Creating the perfect 2022 home office requires flexibility and a touch of creativity
BY KIM PEMBERTON
While more people are working from home now, not everyone has the luxury of a dedicated home office space. As a result, thoughtful design is more important than ever to integrate a functional but eye-catching space.
“You want your home to be a sanctuary and give you a sense of peace,” says designer Iván Meade of the Victoria-based Meade Design Group. “Ideally, you need to be able to just close the door and not be confronted with your work.”
Honey, I’m Home
Since Meade believes in separating work and living spaces as much as possible, he doesn’t recommend carving out a home office in a principal bedroom or living area. Instead, he says, if the home has a guest bedroom, one easy solution is to transform it into a primary working space or an office/guest bedroom combination.
When an entire separate room isn’t an option, Meade suggests choosing a space that can still be closed off at the end of a work day, such as reconfiguring a closet or entryway.
Luckily, less space is required for today’s home office, thanks to smaller devices and workstations to accommodate them. Gone are the days of large, boxy computers, oversized printers and fax machines.
“We’re printing less these days, and those who need to can do so with a small printer or look to another location if it’s a monstrosity of a machine,” says Meade.
He suggests storing printers and files that aren’t frequently used in a secondary location, such as a kitchen pantry or dedicated storage space.
When it comes to desk furniture, Meade recommends getting a desk approximately five feet wide, with storage space on each side to keep clutter contained.
“A lot of small desks fit like a glove into a closet,” he adds.
Off to Work
Ben Brannen of Bespoke Design believes one of the main requirements of a home office is for the user to feel comfortable. He doesn’t rule out using the main rooms of the house, like the dining room or bedroom. In all cases, he adds, it’s important to provide storage space where work paraphernalia can be stowed away.
“Work can happen in a satellite area on any comfortable piece of furniture. You just need a place you can be quiet,” he says. “Early in the pandemic, I visited several homes where the makeshift office got moved into the living room.”
Brannen says one of his recent home office projects was converting a garage, where a long desk was placed along the wall to provide all the storage space necessary for office files.
One of the main difficulties with the garage-to-office project, he says, is ensuring there is enough light. In his recent example, a transom window was added to brighten the space.
For Victoria designer Jenny Martin of Jenny Martin Design, having natural light and a pleasant view are crucial in any home office.
“Natural lighting and a view are things to consider. The busy areas of the house are less desirable because it’s hard to manage the acoustics and noise of the other family members,” she says. “If people don’t have a spare room, you can get creative with making a space multi-purpose and functional like a den.”
Here for the Long Haul
All three designers say it’s important to make the home office space as inviting as possible since you could be spending eight hours a day there.
“We want things to feel polished — layering lighting, accent artwork, creating a more permanent feeling where people feel they can dive into a project as opposed to perching at the kitchen island and just making do,” says Martin.
Meade says, depending on the client’s taste, he likes to add colour and texture to an office with wallpaper.
“Doing a fun wallpaper gives you energy and makes you feel happy instead of just staring at gloomy walls,” he says, adding he tends to choose pastel colours because they are “vibrant and happy.”
With Zoom calls common during the workday, Brannen says it’s important to consider what others are looking at when on a call with you.
“It’s human nature that we don’t stare at people’s faces; we look around them. So you need to consider what people are seeing on that Zoom call,” he says.
Brannen says he also likes a wallpaper since it adds texture, but another nice backdrop to a Zoom call is fabric in a corner of the home office.
The three designers agree: for the most part, workers now prefer working from home. When the pandemic is over, chances are these new and improved home offices are here to stay.