‘Working from home’ sounds like an idealistic scenario...
Walk into the next room, coffee mug and snack in hand, ready to start work. All without having to worry too much about finessing your appearance or leaving the house for the early morning commute..
However, not everyone who has found themselves working from home over the last year would agree that it’s all that idyllic at times.
Our home office is often used as a dumping ground for all things great and small.
It is probably the room that you least want to spend the entire day in.
Having to go in your spare room to do a days work can be a daunting prospect…
This article is dedicated to giving you a boost of fresh ideas to make your home office more comfortable and inviting.
After overcoming our very own spare room of doom, we will share some simple actionable ways to make your home office a much more enjoyable place to be.
So much so, you will actually WANT to spend time in there!
Make as much space as possible
Have a clear out / sell, donate or move things that you haven’t seen or used for ages to start to make space.
Chances are, if you haven’t seen something for ages and can’t even remember the last time it was used, (unless it is a family treasure) then you are probably holding onto it for the sake of it and can let go.
There are a tonne of ways to make a bit of extra cash, and it really doesn’t matter what sort of things you have to sell. If you kept something for this long, the chances are, someone else would be happy to buy it from you.
Whether it’s on Ebay, Shpock, Vinted, Facebook marketplace, the next time you have a spare 10 minutes, get your phone out, list a few of your oddments and give yourself a pat on the back. You’ve taken the first step to decluttering your life.
Plus, you can use the extra few quid towards creating your dream home office..
Create as much space as you possibly can.
Donate things to charity or give away to friends and family. The space you’re left with if going to house your lovely and very important home office.
Office desks, computers, filing systems and chairs can take up an awful lot of space when you add everything up.
So start small and start now, clear out stuff you don’t need and make space.
Carefully Consider Lighting
Think about natural light and choosing the best location for your home office area.
It might not be in a spare bedroom, you might not even have a spare bedroom.
Your space might be a corner in the kitchen, or even an alcove under the stairs, just remember one thing.
Try to choose somewhere with natural light from a window.
Natural light is the king of all lights and can change the whole mood and feel of a workspace for the better.
Even a small window will make a positive difference, your will almost certainly feel your mood and enthusiasm improve if you’re not relying solely on an electric lightbulb.
Talking of electric lightbulbs..
Get a decent light bulb and shade in the room – to create a light that is easy on the eyes and doesn’t give you a headache.
A main light or lamp that is too dark will create unnecessary strain on your eyes. Especially when staring at a backlit computer screen for long periods of time.
Carefully considering your lighting is especially important when converting an existing room or space in your home to a home office.
The lighting you have currently is probably an ambient light, perfect for family relaxing time, having dinner or just general household goings on.
But it probably isn’t ideal lighting for a comfortable home office.
Now picture a typical business office environment. Bet you thought of ceiling tiles and bright white lights with reflector panels behind them.
Ever wondered why the lighting in commercial offices always makes you look so pale..?
The lighting in office is very bright because there are often few windows especially on a large office floorspace. When working on a computer, a certain level of light is needed to avoid eyestrain.
You could also change the light shade, we were surprised to see the difference it made changing an old deep drum shade to a vintage metal factory light shade.
All of the light now points downwards. Instead of being lost inside the shade.
If your main ceiling light is not bright enough, you could consider buying a table or floor lamp. Get a daylight bulb if you can (not warm or cool) to give the best natural lighting effect for your home office.
You need a good chair, especially if you work at a desk for long periods.
An ergonomic one is preferable if your budget allows. You will be thankful in the long run.
It is too easy to simply use one of your spare dining chairs at a desk or the dining table, or even to sit on the sofa with a laptop to work.
However, a couple of weeks of this and your body will not thank you for it.
Trust me, I’ve been there.
The height of your desk will work best for you if you are able to sit snugly tup to it without the arms of your computer chair hitting the frame of the desk.
An ergonomic chair will provide support for your back, perfectly cushioning your body to hold you in the correct position. Instead of you having to sit in a strange and slightly strained way to reach the keyboard or to sit up straight.
A good chair will increase your comfort when working and also impact your productivity and mood for the better.
