Don’t you hate it when you suddenly realize that you’ve done something you swore you would never do?
That’s what happened with me and the home office design ideas I used for my home office makeover I did last year.
You may look at the pictures and think…so what’s the big issue? The problem is I made some decisions that prioritized making the room look pretty over making it functional. And that completely breaks one of my “comfortable home” decorating rules.
If a room doesn’t function the way you want it to, no amount of beautiful furniture and decor is going to make it comfortable. This is especially true in an area where you spend a lot of time working!
So I’ve been spending some time lately adding the functionality into the room that should have been there to start with. You might remember that I started this process a couple of months ago when I swapped out the desk chair (in case you missed it, you can read about that process HERE), and created some new storage spaces (which you can see HERE).
Now I finally have the whole office working the way I want it to, and I am so much happier! Read on to see what I did.
Leave Enough Space
A desk should be placed at least 3 feet from the surface behind it.
Originally the space behind the desk was pretty tight, even with a stationary chair. When I swapped out the original chair for the one on wheels, I would run into the cabinets behind the desk every time I went to get up.
The chair also made getting at the shelves and drawers on the other side it awkward. That resulted in things being left on the countertop or the desk instead of being put away where they belong.
Turning the desk around provided more space to move around all sides, and was no longer blocking the shelves. A really easy fix!
When you have furniture that needs to move easily (like a desk chair), make sure it has wheels. Having to slide furniture without wheels gets annoying really quickly…especially if it keeps getting caught on the rug or you’re trying not to scratch the floor (both issues existed in my space).
While the new chair came with wheels, I needed to add them to the filing cabinet that I keep under the work table. Storing it under the table keeps it out of the way when you don’t need it. Having wheels on it makes it really easy to pull out when you do. (You can find more details on how to do this HERE).
Place Keyboards and Computers At The Right Height
While I was doing the One Room Challenge, I had covered a computer table with faux marble contact paper (This stuff really does look like marble…see the whole project HERE.) The plan was to use it in my office but I wasn’t able to fit it in without making the room look too crowded. So I left it out of the room.
That meant placing the keyboard on the countertop which is too high to use comfortably. The new layout has room for the computer table, which has a keyboard tray that is at the right height. This is definitely more comfortable! It’s also on wheels…so it can be moved out of the way when I’m not using it.
Add “Doors” To Shelves
All of the shelving and cabinets that I added in the original makeover were great.
I loved the look of those decorative vases on the shelves.
However, I have sooo many magazines, computer supplies and binders that need to get stored somewhere. And they’re really not decorative. So I needed more enclosed shelf space.
Since I still wanted to have the look of shelves, I decided to use wall art instead of cabinet doors to enclose part of the space. A couple of hinges on a picture frame and you have enclosed shelving that still looks great! (The step-by-step instructions are HERE).
I did a similar thing using a spool rack as a door on the low shelves at the other end of the room.
Make Use Of Wall Space
When you don’t have a lot of space, using the walls is a great way to expand your storage options.
The long countertop and built-ins down the side of the room is great for laying out projects (see how to build them HERE), and I loved the look of the wallpaper panels over it (you can see how to install them HERE). But the lack of storage space for tools and supplies was causing a mass pile-up of stuff on the surfaces.
So I converted the decorative wallpaper panels to pegboard and magnetic bulletin boards.
To keep the same look, I covered the galvanized steel sheet metal and pegboard with the same wallpaper I had used for the panels (good thing I had some left over!). But it would have been a lot easier to do it this way from the beginning (getting the pegboard cut to the right size so that it fit exactly between the mouldings was a challenge).
Access The Work Table From All Sides
If you have a work table in your office, make sure you have easy access to the whole surface.
Originally I had the long side of my work table against the wall with not a lot of room on either side to get at it.
When you have a table that is used for all kinds of projects, it works much better if you can get at it from all sides. I did have to compromise a little bit here. My space wasn’t big enough to create a “work island”…but I did create a “work peninsula”. By turning the table the other way, I can easily get to 3 sides of it.
This also made room for extra chairs (which I already owned). I was hoping they would give my “helpers” (ie. the cats) somewhere to sit while I was working…but I’m not sure that part of the plan is going to work out so well.
Let There Be Light…But Not Too Much
My office only has one small window. So I don’t like to cover it up too much with large drapes.
The curtains I originally hung there were too bulky and blocked out a lot of what little light did come in. So I took them down.
That caused another problem. This window faces east which means in the morning, the sun made it extremely difficult to see my computer screen.
Luckily, my mother came to visit and sewed a new roman shade out of my inspiration fabric (read her DIY roman shade tutorial HERE). Much better!
Make Use Of Decorative Items
To make the most of your space, use decorations that are also functional.
In the original makeover, I was using a lot of blue and white vases on the shelves as part of the decor (I love those blue and white vases!) The problem was they were taking up valuable shelf storage space, so I took them down.
They were sitting empty on the counter until I needed a place to store some faux flowers and put them in one “temporarily”. Then I realized that I could actually still keep the vases in the room but actually use them for storing things. For me, they are a great place to store silk flowers. But they could be used for storing anything that fits…pencils, boxes of staples, sewing supplies…you get the idea.
Now that I have my functional office, I can work in comfort…and have an organized space to finish the few decorating projects that are left for this room.
Hopefully, you have learned from my mistakes and won’t have the same issues if you are creating a home office space.