By Kerrie Kelly, ASID
More and more of my clients are working from home and almost all of them love it. It’s interesting though, that most of us create home offices that look like-well, an office. Isn’t one of the perks of working at home that you’re not in an office? Why not create a space that helps you to feel that work is a more engaging and personal experience?
As spring begins to flourish, refresh your creativity and perspective by refreshing what your space looks like, and what you look at.
Reorient the Room
First, do what you can to physically reorient the space itself. If you can move your office to a room with a view, you can build from there in surprising ways. An office that overlooks the patio or yard will make it easier to blur the lines between indoors and out. If it’s in the budget, consider French doors that stay open when weather permits. If you’re lucky enough to live where the weather will allow it, a screened-in porch can serve as an office that will help sooth nerves even on a demanding workday.
Experiment with Color and Texture
Beige and white are always appropriate office colors, but consider starting your office transformation with a little more feeling than thinking. Light but bold tones in paint, fabric and finishes can increase the sense of space, both physically and mentally. Some of the most popular colors of the year will work great for this application-think cornflower, indigo, aqua or a soft sage green.
Texture will also go a long way toward bringing the outdoors in. Area rugs made of natural fabrics like jute or other reed and grass materials with a finished fabric border will bring a casual polish to the space. Consider adding a matching rug outdoors to keep the illusion going.
Get Funky with Functional Furniture
Here’s where we really take it to the next level. Rather than standard, vinyl office furniture, go native! There’s absolutely no reason you can’t use outdoor furniture in an indoor setting. Whether you like the feel of wood, aluminum, or even all-weather resin with a wicker finish, outdoor furniture today is sturdy and durable, making it a surprisingly practical choice. Choose a table with a glass top to give you a realistic work surface, and a chair that’s genuinely comfortable in order to maximize energy and ergonomics.
If you’ve got the space, matching chairs for clients — or even an outdoor sofa — will go a long way toward keeping you in that ‘vacation’ frame of mind. If you feel like you need something a little more formal, contemporary outdoor furniture features clean lines created in more relaxed and outdoorsy textures. Indoor/outdoor cushions come in colors and patterns that work seamlessly with interior finishes and have the added benefit of wash-ability.
Finally, get rid of filing cabinets, and opt for office shelving that holds everything you need (including technology), and that fades into the background. File binders or baskets to keep things at hand but out of sight, letting your shelving add to the textural elements and simplicity of the space.
Frame that View
The clean lines of a Roman shade are a great option for your office windows. Look for woven woods to keep the outdoor theme going. Another great option is gauzy curtain panels in fabrics like an open Belgian linen weave. They let in light and maintain privacy with a subdued, tropical feel. Simple floral patterns or bold, tropical stripes are another way to bring a little of the island life to the office. When installing, extend the curtain rod a little further across and beyond the window than you might be inclined to, so that when the curtains are drawn back, the entire window-and the entire view-is exposed.
In general, the goal is to blur the line between indoors and out. A few plants that complement what you have in the outdoor space extends your office into the yard or patio. Make sure you have electrical outlets and a Wi-Fi connection that extends beyond the walls. Finally, transport yourself to total bliss with a hammock for brainstorming and the occasional power nap.
What are your best home office tips for maintaining inspiration in a relaxed environment, while staying plugged in?
To view a large selection of indoor rugs available for your home office, including styles mentioned by Kerrie, you can visit the Home Decorators collection from Home Depot here.