You may be looking for a new office desk to be the central point of your home office or you may be making do and mending with what you already have.
Either is fine and it’s totally up to you.
The main thing to consider is if you can sit comfortably at the desk, is it the right height for your set up and your computer chair?
A desk that is too low or too high will not be very comfortable to sit at.
The desk in a home office really is the glue that holds everything together. You will be looking at it for hours and hours every day.
So aside from cost and functionality, choosing or even home building a desk that makes you think ‘ahhhh’ every time you look at it will most certainly up your home office appeal and make it a more enjoyable place to be.
For our home office we chose a long (2 metre!) table that was sold as a dining table, this provides enough desk space to set up two work stations side by side.
Your desk can really be made of anything, there are so many styles to choose from.
Or you might even get creative and repurpose some old IKEA furniture into a makeshift desk.
The choice is yours!
Clearing the largest area possible on your desk and decluttering will make it more inviting and less stressful place to work.
Being surround by ongoing projects and issues to resolve only makes your home office less inviting and more cluttered.
I am a massive stationary geek and any excuse to look at drawer organisers or a desk tidy and I’m there!
Having a beautiful desk tidy with neatly organised papers and accessories is much more enjoyable to look at than an unorganised mess.
Think minimal and try to allocate just a few minutes at the end of each day to clear and tidy up your work area. Think, how would someone else react if they had to walk into your office and begin work in the morning, overwhelmed by clutter? It’s time to streamline your workspace!
Add Personal Touches
Just as you would in a work office outside the home, a few personal things like a family photo, a nice dedicated work mug, some gorgeous stationary or a beautiful desk tidy go a long way to improving your mood and making your office more inviting.
If you have something special to you that makes you smile every time you look at it, create a special home for it in your home office.
It may make you feel comforted, uplifted, or remind you of what you have to look forward to after work.
The beautiful thing about working from home is that it grants you total freedom on the creativity and style of your office.
So let your office be a haven of what you enjoy, whether that be dried flowers or toy cars! Gone are the days of laminated desks white walls and a dying house plant in the break room.
Be creative and let your home office space represent what you love.
A chance you would never normally get, when working in an standard office outside your home.
This doesn’t have to happen overnight of course, it can be an ongoing project, something you look forward to doing, not a chore.
Clean, and Clean Again
Allow your office to be a little sanctuary of calm and cleanlines
You will be able to focus and not be distracted by dust or anything else relating to general cleaning in the home if your office remains in a fairly neat and tidy state.
Its too easy when working from home to be critical of the tidiness of your home office (as you are in your home).
There are no office cleaners to empty the bins, wipe down the desks and hoover up crumbs! It’s all down to you.
Starting new cleaning habits in your home office and being responsible for keeping it super clean and tidy will make it much more inviting and comfortable.
Maybe it’s listening through headphones, a playlist on your computer, iPod or even YouTube.
We use a basic Amazon Alexa device for our music in the office. We like the versatility of switching between radio stations and then unlimited music on demand.
We are too lazy to create playlists in advance, so usually stick with ‘Alexa play classical music’ and see what happens..
There is also the convenience of how small this device is, taking up much less precious space than our stereo, which is currently retired to a cupboard for now.
However, if you prefer, you could use a stereo system. Even make it part of your home office decor.
The only downside of a physical stereo system is the distraction of having to manually change CD’s. However, this may be seen as a positive and be a good way to have a little pause from work every now and again to stretch out, move around and choose a new CD.
Music helps with focus, mood and to block out background noise.
Try a few different types of music, try music you wouldn’t usually listen to.
For me, music with words in is too distracting, I need instrument only music to avoid getting lost in the lyrics.
However, having the radio on in the office might be a welcome change for you after not being allowed to have it on in the work office..
If you are experimenting with different types of background audio, it is worth mentioning;
- Audio books / Stories read aloud on Youtube – They can really help you escape and alleviate monotony whilst working, they work best for people who have creative jobs, you might be sitting for hours working on Photoshop, a story will be a welcome break. If you are on a call centre headset however, an audio book isn’t going to work for you.
