Space Planning Tips for Home Offices

Planning makes a good (floor) plan. A home office specialist shares ideas on making your home office more productive.

February 1, 2001

Sue Walling, president of SW Design Inc. in Edina, Minn., and instructor of the American Society of Interior Designers’ course on home office design shares her expert tips on making your home office more workable, whatever your budget or your floor space.

Planning is a vital to designing a successful home office, so before you buy anything:

  • Make a list of every piece of equipment and furniture you’ll need in your home office. Do you need a full-size copier or can you use a desktop model? How many drawers of files will you need to accommodate? Will you need seating for clients? A comprehensive list lets you find space for everything rather than shoehorning in a piece after the design is complete.
  • Decide who will need access to your office. Do you want to be able to reach your children easily or do you want privacy while someone else watches them?
  • Determine who else will be sharing the space. If you are seeing clients or sharing the office with a personal assistant, chose a location that doesn’t bring outsiders through your family’s living space.
  • Analyze when and how you work best. Will you use the office mostly at night? If so, be sure to add more lighting. Do you like to walk around when you talk on the phone? Leave room to pace. Would you rather be sitting in a lounge chair when you talk on the phone? Make space for one. Creating a home office layout that aids your concentration pays off, says Walling.
  • Decide what tools and files you use most frequently, and design to have them close at hand. Never have your key files and tools more than two feet from your chair, advises Walling.
  • Spend money on a good, ergonomic chair and adjust it correctly. A chair that’s the correct height for your task can make you much more comfortable and productive, says Walling.
  • Select furniture that flows with the home, but remember to keep it professional looking. “A home office is still an office, just on a smaller scale,” says Walling.
  • Be sure you have enough lighting and power. Add task lighting under built-in cabinets and several lamps. Bedrooms, where many home offices are located, often don’t have enough lights or outlets for office equipment.

Walling also offered her ideas on ways to improve the floor plans of the three home offices featured in the February 2001 issue of REALTOR® Magazine.

Mariwyn Evans

Mariwyn Evans is a former REALTOR® Magazine writer and editor, covering both residential brokerage and commercial real estate topics.

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