With the rise of flexible working, video calling and cloud storage, the home office is quickly becoming a must-have in new home builds and renovations. Everyone works in a different way, so how do you transform your box room or ‘cupboard under the stairs’ into a bespoke working space tailored specifically to your needs?
1. Look to your ‘office-past’
This is your opportunity to create the ideal working space, so it’s time to really think about what that means. Have you spent hours in an open plan office wishing you could be shut away in your own space or is disturbance not an issue for you? Perhaps you’ve been staring at closed office blinds for years – would a view (if there is one) distract or inspire your work? Start by making a list of all the things you’ve liked and disliked about previous working environments- this will help shape the ideas for your new working space.
2. Map your movements
The key to an efficient home-work station is to exhaustively analyse and interrogate the movements you make in working. Do you pour over a screen, reach for the phone, cross-reference two manuscripts? Do you drink a lot of coffee? If so, where will you safely put your cup down? Home offices are often tight on space, so it’s important to map out exactly what needs to go in there so you can find the most practical place for it.
3. Get the lighting right
Ideally, some natural light can serve you during the daytime, but don’t forget to consider where the lighting is coming from- will you be in your own shadow or will there be glare from reflections off your computer screen? After dark, it is essential to have good task lighting on the main area of your focus, but important too to have some general ambient light so that when you turn away to reach for a folder, your eyes do not have to re-adjust too radically. There are lots of artificial lighting solutions out there- make sure you explore all of the options to find the right combination for you.
4. Re-visit your budget
What do you really need to be able to work effectively? Solid oak shelving and an antique desk might make lovely design additions, but you don’t need them to do your job- MDF shelving and a laminate worktop on timber battens will be much cheaper and do the job just as well. What you do need is to be able to efficiently access and use the tools of whatever your trade happens to be. Home offices can be created on a relatively small budget, the key point is that you invest what budget you do have into getting the basics right.
5. Consider professional design advice
If all goes to plan, you’ll be spending a significant amount of time in your home office, and creating a room that is both a pleasant and practical space can be a tricky task. Consider drafting in some professional advice to make sure you get key aspects, such as the layout and lighting, right first time round. They’ll usually offer a different perspective and options you haven’t thought of, often helping you save money in the long term by ensuring you end up with a room you actually want to use every day!
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