Once upon a time, your house was your home and your office was your work place. You’d spend most of the day at the office and your home was for escape and to relax. It was small yet efficient. But in this New Normal, your office may have gone away. You’re home all the time but still need a work space.
Maybe your house doesn’t fit you anymore. What to do?
The good news is that you don’t need to move, you just need fresh eyes to multi-purpose existing spaces. Consider these: a guest bedroom, a workout room, a nook under the stairs, the laundry room, a large hallway, a walk-in closet. Many can be outfitted with a desk, a chair and storage tools to make a functioning, comfortable office.
“What I’m seeing, now that people have had to spend a lot of time in their home, is that they are noticing things that are right and wrong about it,” said Barbara Bronk of Barbara Bronk Interior Design in Boulder. “This is a great opportunity to reorganize because many people are not going back to an office.”
Where to start? First, Bronk suggests thinking outside the box to determine what could function as your work area. Look at your rooms not simply as what they have been designed for, but with an objective perspective.
Secondly, define what the space will be used for. Keep the work area focused and specific to allow the rest of the room to continue to function as needed. If it is a guest room, consider replacing the regular bed with a space-saving Murphy bed. If it is a den, reduce some of the furniture. (“I’ve hauled out tons of sofas to create work surfaces,” Bronk said with a laugh.)
Thirdly, make it nicer! Get a comfortable chair, an attractive desk and interesting art for the wall above it. Remove anything in that area that you don’t use or don’t like. Surround yourself with things that speak to you and make you feel good. If there isn’t a space that can be solely dedicated to a work area – say, the dining room table – use containers, baskets and portable files to keep things tidy and moveable.
Another important consideration is privacy. Are you having Zoom meetings and the mute and video buttons are not an option? Do you need to be able to keep out noisy family activity and the tantrumming toddler? Then your work area should be in a room with a locking door.
Lastly, Bronk recommends fresh paint to recreate the space literally and figuratively. “People need a softer environment around them for their home office, not bold colors. Soothing whites, creams, even whites with a pink tone,” she recommended.
The result? A new work environment to meet this new world’s challenges, one that allows you to be productive, efficient and calm.