Maybe you have a telecommute option a few days a week or maybe you are an entrepreneur working 50 hours a week from home. Either way, you need a space that will allow you to work both effectively and comfortably.  Finding a great balance between the two isn’t easy, but you don’t have to hire an interior designer, either. Let’s face it–if your home office is noisy, dark, and uncomfortable you won’t want to spend time there. Here are some tips that will allow you to make the most out of the space you have, whether you have a nook little bigger than a cubicle or a vast space more suited to a roller rink.

Storage is imperative. Keeping everything neat and tidy will not only help you to stay organized, it will help you stay on-task. You will need a filing cabinet of some sort and probably some sort of shelving unit with cubbies. One, you won’t want to work in a space with papers everywhere.  In addition, you may occasionally have to interact with your coworkers via video chat.  Do you really want them to see a room that looks like an Office Depot exploded? You will need an area to store your office supplies, your printer, and of course your computer and all of its accoutrements. Hide unsightly cords, and keep your papers and supplies stowed away. Even if money is tight, one of your neighbors may have something they are trying to sell or give away. Or if space is an issue, a desk with cubbies and a filing cabinet should get the job done. You can always pick one up at Goodwill and refinish it, or Ikea and Target have some great home-office options.

Ergonomics isn’t just a word for designers. Invest in a great chair and a desk of the right height. You are going to be spending hours in this place, so make sure that your chair is designed for the job.  Castoffs will not work in this case.  You need a chair that is devised for you so that you are sitting comfortably with ample leg room.  Make sure that your computer screen is at the right height to avoid neck strain. On that note, make sure that the lighting is good so that you can avoid eye strain, as well.  Be aware that most home overhead lighting is not adequate for a work environment, so a few desk lamps might be a necessity.

Inspire yourself. Paint the room a color you love–office beige won’t work here. Hang up a few cherished photos, or if a poster of the blue Caribbean waters makes you happy, by all means, put it where you can see it every day.  Add some plants if that is your thing.  Have your desk facing a view if you are not easily distracted. Perhaps scented candles or a diffuser gets you revved. Maybe you need Tibetan monks chanting in the background to keep you focused. Add whatever will make your space homey and comfortable while still allowing you to perform at your best.

Consider a mini-kitchen. If you have the room, how about installing a little kitchen area? Get a mini-fridge and a coffee maker or kettle, and keep bottled water, fruit, and snacks close at hand so that you don’t have to interrupt your workflow every time you get a bit peckish or need to feed the caffeine dragon. In addition, studies have shown that just smelling the odor of coffee has a positive effect on brain chemistry.

Keep your home and office separate. Obviously, home life gets in the way of everyone’s work life, and this can be doubly true if your office space is not separated from the rest of your home in some meaningful way. Your workspace should be distinct from your home space because such differentiation can have a psychological effect to maintain your life balance. Clear away any possible distractions, like a television or game console. If possible, keep the door shut during work hours so that noise from the rest of the home is kept to a minimum.

Not everyone can work successfully from home.  Some folks love the social interaction they get from their office mates. Some folks aren’t self-motivated or get distracted easily. However, if you are a strong self-starter that is lucky enough to have the luxury of working from home, these simple tips should make your home office an inspirational space that will motivate you every day.