Unless you’re a very big wheel in a major corporation, chances are, you don’t have a whole lot of office space – that is, if you have an office at all. Only about 32% of professionals now have “rooms of their own,” and the size of the average manager’s office has shrunk by over 20% since the 1990s; the average middle manager’s office comes in at a piddling 120 square feet, according to the International Facility Management Association, a professional group operating out of Houston.
Working With What You Have
What this means is that professionals are finding it more and more necessary to find ways to make small offices appear bigger. After all, it’s not easy to convey a sense of power, or authority, or openness, or for that matter, much of anything when you’re operating out of a space that’s little more than a walk-in closet.
So, when you only have room for a few pieces of furniture, make them count. Instead of a traditional desk, for example, you might think about using a contemporary table in the center of your office, a credenza along a wall for storage, and a chair or two for when you have to play host.
If you hold a lot of meetings, you might use a small desk along with a meeting table and a few chairs – you could add some folding chairs if things get crowded from time to time. If your office is informal, you might consider an ottoman or two in lieu of chairs.
Don’t forget to make use of your walls. You can always use wall mounts to hold printers and other equipment.
When space is limited, using furniture for more than one purpose can be a very effective way to maximize your use of space. For instance, ottomans with removable cushions work very nicely for storage. Filing cabinets can be topped with cushions to double as seating. If you have a desk that has a front panel, you could use the space on the other side, where your feet go, to add shelves. Think of it as a “low level” bookcase for items that don’t get a whole lot of use – it will minimize clutter, thereby making your office look bigger. These are just a couple of suggestions – depending on the type of work you do, you may have other ideas.
Keep It Bright and Low
When there isn’t much to distract the eye, spaces typically look bigger. Bright colors also tend to make spaces seem larger. So if you’re working in a small space, and you’re permitted to paint your office, keep it bright and airy – perhaps a nice cheery yellow? Choose furniture that has a low profile. If you keep the lines plain and simple, your furniture will appear to take up less space. If you need a credenza, try to go with one that’s long and sleek.
Even in small offices, you’re going to want a few decorative touches – you’re not trying to create a moonscape. Again, try to keep the feeling horizontal – choose art that is longer than it is tall. If you’re adding an area rug, avoid overly busy patterns. You get the idea – you don’t have a whole lot of space to work with, so go for the minimalist approach.
To make the most of your small office, use your space wisely. Think about what you’re going to be doing in there, who’s going to be visiting, and whether your furniture can serve more than one purpose. Accessorize carefully, avoid clutter, and you’ll be surprised how efficient and pleasing your little space can be!
President at Office Chairs Unlimited – I have been in the furniture industry for 20 years, and I’m an expert (just ask me) on all things furniture. I know a thing or two because I’ve seen a thing or two.