Designing your home office for maximum comfort and productivity - FOX 18 Quad Cities News and Weather

Designing your home office for maximum comfort and productivity

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(ARA) - There's no doubt that we're a connected society - and connected like never before through email, social networks, video conference technology, instant messaging, smart phones, the list goes on. While this influx in connectivity has made it easier to do business, it has also blurred the lines between work and home life, resulting with many of us working in our homes at least a few hours each week. If your kitchen countertop has become your go-to place for paying bills, responding to emails and conducting business, it may be time to consider adding a dedicated office space in your home.

Whether you telecommute for work or just need a work space to organize personal documents and files, a well-thought home office can help you stay productive, efficient and organized. Before beginning the design process for an office space, think through how the space will be used and ask yourself these questions:

* What activities will take place in the space?
* Who will be utilizing this area?
* What are the storage needs?
* What time of day will you be doing most of your work?
* Where in your home will you set up the office?
* What type of connectivity/technology will be necessary for this space?

Once you have a handle on your needs, you're ready to start the planning and design process. Here are a few important things to consider when you're setting up a home office:

Flexible and functional

A home office should be comfortable, but not too casual that it lacks structure and function at the expense of productivity. Whether you opt for a desk or a table, be sure to evaluate how much work surface is needed before you make the purchase. Consider how much space your computer and phone equipment, wires and cords, files and paperwork and office supplies will occupy. All of these things can quickly swallow space you might need to work comfortably. After you've selected the furniture, it's wise to invest in a high-quality ergonomic chair that can help promote your overall well-being.

Orderly and organized

It's easy to let a home office become overrun with paperwork, mail, bills, etc. Giving thought to smart storage solutions from the get-go will help minimize stress in the long run. The good news is you don't have to settle for commercial-looking metal file cabinets to store everything. Cabinets have long been used to create stylish, orderly kitchens and baths, and can do the same for a home office. QualityCabinets offers a number of affordable cabinetry options that provide smart storage and have the ability to blend in with the decor of the rest of the home.

"Cabinets shouldn't be limited to the kitchen and the bath," says Sarah Reep, director of designer relations and education for QualityCabinets. "A cabinet has the ability to look and function like a high-end furniture-quality desk for the home office, at a fraction of the cost."

Once you have an idea of your storage needs, check out some of QualityCabinets' online design and planning resources at www.qualitycabinets.com to get started.

Light and lively

Good lighting in a home office is essential. While overhead light is helpful, your desk and work spaces should also feature a few task lights for reading, writing and computer work. Adding a decorative table lamp can help maintain a homier feel. The amount and type of lighting really depends on when you'll be doing the bulk of your work and can vary drastically throughout the day. Installing light dimmer switches and adding window treatments can keep light at optimum levels. Painting a splash of color on the walls, adding colorful textiles or artwork reflective of your personality will make the space feel lively and inspiring.

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