The New Normal in Home Office Design

As the work from home (WFH) experience becomes more commonplace (even after stay-at-home orders are lifted), we need to rethink our approach to floor plan development and model home presentations.

The new normal in home office design will mean much more than just having a creative way to place a laptop or include a desk in a room. And while we’ve talked about design ideas to help a home office shine in the past, this has never been more important to home buyers than it is now. Further, there is no doubt that, going forward, buyer’s expectations about having a work from home space will never be the same. So, to that end, we are sharing some additional design tips for the new normal in home office designs in model homes.

Embrace Natural Light

In all our designs we always try to maximize natural light. For the office area, this is even more important as we want to inspire feelings of relaxation and creativity (or at the very least, we don’t want them to feel cramped or “stuck” working). Additionally, we want to create a feeling of openness. If there is a window with an attractive view, then place the desk to take advantage of that view. But, don’t let the furniture block the entry into the room. Turn the desk chair in such a way to welcome someone to sit. By doing that, the buyer can easily imagine themselves in that space.

Natural light and comfortable seating make this Delaware model’s WHF space incredibly inviting. Regal Builders, photo courtesy of Lita Dirks & Co.

But Don’t Ignore Lamps

Even with great natural light, you’ll still need additional lighting for darker hours of the day. In all practicality, residential overhead lighting is inadequate for most work-related tasks. It’s also not great for model home tours. You’ll want to ensure there is always plenty of light, especially for those cloudy day tours.

Fortunately, it’s a simple fix: add lamps. By including a few table lamps, you will add a nice layering effect that can help create a more relaxing ambiance. Additionally, by including a desk or floor lamp, you will add a sense of more human ambiance. Including some recessed lights in the ceiling can help the spread of light to help balance dark shadows in the room on a grey or stormy afternoon. While touring a model, proper light placement is essential in showing off your homes as well as selling your buyer on the warmth they’ll find if they make the decision to buy this plan.

Get Creative with Storage Options

We’ve talked about including plenty of storage in a home office. Being creative can help fill that storage quota. We all know that the presence of computers doesn’t mean the absence of paper. Most of us generate various types of paper resources, that can often turn into piles, during our working hours. However, we can show buyers how to keep clutter at bay. Bookcases, magazine racks that adhere to the walls, or even a closet with a complex shelving system can be useful. Again, it’s all about being creative and showcasing organization and order.

Creative storage options in use in this Delaware model. Regal Builders, photo courtesy of Lita Dirks & Co.

Carve out Comfort

Create a “work break” space. Working from home means often working longer hours than when you’re in an office environment where there may be more structure to your schedule. Make sure the office area has room for a chair, or a chaise or even a window seat; a place for a little “get away” within the room. The potential buyer needs to see a lot of positives in a WFH space as they realize a great deal of their time will be spent here. Another nice addition would be to include a dog bed under the desk or nearby. This way, the homeowner and their best friend never have to be too far apart.

Add Greenery

Plants can make people happier and healthier. Fortunately, a plant doesn’t have to require a lot of care to make a difference; a small bit of green can make a big impact. We know keeping plants alive in a model can be daunting. However, succulents are a great addition and require very little upkeep. And today’s silk plants offer a lot of fantastic options that allow you to include no hassle greenery in a home office.

Storage, greenery, and natural lighting are all on display in this CO model. David Weekley Homes, photo courtesy of Lita Dirks & Co.

Add Doors

If possible, add doors to the home office for privacy. Video conferences share noises and sounds from everyone within a wide distance of your laptop, and it can be hard to remain professional and work from home with a dog barking or kids conferencing with their classes in the background. Consider glass French doors or barn doors to allow for style and privacy. If doors can’t be budgeted in the price of the home, consider it as an option and remind the sales agent why this might be a very important upgrade to suggest.

Glass barn doors add privacy without compromising style of this CO model. Parkwood Homes, photo courtesy of Lita Dirks & Co.

Learn More

As more and more of us are working from home, and many may continue to even after official “stay at home” orders expire, knowing how to design a desirable work from home space in a model will be key. In this new normal, buyers will expect to see the space and want to know your homes have that option.

Post courtesy of Sue Ridgeway, Director of Marketing at Lita Dirks & Co., an interior design and merchandising firm based in Greenwood Village, Colo.

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