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Making Your Workspace Work for You

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Larchmont Designer Barrett Oswald shares her tips for creating a functional and stylish workspace from anywhere in your home.

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Choosing a workspace with natural light will enhance your and mood and productivity. (Photo by Tim Lenz)

In the past year and a half, we have either had to work 100-percent remotely or at least gotten a taste of it, and it doesn’t look like that’s going to change anytime soon.

Having a dedicated space that you can escape to and focus during work is half the battle, but having one that functions well for your profession and is aesthetically pleasing is also important (since it is, after all, your home).

Not everyone has an entire room they can dedicate to a home office, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still create a workspace that works for you. Larchmont designer Barrett Oswald of Barrett Oswald Designs offers her tips on how to create a workspace — big or small — that is both functional and stylish with a look at some home office projects she recently completed in Westchester.

Spaces That Work

Oswald suggests finding any nook or cranny that feels under-utilized for a workspace. “You can build a simple desk into an unused dormer or corner to create a dedicated space,” she says. “A workspace by a window is an energizing spot with its natural light and breeze.”

You don’t need a separate room to make a traditional “office.” On the contrary, almost any spot in the home facing a window makes for an excellent workspace. (Photo by Tim Lenz)

Other spaces that can be carved out are in a kitchen, a closet that is unused, or in a guest room or bedroom that has a shared functionality. According to Oswald, a shared space doesn’t have to have a door or trim to separate the two. “It should be cohesive with its surrounding areas,” she says. “It doesn’t have to match, but it should feel like a natural progression when you are walking from one space to another.”

Keep it Simple

Simplicity is key. “If your work requires more than a few items, invest in a desk with drawers so you can store everything at the end of the day,” says Oswald. “Less is more when it comes to a desk.”

Keeping your workspace simple, minimalist, and clutter-free — especially the desk — is key for productivity. (Photo by Tim Lenz)

Overall, you want the space to be one you can be productive in. “Whether it’s to work from home, organize your kids’ schedules, or just order groceries,” says Oswald. “Feeling proud and positive in that space is a big bonus.”

Design Elements

These design elements are simple to infuse into your design and cost-effective.

  • Natural light – When setting up your home office, whether it be in a corner, a dormer, or in a room of its own, it should have some element of natural light.

  • Great art – Art can add color and inspiration to any room. There are so many options, make this a personal choice that you connect with. Choose a fun frame or several to create a gallery wall depending on how much space you have.

(Photo by Tim Lenz)

  • Something dramatic – Adding wallpaper or a dark color can add drama and glamour to a space and inspire. For either, determine whether you want the entire space to be covered or just a feature wall. With wallpaper, choose whether you want something more permanent or a peel-and-stick version that can easily be swapped out or removed if you tire of it.

  • Comfortable and functional furniture – A comfortable chair is key, you want to make sure it supports your back and will keep you comfy while working long hours, but you also want it to be stylish. Luckily, there are a variety of options on the market today to get both. A desk that is simple yet offers you the drawer space you need is also desirable. The key is to keep clutter at bay and off surfaces so shelving or built-ins are a nice way to help keep organized, as well.

Having shelving or built-ins in your workspace helps keep you organized and keep the all-important desktop clutter-free.  (Photo by Tim Lenz)

  • A personal touch to two – Having something meaningful like a family photo or art made by your children, a candle, or a special scent can keep you calm and focused while working.

Oswald says it’s hard to pick a favorite element when it comes to creating a workhorse workspace. “A simple wood desk combined with a great view, to a more dramatic set-up with dark walls or textured wallpaper,” she says are both great. However, you set up and design your home office, make sure it meets all of your needs, and is a design you enjoy.  

Jenn Andrlik is a freelance writer and editor who specializes in home design and architecture and parenting. She is formerly the senior editor of Martha Stewart Living and executive editor of both Westchester Home and Westchester/Hudson Valley Weddings. She has worked for other titles, including House Beautiful and Parents. She has two children and lives with them, her husband, and beagle, Lucky, in East Norwalk, CT.

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