Returning to styling fundamentals, ‘what is the room for, and how do you want it to feel?’ might seem obvious for a home office. However, there are several things to consider. Is it for a female? A male? Or sometimes it can be a combination of both and that will dictate how you want it to look and feel. Obviously if it’s for a woman, you can lean to decorating on the more feminine side. Male will be more masculine and if it’s used for both, it will obviously be more neutral.
The key to a good home office is careful planning. Without careful planning and great systems, a home office can very quickly turn into a wasteland of paper, junk and a room that just feels cluttered. Your home office needs to be a space that you enjoy spending time in. It needs to be clear, clutter free, organised, and a place where everything has a home. Organisation and forward planning are key.
The lighting in a home office is very important, and again, we’ll have a combination of general (overhead) and task lighting in the form of a desk lamp. Make sure that if you are working at night, that your desk lamp is good quality and doesn’t strain your eyes. Ideally, a home office should have lots of natural light during the day, and remember not to place your computer so that it’s facing into glare.
In relation to how many people it needs to accommodate, this goes back to who is it for. Generally it will only be one or two people, but I have seen studies that can accommodate a whole family. This will dictate how you organise the room, but for the sake of styling, we’ll say that most home offices generally accommodate one person.
Now in determining the focal point of the room, the focal point of any home office is the desk. And in relation to the floor plan, it’s extremely important as to where the desk is placed. If you can, it’s great to be able to place the desk up against the wall, so that you either have the wall space for additional shelving or a pin board, which I’ll touch on later, but you also don’t want to have your back to the door. This is bad Feng Shui so this may necessitate your desk actually being in the middle of the room and facing outwards, which is fine. You just need to make the decision as to where the desk will best fit and what feels right for you. Then take your styling and organisational cues from there.
So this takes us on to our must have and essential pieces. You’ll need a desk, a chair, a lamp, storage items, which may include a book shelf, filing cabinet, and any additional storage that you may require. In the case of storage, this can mean either custom joinery or freestanding. Whichever way you’re going, just take into account aesthetics and functionality, and use items that are multi-purpose as often as you can. For example, a bookcase that incorporates cupboards as well as open shelving. Therefore, you’re able to display your books, and also store the things that are not so aesthetically pleasing.
If you have room for additional pieces these needs to be considered also, for example, additional storage. Or if you’re lucky enough to have a large home office, and you’d like to incorporate a more relaxed zone, an armchair may be a great way to do that. You could also add a foot stool and a floor lamp and you have a reading nook.
You need to consider the style you’re hoping to achieve as well as the colour palette. Take into account both the room as well as the style of your home and try to stay within those parameters for a cohesive result. As mentioned previously, consider who it is for. If styling for a man or woman only you may make more masculine or feminine choices, however if it is combined you might want to look towards a more neutral style.
Regarding desk chairs, you need to find that balance between functionality and aesthetics. I’m not a huge fan, as a stylist, of your stock standard office chairs. Think a bit outside the box on this one and look for chairs that combine both functionality and aesthetics. There are some really beautiful office chairs out there that can be a statement and set the tone for the room. Another alternative to think about is dining chairs. These can also work really well, but just check for comfort and I’d suggest erring on the side of upholstered styles.
Same goes for the desk. If you can, stay away from the more sterile furniture and you’ll achieve a room that has a warmer and more textured feel. It doesn’t mean spending loads of money, there are some great options at stores such as IKEA and Officeworks. Sometimes even small dining tables or larger console tables can work really well and give the room a lot of character. However, don’t get caught up in the beauty of a piece and forget your functional needs, it’s a balance!
Trestle styles really work beautifully, especially for the more feminine type of home offices. Picture a combination of a beautiful white trestle desk with a stunning upholstered chair. That is already has the makings of a fantastic home office that meets your needs and has the ‘wow’ factor.
This takes us to artwork and accents. I do highly recommend if you can get some artwork into your home office to do so, and match it up with that beautiful chair you’ve chosen. Now you have a beautiful room that you will love spending time in. I previously mentioned a pin board. If you can get this in, it’s a great idea. If your desk is up against a wall, it’s a perfect spot for one. These can be both functional and aesthetic. You can pin up that note that needs to be signed or that bill that needs to be paid and on another level, you can pin up inspiration, whether it’s your current decorating project or places you want to travel to, things that are inspiring to look out and motivate you while you work and just add that layered, interesting feel to the room.
Now there’s not a lot of requirements for soft furnishings and layering in a home office, but there are touches that you can add. You may be able to add a rug if your room is large enough and a round rug in the middle of the room or under a desk and the chair can add a really lovely anchor point and add warmth and texture. Or for example, if your home office is larger and your desk is sitting in the middle of the room, you could put a large rectangular rug underneath the desk and the chair. This provides a lovely anchor point, zoning that area of the room and adding warmth and texture. If you like the feel of a cushion on your chair, that can be another place to add some color and pattern.
Style your desk so that it’s visually pleasing, but organized and not cluttered. Go shopping for coordinated stationary, desk stationary items such as in trays, storage boxes, pen holders, etc. There are so many beautiful options on the market at all price points. It is possible to have a highly organised, gorgeous looking desk.
And lastly, add your final touches. Just because it’s a home office, don’t be afraid to make it look and feel beautiful, and to add those personal touches. Incorporate items that make you happy, such as flowers, desk accessories, photos, and even some plants. If looking after real plants is too hard, even a little faux pot plant ca bring life and colour into the room.
My biggest tip is to stay away from the sterile office and make it a room that is visually beautiful, as well as functional and organised. A room that you look forward to spending time in and that you feel inspired and happy to work in.
Happy styling !