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Decorating a Home Office

A staggering statistic: More than 50 million Americans now work at home. I, of course, am one of them and feel very, very fortunate to do so, particularly at this stage of my life. I have always been a home-body and so I'm perfectly happy in my home office which fills up my entire "formal dining room" area.

And with all those Americans working at home, the variety of businesses that they conduct is simply phenomenal. You'll find that home businesses include everything from part time hobbyist type work to full time careers - and even double as a place to do homework. In past years they often consisted of little more than a makeshift desk in the corner or space on the kitchen counter or a mess on the coffee table. And now finally homeowners are giving the home office a room of it's own and looking for serious ways to decorate the space.

Invariably the choice as to how to blend the home office in with the rest of the home comes up. You can choose to decorate it in the same style as the rest of your home or choose a look that is totally different. If it's that type of room that is easily closed off from the rest of the house, go right ahead and change the style as dramatically as you choose. But if it's an open area adjoining other rooms in the home (like mine), then it's going to be a better idea to incorporate the style and color palette to blend with the adjoining rooms.

The bottom line is that it should look attractive and be very functional and organized. Here are a few ideas to help you turn that space into a uniquely attractive room that you can be proud to have as an office and a space that will help you stay focused on the work activities of the day.

Improving the Ambience

One of the best ways to improve your home office is with color. Repaint the walls or simply make one wall an accent color that makes you feel good. Adding fabric to chairs, a drape or a decorative screen as a new backdrop, a new impressive work of art - these all help to create a thriving work environment. My son bought me an oversized oriental fan in the colors of my room which now hangs over my computer. It was a refreshing change to framed artwork and makes a dramatic statement in the room. I changed the screensaver on my computer and the desktop's wallpaper to blend with the colors in the fan. Wow! It was exciting to sit down at my desk amidst all this wonderful color.

Avoid putting up bulletin boards and white boards if you can. I know they're functional, but they look tacky. I find that the less cluttered my office is, the less cluttered my mind is too. When running a home based business, it's important to keep your mind on task at all times.

If you have children or pets, controlling the amount of access to you is important. I have four cats. In the morning they love to run and jump and chase each other. I quickly learned that during the morning hours my cats needed to be banned to the back yard so I could function. That's tough when it's raining or if you live in a very cold climate, but you've got to maintain control over your thoughts and distractions. Designate areas for small children to play or nap that are nearby but where the distraction is minimal. When my children were really young, I would work in the morning when they were busy playing with toys. Then it was nap time and Mommy could get more work done. But in the afternoon they wanted my time and attention. So that was when I took my break. You have to work it out so it is mutually beneficial to everyone concerned.

Bring in some fresh cut flowers to add a sweet fragrance to your office. Add live plants to improve the air quality. Put a few family photos around to remind you daily of who's most important in your life.

If space permits, add a chair or two for family or visitors to sit while talking to you. Add the large protective mats in front of your desk to protect any carpeting. You'll find a nice assortment at your office supply store. Or you could lay down a decorative area rug.

The Importance of Function

Make sure you have plenty of light to protect your eyesight. Close blinds or drapes when the sun causes glare on your computer screen. Place your desk for easy access, but try to place it where you can enjoy the outdoors if you have a nice view. Sunlight has been proven to increase brain activity and efficiency so sometimes I go outside to work if I'm doing something that doesn't require my computer. Some of my best ideas have come to me while walking in the park or watering my front yard.

Multi task lights, ambient lighting and anti-glare fixtures are essential when doing computer work. Make sure you have a comfortable, supportive chair. Take plenty of breaks that put you on your feet. I heard recently that you will burn a significant amount of carbs just by standing up. Do some tasks standing, rather than sitting.

Make sure all computer, FAX, phone, printer cables and cords are out of sight. They can really destroy the whole ambience you're trying to create.

Buy baskets or decorative boxes and chests to store papers and other office products to keep them out of sight but still handy. Bring in armoires or shelving units that have doors on the front to hide the many things you will store on them.

Use binders that are all the same color and that blend with your office decor. This will add unity to the office. Try to label them in the same manner for further unity.

To maximize the space, mount shelving or storage units up high, taking advantage of your vertical space. Watch out so that it is not too confining. Keep things that you need to access within an arm's length, but store rarely used files and documents up high.

Lastly, take time for you each day! I used to think that if I wasn't busy doing something every minute that I was being unproductive. I didn't make time to walk or just sit and think or to meditate. I've learned that some of the most critical business ideas have come from relaxing and taking time for myself. Enjoy decorating your home office. It's a special place and it should be well lit, comfortable and a place of inspiration.

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