Home and Garden

Home and Garden: Creating a Chic Home Office

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Running a small business out of your home is not only do-able, it's a wise move to save money and commute time. Here's how to make it a great one.

Whatever your small business, it's important to have a great working space in order to continue your workflow and keep you in the game. But when you're bringing clients into your business and making a more public space, can a home office still work? It absolutely can, and here's how.

Separate Your Space

It's important when working at home to separate work space from living space, otherwise it can be hard to separate your work life from home life, which can be frustrating. More importantly, though, you don't want to make any clients feel uncomfortable having a meeting across the room from your daughter, coloring in her pajamas, or your husband talking on the phone with a plumber. There are several ways to separate your work area.

The first way to separate them is to use a guest room that has a door in order to make your office feel separate from your home. In this scenario, it's important to keep the pathway through the house to the office very clean and neat, otherwise your client's first impression might not be the greatest. If that's not an option, consider putting an outside entrance into your office's room so that the client never has to trudge through your living room to get to you.

Another option is to install a secondary structure to your home. Sure, that lengthens your commute time from one minute to two, but a secondary office that you can shut and leave behind at night can be very freeing. Companies like Modern Cabana make accessory structures that are very hip and offer plenty of space. Just make sure you clean up the yard and provide a clearly marked path for those clients.

Reflect Your Work

Make your office space a reflection of what you do. If you're an architect, why not have some of your favorite blueprints framed and hung around your office? Lawyers, install shelves for those impressively heavy law books. Photographers can make a photo wall, and writers can frame articles and install shelves to display their own books on. Having a stamp of individuality that reflects who you are and what you're passionate about is a good sign to clients - it shows them that your business has personality and that you are a passionate individual. Besides, who wants to have meetings in a room with white walls and nothing to brighten it up?

Bring Comfort In

Forget the folding chair. Pamper your clients with a high-end chair or sofa so they'll always remember your office as a comfortable spot. If clients often take notes while they're meeting with you, provide a side table or a nice chair they can pull up to a desk. If you normally host large groups, think about a table you could all gather at. Make sure the space is most efficient for client meetings, because they are the people your small business has to cater to in order to keep their business. Make them want to come see you in your home office.

Be Professional

On a Friday morning with no meetings scheduled, sure, work away in your bathrobe with your cereal bowl sitting next to you. But if there's even a chance that a client would drop by, always be dressed and at the ready with a clean office. You don't want a surprise drop-in to turn into an awkward encounter over your monkey pajamas, so remember that your place of work is just that - a place of work. If you're too tired to get showered and changed, stay in the living room for awhile. Being dressed and professional will also have an effect on how you work and how productive you stay during the day.

Working from home can be both challenging and rewarding, and setting your home office up for success will allow you to avoid the more challenging moments that come with it.