Create a Home Office That Works as Hard as You Do
Expert advice and new products that will help you design a space that meets the needs of modern life.
By Carly Scholl
The humble home office took on more responsibility than ever this year as people all over the world began working remotely due to coronavirus concern. For many, dining tables transformed into makeshift desks and pajamas became business-casual attire. Those fortunate enough to already have a predesignated room for their office perhaps had to learn to share with a new coworker or upgrade their technology to facilitate daily video conferences. As society continues to embrace this new normal, we turned to interior designer Kirsten Holmstedt for tips on creating the ideal home office for the modern world.
“First and foremost, your workspace has to be comfortable and ergonomic,” explains Holmstedt. “But, of course, you don’t have to sacrifice form for function. There are so many great options for desk chairs that are aesthetically pleasing but still offer the kind of support your body needs if you spend most of your day sitting.”
The designer also notes that including multiple work surfaces in an office is a growing trend. “For example, you might want a built-in desk against a wall plus a stand-alone desk that you can maneuver between. This allows you to divide your attention and productivity, and it can also help if there is more than one person in your home who needs access to an office space.”
Holmstedt points out that while desks are becoming more streamlined and have less built-in drawers, it’s still important to keep your surfaces clutter-free with the help of efficient storage. “Organization is a huge consideration for your home office,” she explains. “But as the world becomes more and more digitally adapted and most of our important documents are on the computer, there is less need for massive shelving units or file cabinets. Instead, incorporate a cool vintage credenza or sideboard as a way to get creative with storage and infuse a sense of personality.”
Keeping your thoughts organized is just as important as ordering your papers and supplies, so invest in a dedicated visual space. A whiteboard or pinboard that can be mounted on a wall or set on casters can help bring your best ideas to life during brainstorming sessions.
“Connectivity and convenience are more important than ever, as everyone who is now working from their house is learning to adapt to new routines and new expectations,” says Holmstedt. The modern home office isn’t complete without smart technology, such as TVs with video conferencing capabilities, voice-activated assistants that can help with scheduling and to-do lists, and quality sound systems for when you need a power playlist to get you through the last hour of the workday.
Holmstedt also notes the importance of keeping your most important devices fully charged and within reach. “Having phone and computer cords and electrical outlets close to your main workspace is very helpful, especially if you don’t want to be interrupted by having to get up to plug in a dying laptop.”
Decorate Your Way
“If your office looks put together and makes you feel great, you’re ultimately going to be more productive and want to spend your time there,” asserts the designer. “You want to incorporate design elements that are going to inspire creativity and efficiency, and those could be anything from paint color and floral arrangements to framed photos or a beloved collection of items on display.” Creating a shift in sensory stimulation when you walk into your office can also help get your mind on task. Pick out a signature candle or create a music playlist that you only use when you’re in your workspace to signify that it’s time to work.
Ample lighting, whether natural or artificial, is crucial for productivity and setting the right mood. “Oftentimes home offices are relegated to that unused extra room in the house that doesn’t have a lot of natural light, so go for a chic pendant or chandelier over your desk, or even some sconces flanking a bookcase that will make a statement and provide illumination where you need it most. And, of course, some desk lighting is great for keeping you focused on the task at hand.”