Interior Designers And Entrepreneurs Share Their Favorite Home Office Design Trends
Success starts with the right home office. JENNIFER JADEN | Forbes.com
As telecommuting and working from home become more popular, so does the emphasis on home office design. It’s not just about décor or creating an attractive or warm space. But rather, the importance is placed on optimizing productivity. Form can influence function in a way that impacts lifestyle and even a business's bottom line.
2020 isn’t just a new decade. From bathrooms to kitchens and beyond, it’s an important year for the evolution of design and how our homes reflect lifestyle and values. This is especially true when it comes to where we work. Here are some of the most popular looks and ideas for home offices trending.
Re-Invented Office Chairs
If there is one piece of furniture key to productivity, it’s having a comfortable desk chair. While that used to mean buying something with black, plastic arms on wheels, that’s no longer the case.
“Gone are the days of plain black mesh desk chairs as your only office option. A variety of colors and styles have upgraded the traditional desk chair, while still giving you all the comfort you need for a full day's work. Interesting colors and metal finishes give these desk chairs a stylish upgrade but still include ergonomic support, height adjustment, and more,”
Rebecca Breslin, Design Manager for Wayfair Professional.
Wayfair Professional recently launched its first line of office furniture called Upper Square, which has pieces for all workspaces from corporate offices to co-working spaces and home offices. This line re-defines what commercial-grade office furniture can look like with contemporary style grey wood filing cabinets to modern desks specifically designed for larger, shared open offices.
Accessorizing chairs is another popular trend. Adding a pillow or cushion can bring comfort and a pop of color to any space. “Productivity doesn’t only come from office equipment, it’s also a result of working in a relaxing and comfortable space,” says Lauren Meichtry who is the founder of Elsie Home. “To brighten up an otherwise bland space, throw pillows provide a layer of thoughtfulness and detail that just might roll into your work product.”
While it can be tempting to go overboard with an abundance of everything from humorous desk signs to statement art, business coach and TEDx speaker Cait Scudder emphasizes that less is more when it comes to home offices. “There are so many gadgets, organizers, calendars and wall decorations you can use for your space,” she says. “At the end of the day, simple and minimal is much better long term than trendy and cute.”
Jennifer Jaden, founder of Societygal and CEO of Gal Media is in the same camp about editing objects. Her approach is to make it meaningful. “Try to make your office a place of inspiration and flow. Be choosy in what items you have on your desk,” she says. “I have a photo of my boyfriend, a cactus, salt lamp and some stationery I’ve collected from hotels on my travels. Those things keep me inspired to work hard so I can travel and take care of my family.”
Scudder recommends selecting items that can bring balance and calm to your workday. “There’s no doubt about it— work can sometimes feel stressful. Include a few items in your home office that evoke a sense of calm and wellbeing. Whether that’s plants, crystals, or something else that visually evokes a sense of balance, choose something you can see and be reminded to take a few deep breaths.”
Both women also suggest de-cluttering your desk as a daily practice. “You likely wouldn’t leave half-eaten snacks, empty water glasses, or messy papers on your desk inside of an office. Why do it at home?” says Scudder. “Make it part of your mindfulness and business practice to clean your desk area at the end of each business day. This ensures you’ll walk into your workspace each morning clear, clean, and starting from a fresh slate ready to have a proactive day.”
Lots Of Storage
Storage isn’t just important for the sake of decor. Cluttering your space can clutter your productivity. “You are what surrounds you and if looks cluttered around you, it’s probably cluttering up what’s inside you,” says interior designer LeeAnn Baker of LeeAnn Baker Interiors.
Joyce Downing Pickens of JDP Interiors recommends customizing home office space through built-in storage, which is becoming a larger trend this year. “Office supplies are not the most eye-pleasing which is fine in a more corporate environment but less than desirable in your own home. The best way to combat this is to really customize a home office to your every need and offer hidden solutions for all your supplies.”
