* Research zoning laws and business permits before you embark.
* Assess your design needs. How many hours a day will you spend in your home office? Will clients or delivery people be coming in and out? Will you need a separate entrance? How private does it need to be in relationship to the rest of the house? Will you want to look in on children ?
* Consider function first. How much equipment (fax, computer, copier) and furniture (desk, filing cabinets, bookshelves) will you have? Make a list and define how many linear feet of files and equipment you have. What will you truly need for table space; what will you need right at your fingertips?
* Plan for expansion. How much storage space do you need now, and how much will you need in the future? Establish goals within your budget.
* Style next. What ``feel'' do you want the office to have? Do you want it to look ``officey'' or blend in with the rest of the house? Will you want to update or change it within the next few months or years? Get ideas from designers, magazines, other people's home offices, and home shows. (Many home shows are taking place right now.)
* Lighting matters. How much natural light does the room get from windows? Is it too much if you're working many hours on a computer? Consider the size of the room, especially the height, and the colors of the walls and floors.
* Provide light over the desk area that is 50 foot-candles (150 to 200 watts of incandescent light) for reading and paperwork. Light around the desk should be one-fifth the desk light and 1/10 farther away in the room.
* All in the Family. Set rules surrounding office hours and when you can or cannot be disturbed. If you don't want your children in the office, explain to them what you do when you're working; let them ``go to work'' with you once in a while to dispel any mystery.