Sunday, January 30, 2011

Homeworks: Planning your dream home office

In the next couple of months many homeowners will be mulling over home improvement projects. A great deal of these renovations will have something to do with work space and home offices.

In a bedroom consider a desk that
 matches other pieces of furniture. 
“Where to begin is just as big a challenge as keeping up with the paperwork that can build up on your desk,” said Sara Shragal, with DirectBuy.com.
To begin, Shragal suggests breaking the office down to three main components:

The desk or work station
“When it comes to choosing a desk, it’s all about personal preference,” Shragal said. “Whether it’s your office or that of another household member, there are several points to consider when selecting a style of desk.”

Computer storage
Are you working with a laptop or a traditional computer? If it’s a notebook-style computer, a flat-top desk or even a table will suffice. In the case of a stand-alone monitor with keyboard, you’ll need to consider whether you prefer the keyboard on top of the desk or on a shelf that slides underneath the desk.

Paperwork storage
If you’re a keeper and have a habit of stacking papers in piles on your desk, you might want to consider a pedestal or double pedestal desk with drawers on the left or right side. If you want to hide it all, consider a roll-top desk or a desk with a storage hutch. 

Dark woods such as those pictured here are beautiful but nick easily.

Laminate is a popular choice as it's affordable, durable, and comes in a variety of colors and patterns, Shragal said. Also durable and reasonably priced is metal or steel. In a den or formal setting wood veneer desks are the most elegant, but easily nick.

What's in a chair?
“While a desk makes an office an office, it’s the chair that truly determines your comfort level, mentally and physically,” said Shragal. “Fortunately, choosing the right chair can be an easy process if you know what to look for.”

The seat height should be easily adjustable, offering a range from 16 to 21 inches. A comfortable position will enable the user to position their feet flat on the floor, with thighs horizontal, and arms even with the height of the desk. Width and depth are usually standard on most chairs, but also important is that the forward/backward tilt of the chair is adjustable.
It is vital that your lower back be supported by the chair. If you have a bad back, look for a chair equipped with lumbar support. If the backrest is separate from the seat, its height and angle should be adjustable. A good office chair also will enable you to swivel, so you’re not overextending for items out of reach.

Leather chairs are stylish but can heat up and cool down very quickly. Best bet is a natural or synthetic fabric that is breathable. Of course, it should also have plenty of cushion or padding beneath it, so you don’t actually feel the chair.

Where to put it all?
“Depending on your filing needs, there are a number of storage options to choose from,” Shragal said. 

Open wall space can be used for storage.
* Filing cabinets are the simplest solution.
 They come in different colors and sizes.

* Roll-top desks and armoires provide the
 hideaway look and can be locked for security reasons.

* Additional storage can be found by using   a bookshelf with storage bins, or wall-mounted files. 

* If the office is in a bedroom, consider 
 under-the-bed storage units or roll-away filing cabinets that can be pushed into a closet when they’re not being used.

* Creative storage can be used instead of typical
  desk accessories. Try  items around the house that 
  might look attractive in the room such as mason jars
  (pencils and pens) for the kitchen or candy dishes 
  (paperclips) for a living room.

“For many homeowners and their families, the home office is not a luxury but a necessity,” said Shragal. “By following some of these guidelines, you can create a home office that’s both attractive and functional.”

Send your comments or blog ideas to gina.joseph@macombdaily.com.

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