Creating Your Home Office Series, Part 3: Choosing The Right Furniture
June 10, 2020
Selecting the right furniture for your office that encapsulates the right balance of function and aesthetic creates the most positive work environment. Being comfortable improves productivity and reduces strain, aches, and stress. Once you’ve had a chance to assess your immediate space needs as covered in the first part of our blog series, you can get down to the details of selecting the right furniture for your space.
When looking at the aesthetics side of furniture, remember not all your pieces have to match – embrace variety! Don’t be afraid to mix wood tones, colors, and metals. Furniture can act as a pop of color or pattern within your office design. Storage baskets and bulletin boards can add a texture or color, while providing you with a crucial function as well.
Equally as important to aesthetics is function. Make your furniture work for you by selecting the right type for your needs, allowing enough clearance space around it, and avoiding over furnishing your space. Furniture with poor ergonomics can lead to back pain, shoulder ache, leg pain, and neck pain. Below we tackle the basic furniture components of your office and tips on what to look for when choosing them.
Standard desk heights are about 30”, which allows sufficient space for your legs underneath. Besides vertical dimensions, consider the overall size of your desk: are you a creative that needs to spread out your work on a work surface? Are you neat and prefer to work strictly digital? Give yourself enough counter space to fit your working style.
Consider the top of your desk material. A smooth desktop will be comfortable for your to move your work over it, as well as rest your arms while using your computer or laptop. A durable material is important as well, you don’t want to worry about coffee spills or your electronics marring the top. While the reclaimed wood look has been popular lately, it may not be the most comfortable countertop to work on, especially if writing notes. An easy solution to using this or any irregular type of top is adding a durable glass cover that will give you a smooth finish and easy cleanability.
Sit stand desks may be the right choice for you, though they are not for everyone. There are some studies that show the ability to stand at a desk and work can increase productivity. Make sure your desk covers your immediate storage needs accessible to you: built in storage like a drawer for personal items, or file cabinets underneath if you need them.
A quality office desk should integrate with your technology and promote efficiency. You may opt for a desk that includes wire management in the way of grommets to keep cords out of view. Additionally, if you are using a PC, make sure the desk has storage for your CPU below, and that the desk top is deep enough to accommodate your screen and keyboard, or has a keyboard drawer available.
In addition to assessing the amount of storage you will need, determine the types of storage that will work best and look best. Do you need hanging file space? Deep drawers? Do items need to be on display such as books or samples? If you have loose samples, or awkwardly shaped items to store, storage bins can keep them looking organized and clean. Using binders that match your overall office style allows them to serve both function and aesthetic.
It’s easy to manage clutter by assigning enough closed storage in the way of cabinet doors, drawers, or bins as mentioned above.
Your chair is the key furniture item in your home office. This is where you’ll spend most of your time, so you’ll want something comfortable and supportive. While it may be tempting to pick a chair strictly based on style, you will want to consider a few of the basics needed for ultimate health and productivity. An ergonomic chair is your best bet, which includes lumbar support, adjustability, padding, and a swivel wheel base as well. An ergonomic chair is meant to adapt to the posture of your body.
Lumbar Support. Having good lower back support will prevent back strain. Note the profile of your chair, does it curve and mold to the shape of your spine?
Adjustability. A true ergonomic chair will have several ways it can be adjusted to fit your body best including height, arm rest, back angle, and lumbar adjustments. At a minimum, opt to at least have a height adjustment so that it may suit your seating height best with your desk, and so that your feet may reach the ground comfortably.
Padding. Besides having padding on your back, note the padding of your seat. Sitting on a flat, hard surface can affect your spine negatively, and cause leg pain as it prevents good blood flow to your legs.
Wheel/Swivel Base. When you’re using your office for full days, being able to move around and rotate is essential. A base with wheels makes it easy to scoot from desk to bookcase and back, and prevent strain from having to reach across your desk for items not in immediate arms length. Rotation ability allows for easy reach on an L shaped desk or storage off to the side.
Make Room for Breaks
Besides the expected desk and desk chair setup, having additional lounge type seating can act as a nice change of scenery and serve as a temporary work station. Studies show that workers who take regular breaks are more productive. You’ll have an easier time taking these breaks if you create a comfortable getaway space in your office. Choose a comfortable chair or small scale sofa to create a cozy corner and escape from your desk.