CREATE AN IDEAL AT-HOME WORKSPACE THAT LEAVES YOU PRODUCTIVE AND INSPIRED
For years, there’s been a lot of talk about work-life balance. People have striven to make the distinction between focusing on professional tasks in the office and savoring personal time at home. With world health events this spring, we’ve all been spending more time in our houses, and the lines have become blurred. For many, working at home is now the norm. It’s important to create a personalized and inviting home office that allows you to enjoy the best of both worlds.
The Right Spot
There’s something to the old adage about “location, location, location.” Choosing the right place to set up your at-home office is key to facilitating productivity. Courtney Shearer, founder of Buckhead-based firm The Designery, recommends finding a secluded space, if possible. “I need a space that can be closed off and private so I can concentrate and spread out,” says the interior designer. “My brain knows that when I’m in this space, though it’s inside my home, I’m at work. It makes it easier to hone in on the tasks at hand.”
If it’s difficult to find a completely separate room, there are other options. “Look for space where you could tuck in a desk or repurpose an existing table,” says Laura Wilson, a design crew member at West Elm, with a location at The Shops Around Lenox in Buckhead. She encourages clients to ask themselves, “Do you have an unused corner of your living room or bedroom? An alcove or foyer? Space in your basement?” Try to create a distinct zone for each member of your home who needs a workspace. “Maybe one person’s command center is the dining room, and another works at a desk in the bedroom,” she says.
No home office can be without a desk, but according to Buckhead based designer Jessica Ahnert Davis, owner and creative director of Nest Studio & Atelier Davis, any surface can be used, including a counter, a console table or a vanity.
To take advantage of a smaller multifunctional space, such as a living room or bedroom, Wilson suggests a scaled-down desk, such as the Mid- Century Mini Desk from West Elm. She adds, though, “Be wary of sitting at a coffee table that may be too low and cause strain as you reach down to type.” For many people, a sit/stand desk that allows you to shift between the two positions can bolster both creativity and output.
That level of comfort should apply to your office chair as well. Jonathan Puleio, a certified ergonomist and global VP of consulting for Humanscale, recommends finding a chair that automatically adjusts or offers easy repositioning of height and armrests. A good example is Humanscale’s Liberty chair that features a self-adjusting, weight-sensitive recline with a pivoting, lumbar-supporting backrest. Traditional office chairs aren’t to your taste? Buckhead resident Gregg Irby, owner of the Gregg Irby Gallery, suggests choosing one that is comfortable, roomy and pretty. “My desk chair is an upholstered armchair with a straight back so it gives me good support, and it’s great for pulling my feet up and reading when I need it,” she says. “My office chair also turns into an accent chair when we’re entertaining and need more seating.”
With the desk and chair in place, don’t forget two additional essentials: lighting and storage. Davis says, “You need task lighting—lighting that is directed onto your work surface—but also ambient lighting.” Irby, who uses a table lamp to ease her into each morning, says sunlight is equally important; if possible, make sure your desk is near a window that allows light to stream in during the day.
You also need ample space to store everything from paperwork to supplies. Shearer believes organization integrated into a desk space can increase productivity, noting that custom cabinets can be both functional and attractive. For an all-in one option, Davis points to modular systems that offer a custom look while providing plenty of storage, shelving and surface area. She adds, “I love wall-mounted [storage] that keeps floor space free.”
Bells and Whistles
The fun comes in personalizing your office. Start with the foundation: color. “Cool colors like blues are great for relaxation and focus, so try to create a space that feels serene and Zen,” Davis explains. No matter what color you choose, accent it with an array of stylish desktop accessories, from baskets and trays to computer storage items and funky office supplies. You also can enhance your space with art. “I’m a firm believer that art can uplift at first sight,” Irby says. “As with buying paintings for any other area in your home, buy what you love and what speaks to you. It should naturally bring you happiness, which will inspire you.” Wilson agrees about surrounding yourself with items that make you smile as you work. “Wherever you set up shop, a couple of photos of family and friends, a small plant and a few colorful accessories will make it feel more personal and inviting,” she concludes. “Everyone has a different personal style, so create a space that is comfortable, functional and brings you joy.”
Words to the Wise
WORK-AT-HOME PROFESSIONALS SHARE THEIR ADVICE
Working in your own home office has its rewards—and its own set of unique challenges. We asked several local work-from-home aficionados to share their tips and tricks for making the most of the experience. From how to stay productive to the best tools to use, here’s what they had to say.
Blogger, Rage Against the Mom Jean
“Begin and end the day at the same time. Create consistency around your work routine and stick to it. I try to take a break every hour to stand up, grab coffee, maybe do a non-workrelated task or listen to a podcast.”
ESSENTIALS: AirPods, The Self Journal (planner) and Pzizz (an app that produces background noise)
CEO, SHERPA Global
“The single most important thing I do to stay productive is to turn off notifications across all my devices for a set period of time. For example, from 8 a.m. to noon, I don’t get dings from emails, chats or phone apps. I even turn on the Do Not Disturb feature on my phone; after lunch, I’m available to answer questions, attend meetings and collaborate for the rest of the day.”
ESSENTIALS: Noise-canceling headphones, the Google suite of tools for collaboration, Calendly (a meeting scheduling tool) and a Chromebook
LAUREN LESTIN PHILIPSON
Founder, Grey Fox PR
“I like to switch up my workspace throughout the day to stay productive and keep my mind thinking creatively. I’ll start in my home office in the morning, have lunch at the kitchen table and then bring my laptop over to the dining area for a couple of hours in the afternoon. I typically return to my office space to finish up and to take any calls or video conferences.”
ESSENTIALS: Laptop, cell phone, headphones, a printer and a window to enjoy natural light
Simply Buckhead is an upscale lifestyle magazine focused on the best and brightest individuals, businesses and events in Buckhead, Brookhaven, Sandy Springs, Dunwoody and Chamblee. With a commitment to journalistic excellence, the magazine serves as the authority on who to know, what to do and where to go in the community, and its surroundings.