11 Tips for Making Your Home Office More Comfortable

by Steven Snell

February 28, 2010 in Business/Freelance

Freelance designers will probably spend more time in their home office than anywhere else. Having a comfortable office that is conducive to work is essential in order to keep your working hours pleasant and productive.

In this post we’ll look at some things that you can do to make your home office more comfortable and more enjoyable to spend those working hours. Obviously, some home offices come with certain limitations (such as the area of the house or the size of the space), but every situation could be improved in some way by the things in this list.

1. Get a Comfortable Desk Chair

Having a comfortable desk chair really is a necessity since you will be spending so much time in it. If you have an uncomfortable chair, you’re probably not enjoying your work as much as you could be. A good chair can cost a lot more than a cheap chair, but your health and comfort are worth the expense. For some tips, see How to Buy an Ergonomic Desk Chair.

Home Office

Photo credit: Cameron

2. Have a Separate Sitting Area

If the size of your home office allows for it, set up another area where you can sit comfortable away from the desk, such as a small sofa or some other type of comfortable chair. For times when you are not working on the computer this will give you a break from the desk and the small change in environment may help with creativity. I did this a while ago in my home office and I’ve found that for times when I am brainstorming or working away from the computer it is a nice change of pace.

Home Office

Photo credit: TranceMist

3. Get Plenty of Light

An office needs to be well lit, and preferably with plenty of natural lighting. Many home offices are in basements or tucked away in corners where there is not much natural lighting, but if possible try to maximize it. It can also help to have multiple options for lighting, like a desk lamp, aside from just overhead lighting. Depending on the time of day and how much natural light is coming in, it may be more comfortable with various types of lighting.

Home Office

Photo credit: mkosut

4. Keep it Clean

Avoid having a desk that is full of crumbs from your lunch or other things that keep it messy. Maintaining a clean office doesn’t require much more than just straightening up at the end of each day.

Home Office

Photo credit: carlos seo

5. Get (and stay) Organized

In addition to just keeping it clean, it’s equally important to have an organized office. If your surroundings are unorganized it is likely that you’ll feel like your thoughts are unorganized and more stress can come as a result. Take the time to get organized, and make an effort to keep it that way.

Home Office

Photo credit: Aktiv Phil

6. Get Rid of Excess

Once you have organized the office you should be able to identify some things that you really don’t need. Get rid of all of this excess stuff that is cluttering up the office, and give yourself a more peaceful working environment with fewer distractions.

Home Office

Photo credit: r0sss

7. Keep it Single-Purpose

With a home office it can be very tempting to make it a home office/storage space or to use it for some other purpose. If you’re spending a considerable amount of time in the office it is best to use that space only for work. Having a clear separation of work and personal space is helpful for a healthy work-life balance, plus having a dedicated office will allow you to set it up in a way that makes it most comfortable for your working hours.

Home Office

Photo credit: Josh Bancroft

8. Keep Wires Under Control

Chances are you have a lot of items and gadgets in the office with wires. Try to keep wires together and hidden, as this can help with creating a more peaceful working space. In some cases you may be able to get wireless devices, and in other cases you’ll just have to as hidden and unexposed as possible.

Home Office

Photo credit: rintakumpu

9. Decorate the Walls

Part of making a home office comfortable involves decorating it in a way that inspires you and encourages creativity. Wall art and decorations are a great way to improve a home office.

Home Office

Photo credit: Fernanda Mancini

10. Add Some Plants

Having a plant in the office can help to make it feel more natural and inviting. Plants can be bought inexpensively and there are all kinds of plants available for various amounts of natural light.

Home Office

Photo credit: TylerIngram

11. Keep a Comfortable Temperature

Trying to work in an environment that is too hot or too cold is not a good idea. Being comfortable with the temperature will help you to be able to stay productive for longer periods of time, and it can even help with creativity.

Home Office

Photo credit: tomas carrillo

What is Your Advice?

How do you make your home office comfortable?

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About Steven Snell

Stephen Snell is the owner and editor of Vandelay Design.Connect with Stephen on google+

  • Duane Kinsey

    Feb 28th

    Keeping a clean and organised workspace should not be underestimated. If my workspace is cluttered I find it difficult think with a clear mind and am easily distracted. An organised workspace can definitely lead to increased productivity.

    Another tip I would like is that if you are a creative to invest in a good music system for your office. Great music is inspiring.

    Thanks for the tips!

  • Steven Snell

    Feb 28th

    Thanks for the feedback Duane. I agree with you, and sometimes I even stop what I’m working on to straighten up a little bit if my thoughts are feeling a little cluttered. It does usually help me to relax and think clearly.

  • Shawn Ramsey

    Feb 28th

    You must be reading my mind. I just cleaned my desk up today and adjusted the height of my monitors. I’m fortunate that my wife just purchased a the Cadillac of office chairs for my B-day a few weeks ago. Makes all the difference in the world. Great tips Steven!

