Your home office needs a makeover

Whether you work from home full-time or only some of the time, chances are good that after all that at-home hustling, things are looking a bit ragged around the edges.

Here are some ways to inspire you to get started on creating or updating the home office of your dreams.

Home design matters

Drew Scott, one half of HGTV’s Property Brothers thinks the design of your home office should matter as much as that of your home. “Who said your workspace should be neutral and uninspiring? That person should be fired. Nothing gets those creative juices flowing than having a classy, vibrant space.” Scott also told Ladders he loves a sophisticated glam home office. “It showcases your taste with pieces that are chic and packed with functionality to reduce the clutter, giving you a clear mind to chase after your goals.”

Consider this: Drew and brother Jonathan Scott, recently launched Casaza, a home décor line. Scott had a few picks for a home office elevated. He recommended the brown Wheaton desk which is simple but functional with its full-width storage. Scott also picked the Biscayne weathered bookshelves which “provide ample room for books and knickknacks, but also add the much needed extra elements to take the style up a notch in the room.”

Start with a plan

“You don’t need a big budget to create the home office of your dreams, but you should have a plan before you start to spend money. Think about function first, and that will help you to plan the items you need,” said Karen Swim, president of Solo PR Pro. Swim continued “If you store all of your documents electronically, you may not need a ton of filing space. If you will have clients come to your office, you may need additional seating.”

Consider this: NookDesk and Xdesk Porter both offer total customization and are handcrafted in Texas with hand-selected solid, sustainable materials like Plantation Oak, Bamboo, and recycled aluminum

Design matters

“When you’re working at home, I’ve found it to be really helpful to be working in a room that I enjoy,” said Emma McKinstry co-founder of 418 Communications. McKinstry, who works at home with her husband/business partner said “We’ve decorated our home office as we would any other room of the house, giving it equal attention and care. We spend a lot of time in there, so it’s been important to us to set the room up in a way that makes us feel comfortable, productive, and doesn’t distract us from our task(s) at hand.”

Consider this: Something as simple as a super cute kiln fired essential oil desk diffusers helps add focus to your day depending on the essential oil you use (peppermint helps you focus) along with a decorative touch.

Double up

Since your office is at home, chances are good that you won’t have loads of space. Swim said “I am a huge fan of getting the most bang for your buck, so buy pieces that can do double duty, like ottomans that have storage space and can also serve as extra seating or a table. If you don’t need portability, buy a desktop instead of a laptop; you’ll get a bigger screen and more storage at the same price point.”

Consider this: This super sleek chair from Gjemeni has built-in USB ports and 110-volt sockets so it looks great, doesn’t take up a ton of space, and is actually useful and beautiful.

Personalize it

Unlike the corporate life where you might have to be mindful of the tchotchkes you keep on your desk, you have more freedom for creative expression in a home office. To that end, Swim said “Don’t be afraid to personalize and create a space that allows you to do your best work. Paint and simple personal touches like photographs or art are easy ways to achieve that goal. You can create inexpensive artwork for your walls from photos or with cool objects framed by washi tape.”

Consider this: ArtSugar is a cutting-edge, affordable contemporary art retailer featuring quirky and edgy artists. They also donate proceeds from every purchase to charities including City Harvest, ASPCA, Girls Who Code, and God’s Love We Deliver.

Stick to your budget

Swim said “As for work tools, don’t blow your budget on a fancy desk, but do invest in a quality office chair (your back will thank you). If you don’t do a lot of printing, you can skip the printer and use your local office supply for occasional needs. On the flip side, McKinstry said “There’s nothing worse than being in the middle of an important project and having to stop to save your document to a USB drive, run out to FedEx, and print it – all because your home office doesn’t have a printer (or doesn’t have a working printer). Having the right equipment and tools puts you in a position to do your work well and in a timely manner, so it’s worth it to invest in whatever you need to do your job.”

Consider this: Comfort is very subjective, so it’s probably worth spending time in-person shopping for the perfect office chair.

If you have a stand-up desk, consider something beyond the mat. FluidStance Plane Cloud is almost like a wobble board molded from 100% post-industrial recycled plastic. It works by creating a subtle instability underfoot that increases range of motion, elevates heart rate, fires up your core and improves your balance. I tested one out and find it’s even great as a footrest as well.

There’s an app for that

Apps are your friend. If you’re a night owl but don’t want your clients to know you’re answering their crucial missives at midnight, use scheduling add-ons (Boomerang for Gmail is invaluable to me). McKinstry suggests Freshbooks “an excellent tool for bookkeeping, invoicing, and time-tracking.” Swim is a Trello fan and said: “I try to keep things streamlined, so appreciate having everything I use frequently available from one window.”

Some new tools for your at-home trade:

  • Microsoft’s Surface Laptop 2 is definitely on my wish list. It has a faster and more powerful processor and better battery life (up to 14.5 hours). It’s also more affordable and is available in a new color, matte black.
  • ASUS Zenbook PRO 15 has something called Screen Extender mode with the ScreenPad. You can extend your laptop’s screen onto ScreenPad™, giving you a dual display in one device. It’s a great option for your smaller space.
  • reMarkable is definitely pricey, but it also looks like a great option for those who doodle and sketch their ideas and need them easily accessible through the cloud as well. Wacom Intuos offers a much more affordable (albeit more limited) sketch-and-write to your computer option.
  • Freshen the air around your ‘puter with a new plant from Léon & George. They’re pruned and styled by interior design pros and for every plant sold funds are donated to plant a tree.
  • Working from home can be a lonely pursuit. Stop for a fun coffee break with your “coworkers” from UPS, FedEx, and USPS by sharing an adorable shot of FORTO, a 2 oz. shot of shelf-stable, organic cold brew that’s perfect to keep in your fridge or at your desk. Hershey’s Chocolate Latte anyone?