Seven Steps to a Perfect Home Office Design
All great interior design starts with understanding your needs first. Creating your perfect home office is no exception. Many of the seven steps to a perfect home office are about understanding your needs.
Open vs. Closed
Do you want your office in the middle of the action or off in a quiet corner of the house? If you live alone, finding a quiet corner of the house is less of an issue because any part of the house can be quiet.
If you have young kids, you might want to keep a watchful eye on them, if you have older kids, you might want a place to hide away from noise. Much depends on your own preferences and needs.
Ask yourself these questions:
- Do you need silence to work?
- Do you need to make work calls or video conferences that require a quiet corner, or can those be scheduled around when your house is quiet?
- Do you like or dislike closed spaces?
- Would your significant other doing pushups behind you during a zoom with the CEO create a distraction? (Apparently it can, oops.)
- Does your office require special features like cabinets or screens that wouldn’t look good in the living room?
This living room serves a perfect office for this older couple who rarely need a desk. Near the dining room table, it serves as a buffet as well.
Interior design is about narrowing choices. Budget almost always narrows it significantly.
If the budget is tight, start by considering what you have and can repurpose. Is there a desk, table, collection of photos, houseplant or shelves that make sense in your office? Once you’ve inventoried what you have, sprinkle purchases in.
If your budget is plentiful, start with custom designed cabinetry and add from there.
A typical 11 by 11 office can run 8 to 25K for good quality commercially available materials. With custom materials, wallpaper, painting and additional lighting, the price can double. Some of both will be in the middle.
This open office used commercially available materials. Files are kept in visually appealing containers. A laptop provides all the electronics needed
This custom office uses of one side of a family room. Sleek and stylish it adds character and works aesthetically in the casual space. Design MacKenzie Caine, Habitar design (link to her page)
How will you Use it?
My office has a couch in it to lay down on. It’s a quiet place to think and rest when I step away from my treadmill desk.
Do you need multiple screens to conduct stock trading? Do you store fabric samples?
Do you want your office to double as guest bedroom? A reading room? A cozy retreat from the children?
Thinking through the uses is invaluable before narrowing the possibilities. Take the time to make a wish list. Let your imagination loose. Later bring your wants back to reality.
This office is highly custom and serves as a guest bedroom as well.
What makes you Feel Good?
You’re going to spend a lot of time in your office and it should make you feel good.
What’s your favorite, a massive oak desk or a sleek Scandinavian table?
A vision quest will help you better understand what you like. Visit Houzz.com or Pinterest, enter a few key words and cruise photos of offices. Let the search take you where it does, follow what you like and save pictures along the way.
If you’re working with an interior designer (like us! We’re in Chicago) the photos will inform them about your aesthetics and special features you’re after.
If you’re not working with a designer, the collection will inform you. The more you look at photos, the more you’ll gravitate in certain directions.
Take your time. It’s critical to understand what your unconscious loves and what will suit you over the long-term.
This office created by Susan Semmelsman in Dallas (Link https://www.semmelmanninteriors.com/), with natural light, a view, traditional woodwork and furnishings must be a treat to inhabit. Photo Houzz.
Make a List of Must Haves
You know how you’ll use your room and how it should feel, now it’s time to consider its contents concretely.
Start with the major pieces, desks, cabinets, shelves, chairs and other furniture. Consider how big your desk should be as well as how many shelves and cabinets you’ll need.
Then consider your office equipment, book collection, awards and family photos.
This built-in was in a wide hall. Cabinets hid away files, a printer, while niches were used to store ne mail. The desk top what well-lit for function and to create an intimate atmosphere.
Measure your room and Lay it out
A design program will go a long way to helping you layout out your office. Many choices can be found online for free (http://www.planyourroom.com/) for a small subscription charge (https://www.roomle.com/en).
Again, take your time and explore different options. Sometimes the impossible becomes possible with a little trial and error.
If you love light and gazing out at the yard, make sure your desk has the view. If you like space, have the desk face the room rather than a wall.
After you’ve laid it out a few different ways, look at your photos again and let them inform you anew.
Then let the whole project rest a few days. When you come back to it, it will feel different and some of your choices will grow in appeal while others will diminish.
Take your time.
Pulling it all Together
By now, if you haven’t rushed (did I say that enough times?) you should have a sense of what you’re after. If you’re feeling game, it’s time to start clipping products from the internet and creating idea boards.
Find those shelves, the desk, the chair and little table to put by the window. Then pick paint colors, lighting, wall paper, and rugs.
After you’ve let these sink in and you’ve laid them out so you know the specific items will fit, it’s time to order.
Once you have had it all delivered, visit your things again to see what items would look good on your shelves. Check out a recent video (https://youtu.be/sHTg_jmRMXM) and article (https://www.habitardesign.com/six-tips-to-perfectly-style-your-bookcase-shelves/) on how to design your shelves.
This cozy office was built around a couple working in close quarters. She preferred to work reclining laptop in hand while he used an adjoining desk.
If you’re overwhelmed, fear not, you’ve done the hard work and it will be a breeze for a good designer to review your selections and pull them all together with a few extra touches. If you’re in Chicago, Habitar Design — recently named best interior designer in Chicago (https://www.impressiveinteriordesign.com/chicago-interior-designer/) — can help.
We’re also work closely with our sister construction company Stratagem Construction who has their own cabinetry shop to deliver any custom goods you need. Mitchell Newman is principal of Habitar Design, an award winning interior designer.