How to Build a Perfect Small Home Office

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Working from home is by no means an easy task. Believe it or not, distractions, when working from home are far greater than experienced in a typical office environment. That's why a professional working space at home is so vital for better productivity and success. Building a home office requires careful planning which involves a lot of key steps to get a preferred working environment. The following guide will help you in creating a perfect home office that'll match with your preferences and needs. Depending on your budget, you can select or omit the equipment and tools to build a custom home office. Home office equipment can be broadly divided into two categories viz., the absolute essentials and the optional ones. We'll mention the category of each one mentioned in this guide to help you take the right decision. Existing home offices can also benefit from this guide to further enhance and optimize their current set up. Let's get started and build our very own custom home office to take our business to the next level.

Laptop keyboard on a table

Choose a Right Location

The first step towards building an excellent home office set up is the selection of a location within your house. Needless to say, picking a room that's already being used for some other purpose is a big no no.

In other words, pick a room solely dedicated to your home office. This way, you'll ensure that not only unwanted distractions are excluded but you also get complete space for the office. And, now comes the selection of the location of the room.

Home office room
Never ever select a basement for your home office.

Why?

A natural light source with a large window is necessary for the room, which is missing in a basement. Basements are more than often poorly ventilated which builds up to unhealthy and stale air in the room. This can be fatal for your health in the long run.

So, here are the key points to be considered when choosing the location for the home office room.

  • Avoid picking a basement at all costs.
  • The room should have at least one large window facilitating ample natural light.
  • Avoid picking a room having all its openings in the north direction. This hampers uninterrupted influx of natural light.
  • The room should not have a very high ceiling. This can affect the free movement of fresh air in the room.
  • If possible, try to pick a floor where adjacent rooms are not noisy.
Now that we've selected the room with an ideal location, it's time to move on to the next step.

Get a Right Color Combination for the Walls

The color of the walls of your office should be decided carefully as it plays a big role in setting the right type of mood, environment, and ambiance for better productivity.

Various psychological studies have shown how the color of the room affects one's mood and productivity. A wrong choice of color can hamper your workflow and can directly affect your daily office routine which in turn is going to affect your business. Hence it is of paramount importance that you select the wall color that enhances your productivity.

Color palette cards
It's not just the color but its saturation and intensity also matters. High saturation colors are known to perform better for office environments.

Here's an infographic to help you better understand how colors affect human's mind and body. It's going to help you in selecting the right color combination for your home office.

Color theory infographic
Infographic Source: Quill

I'll recommend a color combination of blue and white or blue and peach cream. Though the color combination recommended by me is not necessarily the best combination, it does work perfectly in my case.

In case, you feel confused and cannot decide on the color combination, ask for an expert most companies provide from where you are purchasing the paint. And last but not the least, choose an eco-friendly paint brand which also supports easy cleaning of the walls simply by wiping off with a wet cloth.

Create a Balance of Natural and Artificial Light

The biggest mistake while building a home office is to completely block natural light sources. Relying solely on artificial light for a home office is not recommended.

What we need is an arrangement where both artificial and natural light are fused in such a way that creates an ideal ambiance to get more out of your daily office activities. Following are some of the tips to work on your home office lighting arrangements.

  • Ensure natural light via a semi-large or a large window - I've already mentioned it before and I'd like to emphasize it again - Choose a room with a large window to get a liberal amount of natural light.

    Another important aspect is the location of the window. Ideally, the window should be either at the or just above the desk/table level to ensure you not only receive a generous amount of light but can also close it easily, whenever required.

    Home office with a window
    Window blind is an important accessory one must install to easily moderate the amount of light required at different times in a day.

    If you're living in a country having an extremely hot season, do not hesitate in adding a second layer of a window shade to complement the blind.
  • Use multiple artificial light sources - First of all, I must advise against going for a false ceiling and false flooring for your home office. Use that money to install an excellent lighting system.

    Fixed ceiling lights, wall mounted systems, and table lamps are three primary categories of light sources which can be combined to create a perfect system. Needless to say, the last one (table lamp) is essential if you're going to spend most of the time reading and writing on the table.

    LED lights
    Use LED lights to save both power and money. Avoid going ahead with too fancy designs and stick with simple and sturdy options from leading brands.

