A few clicks around Pinterest and it will bring up beautiful images of home offices with orderly open shelving, an array of well-conditioned greenery picturesquely hanging from baskets beside a brightly lit window, and a laptop perched on a neat and uncluttered table.
Oh, such a beautifully curated “reality”.
With an increase of people working from home since the outbreak of COVID-19, we are now finding ourselves taking a fresh look at an often overlooked part of the home, the study.
So what are some of our tips to make the most out of this space?
1. Remove the clutter
It goes without saying, a clear desk helps create a clear head. Our home offices tend to be a bit of a hiding place for all the bits and bobs that we think we will need again later, but we’re not sure for what just yet.
It’s time to break those habits and be ruthless.
Channel your inner Marie Kondo and if it doesn’t spark joy (or a useful purpose in the here and now) then ditch it!
2. Invest in storage solutions
So, you’ve cleared off the clutter and detangled the cords, but all this stuff still needs a home. For everything that didn’t end up either in the in the bin or on its way to Good Sammy’s, there is a plethora of storage options available to keep it out of sight.
If flat packs are your thing, then you can’t go past Ikea. The Swedish maestros of storage have ranges upon ranges of bookcases, credenzas, and lockable cabinets, even combinations of all three. The best part about Ikea storage solutions is that they usually come as a set which can be built up with as many pieces as you require, creating a seamless continuity throughout the room.
3. Get green
Embrace the crazy plant person within and find a nice indoor plant that suits your lifestyle and ability to care for it. Remember, most house plants suffer due to too much love than not enough.
Some hardy, set and forget plants are Mother-in Laws tongue, Rubber Tree, Fiddle Leaf Fig and cacti.
4. In the zone
It can be hard to concentrate when working from home with more distractions around you than you normally may encounter at the office (looking at you, dirty laundry). This can be amplified if you are also trying to juggle minding children or home schooling as you try to work.
If possible, try to create your work station or study zone as far away from the commotion of the living areas, and if you are building a home, seriously consider adding a door to the study.
Also bear in mind, IT nooks in living areas and near the kitchen are great for kids doing homework while dinner is cooking, or to keep an eye on kids surfing the web, but can be less than ideal for an eight hour day at the office.
5. Colour psychology
Believe it or not, research shows that colour can affect neurological pathways in the brain, and bring about a biochemical response in the body. If you’re willing to let science dictate your next home decorating venture, here are some pointers:
Low wavelength colours like green promote restfulness, concentration and calmness, and can lead to improved efficiency and focus.
This one comes with a caveat, orange has been shown to lift moods and promote feelings of comfort and invigoration, but bolder oranges can lead to feelings of overstimulation, especially in younger people. Best to use in moderation rather than paint the whole room!
Undertaking challenging work? Apparently blue is your best bet when it comes to productivity.
Need to put your best foot forward, no matter what? Yellow promotes optimism, confidence and extraversion.
Need to be making impartial decisions? Grey is the colour of psychological neutrality, with research showing it has no bearing on mood, but the trick is to get the tone right. Too much grey can have suppressive properties.
Soothing, warm and nurturing but can be physically draining when used in large doses.
While most of us are itching to get back to life as we used to know it, missing our bustling offices and watercooler conversations, there are some of us that are hoping the flexibility that has come with this new life of remote connectivity becomes the new normal with employers.
Whatever camp you fall in, at least at the end of this strange saga in our history, you may come away with a beautiful home office you can be proud of as a result.