With kids back to school, the home office and work space in the children’s room become a focal point for many homeowners. While we all want a more functional work space, where to begin is just as big a challenge as keeping up with the paper work that can build up on your desk. Here are some suggestions on keeping a home office makeover from becoming overwhelming.
To begin, let’s break down what of the main components of any home office: a desk, chair, and storage space.
When it comes to choosing a desk, it’s all about personal preference. Whether it’s your office or that of another household member, there are several points you need to consider when selecting a style of desk:
- Computer usage – Will you be working with a traditional desktop or a notebook? If the work station only needs to accommodate a notebook, a flat-top desk will suffice. If it’s a desktop, you need to consider whether you prefer the keyboard on top of the desk or hidden in a drawer that slides underneath.
- Storage – If paperwork has a habit of piling up on your desk, a pedestal or double pedestal desk, with drawers on the left and/or right for storage, might be appropriate options. Or, if you’d prefer to be able to hide your desk and its contents, a rolltop desk or an armoire can provide a built-in cover that hides the desk surface. Not only does this provide protection from dust as well as children and pets, it can also offer extra storage depending on the size chosen. If storage isn’t as much your thing as being able to spread out while working, an L-shaped desk not only can meet your needs, but also accommodate visitors (e.g. children looking for help with their homework).
- Materials – When choosing the material for a desk, you should consider who will be using the space and how often. Laminate is the most popular choice and is affordable, durable, and comes in a variety of colors and patterns. Metal or steel are the most durable choices and are reasonably priced, but don’t offer the same professional look. The most elegant and expensive options are wood or veneer – these desks provide a high-class look, but nick easily and are not well-suited for rough use.
While a desk makes an office an office, it’s the chair that truly determines your comfort level—mentally and physically. Fortunately, choosing the right chair can be an easy process if you know what to look for. Here are some basic guidelines:
- Adjustable – The seat height should be easily adjustable, offering a range from 16 to 21 inches. This will enable most people to position their feet flat on the floor, with thighs horizontal, and arms even with the height of the desk. Most chairs are designed with standard width and depth, but it is also important that the forward/backward tilt of the chair is adjustable.
- Ergonomics – Lower back support is extremely important. If you have a bad back, you will want a chair with lumbar support. If the backrest is separate from the seat, it should be adjustable in height and angle. You also want to get chair that swivels so you’re not overextending for items out of reach.
- Fabric – Think office chair and most people think leather. While it can look sensational, leather can also heat up very quickly and be uncomfortable to sit in after a while. A durable natural or synthetic fabric that is breathable might be more comfortable. Finally, it might seem obvious, but the fabric should have enough cushion or padding so that you cannot feel the chair’s base underneath you.
Depending on your filing needs, there are a number of storage options to choose from:
- Filing cabinets – For simple filing needs, filing cabinets come in a variety of sizes from units that fit under desks to those that take up a large portion of an open wall. Again, it’s all a matter of preference and space.
- Rolltops and armoires – As mentioned earlier, these offer storage space right in the desk itself and can provide an element of safety and security.
- Additional storage space – If your home office is limited in space, desktop bins and wall-mounted files provide a perfect solution.
For many homeowners and their families, the home office is not a luxury but a necessity. By following some of these guidelines, you can create a home office that’s both attractive and functional.