A workspace fit for any room
Whether you need a nook to do family admin or a room for running your fledgling business empire, it’s possible to carve out a great workspace in any home.
With more people regularly working from home, it’s not surprising the home office is now a family staple. And even if we don’t work at home, the role of technology in our everyday lives means a permanent space to do admin, emailing and studying has become a modern must-have. The question is, where should it live?
Use your home’s existing colours and textures to create a cohesive look.
While some of us have room for a study, many need to find office space around the house. But before you pull up your swivel chair, start by assessing your situation. What are you looking to connect to and disconnect from? Are you seeking a private and quiet place, or do you prefer a space that opens out to the garden? Or maybe you'd prefer a family workstation positioned where you can be cooking and watching the children studying at the same time.
Look for a nook
Thanks to advances in technology, we can have small home office nooks. By using smaller devices and working with laptops, rather than fixed monitors, we don't need as much space as we once did. If you don’t have an obvious location, look for a small, nice space around the house: in the corridor, on the landing or even under the stairs. Beware of using a cramped space, though. Ideally use a width of 900mm, but don't use any less than 700mm. Make sure you have enough room to put your elbows out, otherwise you may feel uncomfortable and won't use the space.
A home office nook in an open-plan kitchen/living area is a great choice for family connection. A spot at the end of cabinetry often works well, with vertical storage to keep work mess contained. It can also double as a family organisational hub. “Use a pinboard or whiteboard for messages and reminders. They won’t get lost under piles of paper and you won’t have a monitor covered in Post-It notes,” says professional organiser and property stylist Anita Birges.
If you have to position your screen in front of a window, place it off-centre to reduce glare.
The dream – and a necessity for many work-from-homers – is a private, dedicated office you can close the door on at the end of the day. Decorate in a similar style to the rest of your interior to create a cohesive look and to make it easier to turn into an extra bedroom if you sell up (bedrooms are more appealing at auction time than studies). To be more connected, consider sliding or folding doors, and add a sofa bed and use it as a bedroom when you have guests. Anita suggests two easy ways to swap from work to welcome. “Find a small, simple desk or table that works with the decor (and could even masquerade as a dressing table) and get under-bed storage on castors, so you can quickly hide away paperwork and office equipment.”
Your desk or work surface is the first essential ingredient of the home office, but before you buy one, think about your needs in terms of size, storage, style and location. When your work hub shares living space, style is really important. Avoid clunky, corporate-looking desks and instead think small and simple, with a minimum of one drawer. A current trend is having a minimal home office space that connects to surrounding areas by using the same benchtop throughout your home, in the kitchen, laundry and home office.
Invest in an ergonomically correct and comfortable seat, especially if you sit for long periods. If you don’t, there are plenty of stylish and less ‘upholstered’ office chairs that still offer great support and will work well with your interior colour palette. Depending on the amount of time you spend sitting, you might even want to consider a standing desk, which can save your back – and space.
An ordered mind
Everyone’s storage needs are different, but make sure you have enough, and the right kind of storage, to keep your area tidy and organised. Think about your workflow, what you need within arm’s reach and what can be hidden or archived. Choose paperless options for admin if you can.
Jessica Haslem of Flexi Storage says, “We often forget that storage can be maximised by going upwards, not just outwards.” For storage that can be changed up as your needs evolve, look for wall strips, which can hold a flexible configuration of shelves, drawers, trays and baskets. Of course, storage also comes down to personal preference. If your style is minimalist, try simply having a beautiful desk and lamp.
Natural light makes for a happier and healthier working environment, but to prevent glare on your screen, it’s best positioned to the side, rather than directly behind or in front of the computer. Not all work nooks can be next to a window, but if you find the perfect spot on a landing or in a corridor, you can install a skylight.
Task lighting is essential. Pick a beautiful desk lamp and it can be a feature. Or, if you're tight on desk space, you can use strip lighting or an LED downlight integrated into your cabinetry. You will also need general lighting; warm, dimmable light helps counteract the blues of electronic screens and is less disruptive to your sleep cycle. You don’t want the bulb to create heat, especially in a desk lamp or small space, so LEDs are the best choice.
Tuck away essentials in a cabinet and display decorative items on open shelves to help your home office hide in plain sight
Home office styling tips
Steal your style: Create a cohesive look by using colours and textures around your home in the office.
Go green: Introduce flowers or plants into your space to create a calming effect. You can even use artificial greenery or pictures of plants and trees.
Double duty: When sharing a space, choose office storage that looks like regular furniture. Anita suggests Flexi Storage ‘Clever Cubes’ for this reason, adding, “Try to keep things within the boundaries of your furniture. Putting things on top looks messy.”
Tame your tech: Create mellow mornings and screen-free nights by keeping the family tech organised at a multi-port docking station.
Your dream home office space.
Learn how to transform a tired old room into a practical and functional home office or study space with our handy video and pop into your local Bunnings store to get started.
Photo credit: GAP Interiors (Rachael Smith), Bureaux, Alamy Stock Photo & iStock