How to create a home office with streamlined style

For a work area that’s efficient and elegant, keep these simple design ideas in mind.

  • Carve out space. No need to dedicate a whole room in your house to office work-just convert a closet or corner instead. Or let a seldom-used room such as a spare bedroom or a dining room perform double duty.
  • Be a master of disguise. Hide office clutter by stashing electronics in a closed cabinet, files in a stylish cube, and paper clips and other small items in cloth-covered boxes.
  • Tuck away tech gear. It’s easy to get tangled up in cables and accessories for computers and digital cameras. Take control of cords with a Cable Turtle (a bright rubber disk that hides excess wires), and stow CDs in attractive albums (Case Logic’s Home Collection and offer a great range of storage styles).
  • Soften the impact. To prevent your home office from looking like a sterile, fluorescent-lit cubicle, let in lots of sunlight and make the space inviting with fabric accents, fresh flowers, and soothing colors that suit your decor.
  • Get a good seat. Consider the ergonomics when picking a perch. Opt for a soft-edged chair that provides back support; keeps your hips, shoulders, and ears in vertical alignment; and holds your arms bent at the elbows at 90 degrees.

Keeping it neat

Find a home for your papers, bills, and more with these tips from organizing coach Mary Sigmann.

  • Move out anything not office related. Maximize space by hanging family photos on a wall instead of setting them on your desk.
  • Use a three-file system. Sort all documents as active (working on now), research (need to access), or archival (need to hold on to).
  • Organize often. Always take ten minutes after you’re done working to put away papers so the desk area will never become an eyesore.