewhere to wade through bills and accounts, a work nook, chez vous, is a valuable asset.
Walk in wardrobes, space under stairs or the landing between floors all make great compact offices. Add a floating shelf to instantly create the perfect work zone. Wire it to provide overhead lighting and install plug points - one above and one below your counter - to take care of standard office equipment.
Instead of selecting a filing cabinet with typically industrial aesthetics, use a regular drawer set to store paper work. If you already have a small storage chest, make it ‘do the business’ by installing filing racks to provide stash space for bills and other paperwork.
Dual function space
Create visibly ‘blurred’ dual function in your guest room. Opt for a sofa bed (so there’s space for a desk) and allow business to blossom. Simply pack up office paraphernalia and unfold comfy overnight sleeping accommodation when guests arrive.
It could be all you need to run an efficient home office is enough space at your dining table to position a lap top. For best results, set aside drawers in your hutch to keep paperwork and ancillary home office stationery out of sight.
Planning a home office
Now you’ve decided where your home office will be, consider how it’ll work on a daily basis. How much furniture can you squeeze in without congesting space? Is there room for a regular sized desk? Or will proportions dictate that you need something with smaller than standard scale?
Whichever desk you choose, whether custom or shop bought, remember ergonomics. Wrists need 6” ‘rest space’ in front of keyboards and elbows need at least 20” either side to properly articulate. Ensure legs can move comfortably without feeling restricted and allow room for drawers to open properly.
Don’t let office paraphernalia run away with itself or your productivity will be undermined. We always include discreet baskets and drawers: a cluttered office, as we see it, reflects clutter in other areas of your life.
Incorporate non-work related aspects (family photo’s or objects with sentimental value) to ensure you feel ‘personalised’ - if everything is too clinical, output will be affected. If possible, try and locate your office near a window: a view towards the garden or a busy street will help you remain alert.
Public access internet café’s know what they’re doing by styling venues in a low key manner. With visitors paying by time, it’s in their interest to keep them focused - and not propelled out the door courtesy of distracting decor. Almond and soft taupes are organic and temp concentration. In compact spaces (whatever their function) it’s best to add colour via accessories such as art, ceramics or textiles.
Too much glare and you’ll distract productive mood, too little and your space will feel dull. Think ‘task’ and ‘mood’ lighting - add a desktop lamp (preferably an angle poise) and sufficient overhead illumination to create balance. And don’t forget to install an instant mood fixer - a dimmer switch: twenty bucks for serious flexibility.
Colin and Justin’s Home Office Tips
Only retain that which you actually need. Try and run a ‘paper free office’ and consign what you can to (backed up) computer file.
Unify mismatched office furniture with a coat of paint or spray varnish. Coordinating in this way can create wonderfully streamlined effects.
Hide printers and photocopiers behind closed doors to free up counter space. A reworked living room hutch can be arranged to house an astonishing amount of office kit - and paper work - close at hand.
Keep it light - leave corporate colours to… the corporate world. Forget that dreary combo of gloomy mahogany and burgundy leather that typifies the 70’s. We’ve all moved on!
You DON’T need a second mortgage to create a workable study – Ikea, for instance, have great home office kit. Alternatively, second hand items may prove perfect while leaving funds for accessories. Kijiji? eBay? Consignment stores?
Remember the comfort factor – incorporate at least some elements of soft furnishing and treat yourself to a little relaxation between bouts of productivity. And remember - one good sofa or chaise is generally better than a squashed assembly of chairs and stools.
In summation, if you’re going to be working from home, you might as well give yourself a promotion. So go on – join the executive club... and watch your productivity soar!