How to design a home office

So you’ve found yourself having to work remotely, and like many are woefully unprepared to to do so. With the health crisis continuing to loom well into the future, now is the perfect time to take stock of an underused space in your home and create your “go to work” zone. At a minimum your home office is going to need a computer and a surface to set it up on. Beyond these basic components though what additional items you’ll need depends on the work your doing.

The Space. Assess your home for the most underutilized room in your house. The formal dining room that may get used twice a year, the guest bedroom that has been a dumping ground for items that need to be organized or tossed, or even a garden shed can become the perfect home office.

Prefab home office shed
Backyard Eichler

The Desk. Think about what components you’ll need on the desk. Do you to spread out files or use multiple monitors? Purchase the largest desk that will fit into your space keeping in mind you’ll need at least 30″ between the desk and other inanimate objects likes shelves or file cabinets for comfortable passage. Be sure to locate near an outlet too so that a traditional PC, desk printer or lamp can be easily plugged in.

Hekman home office
Hekman

The Chair. Your desk chair should be on wheels so that you can easily move within your workstation. It should be adjustable as well to allow you to ergonomically position yourself for computer viewing. This graphic shows the optimal set up that will help with back and neck pain, eye strain and fatigue.

Ergonomic home office design

The Storage. Consider what kinds of storage you may need when you are working from home. Bookshelves, lateral files or any other specialty furniture needs to be considered when planning your space.

Bernhardt home office storage
Bernhardt

The Equipment. Wireless printers and scanners can be tucked away in a closet though they should easily accessible as well. You shouldn’t have to move a lot of stuff around to add paper or change out an ink cartridge.

The Layout. This plan is about the size of an average bedroom and shows some critical issues to keep in mind when planning your home office. Have enough clear space to maneuver your desk chair and allow for flow around the space and leave enough room to fully open file cabinets drawers.

Home office room design
By Steven Corley Randel, Architect

Mr. H says: The first five days after the weekend are the hardest-Enjoy!

Six ways to kill the germs and it includes vodka!

Are you currently having trouble finding your usual cleaning supplies? With stores selling out of bleach and other anti bacterial products as soon as they hit the shelves, it’s become difficult to keep your home virus free. Fortunately, you most likely have some natural cleaning alternatives already on hand. Here’s a run down of non chemical based items that are easy on the environment and your own health.

Lemons: This common citrus is nature’s cleaning miracle. Due to their high acidic content, lemons have powerful antiseptic and antibacterial properties. Rub a slice of lemon across your chopping board to disinfect the surface. They are a natural deodorizer and smell great. Use lemon sparingly on counter tops and tile though as the acid can etch the surface.

Debby Hudson

Hydrogen Peroxide: Not only can hydrogen peroxide disinfect your doorknobs, it can clean and brighten your laundry as well. It’s a great bathroom cleaner as it kills the coronavirus and mold. Use caution though, since like bleach, it can ruin bright fabrics and fibers.

White Vinegar: Like lemons, white vinegar is a cleaning powerhouse. It is a weak acetic acid that has robust antibacterial properties. It’s effective in removing stains when diluted in water and can be combined with other natural products like baking soda to clear a clogged drain or clean soap scum.

House Method

Essential Oils: Advocates of oregano oil sing its praises for its anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antioxidant properties. Used as a natural alternative to commercial hand sanitizer, oregano essential oil inhibits the growth of bacteria. Other essential oils that have a wide range of medicinal and antibacterial properties include, tea tree, citronella, geranium, lemongrass, orange, and patchouli. Do some research before you use on your skin, since some oils can cause an allergic reaction.

Christin Hume

Vodka: While delicious in a dirty martini, vodka can be used as a disinfectant, remove stains and kill mold. Wipe down a surface and let it air dry to sanitize. Look for 100-proof vodka for the the most antibacterial power and obviously don’t buy the most expensive brand for this task, save those brands for happy hour!

Baking Soda: With no known antibacterial properties, sodium bicarbonate, is still a great product for a healthy home. This eco-friendly and affordable cleaning supply is effective on grease, is a non toxic oven cleaner and when mixed with water is a fantastic all purpose cleaner.

Mr. H says: Cleaning and organizing is a practice, not a project-Enjoy!

