If you work from home full-time or you just put in a few hours here and there, having a functional, efficient home office is key to your success (and sanity). Instead of trying to recreate a corporate office environment, you can create a home office sanctuary that can help lower your stress and improve your productivity. Let’s face it: Our home office is not only a place to work — it’s a place to occasionally kick our feet up on the desk and stream movies or read a book. The home office can double as a sanctuary from the rest of the house with a little attention to design detail.
The ancient Chinese interior design art of feng shui can help you create an inspiring and serene home office. Feng shui is based on principles of arranging and decorating interiors harmoniously with natural energies. The hallmark of feng shui is an uncluttered and functional space, marked by a distinct feeling of peacefulness. Using design tips and strategies from this ancient art is an effective way to design a new home office. The following are some uncomplicated ways to start this process.
Designing your home office using feng shui principals involves paying attention to the natural elements. Elements of wood, water, fire, metal and air can be reflected in your décor. A popular water element in feng shui office design is the inclusion of a small fountain or a fish tank. Placing these directly in line with the entrance door to your office is said to promote good luck in your career. An example of a metal element for your office is a small wind chime or even a mirror. The wood element is easiest included by placing several live plants throughout your office. This also helps to clean the air and adds an invigorating swath of green color. To include a fire element in your office is considered auspicious for your career and reputation. You can do this by placing vibrant red, yellow and orange silk flowers near your main workspace. There are many ways to include nature in your décor, from photographs to fine art. Get creative by using the basic ideas of feng shui as inspiration.
Your home office is special because it’s your home and not your place of work. This gives you license to personalize your workspace more than you can in a traditional office setting. One of the basic principles of feng shui is that a space should feel uplifting and happy, rather than dismal and confining. Add photos, posters and items that provide you with positive images. Start with family photos, mementos, awards and keepsakes. If you have a quirky obsession with an animal or collectible item, your home office is probably a more appropriate place to showcase it than your work office.
Placing inspirational quotes strategically around your home office is another way to invoke a joyful atmosphere supportive of success. Research has shown that repeated exposure to positive affirmations can actually help improve your mood, health and outlook.
Another way to create an inspiring home office atmosphere is to use softer lighting than you would find in a traditional office setting. Fluorescent lights, like those lining the ceilings of most office buildings, can cause eyestrain and even migraine headaches. When you’re in control of the ambient lighting, you can prevent overexposure to bright light. Opt for a tall floor light and a couple of ornamental desk lights so you can adjust the lighting according to the time of day.
Cut the Clutter
Clutter of any kind is the enemy of effective feng shui design. Especially in an office, where your efficiency depends on organization, clutter is the enemy of functionality. There are a several simple rules that can help you maintain a clutter-free office with minimal effort:
- Keep desktop surfaces clear of anything other than essentials for your work. These essentials include your computer, printer and possibly a stapler and a few pens.
- Keep corners free and clear from clutter. Since we tend to “pile” things in corners, they are often the first spaces to get cluttered.
- Include organizational essentials in your home office. This can include a filing cabinet, and a space for unopened and ready-to-send mail.
- Use labels on boxes and files. You may think you can remember what’s inside of everything, but the odds are against you. When you use labels consistently, your future self will thank you.
About the Author: Kathy Tanner holds a Ph.D. in architecture and design certifications in feng shui.