PROTECT AGAINST BURGLARY

Though many people only worry about nighttime security, most burglaries actually occur during daylight hours when most people are at work, school, or running errands. It’s important to take precautions during the day, at night, and any time you leave the house to ensure your home stays secure.

When it comes to protecting your family and your belongings, you can’t be too careful, and there are plenty of ways you can protect your home from invasion or burglary. This guide will discuss prevention steps to take both inside and outside your home, and even ways to keep your home protected while you’re away on vacation. Don’t let your home fall prey to a thief: make it a waste of his time and resources!

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Protecting Your Home From the Outside

Walk around the exterior of your home and scout out its weaknesses. The best way to protect your home from the outside is to survey it with the eyes of a burglar. If you can easily tell that a window could be pried open, a thief will definitely be able to come to the same conclusion. You can even contact your local police department and they’ll provide a courtesy home assessment that can help you identify your home’s weak spots.

While you’re checking for vulnerable spots, take note of any expensive electronics, art, or furniture that is easily spotted through windows. You don’t have to redecorate your entire home to keep expensive items out of sight, but it doesn’t hurt to make small adjustments where you can. No need to tempt thieves any more than you have to!

Keep shrubbery around entrances and walkways trimmed. The last thing you want is to make it easier for a thief to hide when attempting to break in, so eliminate his options for hiding spots. He may only need a few minutes of cover to make his entry but with no place to hide while doing it, he’s less likely to even try. You could even plant thorny shrubs by your windows to make it not only difficult to break in, but painful!

Woman trimming hedges

Image via Pixabay

Build a fence. If you don’t have one already, installing a fence can be an excellent way to keep unwanted visitors off your property. Open chain-link or ornamental metal fencing tend to be preferable and are ideally secured into concrete to prevent lifting. Solid fences can be easier to climb and offer thieves a place to hide, though some homeowners prefer them for privacy and noise reduction. You can better secure them by having sharp pointed tops or, if you don’t mind a rough look, check out the cost of barbed wire fencing.

Stow expensive items like grills, cars, and bikes in the garage. Though it may seem like a hassle to roll out the grill for every barbecue, leaving it out makes it an easy target for thieves. They don’t even have to enter your home to grab it, and if it’s got wheels it can be a breeze to sneak away with. If your area only offers street parking, always lock your car and be sure to park in a well-lit area.

Use curtains on garage and basement windows. Chances are these areas don’t need the sunlight, so put up curtains or blinds for privacy and protection. Stowing your outdoor valuables only does so much good if they’re constantly on display!

Install motion sensor lighting around your home, especially at entrances. Shine a spotlight on a potential intruder before he can even touch your doors or windows by adding extra lighting with motion detectors at entrances and especially dark corners of your home. If you live in an apartment, ask your landlord to install sufficient lighting in walkways and halls to eliminate dark corners.

Get to know your neighbors. Crime tends to be lower in tight-knit communities because neighbors are more likely to look out for each other and can easily spot a stranger. Your neighbors can be one of your best assets in home crime prevention because they offer extra eyes and an outside perspective. Plus if they have a different work or school schedule from yours, they might be around during the day when you’re away and can alert you to any suspicious activity that may occur in your absence.

Keep your yard free of toys, tools, and ladders. A yard littered with toys signals to a thief that the house may be filled with equally interesting entertainment, like game consoles, tablets, or laptops. A ladder or toolbox left out even briefly for an afternoon can give an opportunistic thief help in gaining access to your house.

Talk to your neighborhood association about increased lighting on your street. Burglars often case an entire street or neighborhood to determine if it’s a good target, but often prefer to do so in the dark of night. A well-lit neighborhood will likely deter him from your area, or at the very least make it very difficult for him to slip away undetected.

Lamppost

Image via Pixabay

Prune trees around two-story homes. A determined crook may scale a tree and break into an upstairs window if branches are long enough to give him access. If you have a second floor, trim back tree branches to prevent a cat burglar from making his move.

Consider forming a neighborhood watch program. This will give you the opportunity to get to know your neighbors better. and create an invaluable awareness and commitment to crime prevention in your area. You can speak to your local police department about giving your group an informal lecture that can provide insight into identifying a suspicious person and what to do if you spot one loitering on your street, how to recognize a burglary in progress, how to recognize an auto theft in progress, and what to do in an emergency. Local PD will also usually distribute free literature on home safety and sometimes even offer window stickers and ID cards identifying your neighborhood organization.

