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Eight things to consider when designing a home office

Chris Carroll

Until last year, some home offices were gathering dust, and had become a bit of a dumping ground for paperwork, bills, stationery, ironing baskets and other bits and pieces. However, due to the changes in the way we work, a lot of Australian’s are now using their home office or study more than ever.

When COVID-19 arrived, it was likely a mad rush setting up your workspace, and we’re sure some people still aren’t utilising their home office to its best ability. The look and feel of your home office can affect everything from your mood to your productivity, so you want to get the design right. With working-from-home becoming the norm, the pressure is on to create a zone that merges form and function.

It’s not too late though, and we’re here to show you how to get the most out of your home office or study. These eight home office tips will help you on your journey.

Build a home office from the ground up

1. The perfect location

First assess whether you have the space at home to convert a room into a dedicated office (like a guest bedroom), or if you want to find an unused area in a living space and install a study nook there. The former gives you more room, while the latter is great if you’re tight on space. Try to position your home office in a quiet location away from distractions and high-traffic areas. If you have clients visiting, it’s best to have your office situated at the front of the property. In an ideal world, your home office is located near a window where natural light can flood in and positively affect your mood.

2. Light it up

Lighting is very important in your home office. Not only does good lighting help to prevent eye strain throughout the day, but it also helps to give your workspace your desired mood.

The best option, of course, is natural lighting, but not everyone has the luxury of a large window lighting their room like you’ll see in many Metricon display homes. If you don’t have natural lighting or do a lot of your work or study when it’s dark outside, a desk lamp can both light up your space and add some personal flair to your workspace.

When choosing the artificial light for your home office or study, consider the type of work you do. If you need to concentrate, cooler blue light will be the best option. If you want to create a warm and inviting atmosphere, warmer yellows and oranges are your best bet.

3. Smart storage

Regardless of whether you opt to install custom joinery (more permanent) or a freestanding desk and shelves (more versatile), it’s wise to think about storage. You want everything within easy reach. That means shelving for books and folders, plus baskets to hold onto smaller items.

You’ll also want drawers below or beside the desk to shut away paperwork and stationery. This is crucial if your office nook is in a main living zone where you want the overall aesthetic to remain clean and harmonious.

4. Personalisation

Your home office needs to reflect the person using it. This means decorating your shelves with stylish but meaningful mementoes, hanging up impactful art, and adorning the desk with your favourite indoor plants. Also don’t forget the little things like stationery. From pen holders to staplers, inboxes to sticky tape, there’s an array of designer collections on the market that are cohesive and personality-packed.

5. A sizeable desk

The right-sized desk depends on a few factors. Firstly, how many people are going to use it? If it’s a multi-user home office, you’ll need to install a desk at a minimum length of 2.5 metres. If you’re flying solo, 1.5 metres wide will do.

When it comes to desk depth, a minimum of 60cm is advised. Outside of dimensions, think about whether you’d like to spread out on an L-shaped desk or keep it more streamlined. You may also want to consider something like a stand-up desk, which is a wonderful ergonomic option.

6. Marie Kondo your space

A cluttered desk leads to a cluttered brain! It's much easier to concentrate when your workspace has been decluttered and organised. It's surprisingly easy and affordable to get your home office looking neat too - Officeworks, Ikea, Kikki.K, Smiggle and Kmart all sell desk organisation products to help you stay on top of mess.

  • If you often have pens, pencils and other stationery spread all over your desk, you might need a pen cup or a desk tidy.
  • If it’s power cords that are making your desk an eyesore, it might be time to invest in some cable management accessories to keep your workspace looking neat and tidy.
  • If you have papers strewn about, maybe you need a document tray, magazine file or set of desktop drawers.

Decluttering and managing your desk surface might seem like a big task, but with the right accessories, you can get it looking spick and span in no time.

7. Upgrade the essentials

Your current office might not be fully operational. It’s understandable – the rush to working from home made us make sacrifices. However, now that it looks like working from home is the new normal, it’s worth upgrading the items you’ve been putting off.

You might be still sitting on a chair from the kitchen table - this would be our first recommendation when it comes to upgrading. Nowadays there are chairs that do double duty; they look great but also address all of your ergonomic needs. When shopping, ensure the seat is adjustable, comfortable to sit on, and supportive for your back when both feet are touching the ground.

Chairs on wheels provide more moveability but are likely to require a plastic mat underneath. Lastly, consider a chair material that speaks to the overall vibe of your home, so it won’t feel as out-of-place.

We say, go out and get everything you need to make working or studying from home comfortable and productive – whether it’s a new headset for important calls, a Bluetooth mouse and keyboard or even a comfortable sitting chair for the corner of your office where you can read paperwork or enjoy a cup of tea.

Your office will look better, and you will feel better once it’s done.

8. A feature wall

Think about the wall your desk is sitting against. If it’s splashed with white paint alone, there’s room for improvement (and the options are endless!). Consider an organic colour like a deep green paint instead, or apply a wallpaper design to give the study nook some personality. An entire wall of cork works well if you want to pin things to it, while a mirrored wall can make a small nook feel so much larger.

Not only does it result in a home office that looks fantastic, but a feature wall can make you stand out in video calls. No one likes looking at a messy backdrop, and plain white walls are uninspiring, so get out a brush or start rolling!

Choosing the inclusions for your new home office or setting up your existing home office to better meet your needs can feel overwhelming, but with a few simple changes, you can finally perfect your home workspace. Soon enough, you’ll have your own personal retreat and going to work won't be so bad anymore!

For more styling tips and tricks, including more information about how to set up the perfect home office, browse through our image gallery. You'll find plenty of interior design tips and more photos to inspire small home office ideas.