Whatever the reason for working from home, it’s always good to style your home office to complement its use – to make your home office look professional. If your home office is to look professional, then the reality is you need to keep it formal, tidy, and in keeping with what you use it for. It must be aligned to your occupation, role, or hobby.
If you are a photographer, you’ll inevitably have the equipment and trappings that come with photography. Maybe with some examples of your work hung from the walls, either framed Prints or Canvasses. You could work from home using more modern inventions, like a 3-D printing service, where you’ll have the printer and its associated materials within reach. Whatever the use, you’ll have the tools you’ll need to make the office practical.
So with an office that is practical, does it look professional? If not, can you make your home office look professional? Well, of course, let us consider how we go about it…
How do you Style a Home Office?
Like we discussed above, the style really should be in keeping with your role. Would it look remotely professional if you were a Graphic Designer but had a selection of toys and garden tools in your office? Not really!
The traditional home office would be built around the desk, the centerpiece of your office. Locating it in a manner that looks good is important, but must be done to maintain its practical use. This article may help you with desk placement considerations. If the layout of your home office is suitable for your needs, then it comes down to aesthetics – how good does it look; but remember it needs to be in keeping with your hobby or profession. This is where you need to think about how to style it.
Lets’s go back to the photography example. You want your office to reflect what you use it for, but also to illustrate your work – to highlight your skill. Now do you have clients coming to your home office, or do you hold video conferencing from your office? If yes, then consider how it reflects upon you, and your ability in your hobby or profession.
As a photographer you would like a visitor to be able to see some examples of your work, simply by hanging prominent imagery up on the walls where your visitor can view them. Remember if video conferencing, pay attention to your backdrop. Whilst you will be the focus of the video, ensure some examples of your work are in view. Also, consider some subtle placement of the ‘tools of your trade’. Have that top-end tripod or lens in view. You need to look the part!
How can I Spruce up my Home Office?
Tidy up – get rid of all that clutter on your desk, on your bookcase, or dumped in your office. Especially anything that will be in view of a client or a colleague. Remember, check your backdrop if you do video conferencing.
Assess your furniture – Is it in a good state of repair? If not, fix or replace it. Choose furniture that is in keeping with your role. If you are a psychiatrist, maybe go for the classic clinic look, or the polar-opposite ‘Ikea’ contemporary look. A mishmash of styles will make you look confused, maybe even disorganised. Having said that, sometimes you can blend old with new. Just do it carefully.
How can I Make my Office More Attractive?
Well not everyone is blessed with style, or maybe they are but it’s to a taste that few others share, ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’ they say! My guidance here would be to do the simple things first:
Get inspiration – Review magazines, websites that are topical to your specialty. Are you an architect? Buy some architecture magazines. In general, when writers create an article, they will supplement it with images, take a look at those images and analyze them. In this example, what desk does the architect have? What chair – a designer one? What fixtures and fittings – architectural models? How is it decorated – Anything unique to draw the eye? The article would want to show an image that portrays the subject matter in a good, professional way!
Where do I Start?
Read over the above tips and then put them into action. Take a step back and look at your set up and determine what you can do to make your home office look professional. Is it still not how you want it? Then read on for some more tweaks you can make to it.
Get the Correct Desk
Ok, lets break it down into bite-size chunks, starting with the centerpiece of the office – your desk. Assuming you have read the article I linked above and have it in an optimal position to work on, then why does it look wrong – or look unprofessional? Is it the desk itself? If so, look to buy a desk that is fit for use. If you have been working on an old kitchen table, and are an architect, then guess what..? Anyone that see’s you sat there will think ‘is that architect any good – they didn’t look like a pro’!
Perception. At least appear to have the correct tools for trade!
Similarly, to choosing a fit for purpose desk, supplement your home office with furniture that compliments your role. Don’t have a bookcase full of vases and antique dolls if you are an Aircraft Propulsion Technician! Fill it with books by Pratt & Whitney, Rolls Royce or other relevant engineering publications.
Try and keep your furniture type consistent with, or to compliment your desk – it will make you appear organised, rather than an office of ‘cobbled together’ left over furniture.
Carefully Consider Your Home Office Background
This is highly relevant if you communicate with colleagues, clients, customers in person or over video. Before you attend that meeting, turn on that web-cam and take a look at your back-drop. You can guarantee everyone will naturally be inquisitive to see your environment, even sub-consciously they will be taking in the image of you and your office. If your background looks organised and on point with what you do, then their perception of you is half done before you even speak! First impressions..!
