There are many reasons why you might want a home office. Perhaps you're growing tired of commuting to your workplace during hazardous weather days or when you're feeling under the weather -- but in both cases, you still want to get work done. Perhaps you've arranged for a flexible schedule at work, giving you newfound freedom to work from home. Perhaps you're self-employed, and setting up your laptop at the kitchen table just isn't cutting it anymore.
*Choose a Space
Luckily, you can get all you need in a small space. Desha Peacock, author of "Your Creative Work Space: The Sweet Spot Style Guide to Home Office and Studio Decor," says, "You don't need an entire spare room to have a home office. There's a lot of talk about 'tiny spaces' in the design realm, so look for corners that can be transformed with organizing supplies, such as a family 'control center' desk in the kitchen where you can organize family members' schedules and bills and have space for a laptop."
Another small space that can easily be turned into a home office is a closet. "Empty it out, take off the outer door, and install a thick board for a desktop and additional shelves in a design that works best for you," Peacock advises. "Paint the interior of the space a color you love. If you live in an apartment, you can opt for stick-on wallpaper in fun and exciting colors and patterns." Stick-on wallpaper or decals let you change out your design anytime you'd like, and you can, of course, use these in any number of closets to turn them into functional, small-space work zones. "There is also the fun option of using chalk paint inside the space, perfect for jotting notes, doodling, lettering an inspiring quote and so on," says Peacock.
*Keep It Clutter-Free
The key to any home office space -- closet-sized or larger -- is organization. You want a controlled, clutter-free area with easy access to all your materials. They key is to design a space with an efficient storage system. "Be sure you start by planning for dedicated shelving or drawers where you can stash paper, journals, pens, clips and everything else you need to tackle tasks quickly," says Peacock. Select desktop organizing trays, cups and baskets to help you organize the small things.
Make sure everything has a home so you don't fall into space-defeating habits like dropping papers or supplies on the dining room table every day. "Declutter often," Peacock says. "Put the task in your calendar to stay dedicated. I like to do 30 minutes every weekend, perhaps just tackling one drawer or one basket each time. It's not overwhelming, and it allows your home office space to work for you."
*Plan Your Chair
No matter how much time you plan to spend in your home office each day, choose a chair with good support, and set it to place you at the perfect ergonomic height in front of your desk so your neck, arms and back will be protected. You can even hire a local chiropractor or ergonomics expert to come to your home and arrange your desk chairs for optimal comfort.
*Light It Up
When designing your workspace, choose a location near a natural light source, such as a window. Peacock undertook some professional construction to replace a window with French doors for a flood of sunlight. "For lightbulbs, skip fluorescent bulbs entirely, and instead use 4100-Kelvin, color temperature, soft white bulbs. A cooler lightbulb helps you boost serotonin," says Peacock, and natural light is kind to your eyes.
If you don't have windows in your space, Peacock says to create the illusion of a bigger space with mirrors.
Air-purifying plants are favorites in home offices, and healthy plants can be mood-boosters. Also consider electronic air purifiers to keep indoor air pollution and allergens down.
*Personalize Your Space
Don't overdecorate. A handful of family photos on a shelf or wall connects you to your inspiration and purpose, but a collage of every old comic strip, greeting card, sticky note and collectible creates visual stress. An inspiring quote can live in a pretty frame; a sliver of geode can add some natural beauty to your space; a new coffee mug can complete your home office design for the better.
*Check It for Tax Benefits
Ask your accountant for assistance in assessing your space for any home office deductions. Bear in mind you always want the most current deduction information. Check the IRS website for their latest literature on home office deductions.
Say goodbye to long commutes and cramped cubicles. With these simple steps, you can have a stylish and productive workspace in your very own home.