Your Home Office

By Joseph Pubillones

January 7, 2011 4 min read

As kids, most of us dreaded the seemingly endless amount of homework assigned by our teachers and the hours upon hours of sitting at the kitchen table studying, memorizing and writing. As grown-ups, sometimes the tasks required by our jobs are not accomplished in an ordinary eight-hour day.

At some point, when we have outgrown the dining table as a work surface and if we have a spare room, we imagine a home office. Our initial thought is that once we have this room, all work will be done magically in a quicker and more efficient manner. And that may very well be the case. Designing a home office should be an exercise in both function and aesthetics.

One of the main items to assess is how much time you will spend working there. Is this your main office space, or is this just a work area to complete and check daily work and pay household bills? These questions may seem like common sense, but their importance often is underestimated as we design our spaces. Determining the function of and the amount of time we will spend in a home office is vital to designing an adequate workspace that will meet our needs. Besides a work surface or desk, other items to consider are bookcases, storage, filing, a computer, electronics, lighting and appropriate seating.

Planning is crucial. List all your necessary equipment, down to the linear feet of filing space required and the number and dimensions of books and journals, etc. Measure all computer equipment, including the monitor and printer, and note ventilation requirements to avoid equipment burnout. If possible, draw a layout of your room and overlay different furniture scenarios to help you sort out your preferences. This phase of your project can feel cumbersome, but this exercise will help identify problems that can be ironed out before any major purchases or costly mistakes are made.

Once the issue of a layout has been addressed, aesthetic considerations can begin. What is the design attitude that will guide your home office? Deciding what colors your walls will be can help you identify the style of office that is best for you. Darker colors make for a powerful and mysterious place of work; lighter colors evoke a feeling of trust and transparency.

Other important factors that impact the design of your room are the case goods. These are all the hard surfaces -- desks, filing cabinets, bookcases -- that are the main components of the room. Case goods can be either stained or painted, and their finishes are the defining factor in the styling of the room. Your selection of flooring -- whether carpet, wood or tile -- will further help you with the design.

Your office's design should be reflective of your d?cor and also of your work. So what is yours going to be? A warm clubby library, cool high-tech contemporary or sophisticated high-style glam? Make it appealing but not distracting. Be conscious of the fact that your environment should be conducive to doing work. After all, isn't that what the room is for? Stave off the unnecessary wall-to-wall aquarium. Select some art you enjoy, and get to work!

Joseph Pubillones' weekly column, "The Art of Design," can be found at

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