If you do conferencing or give presentations frequently then you may even wish to consider getting a ‘Green Screen’. This is literally what it is, a large projector like screen that is green. A Green Screen sits behind you and allows the presenter to impose an image to it – like you see in use in the movies with effects. Ideal if you are a Youtuber!
Make Professional or Relevant Certifications Visible
If you have it, flaunt it!
Make sure you have them framed or presented well and in view of any client, colleague or customer. They will add more evidence to you and your home office as being a professional or serious operation. Include photographs from a formal presentation of an award or qualification that you may have.
Construct Your Home Office Foreground
Let’s not forget the detail! This could be a small item that sits on your desk, maybe in view of your web-cam, or there for your face to face clients to see. Something that looks inquisitive, cool or technical. Ideally choose something that relates to you, but there are many options for you to consider. Maybe even add something that is differnent. The following items could also be placed anywhere, not just on your desk. Let’s look at some ideas…
Metronome – Ideal if you are a Musician or a Psychiatrist! These are the weighted Pendulum devices that you can set in motion to give timed clicks that vary in frequency, depending on where you set the counterweight. Even if you are not musical nor a Psychiatrist, they just look damn cool and ooze sophistication. Well, least I hope so… I have one!!
Newtons Cradle – You may be wondering what the heck is this? But I guarantee you will have seen one before! It is a conservation of momentum device… not got it yet?
You have… yep it’s that thing with ball-bearings on the end of fishing line that click from side to side!
Although it may not sound amazing, take a look at these. There are a whole range of modern ones, as well as the perpetual motion variants. As cool as they look, don’t buy five of them and put them on your desk – that will just look weird!
Perpetual Motion gadgets – Very similar to the above, but tend to be more complex. You might find yourself being transfixed watched these things in motion!
Levitation gadgets – These are the magnetic gadgets, a more modern take on the above. They can incorporate small lamps, globes, even Bonsai trees and do look really cool! Though choose wisely, we want our office to look professional! Ah heck…. Let’s do cool!!!
Retro gadgets – So, this can vary… a lot! You could be an automotive engineer and have an old Cylinder or Piston on your desk – cleaned-up of course. Maybe you are a Games Programmer… you can have an old handheld Nintendo on your desk. As crazy as it sounds it would be retro, technology moves so fast!
Hour / Timer Glass – As well as giving your desk the classic look, these are a handy, if not mesmerizing addition to your home office. They can come in really useful just to keep an eye on how long you’ve been hard at work. The table below gives you some idea of what’s available from Amazon.
These are just a few ideas that could add to the look and feel of your home office, maybe to make you look professional, serious, or to add a bit of contrast. Maybe to add a bit fun to it, like a ‘Yin and Yan’ type deal! Whatever you opt for, remember Less is More, don’t add them all – unless you happen to be a desktop gadget designer!
Make Your Home Office More Inviting – Decoration
This will be down to your personal taste, I’m not going to scream at you “use pastel colors” but sometimes the neutral shades are best. We are all different, and some will like one extreme to the next. Staying somewhere in the middle will likely hold more appeal for more people, but this is your home office and is a statement about you; make it a good one. Go back to those magazines and websites that you referenced, try and draw inspiration from them if you find you are struggling.
Got a Brand or Logo – Or a trademark even..? Then get it on show. Nothing too ‘in your face’ but good enough to be seen by a visitor or on a video call. There’s a reason why you’ll have had it created in the first place, to help to publicise your business and create a brand. Get it out there! There are lots of company’s that will brand your equipment, be it stationery in your office, your mug or a custom backdrop.
Make Sure Your Home Office is Well Lit
If you have a window in your office use it to its maximum, either as a great backdrop, or as point of focus. If you don’t need it as a backdrop then use it for your own pleasure. You will probably require synthetic light of some description. Read these articles – they will help you to consider Home Office lighting and how best to make it seem more spacious…
For some tips on home office lighting:
For some tips on making the best use of your home office space:
To Wrap Up…
If you’ve read this far, don’t get too caught up on the gadgets… they are there to give you a bit of inspiration. The real objective is making your home office look professional, and the reality is you need to keep it formal, tidy and in keeping with what you do. However, in most professional offices you will no doubt see their occupants with those desktop trinkets that you’ll no doubt find appealing – so why not copy!