These Are The Only 4 Things That Really Matter in a Home Office

published Sep 13, 2019
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Credit: Liz Calka

Working from home can be the dream. The best part? According to Audra Walters, a home office-based real estate agent with Front Porch Properties of Caroline Elite Real Estate in Charleston, South Carolina, it’s that you’re, well, home. “I can work in my PJs or bathrobe and not have to spend 30 minutes getting ready for work then [have] a 30 minute commute, she says. “I get more done.” (Not to mention the ability to throw in a load of laundry while you’re on a muted conference call and an all-access pass to your own refrigerator and favorite snacks).

But as she and Abe Zaydan, a New York City-based real estate agent at Citi Habitats, can tell you, a coffee pot and laptop don’t automatically transform a room into a successful and comfortable work zone. No, a room needs much more than that in its layout—both spatially and design-wise—to provide an adequate home office. They should know: Not only do they each operate out of their own in-home HQs, but they also assist clients in finding their ideal work stations, too. Seeking one out for yourself? Fill up your coffee cup and read on for these agents’ WFH non-negotiables (and their tips on how to set yours up to help you stay organized, look good, and keep you productive):

Zaydan's compact home office set-up

It’s well-lit

In bigger cities, it might be difficult (or ultra-expensive) to ensure your home office lay-out includes windows for good natural light. But Zaydan insists it’s a must.

“You need windows to gaze out of to keep a connection with the outside world—and you need natural light to help you stay alert.”

Walters gave up walls in her home office for French doors leading to a deck with idyllic marsh views.

Windows just not in the cards? Go for artwork that incorporates the outdoors, à la Zaydan’s home office. Consider adding a sun lamp to mimic the sun’s natural rays, too.

It offers a sense of privacy

In an ideal world, your home office layout would be on its own dedicated floor—or at least in its very own room. But Zaydan has a solution for those in the home office nook club:

“Using a bookshelf or screen to define the office area helps create a sense of privacy without breaking the bank,” he says. “Having this area keeps you organized—and more importantly, signals to your brain that it’s time to get down to business.”

Walters' spacious (and colorful!) home office

It’s the right size (for you)

One thing Walters and Zaydan don’t agree on is the best size for a home office: Zaydan has a chic and sophisticated office space tucked in his hallway leading from the kitchen to the living room. It’s the perfect amount of space for him.

He says, “I think there is such a thing as an office that is ‘too big.’ While you don’t want the space to be claustrophobic or stuffy, ideally your most important items should be within easy reach.”

Walters disagrees. “I like having plenty of space,” she says. “You don’t want to feel like you are in a cave or a dungeon. You want your home office space to be inviting.” 

You should, however, try to aim for enough space that you can separate your digital and analog tasks—something that can help facilitate productivity. Walters likes having two workspaces in her office: a standard desk with her computer, and then a credenza behind it for her paperwork and bills.

It makes you happy

Once you figure out the optimal space for your home office, it’s time to settle in—something that’s just as important as the lay-out itself.

Staying organized is key for Zaydan. He says, “The most important items would be my calendar, highlighter, Post-Its, and my Moleskine classic notebook. These are the basics. If you’re an organized person, this should be all you need.”

For Walters, it’s all about a pop of color. “What is most important is that I enjoy going into my office. This was super important when picking the layout and colors. I had my desk lacquered my favorite color—coral—to make me happy every time I saw it.”

Need some small-space office inspo? Here, creative ways to carve out enough space to work from home.

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