  • Shawn McGaff

    Feb 28th

    I just want to point out, the extra lighting doesn’t necessarily need to be pointed at your desk. I have a wall that is slowly being covered by drawings done by my friends and I have a lamp on my desk which is pointed up at the wall instead of down at my desk. Having that lighting BEHIND my monitor does wonders for my eyes.

    Also, when hanging things on the all, make sure you don’t just throw up anything you have lying around. Make it something personal that will actually inspire you to improve yourself or at least make it through the day. :-D

    And I completely agree about the sound system.

  • Grant Steele

    Feb 28th

    I completely agree with this article, and Duane’s comment. Taking it a step further I’d also recommend organising and keeping clean your computer’s desktop and files. I also find it hard to think clearly when my computer desktop isn’t clean and clear. It also needs inspiring images.

  • Peach

    Feb 28th

    Great post. I am missing quite alot of these actually. I wll probably start with a Comfortable chair and a plant. Thanks for sharing.

  • Tracey

    Feb 28th

    I recently moved my home office from the living room (so noisy with 2 kids running around) to an upstairs, out of the way, spare bedroom (bliss). It’s not only better in terms of getting work done, but if you’re going to be serious about working from home, then I think you need to respect that fact and set up a specific room for your office. Almost 10 years of living-room-home-office *almost* did me in. Great tips!!

  • Steven Lain

    Feb 28th

    Sweep out the cobwebs…

  • Joshua Huff

    Mar 1st

    I have two suggestions that I’ve done in my office that have really made an impact on my productivity and creativity. First, if your office has enough room two desks make a world of difference. I keep all computer related things on one side of my office and then I have a clean table I use for everything else like drafting websites or doing paperwork. Keeps me from getting distracted from IMs and emails. The second thing I’ve done is created an entire dry erase board wall in my office. I used the dry erase paint which you can find at lowes or any other hardware store. Having an entire wall you can draw on it great. I can jot down ideas or draw template ideas or write myself notes. It’s not only practical but fun. I mean come on who doesn’t love dry erase boards.

  • Leisha

    Mar 1st

    I still struggle every day with keeping my working area clean… but I am trying! You’re right, though – a dirty space makes it very difficult to stay motivated or to feel creative. I recently added plants to the office and I love tending to them in the mornings. They really do have a positive impact on the overall feel to the office.
    I liked this article. I think I’ll clean my office today!

  • Bob Jansen

    Mar 1st

    I found this article very helpful, thanks a lot!

  • Phil Jackson

    Mar 1st

    Filing. Organise your paperwork so that you can find it and this will dictate how your space looks; shelves, cabinets

  • Mike Rogers

    Mar 1st

    I find having a place nearby were I have access to refreshing drinks or small snacks is useful.

    On a productivity and stress relief note, I recommend a white board. They are a great way to store ideas and doodle.

  • Dylan Parry

    Mar 1st

    I’m totally hopeless at keeping my office tidy, so much so that I tend not to work in there unless I really have to, though I really should just pull my finger out and give the office the once over!

    One tip I can give, although it’s not really about the office as such, is to make the most of good weather and get out into the garden with a laptop or work-related book. Make the outside your office for the day. It’s makes for a good change, and you’ll feel better for it. I guess it’s a bit like having a separate seating area, in that it gets you away from your desk when you don’t necessarily have to be there. It works well for me as I don’t have space for a sofa or anything like that.

    It also helps, in my opinion, to ensure that any colours you choose for the walls are nice calming ones. So when you get peeved at clients you’re surrounded by a calming atmosphere and not one that will get you even more riled, as an office would tend to!

  • maria

    Mar 1st

    a place where your feet can stand comfortable…everybody should use a footrest set.

  • Nick Burd

    Mar 1st

    My wire situation is out of control.. :( lol. I find myself kicking my power bar far too often.

    I also don’t have a comfortable chair or plants. I think i’ll keep the plant aspect where it is, but I could use a comfy chair, i find myself unhooking the second screen and bringing my laptop to the couch pretty often to escape my butt which has fallen asleep.

    Asside from that, there isn’t much i can do about all others. lol.

  • Steven Snell

    Mar 1st

    Nick,
    I’m sure plants aren’t for everybody, but it can help to make the atmosphere comfortable for many people.

  • Amberly

    Mar 1st

    Well written article & Beautifully executed.
    Keep Wires Under Control..

    Nice Round up..

  • Dijup

    Mar 1st

    I think adding some ideal workstation pic might have added some more beauty to this article.

  • Tanya

    Mar 1st

    I wish if my office had all these things. Anyways nice tips

  • Justin

    Mar 1st

    Great article. Most of the items seem like common sense but you really don’t think about them until you see them in one place like this. Thanks.

  • Nina

    Mar 1st

    All great points but I also find extremely important to keep all the resources you use accessible (like papers, pens, extra printer ink… etc.)

    Thanks for posting :)

  • Ryan Cash

    Mar 1st

    Great article – plants are a must!

