When I imagine sitting down in my ideal home office, I don’t imagine my suspiciously sticky kitchen table with an abandoned checkers game next to my laptop, the sounds of my neighbor’s music blaring from their open garage.

It’s definitely more like a blissfully quiet screened-in porch (there’s always perfect weather in my ideal home office), the scent of cool breezes wafting toward my immaculately clean, very large desk where I’m sitting with excellent posture. We all can dream, but maybe an ideal home office isn’t so unachievable.

Here are three ideas from the pros on how to create the perfect workspace in your home.

Incorporate Beautiful Lighting – and Plenty of It

Natural lighting is ideal. If you can choose a room with large windows, all the better. Daylight’s constantly shifting color is both lovely and is the most evenly balanced source of white light. If that’s not an option, or if light only comes in your windows for part of the day (or you’re a night owl), you’ll want to choose a combination of general and task lighting.

Being able to control when and where the light shines is essential to being able to see what you’re working on. It also staves off the depression that can come from too little exposure to light – an easy trap to fall into when you’re absorbed in your work.

Demand Privacy

Perhaps the greatest challenge of a home office is that your family or others you live with may not realize that work is work, even if you’re doing it one room away from the kitchen. If you can’t actually close the door to keep others away when you’re concentrating, hang a polite sign to remind your housemates that you’re not to be disturbed.

If that’s insufficient, you can consider adding a privacy screen to block off your workspace or purchase noise-cancelling headphones to keep things quiet (if music helps you work, investing in great headphones will help you dive into your own little world and stay there despite distractions).

Choose the Right Equipment

The word “ergonomic” has been tossed around so much that it’s almost a joke, but back pain, sore shoulders, and tendonitis are nothing to laugh about. From chairs to keyboards to desks, it’s a good idea to do your research, and, if possible, try before you buy. What’s comfortable for a large person over 6 feet tall might be miserable for a smaller-framed individual.

Choose the technology that you need for your business and nothing else. That means a separate phone line is a great idea, so your clients never get a busy signal; a giant plasma screen is a really bad one. Speaking of what you’ll be staring at all day, green, purple, and neutral tones are the best colors for your walls – nothing too bright and distracting (like yellow and red), nothing too soothing and soporific (like blue).

In the end, your ideal home office may look a lot different from mine. The main idea is to keep your office separate from the rest of your home, so it’s a place for work and nothing else. When you do this, you’ll have a better chance of attaining that elusive work-life balance and enjoying the time you do spend on your business.


William Lipovsky owns the personal finance website First Quarter Finance. His most embarrassing moment was telling a Microsoft executive, "I'll just Google it."

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