As summer begins, your work-from-home routine is due for a shakeup. Setting up an outdoor office is a great way to provide yourself with a pleasant and novel ambiance. It can also help combat the claustrophobia that comes with working from home. An outdoor office gives you a workspace to leave at the end of the day, even if your commute is only walking across the yard. If you’re lucky enough to have a garden, here are some ways to turn part of it into a functional yet enjoyable office space.
Check with Your HOA or Neighborhood Council
Many neighborhoods have homeowner associations or local councils that dictate what kinds of outdoor designs are allowed on properties. These often include what square footage structures can have and even what they look like.
You should find out these general guidelines before going too deep into the planning process. In some cases, you’ll have to provide a copy of your proposal to the oversight group for approval even if it complies with the rules. They may suggest amendments, which you’ll have to go back and forth on. The clearer you can be at the outset about what you intend to do, the more time you’ll save everyone and the more likely you are to get your design approved.
Identify Your Needs
Figure out what kind of space you need to be able to work effectively. Many jobs only require a computer and a monitor or two and can be performed in a space no bigger than eight feet by 10 feet. If your work requires machinery or large amounts of desk or table space, factor that in.
Consider how your outdoor office might serve another purpose as well. If your outdoor office could also function as an art studio or a place to entertain guests, write that into your design plan as well. Outdoor offices have the potential to be very versatile, so don’t lock yourself into thinking you can only use yours from 9 to 5.
Of course, an outdoor office exists to be not only functional but aesthetically pleasing. Figure out which way to position your outdoor office to give yourself the best view. This includes not just windows but doors that you could keep open all day in the summer. A skylight might be a pleasant addition as well.
Factor in Biophilic Design
A good outdoor office provides more than a nice view from the inside. Ideally, it should match or complement both the style of your house and the garden or natural landscape on your property. The latter can be achieved through biophilic design.
Biophilic design is centered around the idea that sustained connection with nature increases personal well-being. It focuses on integrating elements of the surrounding natural habitat into the architectural space at hand.
Beyond keeping your windows and doors open, consider growing native plants inside your home office. If your outdoor office needs to be broken up into separate rooms or spaces, native plants can be used instead of walls. Plants can be hung from the ceiling, grow in pots on the floor, or even in a garden bed within the office itself.
Utilize natural materials in the design of the structure and as decorative elements, like stones or reclaimed wood. Even if you don’t use natural materials for your floor or walls, consider finding material with patterns that mirror the surrounding natural features, like wood grain or moss growth. Build your design schema around a color palette that suits this environment as well.