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Put the ‘fun’ into functional home offices

From the Resene decorating blog

Leave the solemn cubicles and workstations for the corporate office. It’s time to put the fun into these functional home spaces and design rooms that inspire creativity as well as productivity.

Traditionally home offices have been quite functional spaces, whether they’re a bedroom study nook, a place to keep track of family admin, or a place from which to carry out your paid work from home.

A blue home office with a quirky feature

An unexpected use of colour creates a quirky feature guaranteed to make you smile in this home office. Wall painted in Resene Astronaut with light beam in Resene Echo Blue, floor in Resene Smokescreen and light shade, chair, planters and ladder in Resene Alabaster. Desk from Freedom, drink bottle from Country Road, plants from Kings. Project by Emily Somerville-Ryan, image by Bryce Carleton.

Now that working from home – and, at times, schooling from home – have become much more common, or even encouraged, we’re putting a lot more thought into our homework spaces.

Whether you’ve eked out a workspace in a spare corner or corridor, or have a dedicated room or shed to work in, more time spent in the home office is a good reason to get creative.

Leave the solemn cubicles and workstations for the corporate office. It’s time to put the fun into these functional home spaces and design rooms that inspire creativity as well as productivity.

Finding freedom

For Resene colour expert Meryl Southey there is one key word that applies to decorating a home office: “freedom”.

“Working from home you have the freedom to paint your space any colours you want! What’s more is you can paint your desk, cabinetry, shelving and surrounding objects in colours which spur action and happiness,” she says. “This is where you can have fun with colour and experiment with all surfaces, highlighting ceilings, woodwork and furniture.”

A soothing blue home office

Soothing blues create a calming, creative space.

The tongue-and-groove back wall is painted in Resene Watermark, with front walls in Resene Baring Head trimmed in Resene Double Alabaster. The floor is finished in Resene Colorwood Breathe Easy and planter in Resene Aoraki. Desk, chair and art from Danske Møbler, rug and plant from Adairs, side table from French Country Collections. Project by Melle Van Sambeek, image by Bryce Carleton.

A metallic and luxe home office

Metallics and luxe metallic finishes add creative flair to an otherwise neutral workspace.

Wall painted in Resene Cloud with shelf in Resene FX Metallic Pure Pewter with a base colour of Resene Chicago. The desk is Resene Half Gravel and the chair is Resene FX Metallic Proton over a base colour of Resene Copyrite. Decorative ball and textured art in Resene Pure Pewter, lamp in Resene Cloudy, vase in Resene Pure Pewter with Resene Chicago as base colour. Metallic Monstera Leaf from Flux Boutique. Project by Vanessa Nouwens, image by Bryce Carleton.

Before fully embracing your design freedom, there are a few things to consider, Meryl says. Those include the purpose of the space. Is it multi-functional or will it be used solely as a workspace? Then think about the amount of natural light, the size of the space and whether you want your office to feel warm and cosy, or light and breezy.

“You might opt to keep the walls neutral to enhance natural light and create a free-flowing shape across a wall to lift the room,” she says. “Or try a checkerboard pattern on the floor to create visual interest without clutter.”

For smaller spaces don’t immediately assume you have to go lighter in colour. “Mid to dark colours in small spaces can pack a punch and make a huge impact through tone and depth of paint,” she says. “Blues and greens work particularly well. The blue spectrum of light activates and awakens our brains, making it a perfect colour for our home office. Saturate all surfaces with a green or blue and let colourful objects pop, or keep walls neutral and introduce blues and greens via furnishings and accessories.”

Meryl suggests Resene Upside as a mid-blue which will work well for the walls or a desk “teamed with Resene See The Light, Resene White Noise and Resene Butterfly”.

If green is more your shade, she suggests Resene Vantage Point. “It’s a rich green colour which envelops the walls of an office. Green is easy on the eyes and feels natural for a workspace. Team it with Resene Colorwood Natural stain for furniture, Resene Aoraki for trims and artwork with greys, charcoals and soft blues.”

For a warm earthy office palette Meryl suggests the soothing, soft brown of Resene Otter with neutrals and blues like Resene White Pointer and Resene Takaka to create a cosy vibe that’s not too predictable.

Resene colour consultant Amy Watkins says vibrant colour can be a great source of creativity, making home offices places you want to be in.

“Each individual person will have a colour palette that they feel comfortable around. It’s important, when choosing a colour for a smaller space like an office, that you understand what is going to work best for you.” She suggests trying for a creative space that is light and bright with colours like Resene Moondance, Resene Springtime and Resene Transcend.

