Use Zones to Define Working & Living Spaces

Telecommuting veterans often say that establishing a dedicated home office is critical to success. Having a separate work space in your home gives you the ability to separate your home and work lives, and helps you to stay focused and productive during the work day.

Does that mean that city dwellers with limited living space are doomed to failure? Absolutely not. While your working space may not have the physical boundaries of walls and a door, you can create an illusion of separate, distinct spaces by establishing working and living “zones.”

Take a cue from some of today’s more cleverly designed open-office environments. Rather than relying on physical walls, designers use color and cleverly arranged clusters of furniture to set off activity zones for meetings, staff down time, team projects, etc. In your space, activity zones might include spaces where you feel comfortable sitting for long conference calls, responding to email, conducting research or writing. Or you might have one activity zone, which would be your main workspace.

Create a color scheme for your work zone by coordinating paint (e.g., try painting just the wall area adjacent your desk), a throw rug, wall decor, desk accessories and storage units. Make sure that your work zone color differs from the colors in your living space. Be sure to select color schemes that complement each other for an overall aesthetic effect.

For a more defined boundary, cleverly placed plants, bookshelves or storage units can help you to set apart your workspace. They don’t have to be floor-to-ceiling units — low units can achieve the desired effect (think low-wall cubicles). Rolling storage units like those offered by IKEA (e.g., the Alex drawer unit or Kallax shelves) are available in different sizes and configurations. They can set apart a designated workspace during the day, which can be “opened up” at the end of the day by moving it against the way or out of the way.