Work with your neighbors to clean up the neighborhood if needed. A run-down, graffiti-lined, littered street can send the message to criminals that the residents of your area don’t care about the neighborhood or each other. That makes a prime location for theft. You can contact your local public works department to assist in the clean-up. It can be an excellent chance to bond with your neighbors, not to mention make your area a more beautiful place to live.

Keep fences, gates, and garage doors locked. It’s worth investing in a quality padlock for each outside entrance, even if you only lock it at night. However, since most friends and family won’t mind calling ahead to let you know they’re visiting, it’s best to leave them locked at all times. Never leave your garage door open if you aren’t in it or outside and able to keep an eye on it.

Install large, reflective numbers on your house and mailbox. This makes it easier for police to identify your home in the event of an emergency. Burglars prefer dark houses difficult to identify by address as it can buy them crucial spare moments in the event they’re caught in the act.

Secure your car. If you must park on the street, do so in a well-lit area and bring valuables like cell phones, purses, GPS devices, and satellite radios inside. Never leave anything of value in plain view, and always lock the doors and roll up windows. Break-ins can occur in even the safest neighborhoods, and an unlocked car is one of the easiest possible targets. Never leave a spare key in the visor or anywhere else inside, even if the car is locked.

Silver car door

Image via Pixabay

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Protecting Your Home from the Inside

Keep all doors and windows closed and locked at all times. An open exterior window or door is an invitation for burglars to easily enter your home, so keep them shut and securely locked whether you’re home or not. Don’t underestimate strong window locks, and update them if needed. Thieves know how to spot weak locks that would be easily forced open. Make sure exterior doors have deadbolt locks. Sliding doors should have vertical bolts and a metal or wooden rod in the track to prevent being forced open or doors being lifted off the track. Never leave your home without locking the front door, no matter how brief your trip. Even if it’s pouring rain, don’t forget to take the extra moment to lock up. Burglars don’t take days off due to weather!

And don’t forget the door attached to the garage. It’s one of the easiest targets and a likely route of entry. Don’t depend on your automatic garage door for full security.

Change the locks when moving into a new place. If you’re a renter, ask the landlord to change them if it wasn’t already done. Even if an old tenant returned all the keys originally issued, there’s no way to know for sure if there were ever other copies made and distributed. It’s better to be safe than sorry, especially when it comes to a stranger being able to walk into your locked home.

Secure valuables in a home safe or lockbox. If it is small and not mounted, consider having your safe bolted to the floor since many burglars will simply take it with them Give your passcode or combination only to a trusted loved one in case of emergency. Don’t leave it posted anywhere in your house easily accessible to an intruder.

Don’t label your personal keys or hide spares outside. If your keys are labeled and get lost or stolen you could be in big trouble, especially if your wallet with your ID and address are with them. And thieves know to look under mats and in the gravel for fake rocks to find hidden keys, so instead leave a spare with a trusted neighbor. If you live in a rural area and your closest neighbor is miles down the road, opt for a combination lockbox in a discreet area of your property.

Keys

Image via Pixabay

Add privacy film to decorative glass on and around exterior doors. Stained and decorative glass displays can be a beautiful addition to any entrance, but they can present a bit of a security issue. Line them with privacy film to distort the view from the outside and reduce the chances of window shopping or alerting an unwanted visitor to your presence (or lack thereof). This can be especially beneficial for anyone who lives alone or in a house with children old enough to be left on their own.

Consider buying a home security system. There are countless features with any security system, and some particularly valuable ones are outdoor motion detectors, sensors at exterior doors, windows, and the door attached to the garage, an outdoor alarm to alert other neighbors to an intrusion, and security cameras. Select the features that best fit your needs and be sure to go with a well-known, reputable local security system installers. Once it’s installed, make it a regular habit to use it. Though it may seem inconvenient to have to arm the system every time you leave the house, many burglars are aware that the responsibility is often neglected and may not be deterred by window stickers or yard signs warning of home protection.

