Carpet design

Let the sun in: design an outdoor office space in your garden

Working from home can be comfortable outdoors.

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With summer in full swing and many of us working from home, the trend towards outdoor offices and working outdoors is growing.

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According to a survey commissioned by the TurfMutt Foundation, nearly 50% of North Americans have spent time working outdoors, using their backyard as a makeshift office.

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But the truth is, as we step out onto our patios and balconies, blinds perched over our heads, cup of coffee and laptop in hand, to weigh the options, we quickly realize there is more to set up a functional and beautiful outdoor workspace, than just drop into a chair. Outdoor office sewing takes a bit of planning. That’s why we’ve consulted a few experts for helpful advice on everything from furniture to shade structure ideas for stress-free installation and getting the most out of your space.

Set up a dedicated workspace

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“Be intentional about the space you’re going to use. I always think people like a flex space, but when a space is dedicated it’s easier. You don’t have to think about it,” says Rochelle Cote , designer and director at Rochelle Cote Interior Design in Calgary, suggests starting by finding a covered area, sheltered from the elements, whether it’s a veranda or a covered terrace, a patio or a balcony. For added privacy, divide the area with an outdoor screen or a row of planters.” Another option is to incorporate a small structure into your yard, such as a pergola or modular office shed. Even the rear garden shed conversion can be really cool. Paint it black and white, add flooring, then open the doors for a great look,” she says.

Make it stylish, yet comfortable

“Remaining confined to an office within the walls of your home isn’t the only option if people can create a comfortable and inviting outdoor space,” says Sandra Howell, business operations manager at Mountain House Furniture in Calgary. She suggests adding outdoor rugs, lighting, and a fire table to the area. “All of these items provide a way to make outdoor space more inviting (and usable) for a longer time throughout the year, especially since Alberta has such a short outdoor season,” says- she.

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Incorporate multifunctional furniture

If outdoor space is limited, double it, the experts suggest.

“An outdoor dining table makes the perfect office,” says designer Rochelle Côté. “Just use a mobile pedestal with a drawer and cabinet to store all your work stuff. That way you can pop it in and out and clean everything up when it’s time to have friends over for dinner in the evening,” she says.

Matt Singer, president of Cottswood Interiors & Design in Edmonton, suggests sourcing teak furniture. Not only is it durable in harsh climates, but “it also looks amazing both in its natural state and when stained,” he says. “You also want a table that wipes clean easily because there’s a lot of dirt on the outside…in all the best ways, but be aware that dust, dirt, pollen, bugs, leaves and debris will be in the air and on all your surfaces.

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Other furniture ideas? Think sections, adjustable and movable side tables or comfortable lounge chairs.

Add drapes or sheers

Everyone knows that glare on a computer screen can hamper productivity, let alone put a damper on a Zoom chat. To soften the sun’s rays, add outdoor drapes in your favorite fabric. Check out retailers like Pottery Barn or Restoration Hardware for a wide selection, including hardware and rails.

“You might also consider an umbrella that can move and tilt like the sun does,” says Sandra Howell of Mountain House Furniture.

Make sure the space is tech-friendly

No matter where you work, staying connected is essential. Consider an outdoor Wi-Fi router or range extender and opt for a portable charging station that will accommodate all your devices. Noise canceling headphones will also go a long way in creating a calm working environment.

Let nature shine

Add lots of greenery and flowers, outdoor art, and accessories, like candles.

“Really think about your work environment and how it affects you on a daily basis. When we get back to nature, we are more grounded and creative. Having flowers planted in pots around you will create a very calming environment. C is definitely good for our mental health,” says designer Rochelle Côté.

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