Best Seat in the House

What's the best place in the house to set up your home office? Consider these six things before getting down to business.

By Laura Tiffany

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

It's fun moving into a new office. No, really, it is. Weadmit lugging stuff sucks, but choosing where you're going tobe spending the majority of your day, arranging furniture andsupplies, and decorating your walls is all about a good time. Andthe best part? Realizing that you, and only you, get to decide ifyou're worthy of the corner office with the view.

"The great thing about home offices is, you get to have ityour way. Why would you set up a home office that replicates theaustere pain of [a corporate office]?" says Meredith Gould,author of Working at Home: Making It Work for You, whoshares her Princeton, New Jersey, home office with her cats."The point of having your own home office is so you can havefun stuff, nice décor and a comfy chair."

There is, of course, a bit more to the logistics of choosing theproper space for your new home office, whether you're carvingout space in your existing abode or moving to a new place. Here arethings Gould suggests you consider when choosing your location:

Electrical wiring: "Most building codes require thatelectrical outlets be placed every 12 feet," says Gould."It's worth the money to install more outlets. I recommendinstalling them above desk level so you don't have to crawlaround on the floor all the time." If your office isrelatively equipment-heavy, zone wiring places all those electricaloutlets on a separate circuit breaker--so even if you blow up youroffice, you can still watch TV.

Phone lines: Gould suggests having at least two phonelines. Make sure your phone jacks are close to electrical outletsto support equipment that requires both.

Ventilation: "In a forced-air [heating and cooling]system, there's usually a vent on the floor and one on theceiling. Don't put your equipment anywhere near them,"advises Gould.

Lighting: First, use as much natural light as you can.Then fill in with a mix of ambient lighting (ceiling fixtures) andtask lighting (a desk lamp). "Some people get entranced bytrack lighting and recessed lighting, but it actually stinks forwork. It's too bright and too focused," Gouldexplains.

Another no-no: fluorescent lighting. "It's very hard onthe eyes. If you must use fluorescent, change the bulbs from coolto warm. They soften the light."

Another option, albeit more expensive, is a full-spectrumlighting system, which replicates natural light. The systems aresold in health-food stores or holistic living catalogs; Gould saysthey're best for those who need to see true color.

Sound: Wall-to-wall carpeting is the best for reducingsound, but even an area rug will help as long as you spring forgood padding. Other sound-reduction tools includeweather-stripping, double-glazed windows and solid doors.

Separate entrance: This is always a good idea if you haveclients visiting your office. And if not? "There's a realpsychological advantage to having a separate entrance. It helpsseparate work from the rest of your life," says Gould. It alsocreates boundaries, privacy and awareness for family members orroommates who might otherwise interrupt your work. If a separateentrance is impossible, invest in a separate phone line and apartition, screen or armoire so you can "close the door"on your office at the end of the day.

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