As I run my business from home, I thought the only thing I needed would be a laptop. I didn't need a home office as we live in a paperless world.
I was wrong.
Sitting on my couch with my laptop on my lap was not working. I never felt comfortable, which meant I wasn't productive and it was definitely not helping my back. I knew that to improve my productivity and help my back I needed to set up a home office.
I live in a small one bedroom apartment with a small open plan living space. There was no room for an office in my bedroom which meant that my workspace needed to be set up in my living space.
I knew that setting up a desk in my apartment would mean that it would become the focal point of my home. This required a workspace that wasn't only functional but also looked good.
Here are 7 things I needed to think about when setting up my home office in my apartment.
Before I begin a small disclaimer I refer to products and retail stores in this blog, I'm not associated with these organisations nor am I paid by them to reference their products. I purchased these products as a consumer and referencing these products and retail stores in this blog is for illustrative purposes only.
1. The Space
Where was the desk going to live?
I didn't go all Feng Sui on this. I simply created a space that would accommodate a desk and a chair but still allow me to easily access other areas of my apartment.
As it turns out:
Ten months earlier I made the decision to declutter my television and entertainment unit. This freed up a lot of space allowing me to rearrange existing furniture to make room for my desk.
Think about what items of furniture you can let go over to free up space to enable you to set up your home office.
2. The Desk
There were two key things I wanted in an office desk, space and style.
When I'm at my desk I need space to work, and spread out my documents. But I also needed space for a monitor and keyboard. The one thing I didn’t want was to feel restricted while working.
This meant that size mattered! I needed to think about how much space I needed to work and also what items were going on the desk. And it also needed to fit in its allocated area.
The style was also crucial as the desk would be the new focal point of my apartment. I needed it to look good and blend in with the existing furniture.
I chose the Stilford Professional Desk (1800mm) from Officeworks with black legs and white top. The desk was large enough to meet my space requirements, but at the same time, the design was minimal and didn't clutter the apartment. The design of the legs allowed for light to pass through them creating a feeling of openness, which is crucial when adding furniture to small spaces.
3. The Chair
When I was thinking about what chair to buy, I needed to consider design but also ergonomics as I can suffer from back pain. I ended up purchasing the Professional Enduro Heavy Duty Mesh Chair in black from Officeworks. The chair ticked my ergonomic requirements.
It also met my design needs as well. The blacked contrasted well with the white top of the desk. The chair having no arms meant it was easy to tuck in under the desk when not in use. And the mesh back creating an openness feeling.
3. The Monitor
Being able to connect my laptop to a monitor was a must.
Hunching down on my laptop was taking its toll on my back and led to multiple trips to my osteopath. I purchased a Samsung 27" Curved Monitor from Harvey Norman. This was big enough for me to comfortably use the split screen functionality (which was a must for me) and also sit on my couch and watch shows and movies. What I also loved about this monitor is it’s minimal and stylish design.
The one drawback with the monitor was the height couldn't be adjusted, so I overcame the issue by purchasing a Kensington monitor stand from Officeworks.
4. The Keyboard and Mouse
I chose to purchase a wireless keyboard and mouse, as I find it easier to work with a mouse than a laptop touchpad. I'm also using my laptop as a second screen which meant I needed to have it next to the monitor, which would make it hard to use the laptop keyboard.
The HP wireless keyboard and mouse I purchased from JB HI-FI was slimline in design making it easy to store under the monitor raiser when not in use and didn't make the desk appear cluttered.
5. Desk Accessories
When it comes to accessories, I wanted to keep things as simple as possible.
My desk is a workspace, not a display shelf.
I’m firstly going to start with what didn’t work. The document tray. While document trays may appear to be an organiser's best friend, they ended up being my worse nightmare.
My document tray ended up becoming a dumping ground for paper and other random stuff. Rummaging through my document tray to find what I needed was time-consuming and the Everest of paperwork was becoming a visual eyesore. My document tray wasn’t working for me, so I needed to say goodbye to it.
Now I store paperwork in files placed in black magazine files purchased from IKEA. I have labelled files in a way that is meaningful to me. Keeping documents in files has kept my desk looking neat, clutter-free and is much easier on the eyes. And more importantly, paperwork is easier to find.
By the way
I have repurposed my in-tray. It now lives in my wardrobe and used to store small items that I need to return to people, e.g. books.
I have also used one of my existing black side table lamps that I purchased from Aero Designs a couple of years ago as a desk lamp.
You might be wondering.
Where is the colour?
Yes, I have gone with neutral blacks and whites as the central colour scheme mainly as it keeps the style minimal and simple.
I have added colour by purchasing coloured files and notebooks. The primary colours I've used are reds, blues and yellows, which are used throughout my apartment.
I also decided not to use a pen cup and instead continued to store pens in my pencil case. I did a pen cup trial and felt having the pens on display was creating visual clutter.
Given the small size of my apartment, I opted not to introduce any new storage and continued to use existing storage. Having a minimal wardrobe has meant that I have additional drawers and shelves that I have utilised to store documentation, magazines and books.
I store stationary in a red Bongo that I purchased from King Furniture when I first moved into my apartment. It is in easy reach from my desk and also does double duties by acting as my coffee table.
One of my goals is to reduce clutter by going as paperless as possible. Where I can I store documents electronically on my laptop. I’m currently using the Adobe Scan app which has been great in helping me to scan receipts and other documents.
7. Finishing Touches
I have decided to add two additional accessories to my desk.
I know what you are thinking.
I just said my desk is a workspace and not a display shelf.
So yes I'm a breaking my own rule, but I feel I can as the desk is big enough to allow for two additional items without making me feel cluttered or uncomfortable when working. And given that the workstation is a focal point in my apartment I needed some extra accessories to make my apartment feel more homely.
I have added a Sansevieria Trifasciata (Mother-in-Law’s Tongue) plant on my desk as I have wanted to add some greenery to my apartment for some time. Fingers cross it doesn't die, but I've read that these are a hardy indoor plant. The plant lives in a blue self-watering pot that I purchased from The Super Cool Store located at South Melbourne Market. Finally, I found a blue wooden man figurine at my local Sacred Heart Mission Op Shop in South Melbourne.
I have now established my office in my small apartment that suits how I work and my style.
Think about these 7 categories before setting up your space to ensure you create something that works for you and provides you with optimal productivity.
Need help with your office send me an email firstname.lastname@example.org