Image: Donna Griffin | Style at Home | A City Home With a Natural Composition That Pays Homage to the Outdoors
An expert shares her top tips for getting it done chez toi
Maybe it's when you sat down to finish that budget report and got up three hours of Barefoot Contessa later, or when the kids launched World War 3 doing math homework cramped together on the breakfast bar—but there comes a point when everyone realizes that maybe the couch or kitchen table isn't the most productive place to work at home anymore.
That's why we tapped productivity coach Clare Kumar for her tips on creating a space in your home where you can focus on the job at hand, whether that be running your own business, paying the bills or writing 4th-grade book reports. Plus, we share the products that will make accomplishing this task just that little bit easier...and prettier.
Tip 1: Come into the light.
Kumar is on a one-woman crusade to get home offices out of the basement. "I'm sorry...everybody is out for the day and you go downstairs into the dark?!", she jokes. "One of the biggest things we do wrong is to put these spaces in places we don't want to go into." For her, that meant turning one of her home's bedrooms into an office space, and having her kids share instead. The payoff was totally worth it, because more than anything else, this needs to be a spot "your heart leaps at going into".
Image: Janis Nicolay | Style at Home | A Vancouver Family Remodels Their Starter House Into Their Dream Home
CL tip: If you don't have a whole room to dedicate to a workspace, think about the brightest, quietest corners of your home. Rejig the layout if necessary to make your workspace work.
Tip 2: The light should be "N.E.A.T."
Kumar has a handy acronym for thinking about the (super important!) light in our home office nooks: N.E.A.T. The N stands for natural light, which she says "lifts your mood, helps with your circadian rhythm, and is a productivity booster." Next is E, which is "lighting for energy," especially in the darker months of the year. That's why Kumar is a proponent of a desk-size light therapy machine. A is "ambient lighting," which is just well-distributed light throughout the space. Last comes T for "task lighting," which simply refers to lighting areas specifically for the jobs or activities you need to do in those spots. She also recommends steering clear of fluorescents and cold blue LED lights, both of which can be taxing on the nervous system.
Himalayan Salt Lamp, $39, urbanoutfitters.ca.
CL pick: We love a salt lamp as a source of warm, calming ambient light. Some people claim that it can also boost serotonin levels via the positive ions it releases, making you more focused and productive.
Tip 3: Do an audit.
When you're getting ready to set up your space for optimal productivity, it's important to think about what you *actually* need to do there. "Do an inventory of what your tasks are," says Kumar, "and what furniture you might need to accomplish them. Do you need a space for someone to sit with you? Do you need a large flat surface or are you actually reclining to read?" This will also help inform your storage choices. "If you're paper-based, you might want a bookshelf or a filing cabinet." And speaking of storage: If you're working with a home office/guest bedroom situation, having a daybed with drawers underneath can be a great space-saving solution.
CL pick: This deco-inspired mirrored filing cabinet is the polar opposite of Office Space vibes...and petite enough to fit in even the teeniest nook.
Tip 4: Learn your colour theory.
The colour of your nook can have a major influence on just how productive that space ends up being. Kumar says specific shades can influence our emotions and energy differently: "If you want a really stimulating, high-energy environment, try reds, oranges or yellows," she advises. "For quiet focus, however, those might be too agitating, so think softer colours or neutrals, but nothing too cold and clinical." Blue is great for efficiency and logical-thinking, while purple can be great for contemplative work. Green is actually the easiest colour on the human eye, and can promote a feeling of balance.
Beauti-Tone Kitchen & Bath Water Fountain C19-7-1525-0 paint, homehardware.ca.
CL pick: It's not quite as a good as a therapy session, but this blue-y green from Beauti-Tone is like a spa break for your eyes.
Tip 5: Keep it clean.
According to Kumar, we all have a different tolerance for what she calls "visual chaos." Where you fall on this scale will determine how helpful you will find it to have knick-knacks or beautiful objects in your space. "Some people feel really comfy when there's a lot around, and other people will be highly stressed," she explains. "Having some chosen items can make that personal space an inviting space to sit in, whether it's messages that inspire you or art or photographs." The best of both worlds, of course, is when an object combines both form and function.
Eden Cross Base Stands, $251, westelm.ca.
CL pick: Decorative potted plants are a double-whammy: Not only do they bring a touch of colour to your space, they can also be a good way to differentiate a nook area and create privacy if it's off an existing room in your home.