    If the window is right in front of the desk, make sure the wall mounted light sources are not on the same wall. Ideally, these light sources should be on the back or side walls.
  • Use dimming system to maintain the right kelvin temperature - Invest in a good light dimming system. Depending on the amount of natural light you're receiving at a given point of time in a day, the kelvin temperature of the LED lights should be moderated.

    This moderation helps in creating a perfect balance between natural light and artificial light, which not only ensures you get a perfect ambiance for your home office but also safeguards your eyes against any strain while working on a computer for long hours.

    Kelvin temperature chart
    The ideal kelvin temperature lies between 2700K to 3500K which can be moderated by the dimming system as per your needs.

    In case, you're not familiar with maintaining the kelvin temperature, ask for LED lights with standard incandescent temperature while making a purchase.
  • Handle glare and shadows - Sometimes, we're so much immersed in implementing the office's lighting system, we forget about the shadows and light glare.

    If you have a strong light source right behind your workspace at a wrong height and angle, you'll experience annoying glare right within your computer screen. Do enough tests before you finalize the location of this light source to avoid screen glare problems.

    Table lamp
    Similarly, if you're doing a lot of writing work on your office table, wrong placement of table lamp or a nearby light source can generate hand or body shadow on the paper hindering your normal writing process.

    The best approach to tackle shadow and glare problems is to use classic ceiling lights and to mount wall light sources at enough height.
If you've correctly implemented the lighting system for your home office, half the battle has already been won. Let's move on to the next important step to add one of the vital parts of the home office.

Invest in a Good Desk and Chair Combo

The most important and the most heavily used part of a home office is the desk and a chair paired with it. Now, there are almost infinite types of desks and chairs to choose from.

This makes things complex and one can easily get confused by the sheer volume of options, at disposal. We'll discuss some of the most popular options to help you take the right decision. Here we go.

  • Solid wood desk (preferably rosewood) - The first in this list are the desks made from high grade solid wood. The best option in this category is the desk made from premium rosewood.

    These solid wood desks are heavy, sturdy, and highly durable. They can last for generations without any wear and tear.

    Solid rosewood desk with three drawers
    Executive large rosewood office desk
    When purchasing solid wood desks, make sure it has enough drawers and storage space to keep the essentials. And, do check if some of the parts (drawer base and back panels) are not made from engineered wood.

    Solid wood furniture is often available in different wood finishes. Always go with the default (natural) wood finish as it will last much longer than the ones with the artificial finish.
  • Medium-density fibreboard (MDF) desk - It is a type of engineered wood which is quite popular throughout the world. It comes in different densities and qualities.

    Though it is not as durable as the premium solid wood, it is a good choice if you're on a tight budget. MDF desks are comparatively lighter than solid wood desks.

    Brown color MDF office desk
    Basic MDF office desk
    While using a MDF desk, make sure it is protected against damp, moist, and wet environment, else it may get spoiled in due course of time.

    Look for high-density MDF as the primary material while purchasing the desk. This ensures it is less prone to wear and tear and lasts really long. Always use a dry cloth to wipe and clean MDF desk and avoid any kind of furniture cleaning liquid.
  • Metal and toughened glass desk - If you prefer a light, modern, and futuristic look for your home office desk, then go for a metal and glass desk.

    You can find a wide array of fancy and modern designs in this category. The more fancy and unusual is the design, the more you have to change or adjust the surroundings of the office to match with the desk's look and feel.

    T-shaped glass office desk
    Compact toughened glass desk
    The most important thing to look for while purchasing a glass and metal desk is its weight bearing capacity and its glass's sturdiness.

    Silver polished chromed leg stands are recommended for this type of desk. Metal parts and glass are more prone to light glares. So, do take care and adjust or tweak the lighting system to remove glares and reflections, if any.
Now that desk categories have been discussed, it's time to consider the most important part of the home office - the chair. I'll strongly recommend spending a good portion of your budget to get an excellent ergonomic chair.

This is the hardware that comes in contact with your body throughout the day. A wrong selection can ruin your spine which in turn will be disastrous for your health.

Following are some of the key features one must look for when buying an ergonomic chair for a home office.

