If lockdown’s had you yearning for more room for your files, computer and work paraphernalia,
Inna Hart of IH Interiors has some ideas for creating a cosy, private office space…
2020 will certainly go down in history. Whilst everything has appeared to come to a standstill, behind closed doors people are trying to find ways to adapt to this “new normal”. A lot of us are working from home, but often without the luxury of a dedicated workspace. Dining tables, sofas, kitchen counters, garden sheds, bedrooms, you name it, have all become home offices. No wonder so many of us are thinking about having an actual space that’s fit for purpose.
What’s more, many companies have realised that working from home is good for business, good for the environment and good for their employees’ work-life balance. So from now on, anyone looking for property may well have an additional requirement – space for a home office. But where to start?
If you’re in the position to move and have been flipping Rightmove pages over the past few weeks, perhaps you should look for properties with:
An extra bedroom (even if it’s a box room)
An extension or the potential to extend
A converted garage or one that could be converted
Quirky nooks (in between floors or as part of an irregular floorplan)
An outbuilding already equipped as an office, one that could be converted or space to erect one
Not all of us are ready to move for the sake of having a home office. To create a usable and comfortable space to work, you will need at least two square meters of a floor space. So here are few places to consider:
Space under the stairs
Landing, if it is large enough to accommodate your workspace without obstructing the walkway and, ideally, has a window
Guest bedroom – swap your double bed for a sofa bed and add home office furniture (You’re not a hotel, right? Besides, there are plenty of super comfortable sofa beds on the market right now.)
Make sure you can accommodate a desk with storage and comfortable seating. If you are not sure you’ve enough space, try rearranging your furniture and perhaps decluttering.
With home study / home office space becoming increasingly popular, there are many trendy quality items available on the market. Wayfair.com alone has thousands of items. The Range, B&M and B&Q have great items in stock and are already open and have social distancing measures in place in England.
If you don’t feel like spending time deciding the style and trying to match things up, there are furniture packages available from your local interior decorators. For example, IH Interiors offers a free consultation with every office furniture package bought (ihinteriors.co.uk/furniture-packages).
If you’re on a budget, why not try Facebook Marketplace or eBay to find something antique or vintage (please keep to the Government guidelines for social distancing when buying and selling). You could even have a go at painting or restoring an old desk. There are many tutorials available on YouTube.
Of course, a separate dedicated working space is an ultimate goal, but if you simply don’t have a spare room and every square inch of your home is utilised, why not invest in an outbuilding? With the warmer months ahead, working in a specially created space overlooking your garden is perfect! There are a few things to consider here – electricity, reliable Wi-Fi, heat, waterproofing.
By the time winter comes, you will have had the chance to improve the insulation and add appropriate heating and security to your outbuilding – be it a summerhouse or a garden shed with a window.
You will certainly benefit from a window close by, as working in a light space will only have a positive impact. If your chosen workspace has no natural light from a window (if it is under the stairs for example) then make sure to illuminate it well – using spotlights and daylight lamps is a good idea.
Wifi & Power
A good, speedy Wifi is a must in any home these days, but many broadband providers also offer various speed and coverage boosters. There are a lot of deals out there right now, so make sure to explore your options and look into switching providers. Obviously, having a sufficient electricity supply is very important – for your light, to power your equipment or simply to charge your phone. It saves you a lot of time moving around (closer to the power socket) each time your battery is low.
If your working space is a part of another room, you can use similar colours and home accessories to create a cohesive look. It is a good idea to decorate your home office in the same tone as the rest of your home anyway, even if it’s a separate space. Your office space needs to be functional, so make sure that most of your decorative items also have a purpose. These can include: boxes for storage, stylish prints with a map or time zones, a clock, handy books and directories, lighting, decorative trays, jars and containers for storage and I would definitely add a small (or hanging) plant.
Key to a productive working day in your home office is to keep it clear of any clutter or unnecessary items. It is a space where your mind must go into a working mode, so make sure you create the right environment for that.
If you are not sure what will fit, or a little stuck for ideas, there are great local interior designers and space planners on hand to help. Head over to houzz.com to find help from a local professional. The site is also a source of visual ideas, so search “home office” or “study” and it will come up with thousands of pictures of real homes and space solution ideas to inspire you.