Do your best to learn and inform your family about the security system to cut down on false alarms. They can actually bring on expensive fines not to mention annoy your neighbors. Plus, you don’t want to have a boy-who-cried-wolf effect where your neighbors eventually learn to ignore your alarm anytime it goes off!

Reinforce windows with safety glass or metal bars. It may seem an extreme step, but burglars will often break a small window in order to gain entry. Make it impossible for them to break through by hiring a window company to install safety glass or impossible to squeeze through by installing metal bars. There are plenty of decorative options for metal grilles that can make the adjustment both practical and aesthetically-pleasing.

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Protecting Your Home While You’re on Vacation

Double- and triple-check all doors and windows before you leave. Make sure your house is as locked-up and secure as it can be in your absence. (Don’t forget the door leading to the garage!) Be sure to leave some curtains and blinds open to give the illusion that someone is around. Thieves tend to take note of a house that’s clearly been closed up.

Talk to a trusted neighbor about helping create a “lived-in” look. Have them use your outdoor trash cansand collect your mail, newspapers, and any delivered packages. Stacked up mail and newspapers along with empty trash cans can be a clear sign to anyone that you’re not home and may be gone a while. If you’re taking a winter getaway, ask your neighbor to create tire tracks in your driveway and leave footprints leading up to your front door to create the illusion that someone is home. If you’re taking an extended summer vacation, pay someone to cut your grass and keep the yard tidy.

Don’t forget to give your spare key directly to your neighbor rather than leaving it under the mat or in a faux rock or statue. It’s important to leave a key in case of emergencies, but it’s also helpful to have someone check in on your home periodically to ensure no one has entered in your absence. Make sure you leave a contact number where you can be reached while you’re away. And always return the favor to a neighbor in need!

Put timers on lights. Select a few rooms in your house to remain lit to reduce the chances that any thief casing the neighborhood will notice that you’ve been gone. Have outdoor lights, especially around entrances, set to light up every evening. A bright house welcomes friendly guests, but a dark house welcomes undesirable visitors.

Lock your garage door and disconnect the automatic opener. This is an easy, but often forgotten step to keep your home safe while away. Garage doors seem like impenetrable forces so it’s easy to overlook additional steps in securing them. But if you’re going to be gone for a week and won’t need the automatic lift anyway, why not disconnect it and add an easy extra layer of security?

Leave a radio on and turn down your doorbell. A battery-operated radio is a practical, cheap way to make it sound like someone is around. And since many burglars ring the doorbell or knock to see if anyone’s home turning down the sound of the doorbell combined with a loud radio will make thieves unsure if the house is empty or if the resident simply doesn’t hear the door.

Don’t advertise your trip. It’s pretty common for people to post all about their upcoming trip on social media, but avoid the urge. The more people who know your house will be empty, the more you open yourself up to the possibility of a break-in. Similarly, don’t leave a message on your landline answering machine that you’re out of town.

Home invasion and burglary may never truly be eliminated from society, but their threats shouldn’t cause you to live your life in fear. Take these simple measures to secure your home, and reduce the chances that a crook will even look at it twice!

MAN CAVE ESSENTIALS

Man caves can come in all shapes and sizes. Whether it is built outside in the garage, behind a secret passageway beyond a bookcase or in the standard basement location, the man cave is your space. Man caves give the freedom to express our true selves. Man caves give us the space to enjoy football with the guys, a relaxing pool game or pure quietness to get extra work done. The benefits are endless, but before you go building your extravagant man cave, be sure to include these 10 necessary items all man caves absolutely NEED.

It is most likely the only room in the house where you have complete design control. If you have the means to do so, take advantage of this wonderful opportunity and make it unique. Add as many personal man cave ideas as you can. However, there are certain man cave essentials to have. We as men need entertainment, food and of course a TV. That is not everything man caves need. Here is our list of 10 essential items you need to create the ultimate man cave.

Man Cave Essentials

  1. Recliner
  2. TV
  3. Man Cave Bar & Fridge
  4. Pool Table
  5. Dart Board Or Poker Table
  6. Personal Touches
  7. Sports Memorabilia
  8. Extra Seating
  9. Movie Posters
  10. Bar Stools

1. Recliner

I bet you were surprised with my first item on the list. Believe me, we will get to the TV soon. I put a recliner at No. 1 because not all males enjoy TV and sports. As I said earlier, a man cave can be used to just relax and get away. Likewise, it can be used for work or client calls you need to make later on in the night. In addition, I know some of our homeowners know what it is like to fall asleep on the couch and wake up with a stiff neck. Chances are, this will happen at least a few times while hanging out in your unique man cave. As a result, the universal item we all need in our ultimate man caves is a recliner.

