Whether you have a dedicated room, a corner of the kitchen or a converted outbuilding, our guide will help you create a workspace that’s not just efficient and functional, but also inviting and comfortable.
With desks, the rule is the bigger the better. You will never regret having plenty of space on which to spread out. Storage is vital – a shelf above the desk, filing cabinets, drawers or stacking boxes. Some things will need to be within arm’s reach, while less-used items can be stored on high shelves or deep cupboards, not necessarily in the same room. Built-in storage will make the most of the space and will be worth the expense if you have no plans to move.
Count up your electrical appliances and ensure that you ask an electrician to install enough plug sockets. Place electrical items together so you don’t end up with long stretches of cable between them. Alternatively, going wireless with your phone charging, PC and printer eliminates some cables entirely, and gives you greater flexibility about where to site your equipment.
Good task and general lighting is vital to avoid eye strain when working at home. The more natural light the better – though beware glare from direct sun – and position your desk at right angles to a window if possible. For working on dim days and in the evenings, fit overhead lighting that doesn’t cast any shadows over your working area – track lighting, spots inset into the ceiling and wall lamps are all options.
Conventional office furnishings tend to look out of place in a home. While ensuring that your desk and chair are comfortable, seek out furnishings that suit your home and your personality. You can buy new of course, but you could also consider visiting charity shops, second-hand office furniture stores and going to resale sites to find things such as a trestle resting on a pair of metal filing cabinets, a distressed kitchen unit or a desktop made from a blackboard. Functional accessories such as colourful waste bins or funky pen holders will brighten up your day, and plants and pictures will make this a space where you really want to spend time.
If your office space is shared with your dining room, kitchen, bedroom or living room, you will probably want to conceal it as much as possible when it’s not in use. Build a large cupboard in a recess next to a chimney breast, for example, and behind the doors you should be able to squeeze in a desk with some shelving above. In a kitchen you might consider removing a unit. That said, think carefully about whether the room’s two purposes will conflict – if you need to work with the children running around, or when a partner wants to sleep, it’s going to be a problem. You might be better off converting the loft, or fitting an office on a large landing or even in the garden shed.