Wednesday, 27 May, 2020

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Work the room: setting up a home office

A long desk provides plenty of room for side-by-side computers in this Porter Davis display home. Pictures: Porter Davis

Most of us try to strike a work-life balance, but it can be hard to achieve when your office is your home with no clear distinction between work hours and winding down.

After all, how separate can your paid work really be from your home life when it migrates with you via your laptop from the kitchen bench to the sofa to the back deck and sometimes even to bed?

Which is why a well-designed home office is important in creating a healthy distinction between your work and home life.

As Porter Davis World of Style interior designer Stephanie Atanasovski points out, a home office that promotes calm and is aesthetically attractive is a no-brainer.

“One of the greatest advantages (of working from home) is being able to design and decorate your work environment the way you want,” she said. “What’s more motivating than working in a space that makes you feel good?”

Working from home means you can decorate your office as you please.

Have a plan

Like any successful interior overhaul, the secret is in the planning. While it’s not necessary to Marie Kondo the spare bedroom/home office into a barren shell, it is important to plan the layout.

“Consider the shape and size of your room, the source of natural light and what furniture you will require,” Ms Atanasovski said.

“Ensuring you have enough space for the furniture you want is also vital.”

Don’t neglect the lighting, which should be at the top of your list of considerations.

“Lighting helps lift your mood and improves productivity,” Ms Atanasovski said.

“It is important to have a rich light source so you can work to the best of your ability and keep eye-squinting to a minimum. Also consider the positioning of your desk to avoid window glare on your screen.”

Colour palette and finishes can also be used to create an attractive work space.

“For example, consider how the colour of your wall paint and other key elements will look alongside different textures and finishes, such as an oak desk or a matt-black or gold desk lamp,” Ms Atanasovski said.

Consider both artificial and natural light sources.

Create calm

It’s so vital that the environment you’re working in promotes creativity and calm that it’s worth considering a dedicated colour scheme.

“Cool blues and natural greens are great options that will ensure a relaxing and aesthetically pleasing space,” Ms Atanasovski said.

“Tying in soft and lighter tones with little bursts of colour throughout, via accessories such as floor rugs and artwork, will keep the space looking clean but with a touch of energy and liveliness.”

Plants and scented candles are another way to add colour and enhance your mood.

In fact, plants are bang on trend right now, according to Ms Atanasovski.

“Everyone needs at least one real plant in their office space,” she said.

“Plants can help reduce stress, increase productivity and freshen the air — not to mention, they look great and add a pop of colour to the room.”

Bring in plants to freshen the air and add colour.

Artwork is another trend Ms Atanasovski is seeing more of in home offices, whether it be black and white, bursting with colour or a simple minimal print.

“People love adding artwork as a form of home office decor. It is one of the best ways to add inspiration and colour to a work area,” she said.

When styling the office, resist the urge to go rogue and experiment with a new design theme. Instead, consider unity with the rest of the decor so there is consistent flow through the home.

“For example, if your home is styled contemporary, continue this theme with similar colours and textures in your office,” Ms Atanasovski said.

Hang artwork for inspiration.

Errors to avoid

Here are some common mistakes people make when designing their home office:

• Blocking natural light by obscuring windows with furniture or choosing a dark space for a home office. Try to arrange the furniture so you’re facing a window and the light is in front of you.

• Failing to plan the layout of the room properly to ensure you have enough storage space. Plan your layout before setting up furniture. You don’t want to buy a desk and chair you love, only to find there’s no longer space for a filing cabinet or drawers.

• Neglecting floor coverings. If your home office is going to be set up with an ergonomic chair, you need floor coverings to allow your chair to slide in and out. Floorboards can be slippery and carpet can prevent the chair sliding properly, so ensure you explore office-chair mat options before you get to work.

Source: Stephanie Atanasovski, Porter Davis

Try to arrange the furniture so you’re facing a window.