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  • Donna Baker

HOME OFFICE ANYONE?

Most of us would agree the words “home office” have taken on a whole new meaning this year. Everyone typically has that place where you pile your incoming mail, pay your bills, do your taxes or study, but recent life events have made a “real” home work space more of a necessity than a luxury.

How does one establish a home office if there are space constraints or budget constraints? Perhaps you are fortunate to have a room that you could or have used as a home office but it has become more of a furniture graveyard than a place you want to spend your time? Whatever your home office challenge, we have compiled some ideas that might help you turn that unused corner, guest room, or closet into an inviting and inspiring space to spend your time.

CHOOSING THE SPACE

If your space is limited, you may need to get creative. By removing the clothes pole and installing some electrical outlets, you can easily convert a closet of any size into a workspace. Or perhaps you could install a working desk at the top of some stairs. If you are spending a lot of time in your home office, you might prefer a better view and more room. Identify space that is infrequently used, such as a guest room or dining area. Using an armoire for your laptop, papers and printer allows the entire workspace to be behind closed doors in a larger area not typically used for office space.

PLAN WHAT YOU NEED

Plan ahead for all the things that you'll need to work comfortably and efficiently in your home office and keep your project within budget. Start with proper temperature control and lighting. Your desk chair will be moving around in the space, so flooring should be a hard surface, at least near the desk. If you are working in a carpeted room there are options available for the area under your desk chair to become hard surface temporarily. If you are fortunate to have a window nearby, select window coverings that will allow you to control the light in your area. If you don’t have windows, then you will need to come up with good lighting sources for your office space.

WRITING SURFACE

Probably the most important piece of furniture you will have will be your desk or work surface. Whether you select a custom-designed desk or use two file cabinets with a door stretched across them, it should be large enough and the right height to comfortably do your work. If your space is limited, draw out a floor plan on graph paper and move the shapes around until you find a workable space.

SIT IN COMFORT

Select a chair that is comfortable, the right height, and provides proper back and arm support for the type of work you will be doing. Your keyboard location should be at a comfortable height to avoid back and shoulder discomfort. Place your computer mouse in a place that is accessible and provide cushioning for your wrists.

LIGHTING

It's extremely important to have proper lighting in a home office. To reduce eye strain, have lighting installed over your reading area, on the computer, and behind you so that there's no reflection off the computer monitor. Place the computer monitor a comfortable distance from your chair so that you don't need to squint or use reading glasses to read the screen. By reducing eye strain, you'll be able to work longer and more safely.

Lighting is also of importance when utilizing video calls so experiment with your computer camera to see where you should sit when communicating via video conference. Rules of thumb for proper lighting for video conference include:

• Sit Facing a Light Source Sitting with your back to a window or bright light source can negatively impact the quality of the video call by giving you a harsh silhouette effect. Whenever possible, sit facing the window, desk lamp, or other light source to ensure your face is well illuminated and clearly visible.

• Optimize Natural Light Sources Natural daylight creates pleasing, accurate skin tones in the camera and renders accurate colors. Setting up your conferencing system in a room with a lot of window light is useful in creating a well-lit, professional setting.

• Use Soft Directional Light Avoid using bare bulbs in your video conference room lighting. A lampshade or a diffuser will reduce harsh shadows and soften the lighting in the room. Contrary to popular belief, the closer a source is to a subject, the softer the shadows will play on that subject. So, if a lamp is too harsh, bring it closer to you. This may help boost the camera’s exposure on your face as well. Balance natural lighting with properly placed soft white lamps to create a pleasing ambience in the room.

• Create a Three-Point Lighting Setup Think of a clock: if you’re facing noon, try to position light sources at 11 and 2. Adding an overhead light rounds out a great three-point lighting setup — the go-to lighting kit for portrait photographers and videographers. • Use the Right Amount of Light It is important that there is plenty of light in the room to get maximum clarity. However, it is possible to have too much light. If your window is too bright, lower the blinds or move away from the window to avoid overexposure. If a light source like a lamp is too bright, walk it away from you or dim it with a shade. If possible, use multiple light sources pointed at your face to fill in shadows and make the overall room lighting as even as possible.

• Choose Bright Colors for Walls Use white or light-colored walls and tables in your meeting spaces to brighten up the room with reflected light. White surfaces reflect light, whereas black surfaces absorb it. Using a lot of white or bright surfaces and walls in your room will brighten up the space by bouncing light around.

LESS IS MORE Of course, you want everything you will need at hand, but you may be surprised what you can live without. Clutter is very distracting and reduces efficiency, so sort through your supplies and get rid of anything extra. Get your schedule, your routine, and your workspace organized, and you'll work better. If your storage space is limited in your designated home office, find a place in another area of your home for items and supplies that you use less frequently. Include power surge protectors to protect your computer and information from electrical power outages.

ADD COLOR

Add personal touches and color to make the space more inviting. Select a decorating style and add patterns, window treatments, and furniture to express that style. You can even use this space to escape to a slightly different style than found in the rest of your home but that you love anyway. Store office supplies in style by using decorative baskets or cover boxes with interesting fabrics. If you have any wall space at all, be sure to include artwork or photos that you love.

By planning your home office space, getting it organized, and decorating it to express who you are, you will enjoy it more. Your work will be better, you will appreciate being at home, and you will have the perfect place to work: your home.

As always, Donna Baker and Delores Doussard, The DREAM TEAM at RE/MAX Preferred is here to assist you with your real estate needs. Need a referral to a reliable contractor of any kind, have questions about home financing, questions about the local housing market or a comparative market analysis? Check out other articles on our blog at www.DreamTeamMax.com. Give us a call, text or email anytime!

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