According to Chris Winter of the Conservation Council of Ontario, the trend of having a home office is good from an environmental perspective as it eases gridlock and brings balance and common sense back into our lives. However, many of us tend to fall off the green living and eco-friendly wagon when it comes to our home offices. While houses of today are being built with a greener competitive advantage, we still leave our computers and gadgets on and plugged in day and night and do not consider eco-friendly options inside our offices.
Moreover, with the continuously growing population of America and the rest of the world, energy use will continue to increase even as living space continues to decrease. With a bit of creativity and an environmental mindset, any homeowner can accommodate a small home office with an eco-friendly design practically anywhere in the house.
Read on to find out how you can utilize corners and neglected areas to create a comfortable, space-saving and environmentally friendly workspace with these green office design ideas.
1. Pull-out desktop
A pull-out or roll-out desk like this is a great way to provide you more workspace in your green office when you need it and less when you don’t. This particular pull-out desk has plenty of knee room for the everyday user, but the far cabinet pulls out as an extra counter-top for larger projects or even an office space for two. Moreover, when it’s not in use, everything resting on top of the drawer can stay in the same spot when you push it back.
2. Let there be natural light
Consider installing a skylight in your small home office, especially if you will be spending a lot of time in there. You might also want to see if situating your office next to a window is a viable option. This is an energy-saving tip that can help you not only save on electricity costs, but also build a greener, eco-friendly home.
3. Build on the wall
Making the most out of your wall can help desk areas stay clean, space-saving, and functional. This homeowner installed a horizontal wooden desk on the wall, and mounted a light fixture, too, freeing up precious surface area. You can also either decorate the wall with frames, or make use of the space by building a minimalistic shelf.
4. Build a counter-top over the heater
Instead of letting your radiator eat up the space, build over it. This home office added an extra surface directly over the radiator at desk height. Since the average radiator is only about 12 inches from the wall, you can make the counter-top more shallow if you like. Make sure any combustible counter-top material is at least 9 to 12 inches above the radiator, though.
5. Do creative shelving
Traditional shelves may not always be aesthetically pleasing, but functionally they help save on space. With a bit of daft imagination, you can use the limited room for some good-looking shelving to hold office supplies, books, and magazines. Also, when you’re planning out the shelving for your office, don’t forget to extend it below your desk. Recessed shelves allow you to store documents and paperwork that might not be needed every day.
6. Consider a chalkboard wall
You may want to cover a wall in chalkboard paint for an instant floor-to-ceiling message board. This dark color adds to the office’s sleek design scheme, but it’d work great in a super modern or more traditional setting, too. Moreover, instead of using post-its and other paper materials to take notes that will ultimately be thrown out later on, using chalkboards is far more sustainable.
7. Use a dual-purpose monitor
If you’re planning to situate your office in the living or bedroom area, you should consider using a flatscreen as a TV and extra monitor. You don’t only save on monitor costs — you can also watch TV one minute, and work on a spreadsheet the next with an integrated dual-purpose monitor, providing a bigger screen for both work and play.
8. Use space under the stairs
The spaces underneath staircases are typically neglected. Don’t let that be the case in your home. Take a cue from Harry Potter who lived in the cupboard under the stairs for 10 years, and utilize that empty void by turning it into a useful workspace. Build around the area with desk and add a small drawer or some customized storage. While you’re at it, you might also want to consider making use of that staircase landing.
9. Hide your office in a closet
A spare closet is the perfect place to tuck away a work area. But it doesn’t have to feel like a closet. Add a built-in desk and shelving for storage, and keep the color palette light and airy. Add a playful patterned chair for a dose of personality. This is a great space-saving trick for any telecommuter to consider.
10. Think laptop — not desktop
While desktop computers are typically faster than most laptop computers, they also tend to be real energy hogs. So unless you’re doing some video editing or heavy graphic designing at home, consider getting a laptop because portable computers consume one-eighth the power of a traditional desktop. Laptops also take up less space than desktops.
11. Reuse and recycle
It’s an oldie but a goodie — especially when you’re out looking for home office decors. Consider places like Goodwill and the Salvation Army, and pick up items that you can spray paint with chalk white to spruce up your office with a modern look. Recycled or reused decors are not only cheap, they also last a long time and require little maintenance.
While there is no one-fit-for-all solution, you can build an eco-friendly home office things with some creativity and daft design. Don’t neglect corners or spaces that you have left underutilized as room under the stairs, stairway landing space, and even a large empty wardrobe to create a compact workspace inside your home. Most importantly, take full advantage of your carbon-free trek to your home office and save on energy with natural light, efficient gadgets, and reusing old materials as decors.
Article by Aby Nicole League. Follow Aby on Twitter.