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Your work space can be a combination of productivity, practicality and personality. Here are six ways to transform a spare room in your house into the place where you can get the job done: 

  1. Location, location, location. If you need more privacy, quiet and space than you’ll get if you move into your grown child’s old bedroom, figure out if you can trade rooms with someone else before you start buying office furniture. A room that’s too cramped for your desk, printer, computer and other equipment might make you feel cluttered and disorganized—and that’s no state of mind for thinking and creating. Choose a location that’s far from your children’s play areas, the TV room and the kitchen, all noisy hubs of family activity. And consider where your home office will be in relation to the front door. If you’ll be inviting clients or colleagues over, do you really want them to walk upstairs past the master bedroom to get to a business meeting?
  2. Think ahead. Empty the room and envision where your desk, bookshelves, file cabinets, printer stand and other furniture will fit and feel comfortable. Do you want to look out the window while you work? Do you have your eye on an oversized antique desk? It’s a mistake to skip the space-planning phase. You might cram that big desk in there before figuring out that the only way it will fit is if it covers the room’s only window.
  3. Get wired. Anyone who does any kind of office work needs a phone, at least one computer, high-speed Internet, a scanner and lamps. You also might want to keep a rechargeable handheld vacuum cleaner, space heater, stereo or iPod speaker, and a fax machine in your office. Do you have enough electrical outlets for all of that? Are the outlets located where you need them or will you have to string extension cords all over the office? If you load dozens of plugs into a power strip and plug it into a single outlet, you could overload the circuit and put your equipment at risk and create a fire hazard. A surge protector or power strip does not add more power to an outlet; it just lets you plug more things into it. In fact, if you’re relying on a lot of power strips, it’s a sign that your room doesn’t have enough outlets. Hire a licensed electrician to upgrade.
  4. Keep it down! Keep phone conversations private by adding sound-absorbing carpet, area rugs, upholstered furniture, fabric drapes and wall hangings. They’ll help keep the noises of a busy home out as well, like children’s voices, ringing phones, music and TV or radio sounds. Another option: Soundproof the walls if you’re willing to tear out and replace the drywall. A tip: Replace the door to your home office with a solid-core model that helps with soundproofing.
  5. Hide it away. When family members walk by your home office, do they wish you would close the door? That’s a sign that you need more storage space. Fit it into the room by working it into the design. A tip: Combine open bookshelves with closed cabinets to balance the room. Floor-to-ceiling cabinets all over the room make it look too heavy and closes the room in.
  6. Show your style. Keep the style of the rest of the house in mind while you decorate your home office. Personalizing your space doesn’t have to mean it clashes with adjoining rooms. Add subtle but meaningful touches, like framed photos of loved ones and of awards you have received. Choose furniture that you like and that is comfortable. Decorate with colors that complement the overall style you’ve chosen for your home and that double to make you feel comfortable and productive. A tip: Stick with calming shades of blue, green and beige.
  • Sanderson Ford

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