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Inviting, Efficient Home Offices

Having an office at home is a dream for many people. Imagine just going down the hall to go to work!

It's actually not that hard to set up an office. You just need a few key elements to get it started.

The Early Show's own style expert, Colin Cowie, offered some ideas Friday.

He says having a "home office" doesn't necessarily mean you need to have an office space set aside in your home. A home office could be created as part of your living room, basement, etc., and can be set up to accommodate more than one person's needs, especially if you run your business from your home and have employees.

When selecting a location for your office, pick a spot in the home where you can still see your kids. Glass doors help keep noise out.

The key is to make the space clean, organized, inspiring and comfortable.

Cowie chose a more modern look and feel for the office he worked with Friday.


Start with selecting a good desk. This is where the work will be done. Be sure to keep the desk space clear and clean for working.

Your whole office can revolve around a few key pieces of equipment, positioned on the desk:

  • Computer: Whether you choose a desktop or a laptop, the computer will be where the majority of your work is completed and stored. With a desktop, be sure you have components such as a mouse and speakers. Colin prefers laptops.
  • Printer: Look for a printing system that has scanning and faxing capabilities all in one. This saves you a lot of space.
  • Telephone: Choose a phone with more than one line. A multi-line phone with multi-line voicemail is more professional. Select a phone with a "Do Not Distrub" (DND) button. This enables you to check out at the end of each day. Some phones are compatible with personal devices such as a BlackBerry or Treo, and can act as a conference system.


    Lighting is important. Try to choose a space with a window for some natural light. You should also have an overhead lamp and a stand-alone lamp.


    Great storage is a must to hold everything. You'll need to organize your documents, filing, office supplies, mailing supplies and more.

    For basic office supplies, Cowie recommends a drawer. Organize your pens, pencils, staples, stapler, paper clips, post-it notes, note pads, etc., in a drawer so everything you need is in one place and at your fingertips.

    A filing cabinet is a good place for mailing and shipping supplies, envelopes, and personal and corporate stationary.

    A solid bookshelf works well for storing all reference guides, books, etc.

    If your office space has a closet, larger products can be placed out of sight. A good example would be storing your bottled water supply in the closet.

    If there is more than one person working in the office, post a "Do/Don't" list or other office guidelines, so everyone knows the expectations. Be sure everyone keeps the area neat and organized. This can be posted on a pin up board or a white drawing board.


    Make the space as beautiful as possible, to be inspirational.

    Incorporate items such as fragrant candles or an iPod station to have music on hand, to create a relaxing atmosphere.

    Place a dish of sugar-free candy on the desktop. Have a beverage, such as water, in your office. This enables you to replenish yourself and others throughout the day. You can store bottled water in a closet or, if you want to save money, purchase a filter system.

    Use fresh flowers or a plant in your office, to give a touch of natural beauty. It could be as simple as a tropical leaf or orchid plant in a tall vase.

    And keep a supply of personal stationary in addition to your corporate stationary. First thing each morning, take out your personal stationary and write a thank you note from the previous night's event/party/meeting, etc.

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