A home office can be great because it gives you a private space to work and keep work necessities secure and easy to locate. However, a small, cluttered home office can make you feel claustrophobic and lower your productivity, but there are ways to make a small room feel larger and make it a pleasant place to work in.
Pick a light color scheme of no more than three colors and stick to it. Use variations on the shades for different items. Paint the walls the lightest color in one spectrum. Paint bookcases the same color as your walls so that they appear to take up less space. Paint your desk a slightly darker shade. Find a complementary chair, paint one to match or drape a chair in fabric and use a matching throw pillow.
You shouldn’t use curtains or blinds unless you absolutely must. A valance keeps a window from looking bare. Sheer curtains are another good minimalistic window treatment. Avoid busy prints. Place a large mirror on a wall in such a way that it reflects the window.
It’s best not to clutter up your desk with lamps. Try to use overhead lighting and wall fixtures. If you need a lamp, use a floor lamp with a simple, narrow column in white or chrome. Select white shades or shades that go with your color scheme. Keep lamp shade colors light but don’t make everything in your office monochromatic. If you need more than one lamp, buy lamp shades in different soft colors.
It’s not a good idea to clutter your desk up with framed photos. Use your walls for pictures of family, friends and pets. Choose just a few photos and one drawing from each child. If you want art in your home office, select prints and posters of beaches, meadows and sky or whatever you would like to see when you look out your window.
Having the perfect color palette won’t help if your desk, floor and shelves are cluttered with office supplies and tools. Storage space is essential to maintaining an open feel in a small room. If you want to reuse cardboard boxes, cover them in light-colored paper. Buy clear plastic storage bins with clear or white lids.
Stacking plastic crates and desk and shelf organizers are usually available in white. When you start purchasing smaller items like pen holders, desk and shelf organizers and waste baskets, use the darker or brighter colors in your palettes. As with the lamp shades, mix things up. If you’ve chosen white, rose and green, alternate rose and green stacking desk organizers. You want to keep your home office feeling open and airy but at the same time you want a pop of color for visual stimulation.
Use your drawers and keep them neat. Put away items you aren’t using. Buy a small wooden file cabinet, paint it and keep paperwork filed. Have a desktop organizer for your mail. Immediately throw away or recycle junk mail. Empty your waste basket every day. Shelve books and magazines instead of just setting them aside.
Don’t let your home office become a repository for other household items because it’s an “extra” room. It’s not an extra room. It’s your office, and you may have to directly but kindly explain that to family members.
When your home office is neat and feels spacious, you’ll feel better, get more done and have more time for your family and for you.