If you are a remote worker or freelancer, you probably know the struggles that come with a home office. All your work-related stuff, from documents to electronic devices and reams of papers are dumped in this one room or nook of your home. There is no gainsaying that this is a sacred nook in your home – that you seek to carve it out in a way that allows free flow of your creative juices, that inspires you to do your best work and manifest your best creative projects to life. This is also the first and foremost function of any office: to be conducive to your work. But what happens when knickknacks are scattered, when piles of invoices are to be attended to, when the wires and electronic equipment are all entangled, or when you are buried in neglected piles of papers? Your work office, which was supposed to inspire and provoke you into creative and productive action turns into a mess. Working in such a place can be pretty inconvenient and make you feel claustrophobic.
So how do you create a workspace that lets you breathe and work freely? Here are some key principles and action items for you to follow so that you can get a larger-looking home office.
Minimalism is key
Minimalism is the buzzword these days, and with good reason too! We have all heard of the Marie Kondo phenomenon – the Konmari method of decluttering and cleaning. It is time to put that into action. Studies have shown that all your clutter – whether physical or mental – can interrupt your workflow and act as a distraction. Streamlining your home office can have a lot of good effects on your work-related productivity. If you know where everything is kept, wouldn’t you get done with your things faster? The clutter can act as a decelerator for your work on a daily basis, a phenomenon referred to as the ‘clutter effect’. Minimalism, the idea of living with less can be a lifestyle boon for your work life.
A Cornell University Study found that clutter can interfere with your ability to process your thoughts. That is absolutely not what you want, so get those wires out, make your desk clutter-free and add in organizers and filing cabinets to the mix. To create the effect of more space in the room, bring in a neutral color palette to your walls and furniture. Talking of furniture, keep it ergonomic and simple, like reclaimed wooden chairs and desk. If you have a thing for vintage, go for solid hues.
Furniture Design? Black and sleek
If you are just setting up the home office great. If you already have a room or nook that you are just re-adjusting, take a step back. We need to start with a gigantic blank slate to create an airy and spacious office. Since we have established that minimalism should be the governing principle if you want your home office to look larger, there’s no reason this principle should not seep into your color choices. Monotone in furniture can look super sleek and classy if done right. But how does one get the tone and color choice right? Stick to black.
While in many cases, black seems like the safest color choice, for your furniture it is also the classiest. Shades of brown and yellow are all very predictable and any fluorescent color would be too experimental. When you stick to black, you are giving more room to your thoughts and ideas, with minimum friction and distractions.
While we are doling out advice related to furniture, remember to invest in a great chair and desk. These two pieces of furniture will define the tone of your professional life on a daily basis, so if these aren’t comfortable and conducive to your work, this whole planning might as well be flushed down the drain.
Or you could choose to go Bohemian and airy
If you already have your walls painted a certain color, then it will be logical to choose a furniture color palette that would contrast well with the walls. However, if you only have a feature wall or simple white paint, you can be adventurous with your furniture. Embrace your Bohemian spirit and add a little zing to the decor. It could be anything that tells a story, that has sentimental value or that can create the look of an office with a zestfulness.
For the feel of an office that epitomizes the warmth of Coorie and the airy coolness of contemporary designs, add a rug to the floor, whether patterned or a monotone color. As you make all these decisions, remember to keep it minimalistic.
Let modern design rescue you
Contemporary designs can bring in breezy coolness to the office. If you are confused about the rug, go for a geometric one. If you are confused about the desk, choose a lacquer desk with drawers. Think of the desk and rug as the canvas upon which you can paint the office of your imagination. Add some green to the room with succulents, some blue to it with wide windows and some brass colors with the organizers and knickknack holders. If you want to emphasize the color of the furniture or contrast it with another shade, you can do so on your shelves and cabinets. Let’s see how.
Shelves and cabinets are your best friends
Does your home office look like it has shrunk in size? Does it feel like there is no room for walking in the room? DO you feel confined to your chair? You may have scattered clutter and files and folders to blame for this. In any office, it is necessary to stay organized. Your home office is no exception. The solution lies in adding filing cabinets, shelves and drawers to your furniture. Open shelving can work if you are able to maintain the shelf and keep the dust off of it. You can also try DIY floating shelves to design-savvy stacks, built-in cubbies, or even chicken-wire bookcases to add a rustic touch to the room. Keep in mind to upholster your floating shelves or cubbies in the same fabric as your seating. This will give the room a personality, and the rest of the space can then be yours to walk, brainstorm and most importantly, prevent claustrophobia from creeping up on you.
Follow the ‘hygge’ theme
Hygge is the Danish theme that promotes well-being as a pursuit of everyday happiness. The concept creates space (both physical as well as mental) to let your well-being as well as wealth flourish. Hygge will inspire you with calm every time the invoice is delayed. If you truly want to feel cosy and passionate about your creative work, you should rethink the aesthetics of your home office.
Take cues from the Scandinavian decor. A Swedish desk. Neutral furniture with textural accents. A window that gives a peek into the outdoor calm and brings in pops of blue to keep your mind fresh and invigorated. A little natural greenery in the form of indoor plants, garlands and wreaths would make it even better.
Candles are a classic accompaniment in the Hygge philosophy. So get a flickering candle, preferably scented one out. Keeping your desk cosy would mean the office will, overall, become spacious and organized.
Employ curtains to your advantage
Often, you need to get creative with the way you operate around your office. You may want to keep one corner stacked up and another vacant to allow movement. While it will be a highly personalized decision, curtains can help create, break or manage the space issue. A light patterned curtain can conceal a corner you don’t use, for instance. However, this is extremely tricky territory to master. A wise way would be to use roman shades or blinds.
The principle at work here? More light gives space depth. Which brings us to our last hack.
Leave the light on
Stay connected to the great outdoors through oversized windows. Nothing accentuates the space in a room like some natural light. Your windows If you have privacy concerns, you can use fogged window film and keep the blinds up. So your indoor plants can get light and so can you. Working in natural light has its many advantages, including being able to rise with the sun and maintain concentration.
As far as the light set-up within the office is concerned, avoid top lights. Top-down lighting can often be harsh and accumulate all the light in one space. You can instead use better lights and spread them across lamps or bulbs within the room. Your first preference should be to work in natural light during the day or a desk lamp at night. Only in the interstices, you should look at other lights. Avoid colored lights as they can be majorly distracting and make the office space look cramped.
Just remember to stay minimalist in whatever design and furniture you choose to pursue in regards to your home office. You can either have actual space or create the illusion of it. And the governing principle across all design elements? Let there be light!