If there’s anything we learned during 2020, it’s the value of functional, attractive spaces in our home — particularly the home office.

The shift to remote work due to the COVID-19 pandemic was very abrupt. People who didn’t have dedicated office spaces in their homes discovered just how badly they needed them. People who already had home offices were not in much better shape, however. Prior to 2020, a lot of folks only used their home offices once in a while — so many of those rooms were less than optimally organized or designed for steady use.

That’s why the home office is expected to be one of the top choices for renovations in the coming year (even nudging bedrooms down a notch).

Where Do You Start on a Home Office Renovation?

Did you ever hear the phrase, “location, location, location” in reference to real estate? You need to think the same way when you’re deciding where to put your home office because its location can ultimately affect its functionality.

Every home is different, but here are some suggestions:

  • Don’t pick one of the busiest spots in the house. Trying to set up a cozy office cubicle in the corner of the dining room won’t work if you’re constantly going to be interrupted.
  • Look at all of the unused (or rarely used) rooms. Preserving that spare room for irregular guests may be far less important than a good home office. Attics, dry basements, rec rooms that have outlived their usefulness and even heated garages can be repurposed.
  • Try to find a space with a door. Doors serve as a barrier so that you can keep everybody out while you’re working, and they’re also a transition point. Crossing that threshold and shutting the door can help you get into “work mode.” Opening the door again and leaving the room can help you transition back into “home mode.”

Ultimately, you know your own needs best, but don’t be afraid to take over a space that is mostly being used for storage right now and make it serve a more important need.

What Are the Critical Elements of a Home Office Design?

The next steps are the bulk of the work that has to be done for your renovations to be successful because they involve setting up the “bones” of the space before you decide on any decor.

Here’s a checklist that you can follow:

  • Pull everything out of the room. Whether you do a larger renovation or just end up painting the walls, this is important prep work.
  • Look at the electrical outlets. A modern office needs power, so decide if you need more outlets or outlets in a different location for ease-of-use.
  • Consider the lighting. Lighting can heavily influence your productivity and your mood, so think about adding better light fixtures — particularly if there isn’t any natural light in the room. Task lighting can be added later with lamps.
  • Choose a color scheme and paint the walls. You can pick one of the hottest trending colors, like Urbane Bronze by Sherwin-Williams, or go with your favorite hue. White is good to make the space look larger, but green is considered good for productivity, blue is peaceful and red is creative.
  • Invest in permanent storage. You need to maximize your space, so that means going vertical with your storage. It may be time to add bookshelves and a wall cabinet along one wall, under the stairs or wherever most convenient. (If you don’t have any ideas, a carpenter might.)
  • Look at the flooring. If you’re converting the guest room to an office, you probably don’t have to do anything to the floors. If you’re redoing a basement, garage or something similar, you may need to think about adding wood or luxury vinyl flooring for aesthetic appeal and comfort.

Once you’ve gotten the basics handled, it will be time to turn your attention to one more high-priority task: picking your decor.

What’s the Best Way to Decorate a Home Office?

This space needs to be functional, but it’s still part of your home. You aren’t sharing it with an office full of co-workers. As such, your home office should reflect your personality and taste.

The best way to start decorating is to take a look at the aesthetic in the rest of your home and carry it over to your office. This creates a consistent style and vibe that won’t seem jarring when you move from one part of the house to another.

Here are some other tips:

  • Add a cozy chair and coffee table. If you have the space for a desk in the corner and a small loveseat or chair in another part of the room, take advantage of it. This gives you the option to switch back and forth as the mood strikes you.
  • Use plants, natural fibers and organic accent pieces. Adding natural elements to a room can help you feel connected to the earth, calmer and more invigorated, so think about including decorative items like live plants, macrame wall hangings, woven baskets to hold your papers and pens, and so on.
  • Add soft touches that speak of comfort. A few accent pillows, a thick-piled rug and a throw blanket or two can make the room cozy without interfering with its function.

Finally: Treat this room like every other useful space in the house. Don’t allow it to become cluttered, and don’t permit it to be treated as storage space for odds and ends. Clutter becomes visual noise that can damage your ability to think and be productive.

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