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7 Tips for Designing a Home Office You’ll Want to Work In

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Jan. 8 2016, Published 2:30 a.m. ET

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Working from home sounds like a dream, and in some respects it is. After all, there’s no commute, your coffee is always available, no one steals your lunch, and sometimes you can work in your jammies. That’s awesome, but there are some downsides to it as well. It’s easy to get distracted, and it’s sometimes hard to get motivated to work in a home office that’s less than inspiring.

Here’s how to make your home office work to your advantage.

1. Location, Location, Location

Where you decide to work is probably one of the most important aspects of a home office. You’ll want to be apart from the rest of the house, not smack dab in the middle. After all, the more of your house you can see, the more likely you are to do things in it. On the same note, the more of the house that can see you, the more likely it is to invade – especially kids and significant others. By keeping yourself separated from the family sections of the house, it’s easier to maintain a work/home separation.

2. Design for Work, Not Impression

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Pinterest is dangerous. Sure, it’s full of beautiful ideas, but those ideas might not really be applicable to the work you do or your organization skills. Use Pinterest for inspiration, but use reality for execution. You might need a lot of table space, special lighting, or – gasp – even a filing cabinet. Don’t choose those things based on looks alone. If they aren’t functional, you’ll end up hating them anyway.

3. Don’t Underestimate Storage Space

Storage is nature’s way of keeping us sane. OK, maybe not exactly, but it’s really easy to underestimate the amount of storage you’re going to end up needing. Pens, paperclips, folders and other office supplies can take up a surprising amount of space. Don’t limit yourself to a single desk with drawers. Instead, line the walls with shelves, create a long desk around the perimeter of the room and choose a desk with a lot of storage.

4. Light the Way

People tend to think that the lighting will be fine the way it is, but bad lighting can have a serious damper on your mood and your work ethic. Natural light is key. It’s perfect for your eyes, prevents you from using artificial lights all day and provides a nice view for when you need a few moments to think.

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When that thinking leads into the evening hours, make sure you have soft, comfortable lighting available. Working in the dark is stressful, and harsh fluorescents can give anyone a headache. Keep the lights soft and neutral. A small desktop lamp will be easier on your eyes in the evening than bright, overhead bulbs.

5. Bring the Outdoors In

A bit of greenery in your office not only makes it look lovely, but it can also add to part of your routine, help lower your stress levels, and increase your productivity. Even if you don’t have much of a green thumb, the simple act of having a green plant in your workspace is helpful. If you’re really worried about killing it, you can get the simplest option of all – an air plant. They need almost no water to survive, so they’re pretty durable. However, if you do have some skill with plants, then other options, like rubber plants or peace lilies, can also act as air purifiers. They’re much quieter than the electric ones!

6. Create a Nook

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You’ll probably have some contracts to read over. If not, you’ll still need to do some reading just to keep abreast of what’s going on in your industry. A reading nook is perfect for that. A comfortable lounge or loveseat with a good view and an end table are all you really need. Add a few pillows and a blanket, and suddenly work doesn’t sound so bad, does it?

7. Get Comfy

Speaking of your comfort levels, you should also take into account the kind of chair you want to use. It’s pretty easy to choose an attractive chair; practically every company makes one. However, attractive doesn’t mean you’ll actually want to sit in it for eight hours a day. Stick with the ergonomic options and you’ll be happy for a much longer time. Think about how to choose the kind of ergonomic chairs you want. Some may offer more back support, while others might recline. There are also options for exercise balls, kneeling and even standing.

Working from home is a great opportunity, so long as it’s done correctly. By creating an office space you love to look at and love to be in, you might actually enjoy working.

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