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Technology is moving the office anywhere in the home

A corner office was once highly sought after by movers and shakers within a company. Then came the flexibility to work from home in a traditional home office.

Now, with WiFi capabilities and a good router, smaller smartphones and handy tablets, technology has changed the game again. The new home office can be a work-from-anywhere space, whether that means curled up on the couch, in a nook in the kitchen, or even on the front or back porch.

“A dedicated home office is a luxury that not everyone can afford,” said decorator and color expert Maria Killam, who blogs at Colour Me Happy. Not all homeowners have the space or want to give up an entire room, but “they do want a designated work area so they can shut out distractions,” Killam said. That area may or may not have a door to close.

Surfaces and storage

Nowadays, “people are often opting to create a home office in smaller spaces such as a comfortable corner or a nook in the kitchen,” Killam said. They’re looking for furniture that multitasks with plenty of power outlets and a charging station, plus smart storage, she said.

Furniture makers have responded to the new home office trend with creative space-saving solutions like folding or wall-mounted desks that flip out of view when guests come over. Other workstations can be repurposed as serving tables.

With storage often in the cloud, traditional filing cabinets may not be needed, “but you’re going to have to have storage space to for your piles of papers,” Killam said. Storage can be on floating shelves, bookcases, cupboards or other systems such as colorful boxes or woven baskets.

Because so many people bring their work lives into their personal lives, home offices are now often set up with the whole family in mind. Building a workstation within a room other family members use allows mom or dad to get some work done but not shut themselves off from the kids, Killam said.

Setting up a workstation in the corner of the kitchen or at the end of the living room also allows parents to keep an eye on their children when they’re using the computer.

“Parents can supervise their kids’ Internet usage and hang out together,” Killam said.

Seating and lighting

Invest in the best you can afford for your office chair, but make sure it’s comfy, too. The typical chair seen on TV is an iconic mid-century modern Eames, Killam said.

“It looks good, but it’s not super comfortable,” said Killam. She recently blogged asking if it’s even remotely possible to find a sexy office chair that’s comfortable without spending a fortune.

“Think about how long you’re going to be sitting in the chair. You have to think about comfort over beauty,” Killam said.

Getting to lighting, “I don’t think you can ever have too much,” Killam said. “Most people rely on recessed lighting, but you’re going to need a lamp or task lighting.”

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