Eight ways to keep your design project going

I know how you feel… 

There you were planning to start building a new home or renovating your existing space and Boom the entire world seemed to shut down!  During this current health crisis, it is hard to imagine hiring an interior designer, selecting products for your home or visiting a showroom.  Thanks to modern technology though it is an optimal time to get your project started or to keep it going.  Here are eight tips on keeping it on track.  

Make a Wish List:  Create a list of all the improvements you would like to make in your current home.  Imagine how you would like for your home to function and write it down.  The same applies if your embarking on new construction.  How exactly would your dream home work for you and your family? 

Make a home project list

Create a Style File: There are plenty of places to search for design inspiration from Pinterest, to Houzz to any of the national and regional shelter magazines.  Start a virtual file or board of the spaces that speak to you.

Research Product:  Plumbing, lighting and a myriad of other home products can all be selected online. A designer can also assist you with scheduling a virtual visit to a local tile showroom or you can research products on the manufacture’s sites. 

Kohler products online
Kohler

Understand Costs:  Product sites usually have retail prices listed and there are online renovation calculators that allow you to see costs in your area for remodeling and new construction prices. Setting a budget is essential for every project.

Search for a Pro: Asking friends and family for a recommendation is the most direct way to find a designer for your project.  They have firsthand experience working with their firm and can give you the pros and cons.  Searching online can yield a lot of results too though I am a bit leery of online reviews.  A true professional will have a client referral list that you can contact directly for some honest insight. 

Houzz J. Rhodes Interior Design

Pick your Pros: Once you have found designer that seem like a good fit, reach out to set a phone call about your project.  During this initial exchange, describe the scope of your project and your budget.  The designer in turn can give you insight into how they typically run a project, their fees and a preliminary timeline.

Go Virtual: Design pros still can accomplish almost everything they may have done in person before social distancing became de rigueur.   Zoom and FaceTime allow you to give your designer a virtual tour of your home and describe the problems you want to solve in real time.

Embrace Technology:   So much can be done remotely these days.  We have over 25 years of experience working successfully with clients in different cities.  Technology has made it easier than ever to share digital plans, make furniture selections, and ship samples.  Don’t let the current crisis stall your home projects.  Contact us today!

Charleston interior design
J. Rhodes Interior Design, Inc.

Mr. H says:  Home is a shelter from all sorts storms-Enjoy!

What’s next? Home design after a pandemic

In mere weeks our lives have changed and there is little doubt that a new “normal” will emerge once the effects of the Coronavirus have been mitigated both physically and financially. With social distancing, living out our entire lives exclusively at home have created some new design challenges. These are the areas that a future redesign may be most critical.

Entries as drop zones-Studies have shown that the virus can live on surfaces for several days. Foyers may become decontamination areas where packages, some groceries and possibly even clothes and shoes get cleaned or stored, keeping any germs in one place.

Entry drop zone
Jagoe Homes

Kitchens-With restaurant dining rooms closed, many of us have had to become reacquainted with our kitchens. Those with older kitchen are going to have eek out more storage for stocking up and even rethinking their appliances. With multiple meals happening at home it would be nice to have a drawer dishwasher or even an under counter beverage refrigerator.

Dishwasher Drawer
Fisher Paykel

Zoom Rooms-For many, working from home isn’t an issue as you may already have a home office or designated work area. For those suddenly thrust into teleworking and video calls it’s been a real challenge. If you haven’t found the perfect Zoom location where barking dogs and laughing kids aren’t disrupting your meeting with colleagues, it’s time to get serious about carving out that space. Finding a quiet place, with a locking door and pleasant background will show that your job is important to you.

Allie Smith

Fitness-If your thinking of buying equipment while the gyms are closed, some planning needs to happen on where it is going to go. The master bedroom? The new Zoom room? A family conference to get everyone’s input on the best way to set up a work out area would help to make that decision.

Touch Less Devices-I’m personally tired of disinfecting door knobs and light switches on a daily basis. The technology is already available with touch less faucets and commodes commonly found in public spaces. I see an increased interest in incorporating that type of tech in the home. Of course we can always bring back the “Clapper”!

American Standard

Mr. H says: Safety isn’t expensive, it’s priceless-Enjoy!

