NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Whether you're a full-time entrepreneur or just work from home occasionally, having a home office where you can actually get work done is essential. We checked in with design experts to find five ways to make your home office a sanctuary for productivity and success.
1. Have a desk chair you can live in and a "statement" chair
The most important feature of a home office is a chair you can sit in for long periods to work comfortably, says Cyhyoung Park, vice president of marketing for Office Designs, an office space planning and design firm for small to medium-sized businesses in Northbrook, Ill.
"A lot of people don't connect their back and neck issues with a bad chair, but if you don't have a good one you can be in an awful lot of pain before you know it," Park says. "People don't realize it's the chair that's hurting their bodies."
Even though you might be tempted to repurpose a chair you already have, a dining room chair is never going to cut it, says Lisa Kanarek, home office expert and founder of WorkingNaked.com.
"You'll spend more money at the doctor fixing your back than you will on a nice chair," she says.
A decent desk chair will probably cost between $350 and $500, says Paige Largue, a designer with Burgess Interiors, an interior design firm that specializes in corporate environments.
"Worst-case scenario, you can pick up a desk at a thrift store and repaint it. But a chair, I would invest money in," she says.
A cozy and welcoming home office will also have a "statement" chair, Park says. This chair might be a wingback chair, a larger chair with an ottoman or even a recliner. This will provide a comfortable seat for visiting clients — or a change of scenery for you.
"To show that your office isn't just a working space, you need something more than a functional chair. A statement chair is designed to be comfortable, but it's also almost like a piece of art. It's going to add a warmth and depth to the room that you didn't have before."
2. Don't have too many personal effects, but do show some personality
Nobody wants a home office that looks like a corporate office, Kanarek says.
"If you want a corporate office, go back to the corporate office! A home office is meant to be more comfortable, with more wood and earth tones and less stainless steel."
Don't be afraid to show some personality. For example, if you collect baseball memorabilia, display it — but do it professionally.
"Don't have baseballs lying all over your desk and on top of every bookshelf," she says. "Frame them or display them properly. If your home office isn't inviting and inspiring, you're not going to want to go in there."
Remember there is a fine line between personalized and eclectic, Park cautions.
"You want it to be personal, but still convey a level of professionalism," she says. "At the end of the day, there should be a little bit of unexpectedness that shows who you are, but you still want balance and symmetry."
3. Eliminate (or at least hide) the clutter
If you keep a lot of old magazines, newsletters or industry publications around, store them in an aesthetically pleasing way or in a closet where they're mostly out of sight, Park says.
"If you don't need to look at those items frequently, then it's time to box them up and store them, give them away or throw them away," Park says. "Too much clutter looks unprofessional and is not conducive to work."
Many home offices suffer from a lack of shelving. This is an easy fix.
"A lot of people just put their stuff in boxes, but a professional office will have bookshelves and cabinets," Largue says. "You don't have to spend a fortune. Even some cheap shelving from Ikea or Home Depot will do. The point is that you get the clutter off your desk and off the floor."
4. Get an adjustable-height desk
"What's really hot nowadays is the adjustable-height desk. People love the ability to stand up during the day, or at least for part of their day. It's a phenomenon," Park says.
The size or material of the desk is not as important as the ability to adjust the height, she says.
"Everyone is thinking of ergonomics. People are tired of spending their entire day slouched over their computer typing, developing neck and shoulder pain. We've all realized that the sedentary life is not great."
Adjustable-height desks are now available at most all office furniture stores and, unlike treadmill desks, the ability to stand at a desk is not a passing fad.
"The treadmill desks never quite caught on because people didn't want to be sweating at work," she says. "But people are more health-conscious and they want something that allows a little more movement in their day. That's why standing desks continue to be so popular."
5. Have some color, just not McDonald's colors
"Red and yellow, those are McDonald's colors, not office colors," Kanarek says. "Add some color to your office with a nice rug, some art, but don't just throw paint on the walls without thinking about it. Color can change the mood of an office quicker than anything else."
Earth tones are best for a cozy yet professional office, Park says.
"If you like green, choose an earthy green — not a fluorescent green," she says. "You want to embrace color without making your office look like a child's room."
If you decide to incorporate wall paint into your office decor, try painting just one accent wall first.
"Sometimes an accent of color is better than the plastering of color everywhere. You want a pop of color, not a wash."
— By Kathryn Tuggle for MainStreet