Creating a home may include decorating a home office. Some spouses take a second job consulting from home because of the recession. For some newlyweds, working from home was the plan from the start. Maybe you are a business operations consultant and your husband is a musician. How do you create work life balance if your bedroom is a studio during the day? How do you carve out a quiet corner if your second job is writing at night and your spouse wants to play Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 in the home office? I draw my inspiration from Home Office Photographer Ceclia Berliner and Interior Designer Paul Smith.
Here are 5 Tips that I’ve gleaned from 3 years of marriage, 5 jobs and various home office decorating books including Neal Zimmerman’s At Work At Home: Design Ideas for Your Home Workplace:
- Store supplies in decorative storage containers for a tidy and elegant home office. You’ve heard about “hiding in plain sight”. If you use decorative boxes like these for your paperwork and office gear, you can have them handy without cluttering your home. I found decorative, canvas-covered boxes for $10 to $30 at HomeGoods and Ross.
- Bring the outdoors indoors with natural light. You’ve read about Seasonal Affectiveness Disorder (SAD). That’s when some individuals feel blue during the winter from reduced sunlight. Station your work desk adjacent to a window to let allow yourself some sunlight for mental wellness. If you are fortunate enough to have a skylight, create your home office underneath it. If natural light is not accessible, fake it. Use flickering LED candles, choose office furniture in sunny yellow and a desk lamp with special UV to mimic natural light to create a serene atmosphere.
- Anticipate times of foot traffic through your home office. If you live in a small apartment like me, your home office is a corner rather than a separate room. Recognize when your husband may have visitors in the house or when he might need to take a power nap. Communicate with your spouse so that visitors walk through during non-work hours. My husband is a graduate student so power naps during the day are common. When he naps, I transport my “home office” away from the sleeping area. My desk is a portable tea tray stand.
- Create subtle screens to give yourself privacy in your home office. You may have heard of placing a console table against the back of a couch when your interior design is open plan. You can use the same trick to create boundaries when decorating your home office. A bookshelf can serve as a partial wall or two tall potted plants can suggest that you’ve entered a “work oasis”.
- Personalize interior design of your work corner and allow your spouse to do the same. My husband has a favorite 1980s plastic toy that he calls Battle Bear that serves as a morale booster while he works on business cases as a student. It moves with him as he alternates between the apartment desktop computer and his personal laptop. My signature look is the pair of white roses in glass vases that travel with me to designate my work area. Be fair. Allow your hubster to have “man cave” items on his workspace just as he permits feminine accents for your home office decorating.
These five tips will help you maintain harmony with your spouse and give you the work-life balance you crave when you must work from home. The storage boxes sweep work out of sight when you entertain. Natural sunlight or its substitutes keep you from being a grump at home during work hours. Knowing when to expect foot traffic keeps you from being interrupted. Screening your home office or corner gives you privacy to meditate upon solutions. Lastly, decorating your home office with a personal touch such as your favorite flower makes your office a pleasant place to be rather than a dehumanizing cubicle.