Sisler Johnston Offers Advice on Designing a Functional Home Office

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Jacksonville, Florida — Technology is changing the workplace and where employees work. The number of people who work from home is increasing each year. As a result, the home office is becoming one of the most important areas of the home.

"Our company recently converted a secondary bedroom into a home office in a large vacation home located on a beautiful fishing lake that our client sometimes travels to via float plane," said Judith Sisler Johnston, president of Sisler Johnston Interior Design and ASID allied member. "We were able to situate his desk in his vacation home office overlooking the view and control the level of light with appropriate window treatments."

There are many fundamentals to consider with home office design, including location, work style, and developing a work space that is conducive to productivity. Before the work begins, Sisler Johnston interviews clients to learn about their business, their everyday tasks, and how they prefer to use the space.

Most home offices require additional electrical placements for computers, fax machines, and telephones, including floor outlets to avoid any hazards. Some workers need to be networked with their employer's corporate office computer system. While some employees work primarily on the computer, others may be running a home-based business that requires product storage and distribution.

"When we discuss work style, it is often helpful to visit the client's business office to observe their organization methods and challenges," Sisler Johnston said. "Orderliness is arranging the surroundings to achieve maximum efficiency."

Connecticut architect Neal Zimmerman has authored several books about home office design and recommends thinking about the home office in terms of four work spaces — computer, administrative, meeting, and project.

Even though nearly everyone uses a computer, the needs of a Web designer (large monitor) are different from those of a furniture sales representative (laptop). Everyone needs an administrative area for paperwork, such as opening the mail, paying bills, and preparing items to mail. However, space needs are different for an accountant compared to someone who sells products on eBay.

When it comes to meeting space, needs also vary. Many home office workers have little or no need for meeting space. For some, a single client chair will suffice. Others prefer outside sources, including a community clubhouse center, for client meetings. The project area reflects the types of furniture needed. The eBay seller may need a mailing counter and cabinets for product storage, while the landscape illustrator may require a drafting table.

Once the requirements are determined, then it's time to look at location. This is less challenging in a newly constructed home since new homes often come with a study, additional bedroom, or bonus space. In an existing home, niche spaces including alcoves, stairwells, and hallway landings offer possibilities. However, these spaces usually require detailed space planning and rewiring.

Several furniture manufacturers have addressed small office spaces in a concept called an office armoire. Tucked away behind tidy doors that conceal the space when not in use, the armoire typically has a pull-out keyboard tray, work surface, and storage and equipment areas.

Office design requires a healthy working environment with ample light, ventilation, and comfort. To prevent strain and injuries, the optimal computer surface height is 28 inches. Two of the most important investments in a home office are an ergonomically sound chair for proper back support and a high resolution monitor to protect from eye fatigue. Neck and eye strain can be reduced with the proper equipment and placement along with adequate natural or artificial light. Before designing a home office, it can be a wise investment to consult with a licensed interior designer who is knowledgeable about ergonomic issues.

"Our company designs home offices that are functional, pleasurable work spaces that are integrated with the home décor and adapted for the client's needs and wants," Sisler Johnston said. "We believe home offices should be designed with the same care and attention to detail as the home's main living spaces."

Sisler Johnston Interior Design of Jacksonville creates award-winning interior designs with timeless elegance and classic style. The company offers comprehensive services for residential and commercial clients. Sisler Johnston Interior Design specializes in luxurious living spaces for exceptional homes. The company also designs model homes and commercial spaces, including condominiums, hotels, community amenity centers, and office suites.

Judith Sisler Johnston and her team of licensed, highly trained, and gifted designers combine experience, knowledge, and professionalism to help clients develop their vision while analyzing their design requirements. The company celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2004 and has been recognized with more than 75 industry awards, including Aurora, Laurel, Excel, and the National Association of Home Builders Senior Housing awards.

For more information about Sisler Johnston Interior Design, call (904) 288-0908 or visit
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