How To: Turn your Dining Room into a Home Office

Dining rooms were reserved for more formal occasions. The type that called for pulling out the fine china and going all out with the fancy recipes. But in a world where modern houses include a dining nook or breakfast counter, they’ve turned into makeshift storage rooms for all your work-in-progress projects. 

Then COVID hit. We tried to optimise every corner of our homes to adapt to our new lifestyle. Out with the dinner parties, in with the remote work and impromptu homeschooling. 

Finding a comfortable place to work at home has become an ongoing conundrum. Thankfully, your dining room can also turn into the perfect spot for a Zoom meeting or homework assignments. Here are seven tips to help you turn your dining room into a productive workstation – at least for now. 

Find the perfect table.

Your dining table is the centrepiece of the room, whether you use it as a dining room or home office. It should be aesthetic, pleasing and convenient. Thankfully, most dining tables can also make excellent office desks in a pinch. 

Look for scratch-resistant and easy-to-maintain surfaces that can handle the shuffle of laptops, the occasional coffee spill, or the enthusiastic efforts of your budding artists. We prefer using sturdy melamine surfaces, which are as beautiful and user-friendly, for our tabletops.  

The shape of your table can also be a deciding factor. A round or oval dining table offers plenty of space to accommodate guests. It’s also an excellent choice when it’s used as a workstation on sporadic occasions. For example, they’re handy when you hybrid work between home and the office. However, they may not be as ergonomic for a permanent office set-up. Found a balance between working and entertaining at home? Get the best of both worlds with our Bruny and Tate dining tables for some great oblong options. Alternatively, a spacious rectangular table, like our sleek Jun dining table, is perfect if you foresee long hours working from home in your future. 

Keep things organised

Things can get messy if a room has several functions. Therefore, it is more important than ever to have everything in its place and a place for everything. If you’ve decided to transform your dining room into a home office, start by clearing up the space. Focus first on bulky items that you won’t be using anytime soon and put in storage. That way, you can use the free space to reorganise your belongings and make room for the necessities you’ll need.

From printers and files to STEM supplies, make sure that each object has an assigned spot. This is especially true if you plan to use the space for double (or even triple) usage. We love sideboards and buffets, which allow you to keep everything out of sight but close at hand.

Strategically placed baskets and storage benches are also excellent options for smaller spaces. 

Create a relaxing corner

You may have a coffee machine or water fountain at work to take a break, but what will you do in your new home office? Set up a cozy corner where you can enjoy a cup of coffee and a little stretching break. It can be as simple as an armchair and side table, and less tempted than the couch where we lose track of time!

If possible, set it up next to a natural light source, such as a window. Whether it’s used for long calls or to get the creative juice flowing again, you’ll be grateful to have a spot to unwind. It’ll also help you avoid getting caught up in the things that will steal your attention as soon as you step out of your work zone. 

Opt for neutral décor

When receiving guests, the last thing you want to look at is an unsightly reminder of your workday. It is worth investing in office supplies that are in line with your home décor so it can blend in seamlessly with the rest of the room. 

With video calls becoming the norm in many industries, make sure that your background is professional. Stick with neutral colour schemes that make it easy to find furniture and elements that will befit both work and pleasure. Need some neutal inspiration? Check out our Pinterest boards. Our vote is with Scandinavian or Japandi style.

Insist on comfortable chairs

Whether you are setting up for a long day at your desk or dinner with loved ones, you want to be as comfortable as possible. Forget about dainty chairs designed for looks rather than relaxation. Find one or two extra cozy seating options, such as an armchair that you can use as a desk chair during the day and as a head seat at night. You can also add extra padding to your dining chairs with throw pillows or folded quilts.

If you have the option, you can also choose to set up a rolling ergonomic office chair that you can remove in the evening or while you have company. 

Adapt your home office to your family’s needs

Each family is unique, with its schedule and obligations. When designing your home office, ask yourself: Who will be the end-users? When is the space occupied? How many people are likely to work from home simultaneously should the need arise? Does one of the partners have access to a separate area, or will you need to share the same office? If you have children, will they also need access to the room, for help with school work?

Make sure that each family member has all they need close by. A long dining table allows one to set up several workstations without getting in the way of each other. For flexibility, use two smaller tables that can be pushed together or separated, depending on how much privacy and independence is required. Finally, if you have young children in the house, set up a little play area with quiet toys and activities to keep them busy without getting in the way. 

Evaluate the tech situation

Technology can make everything possible, and also everything impossible when it’s not working. Your dining room/home office needs enough Wi-Fi power so that everyone can complete the tasks at hand, even when working in tight quarters. There should also be enough outlets to plug everyone’s devices, something to keep in mind when setting up your workstations.

Let there be light

Many dining rooms have lighting fixtures designed to provide atmosphere rather than performance. Mood lighting is great while enjoying a delicious feast in good company. But it’s not what you want when working from home. You’ll get irritated spending your time blinking while trying to read your latest reports, especially if you worked late the night before. 

Evaluate your dining room set up at different times of the day, and, if necessary, bring in some table or floor lights to provide some much-needed luminosity.

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