If you work from home, having a separate space for your home office is the best way to create good boundaries between home time and work time. However, working in a spare bedroom that still looks like a bedroom or an unfinished basement covered in cobwebs doesn’t exactly inspire feelings of professionalism.

Your home office should be a workspace where you feel comfortable hosting clients, if necessary, or where you can jump on a video call without having to scoop dirty dishes or piles of laundry out of the way first. A dedicated home office space can provide a beautiful and functional space for you to do your best work.

Professional-looking home office

Here are seven ways you can use design to make your home office more professional.

Plan Ahead

How will you be using the space? Will you be working strictly by yourself? Or will you need space to meet with clients? Will you have an assistant?

Before you jump into rearranging your home office space, it’s important to take some time and understand how you can best make the space work for you. Consider how you think you’ll currently use the space, as well as any plans you might have for expansion or growth.

While you don’t have to account for every possible scenario, it’s a good idea to design your current space with an eye on the future, so you don’t have to completely remodel the area if things change down the line.

Storage

Storage is one of the most overlooked components when planning a space. It can be easy to underestimate how much stuff you need to stow away, so really take the time to consider what you’ll need storage room for.

Do you have prototypes you keep on hand? Samples? Do you need to store equipment or tools? What about business or client paperwork? Shipping supplies?

Planning for enough storage space is an important step in ensuring your home office is functional with a professional and uncluttered look.

Curb Appeal

If you have clients, employees or vendors coming to meet with you at your home office, curb appeal will be another factor you want to consider. You’ll want to ensure the approach to your home office is neat and tidy. If allowed in your area, post tasteful signage to let visitors know they’re in the right location.

If possible, establishing a separate entrance to your home office space, where visitors don’t have to walk through the living areas of your home, is ideal. If it’s within your budget, you could even make your home office entrance appear more commercial with custom storefront windows and doors. An impressive entrance will go a long way toward giving your home office a professional vibe.

Home-like office design

Furniture

When designing your home office, furniture is going to be a key element in the planning. Furniture should offer both aesthetic and functional value to the space. A $3,000 office chair might look amazing, but if it gives you back problems, it’s not the right fit for your home office.

Conversely, the beat-up desk that you’ve had in the garage for years is also probably not the right choice to give your office the professional feel you’re looking for. You need to choose furniture that is comfortable, durable, and professional to give your office the right balance of function and design.

Light

According to The Harvard Business Review, having natural light in a space is the number one perk employees look for in an office space. So, when you’re planning your new home office space, be sure to consider all the ways you could capitalize on any existing natural light sources. Or you could consider adding new windows and doors to increase the natural light in the space. It will brighten up the space and make for a more cheerful atmosphere during your workday.

Color is Key

Did you know the color of your office can affect your productivity? Office colors have been scientifically shown to improve (or hinder) productivity in workers.

The right color for your office will depend on what work you’re doing since different colors affect different parts of the brain. For example, a bright blue color is good for people who work with data and other numbers-focused jobs, whereas yellow is a better choice for more creative endeavors. Use color to enhance your office and add character to the space.

Work at home office

Function

When designing a space, it can be easy to get caught up in the aesthetics of the design and disregard the function. However, it’s critical for you to look at the design from a functional perspective as well. For example, your desk might look amazing in the center of the room, but how will you run power cords to it? If you only have one wall outlet for a phone line and you need to have a landline in your office, you’ll need to consider that when laying out the space.

There are almost unlimited issues that can affect the function of an office, so you probably won’t be able to anticipate them all. But taking the time to really consider the function of the space as part of the design process will allow you to eliminate a lot of potential problems before they become actual nuisances.

Having a dedicated, professional home office will make you more productive and ultimately more successful when working from home. Spending a little time now to plan and design the space will pay big dividends in the future in productivity for yourself, as well as impressing clients and business associates with your dedication to professionalism. Plus, it will help you maintain a better work-life balance by giving you dedicated, separate spaces for home and work.

What’s your best home office design tip?