Chair sketch
  • Adjustable lumbar support - The lower curved part of your spine is what needs to be in correct position and posture while sitting on a chair for long hours. Chairs with adjustable lumbar support takes care of this vital part of your spine and one can fine tune it to adapt to the body.
  • Seat tilt mechanism with lock - Impeccable lumbar support alone doesn't give you all the required comfort. Smooth forward and backward tilt mechanism is a must to give support to the entire back. It's important when you're resting between work sessions.
  • Adjustable arm rests - While working on a computer system, your arms need to be at the right level with support for elbows and the lower part of the arm. Armrests should be adjustable on the basis of location, height, and angle to compensate strain on the hands.
  • Pneumatic seat height adjustment through gas lift - Gas assisted seat height adjustment is an important feature one must look for in an office chair. Correct seat height ensures your eyes are at the right level of the computer screen which not only let you see easily but also takes care of your neck.
  • Wheeled 360 degree revolving base stand - A fixed chair base hinders your movability and posture. A wheeled base with free revolving axis lets you easily adjust your reach and location without putting any strain on your natural sitting posture.
  • Replaceable seat and back pads - And last but not the least, the pads should be easily replaceable because no matter how good the quality is, these pads almost always deteriorate with the passage of time.
Now that we've discussed some of the vital traits of an office chair, let's see few good options available in the market.

Herman Miller Aeron Chair1. Herman Miller Aeron Chair - It is one of the most popular (though bit expensive) office chairs one must invest in for an excellent long-term sitting experience.

The company provides an online chair configurator which can be used to customize different parts as per your requirements. It includes seat size, tilt system, custom arms, type of arm pads, lumbar support, frame/chassis/base finish, and caster type.

If you decide to go for this one, choose graphite body which makes the chair light yet sturdy. It comes with a whopping 12-year warranty which makes it one of the smartest decisions for a home office.

Steelcase Leap Fabric Chair2. Steelcase Leap Chair - It is one of the best looking office chairs and comes fully equipped with all the essential features of an ergonomic chair.

Its back and lumbar support can be fine-tuned to perfection to match with your spine curvature making it a must-have part of your home office. These vital adjustments can be done so easily through user-friendly control knobs.

This sturdy chair can support weight up to 226 kg which is more than enough, even for the heaviest. If required, one can also opt for an armless version of the chair. The upholstery can also be selected from a range of options to suit your needs. It's an environment-friendly chair as a large chunk of its body is recyclable.

Humanscale Freedom Chair3. Humanscale Freedom Chair - This feature-packed chair has a self-adjusting recline mechanism which makes it one of the best office chair candidates in this list.

Its armrests are also synchronous in motion with the recline which gives you complete comfort and posture. It has one of the largest ranges of upholstery options to choose from.

Like other trusted brands, this one also has a chair configurator to build your very own custom version before placing an order. Its headrest is one of the bests in its category. Accessories like a coat hanger kit can also be integrated with this chair. Similarly, other accessories can be purchased separately for its extended life.

Pro Tip: Before purchasing an ergonomic office chair, take note of its dimensions and make sure it can accommodate your height and built, easily.

So, this completes the table and chair selection process.

Miscellaneous Home Office Setup and Maintenance Tips

Before we wrap up, let's once go through some of the best guidelines and tips to help maintain our home office in the best possible way.

These tips are helpful for both new home office setup as well as for the existing ones. So, let's get started and absorb these vital and useful home office maintenance tips.

  • Always ensure good ventilation in the office to ensure a free flow of fresh air. Avoid use of air conditioners.
  • Get a whiteboard for brainstorming ideas instead of using paper in your home office.
  • Do not hesitate in adding wallpapers in your office to get the required ambiance.
  • Avoid use of blowers while cleaning the office as it may spoil your electronic gadgets.
  • Use a room freshener if you're living in a hot and humid country.
  • Do ensure that your home office is free from all the distractions viz., a music system, an LCD TV, a coffee making machine, and of course a mini refrigerator stuffed with junk food.
  • But, if there is enough space and budget, consider installing a water dispenser.
  • Keep the electrical wiring and outlets in a top notch condition without any compromise on their quality.
  • Avoid wearing casuals while sitting in your home office. Do I need to explain the reason?
  • And last but not the least, invest in your office overhauling every 3 to 4 years.

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