Whether it's your main digs or just a place to pay the bills, the home office is command central of most households. To make yours comfortable, beautiful and as functional as possible, follow these 10 easy tips. Your job satisfaction will soar. Guaranteed!
1. LET THE SUN SHINE.
Place your desk by a window and work in natural light, which has been linked to improved mood, alertness and even metabolism. No window? Use LED bulbs that mimic daylight, and take frequent outdoor breaks.
2. THINK VERTICALLY.
To keep your desktop uncluttered, hang supplies and folders from hooks and clips on an easy-access grid.
Urban Outfitters wire wall grids, in Copper (4 shown), $59 each, urbanoutfitters.com. Lostine copper cups, $30 for small and $45 for large, lostine.com. Basketville Upscale Mail basket, $17, basketville.com.
3. SET THE RIGHT TONE.
A neutral space may be least distracting, but other hues might up your game. A University of Texas at Austin study found that office workers liked settings with aqua walls, and other research connects the color green with innovation and suggests that blue helps with creative tasks.
4. ORGANIZE IN STYLE.
To make this hanging folder, cut a 13 1/2-by-18 3/4-inch piece of faux leather and fold it in half, leaving 1 inch extending on one side. Mark spots 5/8 inch from the top and side of the front flap, and punch holes through both flaps. Insert grommets into the holes.
Edison faux leather, in Toffee, $50 for 1 yard, calicocorners.com. Craftool Round Drive punch, 14 3/8”, $20, tandyleather.com. A 3/8-inch grommet kit, $10.50, homedepot.com. The Metal Peddler J hooks, in Copper, $19 for 10, themetalpeddler.com.
5. CUE UP A PLAYLIST.
A huge perk of working at home? Listening to your tunes. Stream them through a Bluetooth speaker, like the UE Boom 2, which NYC interior designer Elizabeth Botero likes because it’s small, it produces rich sound, and it lasts up to 15 hours on a single charge ($200, ultimateears.com).
6. UPGRADE GEAR.
Office equipment can look sadly corporate. Choose items in stylish colors, or place your printer under a rectangular basket and your shredder in a woven hamper when not in use.
Canon Pixma Gold wireless all-in-one printer, $200, bestbuy.com.
7. MAKE IT PERSONAL.
Human accents (a beloved painting, a beach-stone-turned-paperweight) take the 9-to-5 edge off by making you feel more comfortable and therefore less anxious. “Add family photos and inspiring elements collected on your most recent trip,” Botero suggests.
8. SAVE YOUR SPINE.
An ergonomically correct computer station protects your back, neck, shoulders and wrists. Follow these guidelines:
1. Adjust the chair so your feet are flat on the floor and your shoulders are relaxed when your arms are on the armrests.
2. Place the monitor an arm’s length in front of you, with the screen’s top at eye level.
3. Make sure your hands are at or slightly below your elbows when you type (you may need to raise your chair or install a pull-out keyboard tray).
4. For a standing desk, Botero suggests cushioning your feet with a yoga mat.
9. PROVIDE CHIC ORDER.
For a stylish departure from the usual store-bought labels, use stencils to organize file holders by number or letter. Better yet, coordinate the paint color with your office palette.
10. ADD SOME GREENERY.
Plants have been shown to decrease stress and enhance productivity. And like flowers, says Botero, they help bring the outdoors in. “Fresh-cut mint or rosemary has a wonderful scent that will wake up your olfactory senses.”
(Questions may be sent by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your name, address and daytime telephone number. Questions of general interest will be answered in this column; Martha Stewart regrets that unpublished letters cannot be answered individually. For more information on the topics covered in the Ask Martha column, visit www.marthastewart.com.)