Home-Office Decorating Flubs—and How to Fix Them

WHEN QUIZZED on the mistakes they see most in home offices, designers and architects list both aesthetic and practical flubs. For New York designer Mikel Welch, who often sees lapses in taste in the workspaces of otherwise stylish homeowners, what comes to mind is “those dated, black-handled, hand-me-down scissors. Swap then out for antique gold versions.” Another error folks make is failing to consider the ways they’re most productive. One of Manhattan designer Kati Curtis’s clients realized she really prefers to work in bed. The two scrapped plans for built-in storage and a desk in a second bedroom, opting instead for an upholstered bed. “It serves as a space to work that’s not her bedroom and doubles as a guest room,” said Ms. Curtis. “Win/win.” Here, more solutions to common home-office missteps.

Go Beyond the Task Light 

Natural illumination beats all other types, and when it’s available, the office layout should work around it, said Steve Delfino, vice president of office-furnishings and technology company Teknion. If windows are in short supply, Princeton, N.J., architect Joshua Zinder warned of eyestrain, emphatically cautioning, “A computer monitor does not provide enough light to read by.” Lighting should be adequate and layered. New York designer Andi Pepper advised a combination of overhead lights, table and floor lamps and sconces. “LED lighting, very energy saving, must be carefully selected because it can be eerily blue,” said Los Angeles architect Raun Thorp. Many design pros recommended hanging chandeliers. “They offer warm pools of soft lighting,” said Mr. Delfino.