2. TV

I told you it wouldn’t take long to get to the television. Many males of the household choose to put in a man cave so they can have their own room to host Sunday football, the Super Bowl or any of the other great sporting events that occur each year. If you are going all out on your unique man cave, you will undoubtedly need a large TV to complete the full picture. And, if sports are not your thing, putting in a large, flat screen TV is also perfect for watching movies with the wife and family. I realize this is your man cave, but sharing it once in a while with the people you love shouldn’t be that far of a stretch.

3. Man Cave Bar & Fridge

A key purpose of the man cave is so you don’t have to walk upstairs or across the hall to go get a cold beverage out of the refrigerator. To avoid this daunting task (exaggeration?), you need to have a man cave bar and/or fridge in your man cave. Not only will this be useful for when the guys come over, but also during those family gatherings or parties you plan to host in your new and shiny man cave. We highly recommend a full bar, much like the one below, but if your means or space is limited, a fridge should do.

Man Cave Essentials

No matter what you’re adding to your man cave, if you’re thinking of making a major update to your basement, be sure to check out the basement remodeling cost estimator.

4. Pool Table

Other than the television, men need other forms of entertainment (sometimes). We are not sure when the first man cave was invented, but more often than not, they all have included a pool table. In the old days, it was just a means of playing a good old game of 8 ball. Now, men have gone above and beyond to make their pool tables as unique and extravagant as humanly possible. Just check out No. 28 on BuzzFeed’s 32 Things You Need In Your Man Cave.

5. Dart Board Or Poker Table

Sticking with the entertainment end of the man cave, dart boards and poker tables are highly encouraged. Not only are both of these items useful during parties or get-togethers, but they are also perfect for friends of the wife and kids. You will not be there all the time and chances are, if you make your man cave as great as can be, other members of the family will want to partake as well. I know playing cards was a big part of my childhood and I bet, many others would agree. Having an official poker table, like the one below, would be a fantastic addition to any man cave.

Man Cave Essentials

Bonus: Secret Door

Hopefully you noticed that secret passageway in the image. How amazing would that be?

6. Personal Touches

This is your man cave and everyone who enters better know it is yours. Hence, you must add as many personal touches as possible. Before you go off grabbing pictures of the kids, remember, this is your room to get away. How about posturizing that humongous bass you caught on your fishing trip last summer? Did you win your country club’s golf tournament one summer or win your friend’s NCAA bracket challenge last year? Highlight those accomplishments by showing off your trophy or the very bracket that won you the championship? This is your area to shine a light on yourself. You don’t get many other opportunities, so now is your time to take it.

7. Sports Memorabilia

As I touched on earlier, many males install their own man caves to watch sports. Man caves and sports go together like bars and beer. Chances are, if you are spending the resources to create your own man cave, you have one or two classic pieces of sports memorabilia hanging around your home. Now is the time to please the wife and remove that dining room poster of the 1992 Dream Team and put it where it belongs. If you are watching sports, you might as well be surrounded by it.

8. Extra Seating

Man Cave Essentials

Man caves should be shared among the fellas, so you better have extra seating. We highly recommend home theater seating (who doesn’t want to lounge around in the seats above), but more often than not, a big couch will do. While the ceiling in the picture does not fit this article, what guy doesn’t love leather recliners, cup holders and a place to put your iPad as you track your fantasy team? The answer is no male on earth.

9. Movie Posters

No true man cave is complete without at least one poster showcasing a real man movie. The first ones that come to mind include Scarface, The Godfather or Reservoir Dogs. Going back to No. 6 and adding personal touches, showcasing your favorite movies or TV shows give all your guests a closer glimpse into the real you. As I said earlier, the man cave is not only a place to get away, but a place to truly express yourself as this is most likely the only room you have complete control over. A man’s favorite movies can say a lot about a person, so choose wisely. 

