When you live where you work

Wrenda Goodwyn • special to the Fort Myers News-Press• January 28, 2012

If you find yourself looking for space to carve out a home office or if your current one is looking a little dreary, it may be time to come up with a plan.

Photo: Pottery Barn.

Whether you are converting a walk-in closet into a workspace, sharing a family room or transforming a guestroom to your new home office, it can be a fun adventure if you follow a few tips.

Photo: Pottery Barn.

Put some light on the subject. By now we know about the negative impact that lack of light has on our productivity and mood. And the best light of all is natural light. It reduces eye fatigue and headaches. Make sure that you have as much natural light as possible coming into your office. In addition, allow for both overhead lighting and task lighting. And skip fluorescent lighting. It makes you tired. A good desk lamp is Pottery Barn's Cole task table lamp (www.potterybarn.com). It is designed to focus light precisely where it is needed, making it perfect for reading and desk work. It has two turnkeys that let you adjust its height and angle and it also comes in a floor lamp. In addition, purchase a shaded lamp for a surface in your space to give your office some warmth.Pottery Barn.

Keep workspace clutter-free. Easier said than done. But give it a try. Make a habit of organizing all surfaces at the end of each day. And invest in adequate storage solutions. Storage can make or break your productivity and is worth careful consideration and planning. Many options are on the market in various price levels and styles that are adaptable to your specific needs. Visit www.containerstore.com for some ideas.

Don't scrimp on furniture. Because you spend a lot of time in your home office, an ergonomic chair is well worth the investment. Make sure the desk and other work surfaces are comfortable and have the storage and space that will allow you to be productive. Wireless connectivity is a must and will also allow you to take your laptop to another part of the house or outdoors for a change of scenery.

Photo: Pottery Barn.

Put your personality into it. Find your style and use it. Since you are working at home, you have escaped the corporate world and can put your creativity to work in your office decor! Add an eclectic piece of furniture or an antique armoire to hid files. Hang your favorite artwork. Paint the walls a color that you love. Add a large bulletin board or vision board to keep inspirational photos and motivational quotes. Find a mural, huge photograph or outrageous wallpaper and use it on one wall. Something that you could have never done in a cubicle!

Small spaces can work. If you are converting a walk-in closet or small closet to your work area, take the doors off and mount shelves for books, storage baskets and photos. If you are sharing space in another room, make your desk double as something else: for example, a farm table with lots of charm can convert to a dining room table when entertaining. And one of the best tips of all if sharing space in a room: add a screen or room divider to create a private work area.

Cover it up. Find an antique or visit flea markets for something that you can paint. They can hide files and papers that you would rather not look at. When your day is over, close the doors and turn out the lights and walk a few feet to your home!

Power down. With all of its advantages, working at home can be exhausting. It is easy to work constantly. Best advice: Take breaks during the day. Go outside. Walk around the block. Breathe. Do some stretches. Set some reasonable hours and stick to them. After all, you are the boss.

Wrenda Goodwyn is a Southwest Florida interior decorator. Visit her website at spectacularspaces.com. Call her at 949-1808 or e-mail wrenda@spectacularspaces.com. For more decorating tips and photos, visit spectacularspaces.com/blog