The colors you choose for your walls affect your mood, how you feel about a room and your comfort level in that room. So choosing the right color for a home office presents a special challenge; it’s part of your home, yet it’s also a place where you must be productive, whether you use the space to earn a paycheck or simply to manage your home and personal life. In this challenge lies the opportunity to actually boost your productivity and good feeling toward your work. Don’t make the mistake of recreating the drab off-white work space so common to many commercial offices. Have fun with the color you pick, and you may find that working in that space will not only be more productive, but also downright enjoyable.
First Things First
When planning your home office, it’s important to keep in mind all the things you disliked about offices where you have previously worked. Many of my clients who work from their homes say they spend a great deal of time in this room and want it to be conducive to staying focused and completing tasks. They also want to address steeply pitched roof issues in an attic or garage office, or poor lighting or low ceilings in basements. Structural change to a home is often too expensive, so I try to work with my clients using the present structure, while accentuating lighting and color to make their office spaces more pleasant.
Lighting is often a particular concern of the home office, since the space is often carved out from extra space in the home: a little-used spare room, a basement room or attic space above the garage. Such locations often include florescent lighting, low ceilings, lack of windows or windows that are poorly located, which can all contribute to your office being an uncomfortable or unhappy area.
There are ways to capture light and bring more energy into a room. Torchiere lamps that add upward light to a room can help combat a dreary, low-ceiling room. Such lamps emit light up and onto the ceiling, lifting the atmosphere in the room. A properly placed mirror can also be strategically hung on a wall so that it can reflect light coming in from the outdoors and provide additional natural light to the room, making it feel larger and lighter. The simple placement of a desk so that a proper wall is at your back and you work facing into your room’s workspace allows you to concentrate better, less distracted by noises or things going on in the home.
Choosing the Right Color
Good lighting, be it natural or manmade, is greatly enhanced by the right wall color choice. Colors that have warmth, that can draw in and absorb light—which is soothing to the eyes—ultimately produce a more relaxed setting. Colors that are stark and cold tend to reflect the light, which can cause squinting, tension and a lack of focus and neck strain—not good conditions for working in the home office. Very dark colors, like dark forest green or dark blue can be depressing, especially combined with dark wood tones. Most dark greens and blues have no ability to absorb light, producing a cave-like feeling. Red with a lot of blue tones in it creates the same negative mood. On the other hand, lighter blues and greens can be inspiring and uplifting. More of a yellow tone in a color creates more warmth—but you have to be careful to choose a tone that not only brings warmth but depth.
When choosing a color for your home office, be sure to find a color that visibly brings more light into a room, while picking a color that you like, that invigorates your mental processes. With the right color, work might not even feel like work, and your office may just end up being your favorite room in the house.
For over 20 years, Sally Fretwell has been helping clients create extraordinary spaces in which to live and work. Fretwell’s latest book, The Power of Color, features a beautiful array of pictures full of vibrant colors, some exotic