Go with wood for the happy home office

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Recent research shows that Australians are increasingly working from home. There are various advantages to this, such as reduced time commuting, increased flexibility, being available for family commitments, and better work/life balance. Many people are choosing to work this way, while others are bringing home unfinished work from their day jobs.

Whatever the reason, working at home means more time indoors, disconnected from nature and its associated health benefits. A home work-space that incorporates the natural beauty of the outdoors can make all the difference between being bored and disconnected and to being a productive and happy home-based worker.

Staying connected with nature

Research has shown that using natural materials in the interior design of a building replicates the effects of spending time outside in a natural environment. According to conference venue network Convene: “It’s a well-known fact that natural materials like wood and textiles like the soft wool in a shag rug are often associated with a ‘warm, cozy feeling.”

Michelle Currie, from Grace Property Styling, espouses the value of nature connected (biophilic) design. “I think as humans we need a deep connection with nature to thrive,” she says. “I know for myself, being in touch with nature decreases my stress levels and creates a great sense of wellbeing and peace.”

Certified, sustainably-sourced wood incorporated in nature-connected design can also help to lower heart rate and blood pressure, and reduce stress and anxiety, increasing a feeling of wellbeing.

Bringing the outdoors in

Work may be inevitable, but doing it in a place devoid of natural beauty doesn't have to be. By bringing the outdoors in, you have the best chance of creating a workspace that is appealing and productive, because it maintains a connection with nature.

Currie describes how natural products bring interest, balance and warmth to an interior. “Natural products are full of interesting texture, shape, colour and tone,” she says. “They can trigger great memories of being outside...Some popular interior pieces right now are handmade cotton macramé wall hangings as artwork; coral and shells have made a comeback; large leaf indoor plants; and wood in many uses and forms.”

Crafting a beautiful home office

When part of your home’s living space is an office, you want it to be inviting. A home-based workspace, no matter how large or small, needs to be a place where you feel comfortable and relaxed, yet able to focus and be productive.

Sustainably sourced, certified wood can be used to great advantage in a home office. Its aesthetic appeal, affordability, durability, and positive environmental effects make it the ideal choice for furnishing a work-space.

The benefits of wood

Currie says wood is a key material in most interiors, and for good reason. “It brings such warmth and character, grounds the room both in density and colour, and creates a lovely link from the outside in,” she says. “Bringing wood into your home office, along with a clutter-free work-space, sets the tone for calm and clarity. Wood brings warmth to a natural colour palette and can ground and balance brighter colours in a space.”

Using wood in the work-space

The ways you can put wood to good use in your home office are only limited by your imagination.

Currie offers several great suggestions: “For the creative DIY’er, a floor-to-ceiling rustic wood-planked wall can look amazing. Pop a white or light neutral desk in front of the wood-planked wall to create light and contrast,” she says.

“If the wood wall is too much to take on, why not create a wood shelf above your desk? Add pots with greenery that cascades from the shelf.”

If you already have a wooden desk, but you would like a change, Currie suggests painting the rest of the desk a light neutral shade, while leaving the top with a wooden look. To create a raw look, sand the top back and apply beeswax.

She says adding wooden lights and office accessories are simple, fun ways to bring natural elements to your workspace.

When choosing colours for your office, Currie advises to steer away from brights, because they “grab your attention and distract your eye as you are working in the room”.

Instead, she recommends opting for soft and light colours. “Wood beautifully with neutrals like white, ivory, stone, beige and small contrasts of black or navy,” she says.

Current trends in wood

According to Currie, grey woods and soft oaks are on-trend in flooring and furniture.

“Designers have moved away from the orange and red woods, towards softer more muted wood tones that go with the coastal, Scandinavian and French provincial styles,” she says.

“Rustic, natural-looking wood pieces are popular in benches and stools. Wood-framed artworks are also really popular right now.”

If you’ll be spending any time working from home, ensure you maximise your comfort and productivity with the simple principles of nature-connected design. And the heart of it is sustainably sourced, certified wood that is affordable, durable and timelessly beautiful.

Photo: Nest Architects