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Quick fix: home office

Simple do-it-yourself ideas from the experts to transform your space without emptying your wallet

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AN ERGONOMIC CHAIR

Cory Porteous, marketing manager of Office Interiors in Dartmouth, N.S. says many work-at-homers start out using a basic kitchen chair because it’s what they already have.

“If you have an uncomfortable chair, you’re more likely to keep getting up and walking around, which makes you less productive,” says Porteous. “If you don’t love the chair you’re sitting in every day, you deserve an upgrade.”

Sitting in the wrong chair can lead to serious back pain, especially if you spend most of your time using a computer. Justin Horvath, interiors manager with Pinnacle Office Interiors in Paradise, N.L., says your body will thank you for choosing an office chair that keeps your back straight and your knees and elbows at 90-degree angles. “Adjust your chair and your body to a comfortable position with neutral body posture,” says Horvath. “And pay close attention to the size of your chair.

We’re all built differently, so it’s important to find a chair that’s not too big or too small.”

COST: $75–$700
TIME: 15–20 minutes to sit in different styles and learn what feels right

UPGRADED PAPER STORAGE

Even mostly-paperless offices still need a spot for stashing receipts and signed contracts. Keeping paper clutter out of sight makes for a cleaner, more focused workspace.

The first step to clearing your desk surface is determining which system will mesh with the way you work. If you have to cross the room to file a paper, will it get ignored? What needs to be filed separately, and what can be combined? Instead of a standard letter tray or inbox that doesn’t hide the papers from view, consider boxes with lids, magazine files, file boxes, or storage cubes.

COST: $5–$30
TIME: Minutes of shopping

THE RIGHT DESK

Old-school walnut desks with built-in shelving and CD racks are quickly being replaced by sleeker, simpler options. Skip shelving that fills up with clutter, pencil cups, and half-finished cups of coffee.

Position your desk to look out the window, set it up in the middle of the room, or facing the door seeing as much of the room as possible for maximum feng shui. Studies show standing during at least part of the work day improves heart health and circulation. Most sit/stand desks adjust to different heights so you’re able to use a standard chair, a tall stool, or stand.

You need not replace your whole desk. Standing-desk converters sit on top of your existing desk, and raise up and down to allow you to toggle between standing and sitting.

COST: $60–$800
TIME: Shopping time, plus assembly. For the non-handy, most stores will assemble for you, for a fee

A FRESH PALETTE

Home offices often double as guest rooms or dens. Sometimes they’re stolen spaces in converted basements or outgrown toy rooms. Repainting the room might feel like an unnecessary expense, but it can significantly affect your mood.

White is a popular home office paint colour because it’s crisp, clean, and can brighten up even the dingiest of rooms. Try calming blue or grey tones if your job is particularly high-stress. Creatives may get a charge out of bold hues like teal and dark purple, but those tones could be too stimulating if you need to focus quietly for long periods.

COST: $40–$60
TIME: Half of a day

POSTURE PERFECTORS

Are your wrists, knees, and elbows in the proper positions when you’re working at your desk? Are your eyes level with the top of your computer screen?

Porteous says hunching can be hard on your neck and wrists, but getting an ergonomically-designed workstation is easier than you think. You can retrofit existing office furniture with inexpensive pieces that make working much more comfortable.

If you aren’t sure what you need to straighten up and work right, Horvath says that’s where office interior specialists can lend a hand. Talk to them about your home office set-up, and they can explain how to adjust your position for optimal productivity.

COST: $35–$200
TIME: 30 minutes

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