Over the past year, the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted every facet of life, including work and school. Although communities in the D.C. Metro area are beginning to transition back to a semblance of normalcy, some changes are expected to linger well into the future.
For example, remote working was already on the rise in the region, and many companies are evaluating what access to a brick-and-mortar office space is actually needed.
Even if you and your family aren’t working and studying at home full-time, it can be helpful to have a dedicated space with the right setup and design to support those activities even for a few hours per day or week.
As you reimagine your home life in 2021, take this opportunity to figure out what sort of permanent study space or work-at-home office could help with remote learning or taking care of your professional responsibilities.
Ideally, you want to use a designated space, such as a spare room or finished basement or attic, for your workspace, but that’s not always feasible for families in Northern Virginia and the D.C. Metro area. Whether you’re setting up shop in an isolated room or incorporating your home office or classroom into another living area, here are a few ideas to help you design your remodel:
Many families are getting creative with the placement for their home office or classroom. You can set up a pocket office wherever you can find a small space to install a desk and the tech you need. If it’s a remote learning space, you may want to put it next to the kitchen or living room, where you can easily supervise your children while they are studying. When using a high-traffic area, just make sure to have a solution for tucking away cords and supplies, so they don’t become a tripping hazard. If you’re using the space for professional work, try to find a more secluded area, like a large closet, under a stairway or in a part of your master suite or bedroom.
If you want to have a private space for doing your work, investigate finishing a currently under-utilized space, such as an attic, basement or garage. Based on the distinct characteristics of your property in Northern Virginia, you can also add on a sunroom or multifunctional space to use. Some people need to be physically removed from the many distractions that crop up at home to stay focused for hours on end. If you run a home-based business and your work involves seeing clients or colleagues, you want a designated room with a door where you don’t have to worry about other household members passing through.
Customized built-ins are advantageous for unconventional spaces where a standard-sized desk could be awkward or ill-fitting. If you’re working with a remote classroom or home office that’s tucked in a corner or alcove in your home, consider designing a desk that is the precise shape and size to fit the spot. With a built-in desk, you can also customize your shelves, cubbies, drawers and other storage options to fit your exact needs. Built-ins are also designed to better blend into your overall architecture and design style for a cohesive aesthetic.
No matter where you put your home office or study space, seating is a critical component. And not just any seating. You want age-appropriate and ergonomic seating that will support focus, productivity and comfort. Back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome and other issues tend to plague those who sit for long periods of time for work. However, using an ergonomic chair and keyboard or even a standing desk can help protect your health and wellbeing. For a children’s study space, put a kids-sized desk and a comfortable chair. A window seat with pillows, couch or beanbag chair could also work for reading or working on a laptop. Just make sure they have a spot for their school supplies nearby.
Most people use at least two personal devices on a regular basis, not to mention office equipment like printers, scanners and monitors. When you’re remodeling your home in the D.C. Metro area to add a home office or study space, make sure you install enough electrical outlets for whomever is using the room to charge their devices. This problem is especially common in older homes that weren’t designed with the demands of modern technology in mind and often lack adequate power connections.
If you have limited floor space for setting up your home office, figure out instead how to help your walls reach their maximum potential. A few options include floor-to-ceiling built-in cabinets, open shelving, and items like a corkboard, magnetic board or pegboard. Another idea is to apply a nice coat of chalkboard paint to one of the walls and create the perfect spot for making notes or tracking your schedule. Your children may enjoy having a spot to exercise their creativity.
Finally, you’ll want to think about the ambience in your new workspace. Natural light is a bonus, since it can boost your mood, increase productivity and prevent eye fatigue. In addition, use a blend of overhead and task lighting fixtures to create the optimal conditions for you or your children. Colors can also impact an atmosphere and the emotions produced in a particular environment. If you have a high-stress job, consider using cool, calming colors, such as pale purple or gray. Blues and greens are helpful for sparking imagination and cultivating creativity. For a children’s remote classroom, you can go with more fun and funky colors.
Families evolve, creating the need for a new or different type of residential space. If your family members are spending more time at home doing work or school this year, it may be time to consider a permanent office and/or classroom. Our team at Denny + Gardner can help you remodel an existing space or even design a home addition to use for this purpose. We understand that each household has unique goals and requirements, and with our comprehensive design-build process, we can ensure your project is customized to meet your specific lifestyle needs.