Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Decorating Basics for Home Offices

When it comes to decorating a home office, you want to be sure that the flooring and wallcoverings you choose are both easy to care for and durable. But this doesn't mean that you have to sacrifice beauty in order to achieve them.


Hardwood. Wooden floors offer warmth and character to any decor. They are durable and come in any number of wood types and finishes. Many are stained and sealed with a clear hard urethane in matte or gloss finish. Other finishing choices include stained, bleached, or painted.

Wooden floorboards come in various sizes, but the standard is a 2.5-inch strip or plank with a tongue-and-groove edge to ease installation. The types of wood available include oak, mahogany, maple, walnut, pine, cherry, beech, and ash.

Parquet flooring is squares made from short pieces of wood that are glued together to create a pattern in various tones. Standard size is 12 x 12-inch squares. Parquet flooring adds visual texture and polish to an area.

Hardwood floors are a great choice for all decorating styles. Light oak compliments a country decor, dark, high-gloss walnut or cherry works well with a light and airy modern interior, and knotty pine planks are great with casual furnishings.

Tile. Tile flooring adds beauty to a room along with durability and minimal upkeep. The many materials available include marble, ceramic, slate, terra-cotta, and stone.

Ceramic tile is one of the most versatile and popular flooring options. It is made from fire-hardened clay that is usually glazed, making the surface stain-resistant. It resists moisture and can be cleaned easily. Ceramic tile comes in numerous colors and hues to fit any decor.

Quarry tile is fired clay that usually comes in earth tones like terra-cotta. Its natural-looking stone quality is ideal for informal decors.

Mosaic tiles are small squares that are attached to a grid for installation. They come in many colors and are made of glazed or unglazed clay or glass.

Vinyl. There are two types of resilient flooring: sheet vinyl that is sold in rolls of 6-, 9-, or 12-foot widths and individual square tiles that are generally 12 inches square. Both types are good choices for installation over any type of flooring including basements.

Sheet vinyls are more expensive than the same quality in tiles, but come in a wider range of colors and designs and provide the advantage of seamless construction. Inlaid vinyl is the best sheet flooring that you can buy because it is constructed of solid vinyl made of layers of vinyl granules that are fused and built up to make it thick and highly wearable. The other type of sheet flooring is rotovinyl, which is constructed by using photography of a floor design, such as stone or brick, and layers of clear vinyl on top. The thickness of the top layers determines wearability. Consider a thickness of between 10 mils to a maximum of 25 mils for true durability. Vinyl tiles are also easy to install because they are lightweight and maneuverable for cutting and fitting.


Unlike hardwood, vinyl, and tile, carpet enhances a room by unifying the furnishings, walls, and accessories. There are many different choices in style, color, and construction methods from which to select when buying carpeting. Most carpets come in standard widths ranging from 9 ft. to 15 ft. Density is important to the durability of the carpet. To check, pull back the pile and see how much of the backing shows. If you see much backing, you have less carpet fiber to stand wear. Remember, durability is what you're looking for in home office carpet.

Listed below are the various fibers from which carpets and rugs are constructed:

Wool. Offers a deep, rich look with exceptional resilience and durability. Expensive. Resists soil, but requires special cleaning.

Acrylic and Modacrylic. Nonallergenic, close to the characteristics of wool. Available in a wide range of colors. Resists crushing and mildew, but can pill. Cleans well.

Nylon. Excellent durability and resiliency with good color retention. Nonallergenic and resists mildew. Resists soiling and is easy to clean.

Polyester. Comes in a variety of textures and is very durable. Looks like wool and resists soiling. Easily cleaned.

Polypropylene Olefin. Very strong, durable, and moisture-resistant. Can be used indoors and out with the appropriate backing. Easy to clean.

If you decide to put carpet down in your home office, it's best to choose a darker, neutral color with a short pile.


Feng shui, the ancient Chinese philosophy on the relationship between energy movement and interior design, suggests that the best color for a home office is yellow because it stimulates thought, creativity, discipline, and mental activity.

In fact, many interior designers recommend keeping everything in your home office from the furniture to the walls and window dressings light in color. This promotes a feeling of lightness so as you enter the office, you don't feel depressed.

Feng shui experts also suggest colors such as oranges and other warm desert colors for your walls as they stimulate socialization and collaboration. Red however should not be used in the office since it whets the appetite and reduces concentration. And finally, experts warn against painting your ceilings dark colors. If you do, you'll always feel as if there's a dark cloud hanging over your head.

Feng Shui Decorating Suggestions

  • Place red flowers in the upper left corner of your office or desk. They can bring financial success.
  • If you don't have a window in your office, hang a plant or a picture of a plant in your line of sight. It will calm you down.
  • Keep only healthy plants in your office.
  • If your desk sits opposite the bathroom wall, block any energy from the bathroom by hanging a thick, decorative fabric on that wall.
  • Round-edged furniture stimulates creativity.
  • If your office is at the end of a hallway, place a 100-watt bulb in the hallway to illuminate the path to your office

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