Interior design in the middle of a pandemic

Let’s be honest…you’ve been stuck at home for a few weeks now and your house is really just not working for you. This pandemic has forced a widespread consideration of your domestic environment and you’ve found it challenging combining your family life, work life and your children’s school life all within your home’s square footage.

With potentially several more weeks in lock down now is actually a great time to embark on an interior design project. Spend this time prioritizing your wish list, creating Pinterest or Houzz idea books of your favorite designs and scheduling a virtual interior design consultation.

From carving out a Zoom room, to redesigning your kitchen with an extra refrigerator, there are several ways to safely help you create your perfect plan and improve the function and look of your domain immediately.

Sub-Zero

In the mean time, wash your hands, stay at home and let’s start creating your dream home.

Mr. H says: Challenges are gifts that force us to find new ways to live-Enjoy!

Interior design done virtually

With many of us stuck at home these last few weeks, you may be coming to realize that your spaces aren’t working for you and your family. It’s been proven that how your home functions affects your productivity, mood and even your health. Now is the ideal time to solve some of your space dilemmas without leaving the sofa.

Bernhardt

The most requested design advice, regardless of the size of the project, is furniture arrangement. Most clients know how they want to use the room but struggled with exactly how to achieve it. With virtual space planning, we practice social distancing, since I never come to your home. I’ll have you complete a questionnaire, take some photos and send your room measurements. 

Get started with your E-Design here

In a few days, we’ll send you a detailed E-Plan with an ideal layout that includes furniture dimensions.

Let’s get started on your dream home today.

Mr. H says: Your home should be a collection of what you love-Enjoy!

Five projects to tackle when you are stuck at home

Take advantage of social distancing with some small changes that can make your time at home more enjoyable.

Set up a home bar. Your probably beginning to limit your public interactions now and that includes trips to the local watering hole. Treat yourself to a “quarantini” from a stocked home bar. It doesn’t have to be a large dedicated space as a bar cart can serve the same purpose. Check out our bar cart tips here.

Bar cart
Hurtado

Clean out your closet. With endless days at home, now is the perfect time to tackle your closet. Begin by taking everything out and sorting into three piles: keep, donate and toss. Return the “keep” items by following these tips from the experts at California Closets.

Create an accent wall. While tackling an entire room redo may seem overwhelming at this time, highlighting one wall can transform a room as well. Either with a splashy paint color, removable wallpaper or a gallery wall, creating an accent well can be achieved in a matter of hours.

Sherwin Williams

Organize your spice cabinet. You’ll most likely be preparing more meals at home so now is the time to get your spices in order. Spice bottles are tricky to store, especially in a cabinet, where you spend a time digging around in search of the cumin. If you have a drawer to spare, consider fitting it with a spice organizer to keep your herbs in easy reach. Shelf risers or over the door organizers are a must if they must stay in a cabinet.

KraftMade

Update Your Bathroom. Bathrooms are the work horses in most homes. Besides the germ factories they are they tend to look shabby fast. After you’ve given it a good scrubbing update the cabinet hardware and towel bars with a modern look. Install a new shower curtain and replace the towels and rugs with a fresh color.

Designers Guild

Mr. H says: Home is the place we love best and grumble about the most-Enjoy!

Designing for Wellness

With more Coronavirus cases showing up in the US, fears are mounting that the virus will become more widespread. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has many recommendations for avoiding the illness and keeping it in check. Hand washing tops the list, along with hand sanitizing and avoiding crowds. A robust immune system may also help and your home can play an important role in keeping you healthy.

The links between the built environment and health have been studied for decades though applying it to your home is gaining momentum. Wellness oriented interior design influences both our physical health and our mental state of mind. Here are some fundamental tips on how to achieve an environment that creates a healthy lifestyle.

Commune with Nature Bringing the outside in with abundant natural light, vegetation, good air quality, natural materials and nature views will have a positive impact on your immune system.

Wellness interior design
Pixaby

Lighting Natural light is always best and studies have shown that it improves productivity, alertness, and mood. It enhances our vitamin D balance, which is critical in absorbing calcium keeping bones strong. Artificial lighting systems should mimic daylight as much as possible with controls in place to allow our circadian rhythm to work normally. Utilize bright light for active pursuits and progressively dimmer light as bedtime nears.

Pixabay

Color I’ve written about the effects of color before. While color is always a personal decision there are certain hues that either under or over stimulate your spaces. Educate yourself on specific colors and choose wisely.