If too much bold colour isn’t for you, she says you can still have fun with colour by adding vibrant touches to certain areas, rather than going all-in. “Instead of painting a whole wall as a strong feature colour, try painting it on bookcases, or behind a shelf. You could even just put a geometric shape on the wall to help liven up the space. Colours like Resene Tequila Sunrise and Resene Daylight will help to brighten up any small room.”

Top tip:  Upcycle a wooden chair with a bright coat of paint if you don’t want to go bold on the walls. A vivid aqua like Resene Now Or Never, magenta like Resene Very Berry or deep red like Resene Pohutukawa can look great against a monochrome or neutral backdrop.

Backdrops to remember

One area you can really have fun in a modern home office is by giving yourself an interesting, eye-catching backdrop for video calls. They can be a fun way to reflect your personality and make a great icebreaker and conversation starter on your calls.

Tuck your work space into an existing area of your home

Work spaces tucked into other areas can be inspirational and appealing, while still working with the surrounding decor. The rear wall is painted in Resene Triple Merino and left wall stained in Resene Colorwood Pickled Bean, behind a shelving unit in Resene Settlement. Right tongue-and-groove wall is painted in Resene Quarter Karaka, floor stained in Resene Colorwood Uluru, desk in Resene All Black, tissue box cover in Resene Colorwood Pickled Bean, large vase in Resene Karaka and small vase in the top left shelf in Resene Half Blanc. Chair from Urban Sales. Textile Drapes in Caramel artwork by Home Time from endemic world. Project by Kate Alexander, image by Bryce Carleton.

Consider a neat and tidy storage cubicle or shelving display that sits behind you on screen, Meryl says. Paint it in an interesting, eye-catching colour or add a display of colourful, interesting objects, a painted art canvas or perhaps framed photos from your travels.

“Just be aware that bright colours on expansive areas, such as your walls can be distracting and the end goal is to focus,” she says.

Amy suggests a strong rich colour like Resene Plan B or Resene Blackberry as good background colours as they have enough depth to be interesting without distracting and make a good backdrop for your artwork, photographs or plants.

Wallpaper can be another fun and simple way to add interest to your backdrop, she says. Try larger format patterns like the mid-century geometric pattern of Resene Wallpaper Collection 38824-5 or the bold floral of Resene Wallpaper Collection 38821-4. “Patterns that are larger in detail work better on video because they won’t become too busy and distracting.

Fun and functional special effects

Playing with paint effects is an effective way to add creativity and visual interest to your home office, or study zone. “Cubicles, storage units and desks can be stencilled, or painted with geometric shapes or simply refreshed with Karen Walker Chalk Colour paint from Resene ColorShops,” says Meryl.

Amy also suggests Resene FX Chalkboard Paint or Resene FX Blackboard Paint as a practical design choice to give you a great note or memo space, that’s also fun.

Both can be used inside and out, Resene FX Blackboard Paint in black and Resene FX Chalkboard Paint tinted to a range of Resene colours. Resene SpaceCote Low Sheen may also be tinted and used as a chalkboard finish.

Resene Write-on Wall Paint is another way to extend your working space to the walls or any flat surface. It is a clear coat system that can go over any colour turning your wall into a working whiteboard.

If you want to add a memo board without causing damage with drawing pins or tape, consider trying Resene FX Magnetic Magic. Simply prepare and prime the surface, apply Resene FX Magnetic Magic and topcoat in your favourite Resene colour. The smoother the finish and the thicker the application, the stronger the magnetic effect will be. Once dry, test your magnets on the Resene FX Magnetic Magic coating to ensure they adhere well before applying topcoats.

The goal for any office design should be to create a space that makes you want to spend time in it and helps keep you motivated while you’re there. The right combination of paint colours can be a simple way to do just that, even if the space is being used by multiple members of your family.

Resene Aoraki

Resene White Noise

Resene Springtime

Resene Transcend

Resene Moondance

Resene See The Light

Resene Breathe Easy

Resene Vantage Point

Resene Baring Head

Resene Upside

Resene Watermark

Resene Takaka

Resene Now Or Never

Resene Plan B

Resene Daylight

Resene Tequila Sunrise

Resene Very Berry

May 12, 2023

For help choosing colours, products and effects finishes to create just the right working space in your home, visit your local Resene ColorShop, ask a Resene Colour Expert online or book a Resene Colour Consultation.

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