NEW JERSEY – Eight members of the New Jersey Chapter of the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) offer home office design tips that will foster productivity, creativity and separate work life from personal life.
 
Below are some of the designers’ solutions for engineering an environment that can help homeowners get down to business and do their best work.

Creating an office in the bedroom 

Designer Susan Barbieri converted this closet into a home office that can be closed at the end of the day.  Photo credit: Susan Barbieri
“When your workspace is in your bedroom, separating the work area from the personal area is essential for productivity and stress relief,” says Susan Barbieri, ASID, of Susan Barbieri Interior Design.  Some of the furnishings that can be used to serve this purpose: 
A freestanding bookshelf that doubles as a divider
Drapery with ceiling-mounted hardware 
A Murphy bed. “When put away, it makes the work area seem like a dedicated space rather than a combined one,” says Barbieri.
 
Another solution is a spare closet (if you’re lucky enough to have one). Fit it out as a workspace that can be closed and out-of-sight at the end of the day, Barbieri suggests.
With an office-bedroom combo, you must be particularly careful about prepping your video conferencing backdrop, says Sharon L Sherman, ASID, Thyme & Place Design: “A virtual background, such as a green screen, is one option. Otherwise, you’ll need to set up an actual background that doesn’t show the bed. A cozy corner with good lighting, books, wall hangings or plants behind you project an air of calm and professionalism.”

Sharing a home office   

In this large home office that can accommodate two, Designer Sharon L Sherman created a workspace separate from the desk area, with a sofa, chair and table – plus a rug to demarcate the space.  Photo credit: Peter Rymwid
“When your home office is a shared space, it’s very important for each person to have their own comfortable chair and portion of the room designated just for them, their computer and work files,” says Sandra Lambert, ASID, of Realm Designs. Sandra also advises minimizing noise, a major cause of distraction. This can be done through a number of methods:
Putting acoustical panels or stackable surfaces on the wall will help with sound absorption, as will adding a low-pile carpet.
Positioning desks so they are facing a wall or away from each other will help lower the transmission of phone conversations. 
Installing a white noise machine will mask sounds from keyboard clicking and paper shuffling.
 
Another noise solution is headsets, says Pat Valentine Ziv, ASID, PVZ Design, because “they provide a quieter way to communicate with others while not disturbing your office-mate.”  
 
Larger rooms present more options for making a shared office comfortable.  Sharon L. Sherman likes to construct a space that is separate from the primary work area. Furnished with a sofa and a table, along with a rug to pull the space together -- this area can serve as a meeting venue or a place for stretching your legs while taking a call.

Making a home office function without a desk

A C-shaped end table can replace a traditional desk, says designer Terri Fiori. This one has a tilting top for adjusting to different positions.
“You don’t need a traditional desk to work, but you must have a flat surface to work on,” says Judy L Miller, Allied ASID, of Judy Miller Design. “This could be in the form of a folding table that you pull out and use when working or something that serves multi-functions, such as a vanity that can also serve as a desk. Above all, you need a comfortable place to sit, so consider the ergonomics of the chair you choose.”
 
Joan Ravasy, ASID, of Joan Ravasy Design uses wall-mounted shelves tucked into corners, hallways, landings and foyers. “This is my go-to for creating a dedicated area. Desks can be many things -- a workbench, kitchen counter, a shelf,” says Ravasy.
 
Terri Fiori, Allied ASID, Fiori Interior Design, recommends C-shaped end tables: “You can slip them under a chair or a bed. Some of them of them serve a dual purpose, with a shelf feature or a flip top extension,” she says.

Making a particularly small home office function better

“In any small space I always look to vertical solutions, says Cozette Brown, Allied ASID, of Cozette Brown Interior Design. “Tall chests, bookcases, even an old armoire can all be repurposed for office use.” 
 
Sandra Lambert, recommends installing cabinets and shelving below work surfaces. “Don't forget about the back of doors, she adds. “They can have hooks, folder holders or tack boards. This will free up valuable space on the surfaces from clutter.”
 
 “I attempt to utilize every inch in all directions,” says Pat Valentin Ziv. “This may mean vertical storage above the desk. Function is paramount so you want most of your everyday items close at hand. A rolling drawer below the desk may house a printer. You may want to place the computer monitor on a desk or wall-mounted arm to free up desk space.”
 
Joan Ravasy says that “order is critical in a small office: To be organized is essential to functioning well and efficiently.” She opts for putting work items in stacked boxes, or a small shelf unit with labeled bins and covered containers to be pulled out when necessary.  These tools “allow you to put your work away at the end of the day.” 

How to make a home office both functional and elegant

"The most efficient way to make a home office both functional and sophisticated is with the utilization of built-ins,” says designer Alma Russo, ASID, AR Interiors
 
“This allows the client to specify exactly what their needs are for the space, whether it be file cabinets, hidden printers or any other user-specific storage.  Also, adding elements such as strong saturated color and wallpaper really enhance any work from home space.
 
Many people don’t consider how they can improve their home office. Testing new design ideas can help you boost your efficiency and get the most out of your workday.
 
ASID members undergo rigorous training and are mandated to refresh that training ever year. For more information or to find New Jersey interior designers, visit: asid.org/find-a-pro.
 

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