Before you begin your shopping trip, take some
time to think about your requirements. This guide
will help you hone in on what you need.
Measure the space
Home office furniture varies widely
in scale, so the first step anyone should take
is to measure the room, or the space within a multi-function
room, it will be placed in. Don't forget to measure
the doorways. Many furniture returns are made because
the furniture can't be moved into its intended
room. Try laying things out with an online room
planner to get an idea of how you want to set up
Power and Connectivity
Next, consider whether or not there
are outlets, phone jacks, or internet ports access
in the immediate area and plan your furniture placement
accordingly. You will save yourself a lot of frustration
if you plan for these necessities in advance. Attention
to this detail will also allow you to line up power
strips, battery backups and the like before you
put the furniture in place. Otherwise you may end
up doing a contortionist act to plug in your computer.
Are you the organized and efficient
type who prefers to work in a space that keeps
everything in its place? Then you might do well
with a tidy computer armoire or an office in a
box with storage capacity and compartments, but
not a lot of counter space. Or perhaps you like
to spread things out to get the big picture. If
this is your work style you might be better served
with a full desk and a return.
What equipment do you use in your home
office? Is your computer a laptop or a tower?
Is your printer a compact inkjet or a hefty laser
printer? Take inventory of your equipment before
you go shopping so that you can find the furniture
to house it all. It's also a good idea to measure
your equipment in advance. Computer hardware and
peripherals have gotten smaller and smaller with
each new model. So if, for example, your printer
is more than a couple of years old, it's probably
bigger than the newest models on the market, and
it may not fit into a printer cubby on a new computer
As you inventory your components, you
might want to check the ventilation requirements
for the equipment. Excess heat can impair the operation
of electronics, so you want to make sure that cooling
fans will not be blocked in your new office furniture.
The best furniture designed for the
home office will have built-in features that make
it easy to set up your workstation. Cord access
holes are essential to modern home office furniture;
look for finishing touches of wood, metal or plastic
grommets around cord access punch-outs. Many designs
also incorporate cord management systems that neatly
tuck them away so you won't be left in a tangle.
Newer innovations include built-in recharging stations
for cell phones, PDAs and other electronics.
Keyboard trays have become a common
feature in home office furniture. Many times they
are masked by false, drop-down drawer fronts. In
addition to keyboard trays, pull-out platforms
for scanners, printers and fax machines can improve
a workstation's functionality.
There are many options available in
home office furniture today, scaled for different
needs and different spaces. In addition to looking
at your needs for computer storage, be sure to
consider storage for all the little stuff that
goes with it. Do you have tons of disks and CDs
stacked around your computer now? If so, then you
might want to look for home office furniture that
offers built-in disk storage areas.
We all need a space to sit down, pay
the bills and check e-mail. But some of us do much
more in our home offices. Workspaces can be customized
to fit your work style and available space.
A desk is what we immediately think
of when we conceive of a home office. At its most
basic, it offers a broad level surface on which
to work. No matter the style, a desk's functionality
can be increased with the addition of other components.
A return attaches perpendicularly to
one end of a desk to create an "L" shaped workspace.
If you like to spread things out while you are
working, a return can keep you from dropping stacks
of stuff on the floor. A return can also increase
your storage capacity with additional drawer space.
A hutch sits on top of a desk, against
a wall, for additional storage. Open shelves or
cabinet doors usually frame the space around a
computer monitor. A hutch with built-in lighting
should shed light on the task at hand without aggravating
computer screen glare. In addition to added storage,
a hutch can bring character to your home office.
A corner desk is a great way to make
use of what would normally be wasted space. They
work particularly well in rooms with multiple functions,
such as family rooms or bedrooms.
Home office wall systems are a great
option when you want to make a dramatic statement.
Desk, hutch, and return can be combined with bookshelves,
cabinets, and lateral files for great functionality
and good looks.
Lateral file cabinets have become increasingly
popular in home offices. They offer more capacity
than traditional two-drawer cabinets and since
they are broader than they are deep, the contents
are easier to access. Rising half the height of
a full-sized traditional file cabinet, a lateral
file can provide an additional work surface. Lateral
files can also be fitted with a hutch for book
storage above. Many new designs disguise the purpose
of the file cabinet by making them look like a
small chest of drawers.
A computer armoire or an office in
a box are both great alternatives when your home
office is located in a multifunction room. In addition
to hiding away computer clutter when not in use,
many have built-in extra features to help organize
your workspace. Chalk boards, dry erase boards
and bulletin boards fit neatly on to doors. Mail-sorting
cubbies, paper storage and CD / disk storage keep
your supplies in order. Some armoires incorporate
built-in lighting. Lights should illuminate without
aggravating computer screen glare. If you like
to spread things out when you work and are concerned
that an armoire won't offer enough space, try looking
at one with a fold-up or swing-out return. It's
sort of like a Murphy bed of desks: a whole table
tucks away until you need it for an additional
Ergonomic is not synonymous with ugly.
With the rise of telecommuting, home office furnishings
have moved towards attractive designs that are
intended for daily use. If you will be spending
large amounts of time working in your home office,
be sure that it not only fits your home's decor,
but fits your body too. Try it out in the store:
sit down and go through the motions you regularly
go through in your work. Are you sitting in an
awkward position? Do you feel any strain in your
arms, shoulders, back or wrists? If so, look elsewhere.
While you are furnishing your home
office, don't forget to pick up an office chair.
If you spend a lot of time on the computer at home,
be sure that the chair fits your body as well as
your style. There are two primary categories of
office seating: executive chair and task chair.
Executive chairs are larger in scale
and have arms that are usually attached to the
seat and the back. While the height of an executive
chair is often adjustable, the back is not. Executive
chairs also frequently incorporate tilt features.
A column tilt pivots the back and seat from the
middle of the seat. A knee tilt pivots the back
and seat from a point closer to the front of the
chair; a knee tilt leans back farther than a column
tilt while keeping the knees in relatively the
Task chairs are generally smaller in
scale and consist of a seat and back; armrests
are optional and, when present, are usually connected
to the seat only. The height of the seat and the
back are often adjustable on task chairs. Task
chairs may or may not tilt.
A chair that will be used by more than
one person should have adjustable height controls.
Ideal seating positions the thighs between 90 and
105 degrees to the back. The back should be well
supported. Thighs should be supported and square
with the floor, and feet should rest comfortably
on the floor. A rolling chair should have five
sturdy casters so that it will not tip when you
lean one direction or another.
Like any case good purchase,
you will want to look for the following structural
details before you buy. Overall, the piece should
be sturdy and should not wobble when rocked. Corner
blocks should be used to insure the stability of
the piece and levelers will help to make sure that
all the doors and drawers line up correctly.
Drawers should be constructed with
dovetail joints for strength and stability. The
drawers should move easily on their glides and
should have stops to prevent overextension. Good
quality glides will use ball bearings or nylon
wheels to make it easier to move the drawer. Drawers
for file storage should have compound glides for
full access to the drawer contents.
Doors should fit well and should not
have any visible gaps. They should be easy to open
and should not squeak or rub. Doors on computer
armoires should have sturdy hinges and should open
wide enough for easy access.