Well, size isn’t everything! Or so my wife tells me! Let’s be brutally honest, a bigger one most of the time is better than a smaller one… office that is! But for those of us that don’t have a huge office, there are ways you can maximise it’s look and feel to at least make it seem bigger. I’m not going to recommend you buy a kids office chair, or ban those over six feet tall from entering, I’m going to give you a few tips on what you can do.
Adopt a Minimalist Approach
Take a step back and just have a look around. How much stuff do you currently have in your office? How much of it is needed, and how much of it is ‘clutter’? Try and be as ruthless as you can here, if it serves no purpose, get rid of it. If it is your home office, I’m not recommending you throw out Aunt Jess’s Urn, but items you might have that are either no longer needed or wanted. This can include items which may have made their way into your office that don’t belong there, kids toys, your wife’s sewing machine or your golf clubs. If it is an office away from your home then you could have lots of redundant office paraphernalia you no longer use. Either way, move the things you want to keep into the garage, or alternative storage; and try to sell the things you don’t want to keep on Ebay. You might as well try and generate a few bucks to help pay for sprucing up your office.
Review the Office Furniture
You might have gotten rid of a lot of clutter by now, and are starting to see a bit of a return for your efforts, but take a look at what furniture you have in your office. Do you have an oversized desk that is just to large for the room it’s in, and completely over-powers the available space? If so, Ebay is your friend! You may have a very large Oak Partner desk that you can actually sell for a great price, and then re-invest that cash to buy a more appropriately sized desk. Maybe even a more modern desk that has electric height control, to allow you to work standing or sitting.
Do you have too much office furniture than you need? You might have a set of bookshelves, pedestals of other ancillary tables that you really don’t need. Guess what… Ebay them!
Do you have Curtains?
Consider replacing curtains with blinds. It will remove the curtain poles or rails from the wall along with the curtains. This will reveal more wall, and seem more spacious. There are many types of blinds you can choose, but try and go for a design which fits into the rebate of a window. Having blinds will also make it look and feel more like an office, and there are some really cool options out there…
A Fresh Coat of Paint
So about now you have shed a lot of ‘baggage’ that just wasn’t needed. It is looking emptier, and more spacious, and you might have a few more bucks to play with. But you can now see the walls, and they are dark and dingy! Consider a re-paint, now is the time to do it, while the office is on the ‘lean’ side. Consider using lighter ‘neutral’ paint tones, they will make your office feel more spacious. Ultimately, this is down to your tastes though.
Space Saving Layout
Now you are looking at where you are going to position your office furniture and equipment. Choose a common sense approach here, ensure you maintain the required access you need to everything that needs to be accessible, but do it in such a way that makes the best use of your office space. Experiment with differing layouts, and again, be ruthless! If you just don’t like that 1950s desk, or 1970s chair…. Ebaaaayyyyy!
If you are happy with the look of the layout then test it works for you, that the ergonomics are what they should be – can you access everything in your workspace effortlessly. Best to do a few tweaks now than living with a layout that looks good, but is a poor user experience.
Space Saving Office Furniture
Most modern office furniture is designed to be space efficient and made using thinner frames and less material. Truth be told, if you were to have a game of chicken with that 1950s desk and one from Ikea, then there’s only one winner! This will come down to personal preference, whilst some people like their office to be modern and contemporary, others may prefer the more traditional look with more robust furniture. There are manufacturers out there that produce traditional looking desks and furniture which are capable of hosting modern equipment. You must also consider how easy it will be to move these monolithic pieces of furniture in and out of your office. Modern alternatives are more ‘flat-packed’ to ease with transportation and placement.
How your office is lit can play a major part in how your office feels. The brighter it is the bigger it will feel, but strike a balance between how bright it is, and how effectively lit it is for you to be comfortable and productive. The positioning of lights can also have a large bearing on your feeling of space. If you have large dangling downlighters, then your space will feel smaller and more cluttered. These are large ceiling mounted lights that are on longer cables, they break up the space and can look great, but they will defeat your objective. Instead look for ceiling lights that are more surface mounted.
There are an array of floor or desk mounted lamps that are ideal for the office, these allow you to strategically place them where needed. So you can test locations for optimizing their output and to allow for the appearance of your office feeling spacious.
Smoke and Mirrors
Ok, not so much of the smoke… but definitely mirrors! Now you have your office laid out the way you want it, maybe had a re-paint, maybe new blinds, maybe even new office furniture; then now is the time to implement a few things which will deceive the eye. Strategically position some wall mirrors, the larger the mirror the greater the deception! They will make your office feel far larger than it really is. You can buy them in packs, instead of singular large ones, and add as many packs as you wish to build up a larger mirrored look.
Consider what clothes people wear to appear slimmer! Look to add stripes, but make sure you orientate them the correct way. this could be striped carpet, floor tiles or rugs. If you get the effect correct, then stripes will go for even longer when viewed from the mirror(s).
Office equipment will no doubt mean electrical fittings and cabling, which left alone can look messy and interfere with the appearance of your nice clutter free office. Consider buying desk tidy’s, cable tidy’s, peripheral holders and ancillary storage devices. These will give each thing a home, and help to clean up the look of your office whilst making more space available.
Office Equipment Upgrades
If you have old CRT monitors, and older peripheral devices that are wired then look to upgrade them. Choose to buy flat screen monitors with mounts, and look at replacing wired printers, keyboards, mice and headsets with Bluetooth equivalents. These options will provide you with more space, be more flexible where you can put them, but will also look neater as there will be less wires to conceal.
And in Conclusion… A Place for Everything, and Everything in its Place
I hope you reach the end of your journey to make your office look bigger. You may choose, or might have gone through several of the above tips and undertaken a huge transformation to make your office space bigger and more effective. Or you may have done a bit of a freshen up, and selected tips that are ‘quick-wins’ which give the appearance of having more office space? Either way, there is one last point that you need to remember – keep it tidy! It will be easy to allow your nice un-cluttered space to regress back to being a dumping ground for an old sewing machine, kids toys, the dogs bolt-hole, spare chairs, etc.
The more you keep on top of keeping it clean, the more of an attractive workspace it will remain, and the more productive in it you will be!
Amelia & Theo – Co-owners of ThinkHomeOffice.com
We have professional backgrounds in Software Testing and Business Analysis, both with extensive experience of working for commercial enterprises and as a freelancers. We toggle between working from corporate premises and our own home offices. We have a passion for home working, and for using equipment that is ergonomically functional, well designed and elegant.