Ask the Expert

Productive home offices

Q: I'll be starting a home business and need to think about creating an office space. It needs to offer great comfort and efficiency, but I'm afraid if it is designed poorly, it might not be conducive to productivity. What are some factors I should consider to ensure I'll have a well-designed home office space?

When planning an office space, the first considerations should be making sure it is a space dedicated for work, comfortable for you and free from distractions. It is important to plan and design for the main users being yourself and maybe your clients. A display area and/or meeting room could be a function you may need for your business. Another consideration is whether you want a separate entrance for clients.

You must really “like” being in your work space and able to focus within it. Lighting, colors, noises, layout, functionalities within your office and organization are all very important factors in a home office. A large window is my must have. I, personally, need natural daylight to keep me grounded. This is my natural connection for productivity.

Distractions can come from many sources within the household. Consider installing insulation in the walls or floors surrounding your office space. Another possible asset is having a kitchenette with a coffeemaker and a small sink. These could be advantageous to keeping you on task if you don’t have to leave your office for these comforts.

Overhead lighting can be overbearing, I much prefer task lighting as well as lamps around the room to create a certain ambience. Lighting is an important part of your ergonomics. Finding the right lighting solution for your office can be just as important as finding the right chair or desk. LED task lamps are a preferred choice for comfort and less stress on your eyes for working on a computer.

Be sure to surround yourself with comfortable décor such as shelving, maybe a couch, plants, pictures/artwork, or anything else you enjoy. This is your space to work in and conduct your business – make it unique to how you work and meet your needs.

Anna M. Lee, AIA, LEED AP BD+C is a licensed Alaska architect with Alder Architecture & Design in Wasilla. She works on residential and commercial projects. Visit