Functional space can be more than plain, utilitarian

Use furniture you would use in the rest of your living space when it comes to decorating your home office, our columnists say.


Why is décor neglected in so many home offices? We have seen a lot of disappointing home offices and it makes us crazy! The design team knows the space must be functional, but must it be plain and utilitarian?

Why not use the same décor standards used elsewhere in the home? You don’t have to go for “office” furniture. Instead, use what you would use in the rest of your home. Try using a sleek end table with a drawer for your printer and printing paper. Or use a lovely chest of drawers large enough for files, or a beautiful buffet with baskets to hold supplies.

There is a world of gorgeous furniture to be sure, but keep in mind there are some functional rules with furniture in an office. On a desk, the work surface should be at last 20 inches deep, with about 18 inches on each side of the computer. The chair should be ergonomically designed; a cute vanity chair, although it may be a lovely thing, won’t do the job. A piece of furniture used to hold files should be at least 30 inches deep.

The next important décor requirement for a home office is to surround yourself with objects you love. When you are feeling isolated in your home office, nothing will keep you on track like treasured family photographs, art from your travels or that has special meaning to you, such as your children’s framed artwork or a piece that makes you feel happy. You may also want to provide access to music that helps you be productive, such as jazz.

Pay attention to providing warm, comforting touches, such as cushy carpeting underfoot, or textured draperies and upholstery. Black shiny leather chairs with chrome hardware may be popular in corporate offices, but they can look cold and sterile in a home. What’s worse is that you may have trouble dragging yourself from the comforts of your cosy home into your austere office, and you don’t want that!

Work at removing distractions. One of the main offenders in this category is clutter — work ruthlessly at eliminating it because it will eat into your productivity, believe us! In order for a space to be beautiful, it must be organized and free of clutter.

Keep the desk clear by having a place for everything. Use cutlery containers in drawers to house all manners of office things, such as paper clips, staples, tacks or sticky notes. Keep pencils and pens in your favourite glasses or vases. Consider a pegboard with hooks for tools that must be accessible, such as scissors, a stapler, or headphones.

We all know that colour affects mood, and many people feel the wall colour of a home office should be muted and serene, an environment suited to gathering one’s thoughts and getting down to work. But if your work requires you to be bright and chirpy (such as marketing or sales), a vibrant, energizing colour might be better for you. Some people prefer warm, sunny tones to put them in a positive frame of mind.

In the end, what counts is that you have a stylish and beautiful home office in which it is always a pleasure to spend your working hours. Why settle for anything less?

Tammy Schnurr and Jeffrey Fisher are hosts of Arresting Design on W Network. Tammy is an interior decorator. Jeffrey designs home furnishings and bedding through his company Jeffrey Fisher Home.

Latest From ...