Sherwin Williams

Scents You don’t need to be an aromatherapist to understand the emotional and wellness benefits of scents. When we inhale aroma molecules they connect to the brain and incite strong emotional responses. Be careful with chemically derived scents though as they can cause headaches, respiratory issues and irritated sinus passages.

Clutter Studies have repeatedly shown that clutter = stress. We all know that stress impacts our physical health and that subconsciously, clutter effects your mood, relationships and sleep. Check out our declutter tips on a recent blog. Your body will thank you.

Kohler

WELL For additional information on healthy spaces check out the The International WELL Building Institute™ website whose mission is to improve human health and well-being in buildings and communities across the world through its WELL Building Standard™ (WELL™).

Mr. H says: Those who have their health have everything-Enjoy!

How to choose a dining room rug

Before you go on the hunt for the perfect dining room rug there are some important factors to keep in mind.  Ideally, your new rug purchase should be both stylish and functional while grounding the table and making the room visually pleasing.  Before you start shopping check out our best tips for selecting the right rug for your space.

Size Matters

Measure your dining room table then add four feet to the width and length.  Having at least 24” inches on each side allows for a chair to be pulled out and not catch on the rug edge.  If your room is very large and the other pieces around the perimeter fall well within the rug range, consider sizing up for a generous feel.  A bigger rug in any room is going to visually make the space appear much larger.

Shape Counts

Bring order to your dining room by echoing the shape of your rug to the shape of the table.  If your table is round, choose a round rug remembering the 24” around rule.

Round dining room rug

Consider Pile Height

Because spills are inevitable, and the ease of chair movement is critical, low pile and flat weave rugs are the best choice.

Material Concerns

Wool and cotton are the easiest fibers to clean and luckily there are countless rugs offered woven in those fibers.  Synthetic blends tend to be more difficult to clean, though look for a new generation of indoor-outdoor and stain-resistant rugs that are available that can withstand scrubbing.

Natural Grass

Natural rugs such sisal, jute and sea grass are not usually a good choice for the dining room.  The nubby textures trap crumbs making it impossible to clean up ground in food.  If this is your desired aesthetic though, choose a smooth textured rug that will be easier to clean.

Pottery Barn

Color

Unless your dining room is a show place or used on very rare occasions, it’s best to avoid white or light-colored rugs.  Pale hues are going to show dirt and spills sooner than deeper shades though patterns help to camouflage some accidents. 

Design Around

Use the new rug as a starting point to develop the design of your dining room.  Select wall colors, chair fabrics and window treatments from hues found in the rug. 

Mr. H says: The fondest memories are made when gathered around the table-Enjoy!

How to design around the TV

Fortunately the era of “hiding” bulky televisions into custom cabinetry and furniture pieces is long over with the advent of the sleek flat screen versions of today. The television has become the focal point in most every room in the house. Read on for some of the best tips on placement, decor and storing components.

From an ergonomic perspective, anything with a screen should be viewed at eye level. A prone up or down viewing position is sure to cause neck and back issues down the road so consider TV placement carefully. Bob Vila has great tips on calculating the optimal viewing heights depending on your TV size and where its going.

If custom cabinetry is out of your budget, consider using modular shelving that can be built around your TV. With this solution, you can fill the space with more than just a black whole, adding color and character with books and accessories.

Jeffrey King Interiors

Incorporate your TV shape into a gallery wall behind and above your set, taking the focal point away from the black box in the room.

Photo: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking and Sarah Gibson for Room for Tuesday

The corner of a room is often an underutilized part of a standard space plan. By installing the TV into a corner it allows the fireplace or view become the focal point. There are lots of corner consoles and cabinets to suit your design style.

Ballard Designs

The TV is only half the equation when deciding placement since you’ll need some type of storage for the components and to hide the unsightly cords and wires. A cabinet or shelving will give you a place to stash your games and movies too.

Hammary Furniture

If you watch television only on occasions, explore hidden TV storage solutions. There are several cabinet lifting systems on the market that tuck your set away when not in use. A TV set on a rolling cart or a cabinet with casters is an easy DIY that allows you to wheel it out of the room and into storage when not in use.

Cabinet Tronix

Mr. H says: TV is window of illusion-Enjoy!