Do you love your home office? If you don't, do you know why your home office design isn't working for you? There's a story behind these questions which prompted my research on this topic. I know how important it is to love the space where you spend most of your time (love my space below).
My goal is to help you create the best home office possible in your home … one that fits your home and personality.
This story started when I moved my 87 year old mother from New York City to a one bedroom apartment in Portland, Maine. We finally convinced her that living 15 minutes from my sister would make life easier for everyone. My sister was close by so she could visit weekly, take my mother grocery shopping and doctor visits plus she'd now be able to participate in all family holiday celebrations.
My mother lived in her New York City apartment for more than 20 years. We realized if we didn't move all her furniture, we could handle the move ourselves. This also meant she'd start her new life in Maine with some bright new bookcases, table and chairs, lamps and a new white bedroom set. She was thrilled and decided she wanted everything new to be white.
At the same time we knew it was important to bring a few favorite pieces of furniture. My mother spends a lot of time sitting in her red lounger. She also thought her desk was in good condition and worth moving. Unfortunately the desk was removed by a neighbor when they picked up some other furniture.
Home Office Design Should Start with Your Desk
Wondering where to put the desk got me thinking about this topic. My mother's old desk faced a wall. It's no wonder that when I packed up her apartment, the only thing on her desk was her laptop which she seldom uses. All of her paperwork was on a table and nearby window sill looking out a large picture window … her view! It was pretty clear that a view was important to my mother.
You might think we're more productive facing a wall with fewer distractions. It appears that we will avoid (procrastinate?) sitting down to a desk that reduces our view to something like a prison cell. Now that I have to decide where to put a desk in my mother's new apartment, I realized I'd never considered the choices.
Once I discovered this article Feng Shui Home Office, I knew I'd found the magic formula plus a few modifications. You'll want to read the full article for home office do's and don'ts. My focus here is on the best location for your home office desk. Feng shui says “… the ideal feng shui desk placement is in the command position, also known as the power position. This means that while seated at your desk you can see the door and the incoming stream of people and energy.”
This makes a lot of sense as you're going to hear noises and rather than turning around, you only have to look up. Of course I tweaked this recommendation to say your desk should face the door AND a window whenever possible. And sometimes you'll have to make trade-offs like this tiny 8 by 8 ft home office I found in a new home yesterday. It felt like this home office was hidden for privacy as the house was more than 5,000 sq ft.
- Desk placed diagonally, so it faces two windows with great views.
- Oversized (comfortable) chair shares space used when opening/closing the door into the office.
A Home Office Desk Shouldn't Face a Wall
While I haven't studied Feng Shui extensively, the advice shared was so logical that it was easy to accept their recommendations. As I thought back through my last few home offices, I also realized that instinctively I have been positioning my home office desk correctly.
Just like the tiny home office challenge above, there are exceptions for things like a dual home office. This home office design seems perfect for sharing extra work space between two people, even if it requires the desks to face the wall.
This research also makes me appreciate so much more how home offices tucked into nooks like a closet or under the stairs are incredibly effective even when the desk faces a wall. So yes, there are great designs which work well when you've got the space. And there are more creative home office solutions when you don't have the space.
What's Your Biggest Home Office Design Challenge?
Once you've decided where and how to position your home office desk, you should confirm that your chair has enough room to let you sit up and get up comfortably … with extra floor space for a rolling chair. The other big challenges include:
- How big a desk top do you want? and how much storage you need in your desk.
- How many computer monitors you need? and how you'll support them on your desk. Monitors can sit on top of your desk, attach to your desk (mine is so I can raise my desk and work standing up) or … attach to the wall.
- How much storage you need to reach from your desk? plus extra storage in the room.
- What kind of lighting you want when there isn't enough natural light.
PS We've got some other important articles on home offices:
- How to Calculate Your Home Office Deduction
- Home Office Organization Sheds Pounds
- What's in Your Home Office?
- Home Office Remodel or Home Office Furniture?