- Various forms of white noise – Can be found online, on Amazon music and YouTube to name a few places. There is every type of white noise you could imaging, from a distant buzzing noise which helps to drown out annoying or distracting background sounds in your office. To the daily hustle and bustle of the noise inside a coffee shop – we have listened to a coffee shop on many times on Youtube. It gives you a little sense of escapism and can help you to focus.
Heater / Blanket for Winter
Sitting still while working at a computer can quickly make you start to feel cold.
Especially when working from home, where you would normally be moving around and doing things around the house.
The dilemma of every work from home person, do you put the central heating on to stay warm, heating the whole house when you’re only working from one room?
Or do you use an electric portable heater to heat only the one room you’re working in?
Unfortunately its one of those things that you will figure out from trial and error.
We were using oil filled radiators in the office, however, figured out after a winter that having the heating on in the house was more economical to keep the house warm than using electric heaters on a high setting.
If you do use a plug in heater, try to avoid fan heaters as these draw the most power and cost the most to run out of all the different types of heaters.
One things for sure, it’s not nice and it is quite difficult to work effectively when you’re too cold, so spend some time thinking about how to warm up your office and it will instantly be a more enjoyable place to be.
- It is also worth considering if you can wear an extra layer or two of clothing, some thermal clothing under your normal clothing might seem weird when you’re at home but can make such a difference.
- We have also tried wearing fingerless gloves to stop the hands from stiffening up – but they to tend to be cumbersome and get in the way of typing and mouse use.
- A nice way to make your office more inviting is to treat yourself to a special blanket that you can use as a dedicated office blanket, again it might seem weird, as you certainly wouldn’t use blanket in a professional work place.
However, working from home is different and having a cosy snuggly blanket wrapped round your legs will stop cold draughts and make you feel instantly warmer and more comfortable.
Decoration / Decor
If your working from home stint is only for the short term, it might be worth skipping past this section. As you don’t want to spend money unnecessarily on decorating a room which won’t be a home office forever.
However, if working from home is your new way of life, it is definitely worth considering redecorating your home office. Preferably before setting up all of your desk and computer equipment.
Wall Colour and Decor
If you have an outdated style in your room, it can make you feel a bit down if this is your new work environment.
Even just a simple fresh paint job in a light and airy colour can make a world of difference.
‘Simplify’ and ‘freshen’ are two words that if followed will make your office space a more inviting place to be.
If your style is more flamboyant and you can’t bear the thought of plain walls, don’t be afraid to unleash your creativity.
Paint a mural, hang some interesting wallpaper or choose a bold colour to create a design accent in your room.
Inject life and energy to the room and hopefully you will feel much more happy and comfortable in your home office.
If you can’t go the full hog and decorate your room with paint, wallpaper or something else transformational, don’t be disheartened.
Adding some personal accessories would still help to make you feel comforted and happier in your home office too, without having to drastically change the room.
You could consider things such as:
- Adding a pin board, and personalising with patterned paper, oddments, train tickets, photos or something that you associate with a happy feeling.
- Add a rug to your room, especially useful if you have wooden floors under your desk area for an added softness to the room. (And to stop your chain sliding around all over the place!)
- Update your desk with some new or home crafted stationary and accessories. It doesn’t have to cost anything, a cardboard box, turned into a storage container by painting it will add a bright a cheery accent to your desk.
- Bringing in a throw / blanket – in a bright contrasting or complimentary to your decor colour, they look nice draped over the back of your chair and you can put the blanket over your legs to stop horrible cold draughts.
- Even just putting a simple nail in the wall and using it to hang a favourite handbag, a pair of shoes, an antique object from around the house or something else that you love – it doesn’t have to be a piece of art to go on the wall.
- If you’re fortunate enough to have shelving or wall shelves in your home office, spend a bit of relaxing time curating a little display of oddments and things you find around your home. It doesn’t have to be symmetrical or match anything. Sometimes the best shelf displays are totally random.
- If you have a garden or have anywhere with flowers (if not, you can cheat and a buy a few from a local shop,) arrange them beautifully in a little milk jug, vase or even a mug. It doesn’t have to be a huge bouquet. A few simple bits and bobs from the garden, brought inside can make a world of difference.
