An office can be the missing piece to the puzzle that is your home. It's a command center for busy parents, a professional space for telecommuters and an area where creativity comes to life. As more of our busy schedules morph into around-the-clock lifestyles, working from the couch just won't cut it anymore.
But who's got that kind of space?
We talked to design experts Todd Black (celeb clients include Veronica Webb) and Taylor Spellman (from the show Yours Mine or Ours) about how to transform small areas into home offices. Their interior decorating tips and innovative ideas for maximizing even the smallest spaces prove that anyone can work an office into their living environment.
Check out their tips below to learn how. You'll want to know the location of your nearest Home Depot for this.
"I've found that you can get so much mileage out of a book shelf or wall shelf," Taylor said about making use of the height of a room. She suggested going all the way up to the ceiling with your shelves, putting what you don't need up top. You can make those top shelves styled so they feel beautiful, with items like family photos, great books you won't be reading any time soon or a succulent. You can even get matching baskets or boxes and store them with old files or documents.
Because every element in this area is crucial, if it's possible to have a cabinet that closes where you can hide things, do it. "If you can't do it because of space constraints, make sure that you're really crafty in which materials you pick to hide your stuff." Make choices that are visually pretty, uniform and clean, like stylish filing boxes. They may not be hidden, but it's a storage solution that's decorative, which will clear up your mind and facilitate a more productive working environment.
"There's nothing worse than going down to sit at your desk and things are messy and disorganized," Taylor said.
While your natural instinct in a smaller space may be to play down the design, Todd suggests the exact opposite. "I think how you treat a wall or all the walls of a room can make a huge impact," he said. "I did a home office and we did great fuchsia wallpaper with shelving on top of it." Because this doesn't take away from the utilitarian nature of an office, it's an opportunity to experiment with a funky paper, stencils or stripes and happy colors.
Todd also said to think about what will energize and excite you. Your office should be inviting and reflective of your own personality. Something on the floor, such as an interesting throw rug, can make all the difference (be careful if you're using a desk chair that rolls, however). If you don't need ergonomically designed seating, you can look at dining room seating options instead and find something with patterned upholstery to add some flair to your chair.
"Because it's a small space, people forget about lighting," Taylor said. "But it's really important to make sure that the lighting is right and great because small spaces are typically dark."
Todd emphasized the same point, suggesting the appropriate adjustable desk and floor lamps you need to focus light exactly where you're working. "Lighting is incredibly important," he said. "There are great desk lamps out there that are fun and whimsical. Or, if you want modern and sleek to suit your aesthetic, it runs the gamut. But you do want to make sure you have a lot of light."
Taylor believes even an extra closet could become an office, with a bit of imagination and the address of your nearest Home Depot. Have someone cut a piece of wood that's the size of the inside of the closet and use two brackets to secure it on either side. Add some well-selected wallpaper and a succulent, and you've got yourself somewhere to work. "Instead of buying a desk that may or may not fit, this is a great solution," she said. "This way, you have a desk that runs the length of the closet. It's custom. Make sure your desk is super functional because that's the central point [of an office]."
Todd also mentioned customizing the your office to avoided wasted space. Her recommended elfa, the shelving and drawer system from The Container Store that can be designed to suit your needs. "You have to treat [your space] like a jigsaw puzzle," he explained. "You have to think about how things fit together. Every little square inch is special and can be used for something special."
The Container Store
Platinum Cabinet-Sized elfa Mesh Drawers, $11.25/each - $17.25/each
Both designers had the same cool solution to desktop clutter: a cork board. "It helps garner creativity and you know that what you've tacked up there is inspirational or urgent," Taylor said. "Have that be a living, breathing part of your office that grows and moves. It's a productivity tool."
Todd also pointed out the practicality of this tool for clearing off items from your desk that then become more visible and relevant to current tasks. "I like having my bulletin boards up because I can change them out and live with different themes. I can also get a great sense of my business and what the overall vision of a project is."
Another cool trick that accomplishes a similar goal? "Magnetic paint," Todd says.
While a home office is an exciting and important addition to your living environment, both design experts stressed being able to distinguish between your working area and your sacred home space. When the two start to collide, you'll likely feel as though you're on the job all the time.