Since productivity requires efficiency and organization, home offices should be well-lit; should facilitate the use of computers, faxes, and printing machines; should be stocked with storage; and should be comfortable. Use the volume of work you handle to help calculate how complex a room you need.
An antique table beside a bedroom window will provide a part-time office. Dress it up with pretty pencil and writing paper holders that match the drapes or pillows. Office armoires are another simple solution. Available in styles ranging from classic to Far Eastern, these helpers combine convenience and function. Most feature a keyboard shelf, file drawers, and adjustable shelving. When your tasks are completed, close the doors and the muss disappears.
The combination of books and paperwork is age-old. Combining a library with a home office, then, results in a work space that is conducive to thought and study.
Floor-to-ceiling shelves afford easy access to books as they are needed and create an inviting reading-room air. Where space allows, comfortable chairs and sofas also promote this idea.
With the addition of such furnishings, the role of the room is expanded, too. What a wonderful space for a committee meeting, a sophisticated cocktail party, or a beautifully decorated Christmas tree! Add handsome wood paneling and crown moldings to lend the library/office more architectural interest.
And to enrich the traditional motif, import an antique or reproduction desk that's big enough on top to accommodate papers, phone, and family photographs and with deep drawers for hiding messier papers. With sumptuous Oriental carpets below and brass chandeliers glowing above, work hours will never seem too long.
The good this about traditional home office décor is that it never goes out of style. Read on for advice on making your office space timeless.
Traditional Home Office
Mission-style furniture implies a straightforward, businesslike approach in this home office. The furniture's clean lines, lack of ornamentation, and ample storage options further a sense of orderliness. With everything in its place as it should be, the owner can get down to work without rummaging through papers and clutter.
Visually, the rich warm color of the oak and the rough, ruddy tones of the bricks are also pleasing. A large expanse of white wall balances the darker shades and keeps the room's overall tone welcoming and friendly.
A carpet in a soft William Morris-type design interjects warmth and interest underfoot.
So as not to detract from the vintage look, the owner has also opted for a complementary wood office chair rather than a sleek 21st-century design.
The large window would be a gift to any setting. Plenty of natural light makes for a happier, healthier work environment.
Using Natural Light in Home Office
Work habits vary widely. Where some prefer a cozy library-like atmosphere, others require plentiful light and views to feel energized and creative.
This office/study falls into the latter category. Lined with windows and painted in seashore-like hues, it's a space designed to allow the imagination plenty of leeway. Beadboard paneling comes across as blue as the ocean when it's teamed with snowy white woodwork. A painted floor such as this is soft in tone.
Modern furnishings would work in such a sunny, open space. But to maintain the vintage tone the architecture provokes, the owners wisely opted for furnishings that speak to the past.
The high-legged desk with its drop-down front also delivers options. When the owner is sketching, the slanted top can act as a work surface; letter-writing and reading are more comfortable using the flat interior area. A stool -- at just the right height -- accommodates both activities.
Building and Using Custom Home Office
Custom cabinetry has transformed this home office into a slick and functional work space. The owner can schedule a meeting with clients here and be assured they'll feel like they're in good hands.
A simple palette and modern furnishings supply a look that is very much in tune with the times. Electronics, papers, and reference books disappear behind doors or in drawers leaving the scene well organized.
In addition to the computer table, there's a large desk -- with a pleasing organic form -- for spreading out plans or briefs. The curved arms on the chairs mimic the curve of the cabinets and the desk, and this translates to greater harmony in a small space.
The rug echoes the room's colors. The smart layout allows the person working to shift from one work area to the next by simply moving his or her chair.
Light fixtures have been carefully selected for their tone as well as their function. And a few pieces of art lend a personal note without clutter.
The interesting artwork and sculptures are personal additions. Out of the way, these decorative objects contribute a stylish note without interfering with daily transactions. The woven boxes contain extras like string and tape for mailing packages.
Built-in drawers are stocked with office supplies. The screen -- which disguises an unused door -- helps balance the setting and provides another focal point.
But since every successful room should also contain a surprise, there's a decorative folding screen and a reproduction antique fan. Both these choices are in step with the decor, and they're upbeat, which keeps the work humming along.
A custom home office, like any functional space, should be tailored to its user's particular needs. See the next section for tips on finding your own home office style.
Finding Your Home Office Decorating Style
An office that will keep the tools of your trade, your papers, or craft projects accessible and tidy takes planning.
Many different styles of desks, modulars, and office armoires are available. Browse design magazines and catalogs to find furnishings that will make the most of your space while also complementing your home.
For a rustic European demeanor, for example, consider a desk that includes a hutch. Finished in white, a piece like this would enhance a Swedish-inspired room. In natural pine, the hutch would bring additional charm to an English or French country decor.
Given center stage or snuggled into a corner, a hutch with a desk is sure to upgrade an everyday ho-hum space. For an eclectic look that doesn't scream "office," team the desk with a nontraditional office chair.
A sawhorse desk claims less space and provides storage. Move in some portable wall shelves, and fashion a configuration that's suitable for your room's design.
Tall open shelves make the most of wall space. Open shelves against the wall and on this desk can hold supplies. They also showcase pretty flowers and personal touches. To prevent your new shelves from appearing jumbled, gather baskets and stackable boxes to hide smaller items.
This article's decorating ideas can help you design your ultimate home office space, no matter what your personal style is. Just pick the ideas that appeal to you and that will best enhance your décor -- and your home business.