e-Consult: The Home Office

With more and more of us working from home, it's vital to carve out a dedicated spot to conduct business. A kitchen table may work for awhile, but it may not be the best long term solution, especially as your company grows. Whether you use a neglected corner, transform a closet into an office, or if you're fortunate enough to have an entire room, designing an office is a task in itself! Size doesn't always matter, it's more important to know what to do with what you have. :)

These are some clippings Heather sent in to show the color
palette and 'feel' she's after.

What do you need in an average home office? That depends on what you plan to do in there. Are you mainly on a computer or do you need to lay out papers, draft, paint, work with equipment like a letterpress, etc.? Do you meet with clients? A desk, chair, seating for clients (optional), storage, a trash bin, location for your equipment, lighting, organization items (folders, etc.) and optional things like shelving for the walls, a corkboard, etc. You want to incorporate a color scheme and patterns that will inspire productivity and make you want to actually spend time in your home office space.

With all this in mind, let's visit with decor8 reader Heather today who submitted her office for a decor8 e-consult after reading this post last month by Vanessa De Vargas. Since the post inspired all of this, I teamed up with Vanessa and together, we whipped up a plan of action for Heather.

Homeowner specifics: View current office photos here. Heather works as an independent consultant promoting public television projects from home full-time in Tampa, Florida. She lives in a 1920s Spanish Colonial. The office was a porch, now it's been closed in, with lots of windows and terra cotta flooring. The room has built-in shelves that are adjustable and are about 11" deep. Her child has a craft table and chairs in the room as well, but they don't need to stay.

Room size: 8.5' x 11'.

Challenge: Storage! Heather's job is a combination of writing, marketing and graphic design so she has at least three projects going on simultaneously and there are lots of boxes of print materials, mailing supplies and DVDs lingering in the office.

Heather Loves: Greens, warm browns/terra cotta and shots of turquoise/aqua. She also likes golden yellow. Her style is vintage and feminine, with a shot of whimsy. I think her current office has a little to many shots of whimsy so we need to edit this down a bit. :)

Here are some shots of Heather's current office.

Here is what Vanessa and I came up with. Readers are also encouraged to leave their feedback in the comments section below.

Walls: Paint the walls in a deep chocolate brown and keep the contrasting white trim as is. Same with the shelves, keep them white and paint behind them in the same color. Ideas: Benjamin Moore Clinton Brown, Rockies Brown, or Bittersweet Chocolate.

Floors: The floors are fine as they are since you have a limited budget and because you love the terra cotta, let's keep them. I'd add a textural jute rug to the center of the room to warm up the space. You want something durable and since you live in Florida, I think jute against terra cotta is a really nice 'beachy' look. Try the diamond-patterned natural jute rug ($199) from Pottery Barn or locate something in a similar tone elsewhere. I'd prefer that you use a natural fiber rug without a fabric border or fringe. You can also opt for the heathered chenile jute rug in natural. Opt for a 5' x 8'. If you want a pattern vs. a natural fiber, try an animal or geometric print, it would really work. West Elm and Pottery Barn have some perfect finds for you. This moorish rug is a good one.

Some items I found for Heather's new space.

Lighting: Unless the ceiling fan is really accomplishing something, trade it in for a pretty chandelier since I noticed them in many of the inspiration photos that you shared. Look for something in a gold tone like the 6-arm Grande Claire ($399) from Ballard Designs and don't bother with shades, it looks cleaner without. Or if you feel like splurging, this would be lovely. Also try topping your new desk with a lamp in your accent color. The one above is from Target, but it's a little on the expensive side so look for something like it at stores like Homegoods, ZGallerie, and eBay.

Windows: It looks like you currently have 3 sets of vinyl blinds. What do you think about removing those and adding roll up blinds in bamboo instead? The warm shades of brown will really look nice with your new wall color. Or you could go with a patterned roman shade in a brown and white geometric pattern perhaps?

Colors: We suggest going with chocolate and white with shots of turquoise and some chartreuse green if you'd like. Gold as your metal since you mentioned liking yellow. Or you can try mixing your brown with chartreuse and a watery ocean blue with energetic bursts of maize yellow in a few of your accent pieces as one of your inspiration photos uses this palette.

Organization: Clean that bookcase! If you don't read all those books on a regular basis, weed them out and store or donate them. Make room for adding some decorative elements as a bookcase with only books drives me a little nutty. Try mixing it up with a ceramic vase in one of your accent colors, a small piece of artwork, something from a vacation that you love, etc. Keep some of the lower shelves free for magazine files in solid white or linen for a fresh, clean look. I suggest the Stockholm magazine files from the Container Store or woven storage from West Elm. This is also where you can store DVDs and promotional materials, look for pretty storage boxes or file folders with lids that you can use to store things in. The Stockholm storage boxes would work since you say your bookcase is 11" deep. Look for things with lids because open containers give your eye more to look at in a room making it feel more cluttered. Label everything with matching labels, pay attention to the neatness of your handwriting. Try to use the same color marker for each or print out your labels.

Current Furniture: I know this may sound harsh but Vanessa and I both agree that you should get rid of it all because none of it really works in this space, nothing is really 'helping' you out. And all these little tables and storage cabinets make the room feel smaller than it really is. I think the black weighs the room down and the corner piece is not only taking up the space, but it's blocking your beautiful windows and the sunlight. I'd love to see you put in a desk that runs along the same wall that your computer cabinet is currently on and over it, some art and an inspiration board (like this) where you can pin up some of the things you currently keep on the interior doors of your cabinet. For a desk, opt for something in a medium wood or white that has visible legs vs. a solid 'box' bottom without legs because it will give the room a lighter feel. I can't tell how high your windows are from the floor but I can predict that you couldn't put a desk across that wall, so why not try a wall-to-wall window seat painted in white with box window-seat cushions in your favorite print. You could have the benches with either storage beneath (with doors) or they could lift up and you could put things inside. Swap out the black leather task chair for something a little more interesting, maybe a vintage find like this cane chair with a chartreuse seat.

Hope this helped you Heather! I have a few more offices from readers to show you in addition to this one so stay tuned for more office inspiration during the month of April here on decor8.

(images linked above to sources)