Pickens also notes that hiding everything away allows you to feel as if you've left the office. “With more and more people working from home, the desire to leave your work behind at the end of the day is becoming more of a challenge,” she says.
The designer specifically touts the benefits of closed shelving units. “Traditionally we have seen a lot of open shelving space, but from my experience, unless those shelves are styled to perfection, they just become utilitarian and messy. So using floor to ceiling shelves with doors that close at the end of the day are the way to go.
Mel Bean of Mel Bean Interiors sees this as an opportunity to elevate. “Gorgeous custom millwork can conceal a printer, hidden file storage, or a work surface,” she says.
If built-in storage or custom renovations aren’t an option, Scudder shares using storage bins to hold items that aren’t used every day. “Minimizing clutter is key when it comes to having a workspace conducive to creativity and productivity. Use a storage system to store away bigger items you may only need once a week, so they’re not taking up real estate on your desk (like podcast mics, binders and folders, etc),” she says.
Office As A Guest Room
While designating a room to be used as a home office only is ideal, it's not a reality for everyone who works from home. Instead of cramming a desk in a guest bedroom, it’s far better to design the space as an office that can accommodate the occasional overnight visitor.
“With people shifting towards multi-functional rooms, I find myself doing offices with pullout sofas so they can also utilize them as guest rooms,” says Baker.
Breslin recommends side and accent chairs to make these multi-function spaces more comfortable and less formal. It’s also an opportunity to add a pop of color, such as with the Adric Guest Chair from Upper Square in Purple.
Another great tip is to put an end table between the desk and sleeper sofa, so it can be used as a nightstand. The Kerveen End Table from Upper Square in Marble is a perfect example of this.
Office As A Family Room
In homes with kids, getting a moment to work alone can be a challenge. No one knows this better than plastic surgeon and television personality Dr. Sheila Nazarian, who doesn't see this as a problem that design can't help solve. “If wasn't a plastic surgeon, I would be designing furniture or doing interior design,” she tells me.
Her approach is that children interrupting is inevitable. Considering this is important when designing a home office. She has comfortable swivel chairs to give her kids a space for reading and homework. They can work alongside her. This keeps everyone happy. A love seat or second desk setup could be another option.
Lots Of Lighting
And what’s a better accessory for a side table nightstand than a lamp? While natural light is the gold standard, not every home office has adequate exposure. “Layer the lighting,” says Bean.
“Many people assume that bright task lighting is the only solution. I prefer to have layers of lighting, with the option to adjust each individually. Natural light from a window, library sconces, a stunning chandelier, and recessed lighting plus a desk lamp with personality!”
Unique Color Schemes
Pickens notes that rich, dark color palettes are a major home office design trend for 2020. “Think study vibes to give you that cozy feeling when you enter instead of the bright fluorescents of a corporate space. What's great about working from home is that coziness that a traditional office lacks, so why not lean into it?”
Baker tells her clients to choose the color schemes of an office based on what inspires them. “Having lived in Manhattan for a number of years, I think about people who have reclaimed spaces, and use them for offices,” she says. “For spaces like these, I try to add a bit of fresh air like a large photograph of the ocean that makes it so you can almost smell the sea. I don’t think it’s possible to look at an image of the ocean and not hear the waves coming in and going back out, a sound that soothes, inspires, and elicits flow.”
But Bean emphasizes that anything goes. “I find that color is completely subjective, especially in a home office. I’ve designed offices ranging from cerulean blue to pale pink to my own black home office. At the end of the day, it needs to be a color that the client finds comforting and energizing.”
Sustainable Furniture And Accessories
Meichtry believes the macro movements of people focusing on sustainability and natural products has made its way into design, especially for home offices or other spaces where we spend a lot of time. “We work to deliver products into our customers' homes which won’t harm them or the environment. This is why we utilize natural fibers like linen, which require very little water to grow, don’t contain harsh chemicals, all while looking and performing beautifully. This is something that will make a huge impact in the bedroom, home office, and other rooms in the home in 2020,” she says.