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Home Improvement Guide 2007
Start improving
Ideas and suggestions for your next project, from simple plans to designing extensive renovations.
Start improving
Redesign your home office
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Reinhart says the only bearing flooring has in terms of a home office is how it affects the chair. Many people have chairs on rollers. If your carpet has any kind of pile, it would be more difficult to move. Reinhart prefers hard surfaces in home offices such as cork for acoustic properties. However, tile and hardwood are also good options. The most economical floor is wood because you never have to change it, and wood floors increase the value of your home. Purchase a prefinished wood floor.

Ergonomic issues
The counter height (or desk height) should be 29 to 30 inches high. If there is more than one user, two workstations can be arranged or a satellite workstation can be in the cabinetry. "Like a kitchen triangle, similar dynamics are needed for a home office," Reinhart says. "All the technology needs to be in one space."

The keyboard is placed a little lower and can pull out. The glare and distance of the monitor is important, Reinhart points out, because you don't want to "turtle" put your head and neck forward, which puts a strain on them. For the monitor to be correctly positioned, the top of the monitor is about the same height as your eyes and about 18 to 24 inches from your face. Keep your elbow angle at 90 degrees as you work the keyboard with your arms held close to your sides. Try to keep your wrists flat when typing.

It is important to have a flexible setup so multiple users can adjust everything to their own comfort. Provide a way of raising or lowering the computer screen and adjusting the height of the chair.

The chair should have multiple positions. Select an adjustable chair with lumbar support. You can find chairs for about $100 at the big-box office stores. However, never purchase a chair without sitting in it to make sure it is well made, reclines and pivots.

"For people who have problems with their hands, a mouse with a little round ball is a huge asset," she says. "It's the repetitive motion of the wrist with other mouse types that can cause problems."

People on a budget can use enamel paints or stencils on a file cabinet for their current files. Others can purchase wire-mesh baskets on a rolling base or a three-shelf cart to accommodate a printer and fax. Inexpensive bookcases or shelves can be used for storing books and magazines.

More to spend? Make the home office look like a library. "The equipment can be housed in cabinets while workstations have laptops in drawers," she says. "Even a small wine bar can be added for relaxation and convenience."

Personal touches
Select a paint color easy on the eyes. Depending on your budget, either paint the room yourself or hire a professional painter. Add paintings, prints or personal photos of the family as a finishing touch.

-- Posted: April 4, 2007
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