Whether you’re planning a dedicated home office or simply a study space in a corner, follow our tips to get yours right first time
(Pic: California Shutters)
What’s your home office for?
In an ideal world, we’d all have the luxury of a spare bedroom or under-used dining room we could dedicate to a home office, but if like many of us you’ll be squeezing yours into a room that has another purpose already, it’s worth considering what the home office will be used for – and when – before finalising exactly where you’re going to put it.
If it’s a homework space for youngsters or a bill-paying station for you, having it in an open-plan kitchen or living space makes sense because you can help with homework – or keep an eye on what they’re doing on the computer - then get on with bill-paying while everyone else is otherwise occupied or in bed.
A homework space for teenagers, however, ideally needs to be in a separate, quiet space, such as a bedroom or dining room. And, if you’re running your own business from home, a dedicated home office is a must – even if that means rejigging how you use your rooms indoors, or building yourself a home office in the garden.
How to create office within another room
The secret to creating a home office in a room that’s already being used – perhaps in the kitchen or a bedroom – is to invest in really efficient storage, great furniture and clever screening. Here’s what to look out for:
- Modular units that can hide away all the files and paperwork behind base unit level doors or drawers, while providing display space above.
- A screen, behind which you can hide your desk/paperwork/computer.
- A home office armoire: looks like a stylish cabinet with the doors closed, but open them up and there’s everything you need, from storage to desk space.
- Storage that doesn’t look like storage, such as ottomans with lift-up lids hiding filing space beneath.
- Made-to-measure office furniture, created for spaces that are usually neglected, such as under the stairs. Bear in mind that this will create a contemporary, functional feel.
- Upholstered office chairs – ergonomic and comfortable to sit in all day long – but they fit right in with the décor in the rest of your room.
- A desk that could just as easily be a smart console table.
- Accessories, such as lighting and filing boxes, that are good-looking and co-ordinate with your scheme and aren’t just functional.
- Furniture you can adapt – so if your home office doubles as a spare bedroom, a daybed dressed as a sofa will make the space feel more like a comfortable office, less like a bedroom.
(Pic: The Dormy House)
Find the right desk
If you’ve got good storage sorted, and you mainly use a laptop or tablet, you won’t need a sizeable desk eating up valuable floor space, so look at console and occasional tables to save room. If, however, more than one person might be working at the desk at a time, look for L-shaped modular arrangements that you can build to suit your needs exactly or dedicate one wall to a long, built-in run.
As for style, choose a desk – and the rest of the furniture in the room - like you would a dining table or sideboard. At home, it needn’t look like it’s designed for a professional space, but it should fit in with the style of the rest of your home’s furniture. Love country style? Look for rustic or hand-painted, vintage pieces. A fan of contemporary furniture? Hunt down glass-topped, sculptural desks or filing cabinets with an industrial edge.
( Pic: California Shutters)
Choose the best colour scheme
If your home office is in a shared space, the calmer the colour scheme the better. As a general rule, home offices need to be bright, so if the room doesn’t get much natural daylight, look at the lighter end of the colour palette for walls and windows – creams, aquas, pale pink and apple green are all warm and inspiring and work brilliantly on walls and for shutters at windows.
However, if your room gets tons of natural daylight, dark, dramatic shades can work well, too. Chocolate brown, the darkest of blues and even black can work brilliantly, creating a smart, formal finish.
Don’t forget to add pattern and interest to the room with pattern and texture, too – you can do this with wallpaper, shutters, cushion or chair fabrics and a rug. In other words, approach it like you would decorating a living room, and you’ll end up with a space that you’ll want to be in.
Add the extras
Good lighting is a must – swap office lighting for table lamps with pretty shades or vintage-style anglepoise lamps.
Find an upholstered noticeboard – it’ll add a splash of colour and pattern to a wall and help keep your desktop free of paperwork, too.
Paper trays, file boxes, pen holders – hunt down office accessories that are perfectly co-ordinated with your colour scheme and room style.
Pictures – anything that inspires you, whether pictures of your family, cool, work-related graphics or your favourite holiday destination will be wonderful on the walls.
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