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Danielle Bryk creates fab and functional work-from-home spaces.

Everyone knows there is a business to running a household. But that doesn’t mean bills have any business hanging out on the dining room table. Whether you work from home or you need a spot to do the “work” of running the household, carving out home office space is crucial. No matter how small, a dedicated work space will make any home function more efficiently.

Know what you need

The first thing to do is identify the purpose of the space. Are you working from home and using the space eight hours a day? If so, you need to be serious about the ergonomics of the space. Your chair should be comfortable and have proper lower back support. The seat height should allow feet to rest on the floor and knees to bend slightly more than 90 degrees. Keyboard surfaces should be roughly the same height as your elbows when they are bent slightly more than 90 degrees.

If your space is used less frequently, you can be a little more creative with furniture choices. For example, I turned a little alcove on my main floor into an “office” space for my design business for less than $300. I simply needed a surface to place drawings and samples and to work on things when inspiration strikes.

I used an Ikea Torsby dining table ($169) with white glass top to keep things airy and blend seamlessly with the decor in the rest of the open-concept space. A replica Panton chair from Morba in Toronto makes a stylish, sleek desk chair that’s fine for occasional use.

Light up your life

I painted a section of the wall with chalk board paint to define my mood board, and used an Umbra magazine rack to keep the latest design mags handy. This space is great because natural light floods in from the bay window. Proper lighting is essential for any office, and I find that natural light is where my mind functions best. This simple space is one of the busiest places in our home. Countless art projects and homework assignments are completed here.

More involved writing is done in our other home office space, which I carved into the upstairs hallway. For this space, I splurged on custom cabinetry to take advantage of every square inch and to create proper storage, along with a keyboard slide to avoid aching wrists and neck! The tall cupboard houses the printer and all the art supplies, as well as a dedicated area for taxes and important documents. These used to be stuffed into a dining room console – which is not only bad Feng Shui (never mix bill paying with relaxing and gathering) but it interferes with dinner!

Home Office Check List

It’s hard enough to manage all the bills, taxes, passports (oh, and where are those paper clips that your kid needs for a school project?), if you continually have to search for them in different corners of the house. Give everything a space, and organization becomes less of a chore.

A PROPER WORK SURFACE

Every office should have a surface for either a computer or a laptop – do make sure your keyboard is at the proper ergonomic height.

ADEQUATE LIGHTING

Natural light is a bonus, but if it’s not available use strategically placed task lights in addition to overhead lights to truly illuminate your space.

COMFORTABLE CHAIR

Proper seating can increase productivity as much as 17% and help prevent spinal injury.

PLANTS OR FLOWERS

Bring life to the space and keep a connection with nature.

HIDE THE WIRES!

If you are in the renovation stage, make sure to add lots of electrical outlets. You’ll be shocked at how many you’ll need. If you have to use a power bar, make sure to invest in a device that keeps all the wires together and out of sight.

STYLE

The best work spaces are not just functional, they inspire a free-flowing creativity.

Adding a sense of personality will make being in this space more pleasurable, and anything that increases your sense of well-being will increase your productivity.

Use an art collage or mood board as an inexpensive way to decorate the walls.Children’s art is free and is the best!

Creating an “office nook” in an otherwise open space?Use paint (a colour-blocked wall) or an area rug to define the space.

-by Danielle Bryk