Top Ten Design Tips: Number 10
#10 Does The Work Ever End?
With many people working from home, even if its just a place to pay the electric bill or check the emails, a home office is more than a luxury. For some its even a necessity. As more people choose to work from home, operate a second business or continue with some type of employment after retirement, a home office has become an important element in design of residential environments. With computers, paper files to keep and books to read, creating a unique and special location that not only provides some privacy, increases the level of concentration and productivity but can provide storage and security of personal documents and records.
In the opinion of this designer, probably the single worst place for a true home office is in the kitchen. But that is often just the location that builders and kitchen planners will attempt to locate one. Despite the lack of privacy and storage, just the functionality of being shoved off to a corner of a kitchen doesn’t say much about the important work that might happen there. Often limited by space and conflict of tasks, try to place a computer, keyboard, printer and fax machine on a desk top that wasn’t made for much more than just a phone, notepad and two cook books.
So if there is no room for a dedicated office space, consider all the other locations where a home office might be placed:
–> a large walk-in closet is perfect for a one-person workspace, just maybe not for two people;
–> clear out that second bedroom that only gets used three times a year,…a much better use of the space, even getting rid of the bed, using a sleeper sofa, perhaps a wall bed for those times when guests stay over;
–> if a more serious space is required, consider converting carving out a space in the garage for a home office;
–> since the dining room is one of the most underused areas in a home, the dining table can be used to stretch out personal papers, set up a lap top with wireless internet activity, perhaps even using the buffet as a place to store + file the paperwork. And after all, how many times do you actually use a formal dining room more than 10 days a year? Making the dining room serve double duty provides a better return on that investment of space.
Next… so now that you have considered options for a potential space,… here are the important considerations to make sure the space becomes an effective space.
• Make sure that you plan for plenty of storage that is close by, perhaps in an adjacent closet.
• Provide for adequate task lighting to match the level of activity.
• Electrical outlets will need to be plentiful since we have to plug in so many things including cellphones and iPods along with everything else.
• Make provisions to file and lock up important papers from prying eyes and nosey visitors.
• When outfitting your workspace, buy the best when it comes to an office chair. After all, one may be spending a good deal of time working from home and the proper chair will provide much needed support.
• And finally, remember the IRS rules for home offices. If you use a portion of your home for business purposes, you may be able to take a home office deduction whether you are self-employed or an employee. Expenses that you may be able to deduct for business use of the home may include the business portion of real estate taxes, mortgage interest, rent, utilities, insurance, depreciation, painting and repairs.
For more information about the IRS’s rules for home offices, go HERE.
So there you have it, the Top Ten Design Tips. Hope you enjoyed the series. Did we miss any? Your comments welcomed.
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Michael is an award winning interior designer based in Palm Desert, CA. He is a Professional Member of the American Society of Interior Designers and a member of the ASID College of Fellows.
As a Certified Aging In Place Specialist, he creates smart looking spaces that are safe and secure and create homes for a lifetime.
And with thirty plus years in the profession, he has honed his humor, elevated his passion for design and sharpened his wit to not take anything too seriously except his design work.