10. Bar Stools

When friends enter a man cave, they want to behave and act like men. There is no place on earth manlier than a bar and all bars need bar stools. Therefore, to add even more seating to your man cave, all man caves should include a set of bar stools. There are tons of designs to choose from when it comes to bar stools, but as long as you have a few, you have met the man cave expectation.

There you have it. The 10 items all man caves need. If you are looking for more man cave inspiration, check out the Man Cave Site or if you are thinking of building your own man cave, see how much you can expect to pay with our Basement Cost Estimator.

RETRO DECOR THOUGHTS

Here’s a quick top ten pointers for adding that retro feel to your home.

How to Decorate With Retro Finds 

  • midcentury console retro style
  • Take a peek at the most liked interiors on Instagram, and you will spot several pieces of retro décor. That is because classic items like teak consoles, vintage globes, and hanging chairs add charm and character to modern spaces. In fact, incorporating a mix of decorative styles from different eras is one of the tricks of the trade for professional designers.

  • But that does not mean one must spend a stack of cash to infuse a space with retro style. Decorating with reproductions, hand-me-downs, or a few vintage finds from a local flea market will give a room some stylish oomph without bankrupting your budget. 

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  • Midcentury Modern Daybed 

  • midcentury inspired LA living room
  • A midcentury daybed reupholstered in orange tweed fabric anchors this tiny living room seen on Homepolish. A retro striped camping blanket adds to the sofa’s charming appeal. On the right is a burgundy leather armchair from the 1970s.

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  • Tips for Creating a Retro Entryway 

  • retro entryway
  • Several entryway essentials make this tiny foyer by the designers at Studio McGee so appealing. The iron and leather bench is an industrial charmer. Both the analog clock and sports pendant are vintage reproductions with a distinct yesteryear vibe. The wicker basket is a midcentury-inspired accent that doubles as storage.

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  • Create a Retro Feature Wall 

  • collection of vintage school items
  • Interior stylist, Rikki Snyder transformed a boring wall into a retro feature thanks to a quirky collection of vintage globes and old school desks. The hanging chairs add a touch of whimsy to the overall look.

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  • Apartment Inspired by Midcentury Modern Design

  • midcentury-inspired-studio-apartment
  • Midcentury modern design inspired this New York City bachelor pad by Labl Studio. The apartment also features a few industrial elements. 

  • The classic Chesterfield love seat gives the space an elegant twist. The modernist inspired console under the TV lends a Mad Men vibe. The retro “ice” sticker on the fridge brings a touch of whimsy. The Cord Pendant by Brendan Ravenhill on the ceiling and the Atlas Floor Lamp by Adesso are both excellent examples of industrial-inspired lighting.

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  • Vintage Home Office Furniture 

  • midcentury home office in living room
  • Vintage furniture is ideal for tiny spaces because homes used to be much smaller. In this 530 square foot Paris apartment by Marion Alberge, an old wood desk and a vintage bookcase are both retro pieces that make the most of modest floor space.

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  • Black and White Floor Tiles 

  • Retro-flooring-modern-farmhouse
  • A kitchen stuck in the 1970s gets a refresh by Holly Mathis Interiors. The result is a bright, white space brimming with enduring style. The checkered, black and white floor, which is reminiscent of vintage diners, gives the kitchen a pinch of retro flavor.

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  • Consider a Gossip Bench

  • retro telephone in entryway
  • Nothing adds retro glamour to a space like a gossip bench. It was a nice to have when telephones were stationary objects. The one in this entryway by Havenly is a new piece of furniture by Jonathan Adler.

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  • Retro Record Player 

  • vintage record player
  • This minty fresh living room by Dream Green DIY has many retro accents, but two things, in particular, grabbed our attention. Anchoring the space is a teak console. On top is a cute record player by Crosley.

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  • Charming Cottage Kitchen 

  • retro kitchen with pink fridge
  • This adorable cottage kitchen by Sarah Phipps Design packs a lot retro charm. The wood planks used to create the feature wall came from the home. The kitchen cabinets were picked up for cheap at a local thrift store. The pink, vintage-inspired fridge is by SMEG. The task light over the sink is the Starfire Radial Wave Reflector Gooseneck Light by Barn Light Electric.

