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Designing Your Home Office

When you design your home office, you should take into account three factors: your work style, workspace, and the equipment you will need. Fortunately, as the number of home office workers increase, furniture manufacturers have introduced a wide array of furniture to meet various work styles. For those who like to move around as they work, there are some interesting new options.

Work surfaces are becoming increasingly flexible. Many manufacturers now offer work surfaces with smooth mechanisms, either automatic or hand-controlled, that allow adjustment from 25" to 49" in height so that you can alternate between sitting and standing positions.

While your work style might benefit from adjustable work surfaces, you should first determine whether your workspace would accommodate such flexibility. Before designing your workspace, you should first collect all the relevant data you will need to make intelligent decisions.

First, carefully measure the space you have for your work area. Remember to measure very carefully if you plan on installing a wall-to-wall system since every inch will be critical to fitting your space. Make sure to measure where your windows are including the height from the floor to the sill. Also, don't forget to measure you doors and closets.

It would also be useful to note where your electrical outlets are positioned. Should you have prominent baseboards, crown molding, or heating ducts, it is also important to measure these features.

Proper workspace design must also address your unique equipment needs. How big is your monitor? Do you have a horizontal or vertical CPU? What are the sizes of your key electronic equipment such as your printer, scanner, fax machine, speakers, or telephone? A good home office designer will need this information to plan a workspace that truly meets your needs.

1. Consider the type of room where your office is or will be located.

  • What are the dimensions of the room?

  • Where are the windows located? Do they open up, down, in, or out? How high are they off the ground? If you need to minimize glare, have you considered window coverings?

  • Where are the electrical outlets located? Are there enough? Is the power sufficient for your hardware? We recommend that you consult an electrician should you have any questions.

  • Where are your phone outlets? Are there enough? Do you need to add a line for a fax or modem connection? Have you considered an ISDN line to access the Internet at higher speeds?

  • Is the space’s current lighting sufficient?

  • Are there any closets that can be better utilized in a well-planned workspace?

  • Is noise a problem? If so, is the room carpeted? Should better acoustics be incorporated into the room?

  • Is the room used for any other purpose that would affect the layout of the office? Do you need to hide your workspace? Do you need to incorporate a bed or upholstered furniture? Many options exist to satisfy all these needs.


2. Consider how you currently work.

  • Do you like to spread out or do you work compactly?

  • How many hours a day do you spend working on a computer?

  • Do you use a laptop or personal computer?

  • Does your work surface require a special shape or edge?

  • Can your space accommodate your work style? Perhaps you should consider changing your work habits or looking for another workspace.

  • How much drawer space do you need? Do you prefer to keep your supplies on your desk? What sort of supplies do you use?

  • Where would you like your computer peripherals, shelving, and file storage to be located? How could these be placed to minimize excessive or uncomfortable movement during use? Consider how often you need to access each item so that everything can be placed in a proper location.

  • Do you use a task light? If so, what kind is it (halogen, fluorescent, incandescent)? Are you pleased with the light it provides?

  • Do you require a height adjustable work surface? An adjustable keyboard tray? A monitor arm? Good ergonomics are key to a good workspace. Ask our space planners for details.

  • Analyze your daily activities. Do you do a lot of keyboard work? Do you have an excellent ergonomic chair that will complement those activities?
  • What type of flooring will your chair be used on? Do you have the proper chair mat to assist in your ergonomic needs and to keep your floors and carpets from wearing?

  • Are two people sharing a room? If so, make sure that both individuals’ work habits and needs are taken into account.

  • Will you need to accommodate guests in the space? If so, what kind of seating/conferencing space will be necessary?


3. Consider storage needs, specific dimensions, and accessories.

  • Storage needs:
Files: Letter or legal size. Linear feet of storage needed (e.g. 15’ of file storage).
Bookshelves: Height and depth. Liner feet of storage needed. Oversized volumes?
Other specific storage needs?
  • Computer Systems:


    Hardware Height Width Depth
  • CPU - Note if CPU is a vertical tower or horizontal. Does the monitor rest on the CPU?
  • Are grommets needed? Grommets are holes in the work surface that allow wires to pass through to power and/or connect the office equipment. What is the best location for grommets? How thick is the widest plug that will be fed through the hole? Please make sure that you look at your printer cable that usually has the largest head and often times requires a big grommet.


4. Consider other important issues.


  • Will you wish to retain existing furnishings in the new office configuration?

  • What are the dimensions of existing pieces?

  • What colors would you prefer for your new furnishings?

  • What materials do you like? Do you prefer wood, wood veneer, laminate? What stain or color would you like on your selected material?

  • What is your budget?


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