Whether you operate a business from your home, telecommute a few days per week, or you simply need an organized space for paying bills and organizing your schedule, a functional office space is a necessity. An office that reflects the design and comfort of the rest of your home is a place you’ll want to burn the midnight oil.

Here are 7 tips for creating a practical work space.

  1. Location, location, location. You’ll likely spend many hours in your home office, so don’t stuff yourself into an uncomfortable space. Also, consider traffic flow, noise, and your ability to withstand distractions. If clients will be stopping by, you will need a private space with ample seating.
  2. Function is important. Your desk, shelves, and storage should be beautiful, but workable for getting the job done. Think about your workflow and what items you need at your fingertips. Your chair is very important. Not only should it be beautiful, but an ergonomically-correct, comfortable seat. Home offices need a clear work area, and that means providing adequate space for computer hardware and peripheral equipment, a spot for reference materials, file space and a location for frequently referenced supplies and paper. Make sure your office furniture provides ample space for work and storage.
  3. Equipment. Research the computer and printer that is right for you and your work.There’s not much you can do to beautify the computer, printer, and phone, but you can hide unsightly cords. Start by making sure you have handy outlets and that your equipment is close to outlets and easy to access if you need to unplug. When setting up hardware, be conscious of access to drives, trays and cords. Don’t block access to drawers or take up leg room with tangled cords. Position your equipment by frequency of use. If the printer is used daily, it should be within easy reach. If the CPU is only accessed for troubleshooting, it can be placed under or next to the desk. If a scanner is rarely used, it can be placed outside the work area. Use a surge protector for all delicate electronic equipment. Check the back to make sure it’s UL listed and is a transient voltage surge protector. High-end protectors are built with replaceable fuses and will last longer than less-expensive models that might not work after a large surge.
  4. Don’t underestimate the power of color. You need a color that puts you in the mood for work. For some people, that’s a bright, cheery color like orange or canary yellow. Others need a calming shade like sage green or soft blue to perform. Find out more about how certain colors can affect your mood. You may want to paint just one wall a striking color that you love. Hanging wallpaper or a simple border will create interest. Hang some beautiful art on the walls or add new plants.
  5. Lighting is critical. Be sure your office has plenty of light to reduce eye strain. Position the computer monitor so there’s no glare from a window or overhead light, and put a small lamp on the desk for task lighting.
  1. A view helps. Position your desk where you can see something interesting when you glance up from the computer. A window’s natural light is ideal, but if you’re in a windowless space, hang a pretty picture above the desk, or position yourself to face the door.

Organize vertically and horizontally. One benefit of organization is increased productivity. When you are more organized, you can reduce frustration and stress and use your time more wisely. Hang floating shelves on the walls to get papers and office equipment off the desk, and use vertical file folders on the desk to keep important papers within arm’s reach. If you tend to make piles, get a nice basket to hold your mail, notes, and papers. If you prefer a clean desktop, designate one drawer for your “to-do” papers.