A couch in the office?

Home office couch
Image by Emdot on Flickr

After posting the most recent home office inspiration board, I received an email from a reader wanting to know about a couch in the home office. Here’s what Juanita wrote:

“Jessica, I really liked your recent mood board, but I was surprised to see you included a couch. I guess I just think couches belong in the living room, not the office. Am I way off base, here?”

Thanks for asking, Juanita, and I bet you’re not the only one wondering about that! Here’s my thinking.

If you have a small home office, you probably won’t have room for a couch and there’s no reason to fret over its lack. But, if you have a large space, there are a lot of great reasons to consider bringing in a couch:

  1. It makes for really comfy seating for guests and you get to enjoy it, too. When I’m working on a project and need a break, I often curl up in the big comfy chair in the corner with my sketchpad. (My office isn’t big enough for a couch.) Having a seating area that’s not at my desk is a boon to my creativity because it means I can still be working but not in the same “Working” mindset that my desk inspires.
  2. A couch is easier to decorate around than several occassional chairs. Many home offices incorporate guest seating, and a couch makes great use of space if you were planning on two or three chairs. (Obviously, if you only have room for one chair, even a loveseat is out of the question.) In a pinch, you can often squeeze an extra person onto a couch but you don’t get that flexibility with chairs (if you have a three-seater couch, you’ll usually have room for four, if you have three chairs, you won’t have room for four).
  3. A couch looks more “homey” than typical office occassional chairs while still looking polished and professional. In other words, when you do have clients in your office, they won’t think a couch looks too casual. (And those chairs sold for offices–ick!)

Really, for me, it’s a question of space–if you have the room for a couch, I think it’s a smart choice because it’s more flexible and more comfortable. It does tend to be a high-er end look (for instance, partner-level lawyers offices often have couches) which is why it can be a little uncomfortable for some people. But, the truth is, a couch usually isn’t much more expensive than a similar number of well made chairs (a three-seater couch vs three chairs, for instance) and the end result is a clean, cohesive look.

So, Juanita, and anyone else who was wondering, that’s why I think a couch absolutely has a place in the home office under the right circumstances.