As more Americans find themselves in need of a home office, we gather a few pieces of practical advice on how to seamlessly integrate workspace into any home.
In recent years, the workplace has been transformed by technology and the rise of the freelancer. More and more Americans are working primarily from the home, while others have begun taking advantage of corporate policies more amenable to telecommuting. The New Yorker recently cited a 60–percent increase (from 2005 to 2009) in those who work from home, citing Aetna as one company where almost half of the staff telecommute.
The popularity of the home workplace brings up two major concerns anyone working from home must address: How do I create my ideal home office? And, at what point in my day must I put on pants? How you choose to answer the first question correctly can drastically transform the way your workday.
Your goal in designing your workspace will be to carve out a specific nook dedicated to your work. A nook comfortable enough to encourage you to stay put during work hours and focused enough to inspire productivity. Yet it’s equally important to consider the flip side of this equation: When it’s time for the home to switch back to more traditionally domestic activities like entertaining and relaxing, you won’t want the lumbering presence of the job to keep you from shutting off.
When it comes to setting aside space for your home office, a sense of separation from the rest of the home is key. Unfortunately, extra rooms are a luxury many urban homes don’t offer. But Matthew Mercier, co-owner of swanky home-design retailer Vastu (vastudc.com) in Washington, D.C., reminds us that walls and doors are not the only way to delineate space.
“A physical barrier is far from the only option for creating a sense of division among spaces,” says Mercier. A strategically placed floor covering can be used to physically separate a work area from living space. Additionally, where work and living space meet, you can use other visual cues, such as a contrasting color palate, to create further delineation.
As important as it is to separate your work space, Mercier suggests moving past traditional ideas of what an office ought to look like, suggesting there are “a world of options beyond the standard desk chair on casters.”
Yes, those classic Aeron office chairs are great, but does one belong in your home? Buy the chair you want to sit in — and look at. Make sure it reflects your personal style and how you prefer to work. This frees you to explore hundreds of textile options beyond the limited, institutional palate of traditional office chairs. Mercier offers Knoll’s Saarinen Executive Open Back Chair as an example (learn more about Knoll in this feature). But maybe you do your best work balanced on a fitness ball or walking at a treadmill desk. The takeaway is: Your home office doesn’t need to look like a corporation took over a corner of your home.
While you can personalize your home office to your heart’s content, there is one set of rules you must follow, and those come from the IRS.
We spoke to Jon Tucker, a tax director at a major accounting firm. First, the good news: These home office furnishings may be deductible. If you’re a self-proprietor, he points out you may get more bang for your buck by gradually writing off the cost over the course of their prescribed lives (usually about seven years).
As for deducting the cost of the space itself, these rules have recently changed. Your deduction used to be solely based on the percentage of your home that the office took up (e.g., if it took up 20 percent of your home, you could deduct 20 percent of your rent and utilities). Now, you can choose instead to simply deduct five dollars per square foot of home workspace (likely a bigger money-saver).
For those who are not self-employed but simply working from home, things get fuzzier. For an office to be deductible, you need to be working at home for the convenience of your employer. Which is to say, the perk is your company’s moreso than your own. Further, your workspace must be used exclusively for work. What does “exclusively” mean? That’s between you and the IRS.
A Place for Everything
One necessary challenge to overcome is organization. In this wired world, your home office can easily become a tangle of cords. But Mercier reminds us that accessories like wireless keyboards, mice, speakers and printers can help eliminate this clutter.
What about paper clutter? Tucker is quick to say that PDFs of important documents can be compactly stored in an external hard drive, eliminating the need for a bulky file cabinet.
Ultimately, the goal of the home office is to honor both concepts of “home” and “office.” Smart use of space and clever editing can create a productive business space that won’t be an eyesore (and will be tax deductible).
As for when to put on your pants — well that’s up to you.
Back when we learned that Herman Miller was not only going to be tweaking the Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman to more closely reflect the original design, but to also offer it in a White Ash finish…we knew we had to get one for the showroom floor! After what seems like forever, it was delivered this morning.
And it is AWESOME! Take a look below! Read more
Designed by Yves Béhar and sold by Herman Miller, the Sayl work chair is quickly becoming known for its “performance, ergonomics, quality, and appearance.” Made from 93% recyclable materials and weighing only 37 pounds, the Sayl chair can be customized to fit your aesthetic needs, as well as your physical (with adjustable seat angle and depth, arm height, and lumbar support options available).
We ordered our showroom chair in the Studio White suspension back, the Fog armpads and the Green Apple Crossing fabric seat. Stay tuned to find out when you can stop by and try the revolutionary Sayl chair.
More pictures after the jump…
Studio 7.5 provides a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the Herman Miller Setu(TM) chair.
A few of our Herman Miller pieces have arrived. We’re expecting quite a few more items from Herman Miller to be delivered in the new year (so stay tuned!), but these were the first items to arrive…
Here at Vastu we pride ourselves on being able to offer our clients personalized upholstery solutions. Whether you’re in need of a 66″ long sofa in a blue velvet with metal legs, a 10′ x 10′ sectional in white leather with wood legs, or a custom credenza, we have the answer. However you want it, we can help you make it…
The D’urso Swivel Lounge Chair was the star of this year’s Annual Knoll Space Sale. Customers, one by one, fell in love with the comfort and (of course) the ease of the chair’s spin mechanism. Here’s a look at the man behind one of our most popular pieces right now…
Birthplace: Newark, USA
Do you have a challenging space or need some design guidance? Design Direction is a chance for you to submit photos or videos of your design challenge(s) and a Vastu interior designer will provide you with some help. Every Wednesday we will feature one reader’s submission.
“Hello! So… I just bought a one bedroom condo and I’m super excited about it. I’m pretty confident about what I want to do in all the rooms except for the formal dining room. The room is pretty large, long and narrow with a chandelier mounted in the center of the room. With only one bedroom, I’d actually like the formal dining room to serve as a place to eat AND my home office. Any ideas on the type of furniture I should look for that will make the room look cohesive, but still serve two purposes? Thanks!”
Is your office chair uncomfortable, old or just plain ugly? Then it’s time to Get Your Sit Together with the help of Vastu!
We’re excited to announce the Get Your Sit Together contest that will give contestants the chance to win a Generation by Knoll® chair. Entering is super-easy, too!