Home office decorating ideas often start with what you have space for, rather than what will keep you attentive and effective. But if you can start from scratch with a wish list when you remodel, and try to take your plans that little bit further, there is a huge range of design tricks, home office furniture, storage and lighting created precisely for keeping you focused and fruitful.
1. Purpose & Layout
A home office layout needs planning for the job at hand, but also some personalisation; after all, this is still your home. The décor needs to reflect the purpose of the room, as well as your best process for working. One person’s minimal powerhouse is another person’s soulless mental block, which you will simply avoid. Start with some questions: What inspires you? Does looking over the garden inspire or distract you? Clutter or calm? Sense check your answers with a friend or family. You may see yourself as super tidy but they may know you are best with a blaring radio and some cheery photos around to keep your mood buoyant.
Regardless of your profession – or even if your home office is mainly for managing family life – you’re very likely to need a desk. The size of that desk needs to reflect the tasks at hand but also the size of the space: small office designs can include a desktop that folds out from the wall or has an extension that slides out. Building in bespoke home office desks or a computer desk can often make the most of limited area (so perhaps under the stairs if you need somewhere to gather the detritus of family or school life).
If you are worried about being too sedentary, standing desks are increasingly popular. They allow you to flip between, sit/stand working, and have adjustable height options (as do lots of the best modern office furniture). But if you have a yearning for something more traditional, great bargains are available from auctions for something with gravitas (these tend to need more space) like a large leather topped writing desk. Or pick up a classic L shaped or corner desk with some modernist chic, so two can work on it at once.
Regardless of your taste in design, a supportive chair is essential for focus and comfort. Whether antique, ergonomic, or a kneeling chair, your home office chair needs to be the most comfortable in the house to encourage you to stay in it. Consider these points:
- Seat height needs to reflect your own height; too low and you’ll have neck and shoulder pain, too high and the inside of your elbows can ache. If you have armrests, ensure they are adjustable too so you can rest your arms lightly without crimping your neck.
- Seat width and depth; 17 to 20 inches is standard, and choose lumbar support or add a lumbar pad or cushion.
- Movement; a chair that swivels stops you from wrenching for the printer.
4. Getting the Temperature Right
The ideal office temperature for best concentration is about 21 degrees Celsius. Too low and your concentration drops, too high and you become too relaxed and less alert. The maximum and minimum temperature can be influenced by your gender and personal preference, but for optimum performance, this is considered the magic number.
Daylight is by far the best option for concentration and well-being. Managing the light in your office is essential if you want to make the most of the available rays. Home office lighting should work for day and night; protection from midday glare, but also adequate for a late-night project. Try a window covering that can softly filter the brightest light but not feel oppressive in top up/top down configuration. This gives you the best ability to control available light and reduce screen disruption or uncomfortable thermal gain. If you do need a late-night office desk lamp, use a low energy LED that illuminates the work area only and not an overhead bright light. It means you will still be able to settle to sleep after you’ve finished toiling. Wooden blinds also give great texture and a natural feel whilst keeping the look and feel structured.
6. Greenery & Colour
The best office plants can improve your indoor day radically. Balance tech with nature reducing the hard-edged shapes you get from lots of office equipment with shapely leaves or forms. They can purify air and absorb sound (making a space feel less cold). Great low maintenance plants include aloe, succulents and peace ivy. CO2 can be reduced by plants as well as bacteria, dust and mould, making a healthier environment. Paint colour ideas for home offices need to reflect your working process; soft greens and blues are calming, but if you work alone you may want a more intense colour such as yellow or grey with orange accents (you can even just add these as chairs or desk accessory accents). Matte paint is more restful than a sheen finish, which has a more energising feel. If you have a dedicated space, give it a different feel to the rest of your home so you know when you step over the threshold, it’s time to concentrate.
Home office storage solutions should meet a broad brief; being easy to access, like open shelving; making the most of every inch, like filing cabinets that can work as under desk storage; and being secure for theft or fire for wills or insurance documents. Even in a small home office space that seems impossibly tight you can try tricks like shelving that runs just below the ceiling for files you don’t access every day. A clever space saving trick combines storage with a visual to do list; use clipboards on hooks to hold individual project materials and hang flat against the wall. Cover them with pretty wallpapers or colour code for speed.
8. Accessories & Supplies
Organisation tips work best when you have nothing to organise. Most of us have lots of pens, notepads, and receipts that demand attention. The easiest way to stem the tide is to make it easy to be organised. Accessories that make it easy to grab items like pens or a desk drawer organiser section for every client or member of the family, work best. Complicated filing systems soon fall by the wayside. Efficiency experts say the fewest steps to finishing a task the more likely the task is to be completed; want the kids to put letters from school where you can see them? A magnetic noticeboard where they just slip the paper under a cherry magnet is an easy win, making your home office less work and more play.
For more interiors inspiration around your home, take a look at our kitchen decorating ideas.