The Clutter Cleanse (Part Seven)

The Home Office

This, for me, is one of the most interesting rooms to do in a house.  It is an opportunity to personalize and make this unique space productive and functional.  Whether your office occupies one bedroom or an entire floor, the floor plan should allow for storage, workspace and sometimes meeting space.

Acoustical considerations are primary here.  You do not want to be talking on the phone with a client or vendor and have dogs barking or kids playing in the background.  Clever ways to offer acoustical privacy include wall upholstery, special wall treatments that insulate against sound and water walls that provide a soothing sound.

Clutter is a culprit in home offices responsible for a loss in personal productivity.  Clutter can create problems like late reports, overwhelm and missed opportunity.

When it comes to office design, it’s important to take into consideration that this is where we want to promote spontaneous collaboration. This may or may not be an issue in your home office, but it’s definitely something to consider in a place of employment. Progressive employers are going old school — they want their employees getting up from their desks and talking to their workmates. They’re trying to foster creativity and relationship building which you just can’t get from sending copious amounts of emails (a big stressor in their own right).

When it comes to home offices, you can have something as simple as a desk in the bedroom with a file cabinet and maybe a storage closet. But they can also be so much more than that. An excellent home office can function as well as any office in a corporate setting.  Ergonomics are important here too.

Don’t just pull a kitchen chair in to sit at your desk. There is furniture specifically designed for your height and weight and can save you from experiencing aches and pains from sitting all day in uncomfortable positions in uncomfortable furniture. I actually sit on a ball chair because it promotes good posture and it’s super fun to bounce on!

Make a list of everything you need to conduct your business. Desks, work tables chairs, and meeting tables. Storage needs like samples, price books, industry reference manuals and books as well as office supplies. Forms and stationery all require a different type of storage.  Smart design can make it all function perfectly for you and still look attractive. Bulletin and chalkboards, as well as paper organizers, can be especially fun to work with and display in a home office.

If you have a hodgepodge of furniture from all over the place and time, paint it the same color to unify the look of your office. Beautiful custom furniture is a plus, but it’s not necessary. Some of the most interesting office pieces have come from used office furniture stores.  You can also use dining tables or boards with file cabinets as pedestals. My desk belonged to my father-in-law and was given to my husband when he passed. I love this desk because it’s a nice reminder of him.

Home offices can have work islands just like the kitchen. Credenzas and even furniture you use in the rest of your home can work: Armoires, sideboards, industrial shelving, bakers racks and china cabinets can be used in a home office for storage.

A closet can be made into a perfect desk space if it’s big enough. A correctly placed shelf for the desk surface and shelves above and to the side can make into a perfect little mini office that can be closed off at will to hide clutter or just to offer multi-functional purposes to one room. It’s critical to keep a space like this light in color and to add some artificial light to keep from feeling “closeted in.”  Under cabinet lighting and a nice task lamp can solve this problem. Closets can also be a nice place to hide electronics like printers, faxes, copiers and credit card terminals. It can also hold forms and office supplies (but you knew that).

I love chalkboards and bulletin boards for home offices. They hold notes, memos, art display, vendor notices and can be attractive and contain clutter all at the same time.  Hang on the wall or place on an easel or art shelf. Closet doors can be upholstered or painted with chalkboard paint. Even an entire wall covered in cork or upholstery can be used, plus this doubles for acoustical privacy!

Office systems are expensive. However, they offer many ideas for simplifying and offering a safer environment.  One of them is “smart” furniture where wiring and multiple plugs are enabled within the piece for all of the electronics we have on our desk. This can be replicated at home with clever planning. Check out Pinterest for ideas.

Habits to get into if you work at home: You can use all of the clever boxes, containers, baskets and jars that you use elsewhere in the home to help keep things organized. Shelves are the most valuable storage asset in a home office. Do not rule out housing manuals and books in hall libraries outside the home office.

Here’s a few more tips:

  • Keep office and home mail separated.
  • Do not take business papers out of your office into the living area.
  • Label all computer discs and tapes immediately.
  • Keep business stationery at a handy location on your desk.
  • File daily
  • Have a spot in your office specifically allocated for placing the things you need to take with you when you go. 

 Home office design should also take into consideration your industry.  There will be different needs for a teacher, physicist, and architect.  As in all things, it’s the differences that add the potential for greatness.  

So how is your Clutter Cleanse going? We’ve been at it for almost two weeks now. Do you feel lighter? Post in our Facebook group. Keep the pictures coming. You’re doing great!

Not a member of our Clutter Cleanse community? Click here for more information. We’d love to have you join us!