Working from home can be the ultimate dream ticket – no more commuting or having to dress formally, or worry about office politics – and even better, you get to escape all that dreary corporate decor.
“Cutting down on wasteful travelling time, enabling you to spend more time with the family, is just some of the many benefits to home-working, and it can be particularly beneficial from a health and wellbeing perspective,” enthuses Susan White, marketing director at blinds and curtains specialists, Hillarys.
If you’re set to join the millions who work from home, look on it as the perfect chance to tailor a space to suit your taste and needs.
We’ve done the homework for you and devised seven simple but stylish steps, so you can make light work of creating the perfect home office…
1. Make it personalAt home, you’re the boss, and you can truly indulge your taste and have the freedom to express your personality in the decoration of your ‘office’.
In an open-plan space, zone an area with a stunning wall mural, or cork tile an expanse of wall so you can pin up inspiring photos or to-do lists.
Alternatively, paint a wall with black chalkboard paint, to transform it into a wipeable surface for scribbling ideas, plans, or simply expressing yourself. (Rust-Oleum Black Magnetic Matt Chalkboard Paint, £14 for 750ml, B&Q, is ideal for the job.)
TIP: If you fancy it, don’t be afraid to incorporate pattern and colour into your office scheme. Research has found that both can actually help keep you creative and stimulated at work. For a perfect balance, keep energetic colours in your periphery, while sticking to a more subdued look for the desk.
2. Pretty up with pinkIf you’re after a softer scheme, reduce the risk of workplace stress by choosing a calming colour for a work area. Pink is reputedly a positive colour, inspiring warm, comforting feelings and imparting a sense that everything will be all right – and who doesn’t like the sound of that?
3: Kill the clutterKeeping a tidy office is crucial to staying on top of things. Organising and filing loose papers means you’ll spend less time searching for them – coping with clutter is a big time-waster.
Filing cabinets, desks with compartments, and accessible floating shelves for file boxes are a good investment. Don’t let a notice board be all to-do lists and bills though, or you won’t ever want to look at it.
TIP: Keep everyday essentials close to hand, so there’ll be less temptation to get up and wander. If you know you’ll need frequent caffeine top-ups, you could even keep a little coffee-maker or kettle near the desk, and a mini-fridge stocked with cold drinks.
4. Carve out a creative corner“Not everyone has an entire room, or even an entire wall, to dedicate to an office. But that doesn’t mean you can’t carve out a space somewhere in your home, be it a landing, bedroom or corner of a living room, to let your creative juices flow,” says White.
“Whatever you use your home office for – computer work, home and life admin, or crafts and projects – an effective work area demands plenty of light. Equally, you don’t want glare on your screen, so choose your window dressings wisely.
“Shutters and Venetian blinds have adjustable louvres and slats, so you can control the amount of light and are also great for privacy and security,” adds White. “If you’re easily distracted, opt for a sheer roller blind. It’ll still let in plenty of light, but you can pull it down to block out distractions from the outside world when you need to focus.”
TIP: Set clear ground rules for your work space, such as asking family to knock before coming into your office, or respecting quiet time between certain hours. Make this easy, and visual, for young children by using a traffic light system (a green circle on the door means ‘come in’; yellow means ‘ask first’, and red means ‘do not disturb’).
5. Dress the deskOne of the best things about working from home is not being in a stuffy, boring office. So why re-create that at home?
Instead, include pleasing decorative elements, such as a vase full of flowers and colourful storage pots, so you can enjoy the comforts of home all through the working hours.
TIP: Setting priorities is important in an office, and even more so when working from home, as doing so will help you stay on track and not get overwhelmed. Without a boss hovering or work-mates to bounce ideas off, it’s up to you to put your to-do list in order. Use technology to help, with mobile reminders and alerts.
6. Show who’s boss
A shade of dark green, paired with black furniture and office accessories, gives decor a strong visual impact and, crucially, creates a business-like look for an office. This is especially important if clients are going to visit and you want to convey a professional image.
TIP: Never skimp on expense when buying an office chair. After all, you may spend hours sitting on it, and it’s vital that it’s comfortable and fully adjustable so you avoid muscle strain and back pain.
7. Black is backSleek, black furniture spells executive style, never dates, and you’ll win compliments for your chic taste.
TIP: A properly lit space is crucial to maintaining your mood, productivity and health. Bad lighting can strain eyes, especially if you’re staring at a bright screen in the dark. Layer light, so you can have clear overhead light if necessary, a decorative table lamp with a warm glow when you’re thinking rather than focusing, and always have an adjustable desk lamp so that paperwork is properly illuminated.