CREATING A HOME OFFICE

Your home is your castle, but it can also be the central command post for your business, or a secondary workplace if you frequently bring work home. If the latter, you may not have much input regarding the appearance of your workplace office (or cubicle). However, as the king or queen of your castle, you can design and decorate your home office to your exact specifications. These are some tips to keep in mind as you create the perfect home office.

Choose carefully

Home Office Location

The location of your office may decide how productive you are. Image: KatarzynaBialasiewicz/Getty Images

When selecting the location of your home office, consider noise and traffic factors. For example, if the office is close to the street, you may hear people walking and/or driving by. Also, consider the traffic in your home. If you plan to work in your office when the rest of the family is at home, placing it close to the kitchen, bathroom or family room means you could have a lot of visitors or you might be easily distracted by nearby sounds.

On the other hand, if you have small children, it might be best to place the office relatively close to their playroom so you can monitor their activity.

Consider a minimalist approach

Home Office essentials

Only include the essentials. Image: Hero Images/Getty Images

Justin Klosky, CEO and co-founder of the O.C.D. Experience (Organize & Create Discipline), says, “Trends come and go – but no matter the Pantone Color of the Year, my forever favorite trend is a minimal aesthetic. Keeping your desk space clean with little, non-distracting touches of personality here or there makes a difference in productivity and helps keep your head clear.”

In fact, Mariko Baerg, a realtor at Bridgewell Real Estate Group in Vancouver, says she’s seeing a trend in this approach. “There’s a move to a minimalistic space with little clutter and a focus only on the essentials: laptop, wireless printers/scanners, a desk and cabinets.”

Cut the cords (or at least hide them)

Home Office wireless

Wireless devices provide a safer work environment. Image: Westend61/Getty Images

Wireless printers and scanners are one way to keep those ugly wires out of view and reduce the chances of tripping over them. Klosky also recommends a two-in-one laptop paired with a wireless charging mat, wireless keyboard and thunderbolt docks if you need dual displays. However, if you don’t have wireless equipment, Klosky says you can hide 99 percent of your wires from being seen. “You can do this with a crafty combo of PVC piping, velcro and zip ties to mount power sources under desks and out of sight.”

Avoid paper clutter

Home Office paperless

Save paper – and the planet. Image: Tom Merton/Getty Images

Do you really need to keep all of those documents?  Klosky advises readers to go paperless. “Goodbye rolodex and planner – by digitizing your address book and keeping your calendar online, your network is literally at your fingertips whether on the go or while you’re working from home,” he says. “Digitizing also allows you to scan and shred documents for recycling, preventing the further use of paper and saving the planet.”

Go green

Home Office greenery

Greenery helps to bring the outside indoors. Image: Paolo De Santis/EyeEm/Getty Images

Working at home is better than being in a stuffy office building, but you’re still indoors. However, greenery can help you bring the outdoors inside. “A plant, for example, brings a low-key source of life and color to any room,” Klosky says.

Baerg agrees that this is a trend she’s seeing in home offices. “Plants or green wall accents are becoming popular because we are usually looking at computer screens or our cell phones, and having that green aspect is easy on the eyes and helps us feel more connected to nature,” she says.

Let the light in

Home office natural light

Natural light can reduce your energy consumptionl. Image: Lumina Images/Getty Images

Studies show that people who work in natural light are more productive, absorb more vitamin D, sleep better at night and have fewer eye problems. Light can also improve your mood. And if you need another reason to put your office in a location that allows you to take advantage of natural light, consider this: Using natural light can lower your electric bill.

Blend in

Home Office blend in

Your home should complement the rest of the home’s design. Image: YinYang/Getty Images

If your office is visible from other rooms in the house, consider how it will blend in with adjacent areas. The style choice and colors should be complementary, not clashing. In the photo above, the home office contains the architectural detailsfound throughout the house.However, if you can close the door to your office, there’s more leeway in your design and decorating choices.

Add inspiration

Home Office inspiration

Include a few items to inspire your best work. Image: Buljac/Getty Images

While Klosky recommends a minimalist approach, he says there should be a place for personal items. Sometimes, displaying your favorite things can provide inspiration and lead to your best work. For example, if you’re an artist, display some of your artwork. If you’re an accountant but you love traveling to exotic locales, keep souvenirs close by. They may inspire you to keep working hard so you can maintain your current lifestyle.