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Make your home office work for you

Whether you're a full-time telecommuter or just dabbling, we hit up Philly-based interior designer Mel McDaniel for tips for a productive home office.

HOM_Home office_0604 Once you've finished setting up your work space, make sure your colleagues have a place to sit, too.

If you're lucky enough to work from home, you know that no work, in the history of work, has ever been done on the couch. Same goes for the kitchen table. And don't even get us started on the coffee shop: If you're not the fresh-faced, making-it-in-the-city star of a romantic comedy, you have no business working out of a coffee shop.

No, free-roaming friends, you need a proper home office. Whether you're a full-time telecommuter or just dabbling in flexible summer hours, we hit up Philly-based interior designer Mel McDaniel (melmcdanieldesign.com) for tips on setting up a productive, peaceful space.

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Designate a space
No bedroom to spare? No problem. It's not crucial that you designate an entire room -- just that you designate some room to be used strictly for business. "Closets, nooks, attics -- if you need a home office, the space can be found," says McDaniel. "Look carefully: Is there a large closet that could be converted into an office? Is there a part of a room that would work with a space divider?"

Desk direction
A little feng shui goes a long way when it comes to your desk. "Never put a desk so that the person sitting at it has their back to the door," says McDaniel. "It's very unnerving to work without being able to see the doorway."

Light the way
There's nothing less inspiring than cubicle farm fluorescents. If you're working on your own turf, soften things up overhead, then add additional task lighting near your desk. Pro tip: To free up space, McDaniel recommends ditching the desk lamp and going for wall-mounted fixtures.

Color theory
One of the easiest ways to differentiate your office space from your living space is the paint scheme. "Don't be afraid of color," advises McDaniel. "Branch out from the main colors in your home — it will help create a different feel as you transition from the kitchen into your place of work."

By the numbers
2.6%
According to the Census Bureau's latest American Community Survey, 2.6 percent of the U.S. workforce works primarily from home.

79.7%
Between 2005 and 2012, the telecommuting population increased by 79.7%, according to the survey.

Pet-friendly amenities
You can get a sitter (or premium cable) for the kids. But as for cats, well, they lounge where they please. Keep them off your keyboard with the Kitt-In Box, a genius desk extension from The Refined Feline (we've found that it also accommodates small, sleepy dogs).
$30, www.therefinedfeline.com

 
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