Computer Monitor / Laptop Screen
Staring at a screen for long periods can be draining for your eyes and energy levels. There’s not much you can do, if you need to be at a computer to work.
Always try to use the best monitor / computer screen that you can.
But do explore options to make your screen use more comfortable and less of a burden to your eyes.
- Anti glare glasses are a good option if you are suffering from staring at a screen.
- Sitting your laptop on a stand to raise it to a more comfortable level and angle is a good idea – you can get stands that are manoeuvrable to raise and lower different parts to suit your specific set up.
- Having a computer monitor at the correct height and angle makes a world of difference for comfort levels.
Using multiple monitors can boost productivity.
This may be something you are already used to from your current or old job. Or it may be a new concept.
There have been times when I have been trying to work on multiple designs, articles, emails and files all at once and I have found that I just run out of screen space.
A second monitor would have been an effective tool to save time switching between multiple tabs and programs constantly.
This is of course not essential. But depending on your line of work, you may benefit from occasional using a second monitor.
(Instead of buying a new one for your second monitor, you could consider looking in second hand in a charity shop or a shop that recycles electronics to reduce the impact on the environment.)
Mouse and Keyboard
Using and ergonomic mouse and keyboard will allow you to work faster and more comfortably for long hours.
In our house we have a constant battle between my parter and I about my love of my Mac computer and co-ordinating accessories vs his Windows computer mouse and keyboard.
I adore my Mac mouse and keyboard, they look so sleek and beautiful, they’re like a little piece of perfection sitting on the desk and I smile internally every time I see them.
By contrast, his chunky noisy keyboard and fairly ugly looking mouse do not design favours to the office at all.
Yet, when it comes to ease of navigation, speed of typing and maintenance (cleaning and battery changing), I hate to admit that he wins on all three accounts every time.
Having an ergonomic mouse and keyboard, with a wire, might not be the most attractive looking set up. But ultimately, will save you from aching wrists, and save you time by not having the charge / change batteries and enable to to type more quickly, as the keys are more spread out over a bigger keyboard.
It is your choice, as you are working from home and get to choose your equipment!
Choose what works for you and makes you the most happy and comfortable as this will ultimately impact how much time you are happy to spend working in your home office.
In my humble opinion, if your work means you don’t have heavy use of a mouse and keyboard, then a beautifully designed set will boost your mood and enjoyment in the office.
Make the most of your Broadband
As someone who has experienced a lot of it, I agree 100% that slow internet is indeed infuriating.
But don’t fear,
There are ways that you can make it faster and more reliable though.
(Without necessarily increasing your broadband plan cost – although this is an option of course.)
We live in an old house with very thick walls and the signal was not good enough to reach upstairs to provide a good connection.
A simple wifi booster was the solution. It cost around £15 and simply plugs into the wall and helps to provide a consistent and excellent connection.
By implementing some of these ideas into organising your home office, you will definitely have made it a more inviting and comfortable place to be.
You will probably have learned a few things about your individual style too along the way and discovered what is really important to you.
Good luck with designing and upgrading your home office and most importantly, have fun.
Nothing is set in stone, and the beautiful thing about a home office is that you can move everything to a different room, location, refresh the decor whenever you want to..
Co-ordinate your accessories to the seasons or make your space so instagram worthy that everyone you know will be trying to copy you.
You don’t have to spend a lot of money.
By rooting around the house with an open mind, you are bound to find something (or many things!) that you can bring into your home office to make it a little more quirky, personal, practical or comfortable.
Don’t worry about buying new things, why not paint something old, an old tray or plant pot for example to up-cycle some new accessories.
- Move a blanket or cushion from the living room to the office.
- Switch around lamps and chairs in your home to keep things fresh – the same item in a new location can change your opinion of it.
- Use craft techniques to renovate old items.
- Go a cut something from the garden and put it in a glass or vase of water. A simple nod to the outdoors can really add a spark of happiness to a room.
We try to minimise the amount of ‘stuff’ we buy, and always try to repurpose, reuse and recycle wherever possible.
There is something very satisfying about knowing you have saved something from going into landfill and finding a new home for it.
A home office can be anything you want it to be, so have fun, be creative and get started!