Add Some Spice to Your Home Office
Branch out of the norm when it comes to your workspace
Usually home offices are the most neglected space in the home, often shoved into a living room or bedroom corner. Even some who have an elegant home office say they use the kitchen table instead.
But more and more of us are working from home, where an attractive and organized office should lead to enhanced creativity and productivity.
Design, Function and Costs
Give your office personality, says Kim Williams, owner of The Polka Dot Press, which specializes in specialized stationery and gifts. You can do this through personalized notecards and monogrammed pencil cups, for example.
When placing a desk, take advantage of natural light and a nice view.
No view? Create a picture wall behind the desk. Leather swivel chairs with casters run from $350 to thousands of dollars depending on type, size and brand. Fabric chairs can be less expensive to over $1,000 for a Hooker chair. Top-of-the-line black mesh Herman Miller Aeron chairs start around $500 and go well over $1,000. Desk prices run from garage-sale finds to tens of thousands of dollars.
Carpet can be wall-to-wall or a colorful patterned rug available from local stores. Drapes can coordinate with the carpet and chairs.
Most home offices lack a theme or design, so here is where you can make a difference. Go for Scandinavian (white with blue accents). Modernist or industrial features glass, metal, white lacquer or stark black and white décor with charcoal or white walls. Rustic could have chicken wire in glass front bookcases, while traditional uses warm woods, brass nail heads and green plants.
Paige Brand, assistant manager and licensed interior designer with Turner’s Fine Furniture in Thomasville, Georgia, says the newest desks include built-in power strips and USB ports, plus lights in the cabinets. To save space, she says, Aspen Home has a pullout desk with storage on either side.
Put up slim shelves (most books fit in shelves eight inches deep) on the walls near the desk. Dress them with art, treasures and photos.
A desk facing out into the center of the home office takes up space. As an alternative, run a desk under a window or across the width of a space. The desk can be built in and shaped to fit the space. It doesn’t have to be a rectangle; it can curve where the chair slides in. You can’t go wrong with taupe walls and a desk with a white quartz top. For a feminine touch, Brand says, try a white painted finish on the desk and credenza.
Books, periodicals and a comfortable reading chair are musts. Add a reading light and side table next to the chair. Another option is a repurposed formal dining room wherein the dining table becomes a library table in the center of the room — sheer heaven for projects.
Home offices aren’t limited to writing or reading; crafting is an option. This expands placement to the mudroom or the kitchen. Lighting is important. The main problem is maintaining calm, and to do this you need places to sort and stash. A file drawer or large baskets will master the mess.
According to Stephanie Zottoli, CPA/Partner of Carroll and Company CPAs, taxpayers who qualify for a home office can choose a simplified tax-filing method for a home office that she says eliminates the need for calculation and record-keeping requirements.
Taxpayers can deduct $5 a square foot for the portion of their home that qualifies as their home office space (capped at 300 square feet), she says.
Under the simplified method, Zottoli says, you still can take their home-related itemized deductions in full on Schedule A of your return, with no proration required. Also, upon the sale of your home, you have no depreciation to track and no so-called depreciation recapture.