The New Normal - Balancing Life and Work from Home
Making your home functional for work and life
Previously we've discussed How To Select Art For Every Room and The Best Sofa Beds for Hosting which have taken on new meaning now that home is the office too. Whether you live in a spacious home or a small apartment, you can make any space a functional blend for work and life. Here’s how to optimize your home for working, with both aesthetic and purpose in mind:
If you will be working from home, or your children will be learning from home, it will require thoughtful planning to create an environment that is optimal for your business as well as balances the needs of your family. Having a keen understanding of your unique space, as well as the ins and outs of your daily routines, will help you narrow your focus on what works well and what needs to change in order for a room to serve multiple purposes.
If you are establishing a semi-permanent environment in which you will or your family work, consider day-to-day living, seasonal activities, as well as special entertaining and guests. The way you lay out each room should support its intended function, while also creating a good flow. Keeping in mind negative space and natural light as well, which can help support transitions between work and play. If you are limited with square footage, keeping moveable furniture such as ottomans about 36 inches from walls or table edges will ensure the environment stays feeling comfortable and not cramped. For fixed-seat furniture such as sofas or daybeds, 24 inches of clearance is sufficient.
And don’t forget to design a practical entryway. Consider the items such as bags, shoes or keys that you drop off when you enter your home and compose an entryway that can accommodate all of these things. Having a designated spot for each item reduces the temptation to create piles on precious surfaces such as countertops or ottomans, which are much more functional when they are free to be utilized.
Simplify your space
If your room will be serving a flexible purpose, select pieces of furniture that are durable and practical. Resist the urge to over-decorate frequently used surfaces, which instead should be free and clear for a variety of purposes. If you are utilizing a room for work or homework, if possible, pick one that is far away from distractions such as the kitchen, laundry or game areas. Be sure to leave extra space to allow for activities, like crafts for the kids or exercising for the adults. This empty space should exist without having to move furniture out of the way to create it.
Think of furniture as functional
Furniture can get a lot of daily use from work to play, kids and pets. Consider fabric that can hold up to daily wear and tear, such as linen or wool blends which are a durable option. Or choose pieces that are functional as well as attractive such as leather, which can be wiped down easily. Selecting furniture in darker colors like brown, blue or grey can hide everyday stains.
If you decide to integrate a working space into an existing living space, you may opt to create a desk out of an alternative piece of furniture such as a dining table or coffee table. If you are limited on square footage, a sleeper sofa can add comfort as well as allow for an office to double as a guest room. And don’t underestimate the power of working from your kitchen table! Dining tables are a great option for professional projects or kids homework, as it will allow for distance to spread out.
Comfort in working and living spaces is just as important as its utilitarian components. Small changes such as adding a few throw pillows or hanging artwork can help an environment feel more inviting and creative. Additionally, rugs are always a purposeful and practical design element because they help to both add warmth and can be used to delineate a room’s functions.
Seating can serve multiple purposes as well - for example, using your dining chair as your work chair will help eliminate unnecessary clutter. When selecting dining chair options, key things to look for are distance from seat to floor (we suggest seat heights of about 17-19 inches in most cases, or at least 10-13 inches from the underside of the tabletop) and a supportive upright back and seat cushion. Other comfortable seating options such as counter stools will also allow for breaks between sitting and standing while remaining productive.
And don’t forget that there should also be various points of light throughout a room that can support different activities. For example, low light for movies on the sofa or entertaining, or bright light for reading or working.