It's a common piece of advice from effective home-based workers that you should start each day as if you were going to work in an office outside your home. (Translation: take a shower and don't work in your pajamas.) The philosophy behind this tidbit is easy to understand.
The same axiom can apply to your home office. Is it tucked in a dark corner of the spare bedroom? Is your desk beside a bed covered in old toys? Is your filing cabinet stuffed in the closet under clothes? If your home office doesn't feel professional and uplifting, how productive and happy can you be spending eight or more hours a day there?
Decorating your home office isn't an art, but following some basic principles of office design can help create an organized, effective and productivity-enhancing space.
Choose a wall color that facilitates focus.
Even if your home office will be in the guest room that you just painted last year, it may be a good idea to repaint. Not only does a fresh coat of paint make a room feel energized and new, repainting gives you the opportunity to put a color on the wall that's office-appropriate.
In an interview by Chris Bailey of the blog "A Life of Productivity," color psychologist and author Angela Wright suggests that your home office color scheme needs to match the type of work you do because different colors create different effects. For example, Wright says, blue might be stimulating if you do a lot of mental work in your home office. Additionally, yellow could encourage creativity, and green might be soothing if your work is particularly stressful and balance is important.
Luxuriate in light.
"You are stuck in your office - albeit at home - all day, working and slaving away, staring at the same wall and some bland office furniture you got at a garage sale," writes Herman Chan in Home Business Magazine. "Spending all those hours in the same spot, it would behoove you to splurge on one luxury piece." Chan suggests an inspiring piece of furniture, but you can also create a luxe effect - with only a modest "splurge" - by decorating with lighting elements such as a skylight.
Add a solar-powered fresh air skylight and an energy-efficient solar-powered blind to your home office and the products, as well as the installation, can be eligible for a 30 percent federal tax credit as a green home improvement.
If your home office happens to be located in a renovated attic space, roof windows, which are very much like skylights but are in-reach, can offer natural light and fresh air plus access to the roof for debris removal, maintenance or for emergency access.
Organize with attractive storage.
If your idea of home office storage includes the cardboard boxes you used to transport files from the last job you had outside your home, it's time to revisit your organizational plan. A cluttered, disorganized home office can cause you to misplace important documents and can make you feel overwhelmed.
As more people have begun working from home, office furniture manufacturers have branched out from the sterile-looking metal storage units ubiquitous in workplaces across the country. Today, it's easy to find attractive storage options that fit with virtually any home office decor.
If you just can't find a file cabinet that speaks to your soul, why not try some alternative storage options? Move that beautiful sideboard you inherited from grandma - that just never fit anywhere else in your house - into your home office and use it for filing. Not in love with any of the desk options available at your local office store? Hit an antique shop and find an antique desk or even a dining table that you adore. Remember to keep furnishings and storage solutions size-appropriate for the room so your home office doesn't feel crowded.
Working from home offers many advantages, including the opportunity to decorate your home office the way you want. By following some basic steps and incorporating your own personality, you can create a home office where you'll be productive and happy throughout the work day.