Cindy Bailen
Color Consultant
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An office poses a color challenge in that you need to ensure that the colors you choose are conducive to work. Your first thought might be to use white, but white can be tiring to look at.

Greens are great for the home office. The eye adjusts to green very easily. Greens can be both energizing and relaxing, and they spark our creativity. One idea for your home office is Benjamin Moore's HC-2, Beacon Hill Damask. Like all of the historical colors, it will continue to charm you, appearing differently in different lights, and in different seasons of the year. For a more acid green, try Castleton Mist, HC-1, right next to it on the color card. California Paints Hawthorn, one of their Historic Colors of America, is a soft silvery green that would look lovely in a home office that's also used as a guest bedroom.

In the 2010s, a true green will look current and add freshness. If your home office is more of a library than a nook, you can go with darker, richer wall color, like Sherwin-Williams Vintage Green. You'll want to use a creamy off-white on the trim to avoid too harsh a contrast.

If green is not for you, how about blue? A manager recently came to me for a color consultation. His department was moving to a different part of their company's building, and the room that was to be his office was long, white, and bleak. What color should it be? I recommended Ralph Lauren Regimental Blue, SS-35 for a deep blue accent wall, using it on one of the short walls to make the space look a little less elongated. Since it's almost impossible to feel stressed when you're gazing at that shade of blue, I thought it would help create a good atmosphere for meetings, and a pleasant working environment for him. He loves the new color, and so do his employees.

Vibrant color can do a lot for a minimalist home office. In her book, Perfect Palettes for Painting Rooms (Rockport), Bonnie Rosser Krims suggests a bright coral, California Paints Coral Flower (#7385) for a home office that will "stimulate and inspire."

If red walls would be too intense for you, don't hesitate to use bright pink or red accents in a neutral office for little kicks of energy around the space. For comfortable taupe walls, I recommend Benjamin Moore Everlasting, #1038, or for a neutral with a bit of warm gold in it, consider Pittsburgh Paints Golden Ecru, #316-4. A gray office (like Ben Moore Gray Owl, OC-52) can  provide a cozy and tranquil place to think.

Here are some additional ideas for your home office: splash a couple of coats of magnetic paint or blackboard paint onto one wall. You'll give yourself a useful surface on which to post reminders and developing ideas. If you don't have an extra room in your home, but you do have a closet you can sacrifice, you can have a home office. Remove the door and the hanging rod, and mount a shelf of 3/4 inch birch plywood for a desktop. If you have space, slide a file cabinet underneath. Add a chair, paint the walls a color you love, and you have a room of your own.
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