How to set up a home office you actually want to work in
Renovate your home office with these tips from design and construction experts who share their on-the-job and work-from-home insights. Whether you’re starting from scratch or optimizing an outdated space, they show you how to create a workspace fit for confinement and beyond.
Designer Katie Bridgman and Billdr contractor partner Lance Taylor Townend have been perfecting the art of the home office for years. But it wasn’t until 2020 that they came face to face with the reality of working from home.
“Before the pandemic, I would have simply told you all you need is a decent desk with some drawer space, a good chair, a filing system, and a desk lamp,” says Bridgman, who runs Katie Charlotte Design, a full-service interior design and decorating firm in Montreal. Life in lockdown, however, calls for a little more home office inspiration.
If you're in the process of setting up your first home office or updating your current one, consider these tips from Bridgman and Townend, who share their expertise and newfound revelations so you can create a workspace you’ll actually want to work in.
Location, location, location
You’ve heard this mantra from your real estate agent, but it applies to interior design as well. The space you choose for work should help you get in the flow so you can be productive and creative. “It may sound esoteric but it should be a place where you feel good,” says Townend. Factors may include natural light and daytime noise levels. “There’s no right or wrong choice, because at the end of the day it’s your space and you’re going to be spending a lot of time there, so you’ve got to feel comfortable.”
Start with tech essentials
Take the necessary steps to make your office as soundproof, efficient, and uncluttered as possible. Test your wiring, Internet speeds, and noise levels before it’s too late. “I did this one project for someone where we created a cocoon with Rockwool that was totally soundproof,” says Townend. “We tested the soundproofing before plastering and painting and it wasn’t soundproof enough for the client, so we added a layer of blue Sonopan and gyprock.”
Inject some inspiration
In addition to choosing a location that fits your specific needs, Bridgman suggests positioning your workspace so it faces something inspirational. “Nothing is better at getting creative juices flowing than being visually stimulated by something nearby.” Whether it’s a window, a piece of art, or a shelf filled with some of your favourite objects, anything is better than a plain white wall.
Define office boundaries
In an ideal world, your workroom would have a door so that you can close it and leave the office at the end of the day. If a separate room is not available, try to create zones within the space you have. “You can easily create an office zone by having a modular system bookshelf or two built to act as a room divider,” Bridgman says.
Customize your furnishings
If you have something one-of-a-kind in mind, or if you’re working with an oddly–shaped room, custom furnishings may be the way to go. “For one client, we got antique doors with glass and reconditioned them, adding antique handles and some hidden locks,” explains Townend. “As for the desk, he wanted something very simple and functional so we built one piece that went all around the room.”
Add a little decoration
Treat your office like you would the entryway to your home, says Bridgman. Add pops of colour by placing a pillow on your desk chair, flowers in a vase, photos of your favourite people, or trips you’ve taken. A small rug under your desk can bring a bit of coziness to your work area. Hanging a textured throw or blanket on the back of your chair is another nice touch.
Looking for more home office inspiration? See the before and after of this office and guest room renovation by Billdr.
Our best stories, once a month.
By providing your contact information, you consent to Billdr sending you monthly emails. You can unsubscribe at any time.
A freelance writer based in Montreal who writes about design, architecture and real estate, Ursula Leonowicz is a regular contributor to the Montreal Gazette’s New Homes & Condos section. She also has her own blog, citycountry bumpkin. Growing up, she painted her bedroom a different colour every year; much to the horror of her parents.
Billdr Magazine is an online publication packed with design trends and inspiration, expert insights, and personal home renovation stories. From planning a major renovation to navigating construction and maintaining your beautiful home, Billdr Magazine is here for you.