Make working from home less of a chore with our top tips for designing a room that’s both functional and attractive.
By Katherine Sorrell
SORT OUT YOUR STORAGE
The old adage that you can never have too much storage is especially true in an office, where efficient organisation is key. While a combination of shelving, files and boxes works well for most people, why not seek out unique pieces to introduce a sense of character? Although chain stores and specialist shops sell office furniture at a range of prices, consider hunting around junk shops, second-hand furniture stores and salvage yards for interesting alternatives, such as old school lockers, distressed wall cupboards, huge wicker baskets or old factory trolleys. Bear in mind that some stored items will need to be within easy reach, while those that are used less frequently can be stored on high shelves or in deep cupboards, and not necessarily in the same room. If your office is an awkward shape, a converted loft or under the stairs, for example, consider built-in storage in order to maximise the space.
THE BEST DESK
Size does matter when it comes to choosing a desk. Even in a small room, desk area will probably be more useful than floor space, so choose the biggest one possible – you will never regret having plenty of room on which to spread out. A desk with drawers or cubby holes is doubly practical, though lovers of a minimal look may wish to consider a glass desk: perfect if you can keep it clear and tidy most of the time. If you are running out of room, you could consider adding a small worktop to one side of your existing desk, as an L-shaped workspace is particularly ergonomic.
ON THE WALLS
Remove as much as possible from the surface of your desk, and make the most of the height of your room, by introducing wall-mounted storage. Pin boards, peg board, magnetic boards and hanging racks are all useful and good-looking. You might even consider wiring one or two adjustable lamps into the wall above your desk – another way to save a bit of work space.
BE COLOUR CONFIDENT
Neutral offices are the norm, but at home you’re not at risk of offending anyone else, so why not paint the room in a bold colour that makes you happy? Alternatively, there’s nothing to stop you covering a feature wall, or even the whole room, with patterned wallpaper.
ARE YOU SITTING COMFORTABLY?
A comfortable chair is an essential for any working area, and if you are likely to spend hours in it then an adjustable office chair on castors is the best choice. If yours is boring or ugly, it might be possible to re-cover and/or paint it; at worst, you could hang a length of fabric over the back and add an attractive cushion.
SEE THE LIGHT
Good lighting is vital to avoid eye strain when working at home. Lots of natural light is ideal, but glare from direct sunshine is not – experiment with the position of your desk and, if necessary, use a blind for shading. For working on dim days and in the evenings, fit overhead lighting that doesn’t cast any shadows over your working area – track lighting, inset ceiling spots and wall lamps are all options. Desk lamps should, ideally, be adjustable.
Do you have enough plug sockets in the right places? If necessary, ask an electrician to add to what’s there in order to minimise messy and inconvenient cabling. About three inches above the work surface is good, plus some hidden lower down and out of sight. Sort the rest of the cables out with ties and clips (running them up table legs is a good idea, where possible) and, while you’re at it, consider labelling plugs so you know exactly which is which.
DON’T BE AFRAID TO GET PERSONAL
There’s no need to be bland. It’s your office, so make it personal. Add a pretty rug, a cushion, interesting desk accessories, a selection of plants, some colourful prints on the wall or a selection of framed photographs. Scent is important, as well – make the whole room fragrant with a vase of flowers, scented candle or reed diffuser, and this will be a room where you’ll enjoy spending time.
Batik desk by Cattelan Italia, £1,902, Chaplins: 020 8421 1779; chaplins.co.uk.
Olly adjustable table lamp, £67.20, Där Lighting: 01295 672 200; darlighting.co.uk.