Key Measurements for Designing the Ideal Home Office
Keep these dimensions in mind when designing your home office so that you fit all your work surfaces, equipment and storage requirements with ease.
First, consider your desk. Should it float in the middle of the room, be positioned against a wall, or be built in? Standard desk height for all options is 29 to 30 inches.
Freestanding desks come in a range of sizes, but the most common dimensions are 48, 60 and 72 inches wide and 24, 30 and 36 inches deep. Since work surfaces are always at a premium, choose the largest desk that will fit comfortably in your space.
- Floating Desks: If you choose to float your desk, be sure to leave at least 30 inches between the desk and the wall or shelves behind it. Similarly, allow 48 to 60 inches in front of the desk for additional seating and tables, if needed.
- Against the Wall: The other option for a freestanding desk is to push it up against the wall. When designing a workspace with desks placed on opposite walls, keep 54 to 66 inches between for optimal positioning. That way you are able to get up from your chair and walk around it without impeding the other desk and chair.
- Built-In Desks: Built-ins tend to have the same basic measurements as freestanding desks but because they are customized often provide more work surface. Bonus: Built-in bookshelves working in tandem with a built-in desk makes an unstoppable combo as the shelves can hold needed books, supplies and file boxes. In addition, trash cans and paper shredders, among other things, can easily be tucked away underneath the desk.
Although not as common as they used to be, drafting tables are still needed in some instances. The most important dimension for drafting tables is the height. Most are adjustable and tilt, but a standard drafting table features a top that is 36 inches above the floor at its lowest point and rises upward toward the back. Therefore, a chair or stool with a matching height is required.
When designing an office space with a drafting table, allow for plenty of room since drafting tables have a significant footprint. While you can get them as little as 48 inches wide and 30 inches deep, the majority measure 60 to 72 inches wide and 36 to 42 inches deep. If you need a light table as well, it will require about the same amount of space.
Since computer dimensions differ greatly and are constantly changing, it’s a good idea to keep the area where you house your computer as flexible as possible. If your computer will be placed in a built-in, do it knowing that any new computer equipment must fit in that space in the future.
Also consider the position of the keyboard when planning. While you can place the keyboard on the desk surface, keyboard trays set at 24 to 26 inches high are much more ergonomic. This detail is especially important for those who do a lot of typing, as serious harm can result from extended typing under less-than-optimal conditions. Conversely, some people use a laptop to work and don’t need room for a keyboard tray at all — they just need a clear area and easy access to the electric outlet.
Most home offices need at least one printer, which also vary in size. In general, plan on a footprint of around 18 by 24 inches at minimum. The height will depend on how the particular style of printer functions. In addition, you may have to access the top, sides or back to replace printer cartridges or add paper. Be sure to allow room for these procedures in your layout so that they can be done quickly and efficiently.
Another popular piece of office equipment is a paper shredder. These tend to run about trash can size: about 14-16 inches wide, 8-10 inches deep, and 14-18 inches tall. Designate space for one in addition to a regular trash can. Sometimes these items can be tucked under the desk. Just be sure not to block your knee space.
Filing cabinets are a huge space hog in home offices. A standard two-drawer file cabinet for letter-size files measures at least 15 inches wide, 30 inches tall and 29 inches deep. A two-drawer legal-size file cabinet increases the width to 18 inches. Lateral files start at 30 inches in width, 18 inches in depth and 32 inches in height.
Know which type of cabinet you’ll need before you plan your office space since these are large items to place. If you’re purchasing file cabinets online, look up the dimensions before you buy so you know exactly what you’re getting.
Available in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and styles, desk chairs all have one thing in common: the footprint of space they need to allow for free movement. The answer? Approximately 42 inches square, give or take a few inches, depending on the type of chair and person who will be using it. This measurement does not include knee space, but takes into account backing up and sliding from side to side as you access items from your desk and nearby shelves and file cabinets.
Most commonly, individual shelving units are about 12 inches deep and 14-16 inches high. While built-ins are popular and give your home office an intimate feel, they tend to be pricey and are a better fit for larger spaces. For spaces that require flexibility, or if you plan on moving in the near future, it’s best to stick with freestanding bookshelves. They come in many sizes, but plan on having at least two shelves that are 36 inches wide and 48 inches tall.
If your home office needs a more formal seating area or if your room will serve double duty for reading or studying, you may need to incorporate an upholstered chair or sofa. Chairs require a space about 40 inches square, while a love seat could be 40 inches deep and 62 inches long. Luckily, you don’t need a huge amount of space in front of extra seating — paths as little as 14 inches wide will do.
In your overall layout, it is absolutely essential that you leave clear space for your office to function smoothly. For instance, you need room to freely maneuver your desk chair, and file cabinets need enough space so that their drawers can open all the way.
Also keep visitors in mind when designing the flow of your office. They’ll need to be able to move through the room without obstruction. Luckily, a high percentage of equipment is now wireless so placing the printer, for instance, across the room is not an issue. This gives you more flexibility when creating a layout.