    I just wrote a similar article for WorkAwesome about working in different places for increased creativity/productivity: http://workawesome.com/productivity/getting-out-of-your-rut-a-change-of-scenery/

  • Alan Tippins

    Mar 1st

    I think I really need to invest in a decent office chair. I’m currently using a couch which sounds cool in theory but is painful to code and design on for long periods of time….

  • Steven Snell

    Mar 1st

    Alan,
    Yeah, I can only sit on a couch for so long before I need to move somewhere else.

  • Leon

    Mar 1st

    Nice post! I have found the seperate office and living area to be really useful. To be able to close the door of the office and be really done for the day when I step into my living room is a great way to mentally controle office hours. What I really like personally is some background music to keep me going.

  • Thomas Craig Consulting

    Mar 1st

    Wow, I think my home office is the opposite of all these suggestions. Guess I got my work cut out for me, to match the norm.

  • Steven Snell

    Mar 1st

    Thomas,
    Whatever works for you personally is most important.

  • Alysha Dominico

    Mar 2nd

    It’s so important to remember and be disciplined about keeping your home office, an office. It’s too easy to let other things (or people) encroach on your space! Thanks for reminding me.

    I’d add more two things to the list:

    1) Book shelves filled with books you love. Being surrounded by knowledge and other people’s dedication is very inspiring.
    2) Headphones: ambient music is a great way to ‘stay in the zone’ and music with a fast beat helps me keep to allotted timeframes.

  • Guilherme Moreira

    Mar 2nd

    first thing I’ve made in my new home office is to bought a confortably chair, ‘cos the old one hurts my back.

    I bought Simpsons plush characters to make me company when I’m all alone =)

    Always maintain the home office organized, I just keep in my desk what I’ll really use, like post-it notes and books. The pens and pencils I put on a organizer.

    Bye!

  • Peter D. A. Warwick

    Mar 4th

    Great article and great advice. Great photos too. I appreciated the comments on having a seperate table for non-computer work and working outside when the weather is nice for a change of scenery. As for plants I’d love to have them in my office, but as I have two cats I can’t. Cats and plants don’t mix or at least not for very long and not without cat vomit. Trust me I’ve tried.

    For a really good book on this subject, which is sort of this article on steroids, see Taunton’s Home Workspace Idea Book by Neal Zimmerman.

    Incidentally I’ll be adding a link to this aritcle to Peter’s Place Of Freelance Journalism at http://www.peters-place.ca It’s a free site and one of the largest journalism sites on the Net.

  • Kate

    Mar 6th

    Using a stand for my laptop has made a huge difference. It puts my laptop at the perfect angle on the desk, to relieve the strain on my back, shoulder and wrist. Plus it keeps the laptop cooler too as the air flows round it nicely so I don’t have a hotspot on my desk anymore.

    The one I got was from http://www.ergotilt.co.uk and I can also pop it in my laptop bag and take it with me as it’s nice and light too.

  • bizwud

    Mar 20th

    great tips, I need a comfort home office

  • Deano

    Mar 23rd

    Very good post – has inspired me to clean up the desk lol

  • Sam

    Apr 1st

    Thank you for the post

  • Keith

    Apr 22nd

    I use a spare bedroom as a home office, and one thing I love doing (when the weather’s nice enough) is opening the window.

    Further to allowing natural light into the room I love having fresh air breeze in and revitalize the workspace from staleness and stillness (even better in the evenings/mornings when the air is more crisp). Better oxygen makes a world of difference.

    Further to music, having a window open also allows for ambient outdoor noise to fill the workspace… birds, people, cars, kids playing, etc; all stuff I feel helps keep me connected to the outside world. It can sometimes feel a little distracting (lawnmowers suck!), I find it pretty invigorating. It’s the next best thing to actually being outside.

  • CSSensei

    Jun 27th

    I have a cat in my home office.

  • vuitton

    Aug 8th

    . I wll probably start with a Comfortable chair and a plant. Thanks for sharing.

  • Alex

    Aug 13th

    Some great tips. I think the most important maybe get lots of light. It helps you stay energised and I find it really relaxing.

  • Alarm System :

    Oct 27th

    the desk chairs that our mom use are always leather based instead of using cloth covers’.~

  • Dry Scalp Treatment

    Nov 17th

    we have different office chairs in the office and i love to use those office chairs with clothe cover `-’

  • Rugs

    Nov 28th

    Add a beautiful rug to a room to warm a cold space or update a traditional look. We have a massive choice of different sizes and colours.

  • Joe Rozsa

    Jun 13th

    Great timing for this article. Over the weekend I finished painting my studio. Bought new carpet for it a while ago, painted one wall a couple weeks ago, finally finished it up yesterday. Make sure to make your space “your space”. I collect dimensional beer advertising items and I have them on my walls, it makes for a great creative space.

  • Nhel

    Jun 19th

    thanks for all d wonderful tips. In my office I have two separate tables. One where I usually entertain my visitors and clients. The other one for my paper works.

  • Keli

    Jul 1st

    Been saving to remodel my home office and will be ready in the fall! Excitement isn’t enough to describe it. The before and after photos will be startling and my productivity is going to soar!

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