Home Office: What to include (Part 1)

Part 1: The home office ‘why’ and my desk picks

Creating a home office: A spatial evolution

Simple, a home office, who doesn’t need one? Well, yes, but I think we need to perhaps delve a little deeper into why this is the case. There has been a massive change in our working habits in the last 10 – 15 years which has meant that our homes are no longer the work-free zones that they might have been in the past and that French-polished dining table from the mid-1980s is now adorned with papers, technological devices and all manner of other things. The way we use our homes has changed. For the better? Who knows, but the way we live and use our spaces has evolved and continues to do so. As a kid, my grandparents had two living rooms, one for everyday use and one for “best” and special occasions, the space was sacrosanct. We are much more space fluid in our homes as our needs have changed from the early to mid-twentieth century.

No more Margo and Jerry?

I’m a big fan of 1970s comedy, for which I make no apologies! The Good Life was a prime example of having defined spaces for certain activities in the home and we have moved on from that. Not all of us, but the majority of us, and we have taken those typically 1920s/1930s suburban homes and transformed them into things of beauty. Not that they weren’t before, but we have torn down walls and extended every which way as we find that we just want something different or more, another bathroom, an ensuite or a larger kitchen for all of those elaborate dinner parties that we think we’ll host, but probably won’t.

People rushing at a busy corporate office

What about the 9 – 5?

Now, Jerry Leadbetter, of the Good Life-fame, was a company man who kept a strict 9-5 working routine (*Chris now hears Dolly Parton lurking in his subconscious*), coming home to have a pre-dinner drink and read the newspaper before a meat and two veg kinda meal cooked by the iconic Margo. For many of us, this is no longer the case as technology has changed our working patterns and business needs. Technology has been a massively disruptive force, in a positive sense, to many aspects of daily life, including how we work. We no longer need to be physically in the office or place of work all of the time, as technology has made it easier for us to be elsewhere. The downside is that we are sometimes expected to be always “on call”.

Are we at capacity?

I live in a London commuter town, and friends that I know who work in the capital, and indeed elsewhere, have said that their employers have downsized their office space and people are expected to work from home at least 1 to 2 days per week. Wow! Many offices have reduced their space so much that only 60% of the workforce can be in the building at once. What a change for Jerry’s 1970s suburban dream! So, with such changes at an organisational/employment level, people need to use their homes differently. They need to make space to work in them, to effectively pay for them. So yes, times and working habits have moved on.

Will Margo get her dining table back?

In short, probably, but with a lot of jiggery-pokery! So, if Jerry were to be working in 2019, it is likely that he would be working at home and the 1920s/1930s suburban home would look very different from its 1970s sitcom incarnation. The floorplan would be different, with more bathrooms and extensions wherever they could conceivably be put. But one of the main editions would be Jerry’s home office as Margo would not let him clutter up her immaculate downstairs living space, naturally complete with a through-lounge. So, whilst Margo gets to keep her dining table, our archetypal suburban couple now need to plan their box room to home office conversion. I mean Jerry will now have to work at home. But it’s 2019 rather than 1979, so Margo would probably have a thriving home and lifestyle blog with a range of tips that we would all marvel at and would also need her own desk in this new office space. What’s more she’s likely to be found wondering around an interiors exhibition, like the Ideal Home Show, shopping for the latest goodies!

Dining table could be used for a home office

With a protected living area, now what?

With the through-lounge now having its protected status, what considerations are there for the home office? Besides colour schemes, fabrics and textures, the functionality of the space has to be considered. If we are now having to work from home, or choosing to work from home, another growing trend, it has to be functional as well as worthy of gracing the pages of a glossy interior design magazine. The desk or work surface has to be a key consideration and the next part of this post will look at some of my top design picks for providing both form and function to the work-at-home space.

Firstly, a desk!

Now that is quite a conundrum! I mean, you don’t really want to end up with the 3-drawer, 2-shelf, white plastic-coated MFI (R.I.P.) desk that most homes had for their kids’ bedrooms or for the newly purchased computer in the early 1990s, or do you? Nostalgia might compel us to purchase such an item, but there are many other options out there for a range of budgets. From a take on the Victorian school desk with ink well to the latest sleek Scandi design, there really is a bewildering choice. So, I have been scouring my interiors magazines and online websites to find a few designs that I think are perfect for that home office space.

This gorgeous creation from Nest is a thing of beauty! The image is reminiscent of the hotel room that I stayed in whilst in Helsinki during December. This wall-mounted beauty is simple and elegant in its design and works exceptionally well the muted palette and natural wood interiors. It’s not a budget-friendly entry, but it has such potential for adding to any sleek and calming Scandi-inspired design scheme.

Picture of Nest Wall-Mounted Stockholm Desk
Nest Wall-Mounted Stockholm Desk

This gorgeous creation from Nest is a thing of beauty! The image is reminiscent of the hotel room that I stayed in whilst in Helsinki during December. This wall-mounted beauty is simple and elegant in its design and works exceptionally well the muted palette and natural wood interiors. It’s not a budget-friendly entry, but it has such potential for adding to any sleek and calming Scandi-inspired design scheme.

Also from Nest is Celine, and what a picture of beauty she is! It will not provide you with oodles of storage for all of your home office gadgetry and stationery But, the design is contemporary with a nod to mid-century modern which is very popular at the moment. It is ideal if you are home-based worked who is not adorned with a lot of “stuff” and your main tool is a laptop and perhaps a notebook. Neutral tones would be a perfect backdrop to his desk or for a bolder approach, a deep petrol blue.

Picture of Nest Scandinavian Celine Design
Nest Celine Desk
Picture of Lundy Double Pedestal Desk from the Cotswold Company
Cotswold Company Lundy Double Pedestal Desk

Moving away from the modern and towards the familiar, is the Lundy double pedestal desk from the Cotswold Company. This is very country cottage, but with a contemporary update. I like how it has a timeless design and would suit a range of colour palettes, from natural tones to something bolder and deeper. In terms of design it offers a lot of possibilities and it has great functionality and storage for the home worker with added baggage. Given its robust properties and mass appeal, it is a piece of furniture that will stay in home for years and will be able to adapt to new surroundings.

Simple, sleek, satisfying! The Bryony, sourced from Wayfair and Alex desk, from Ikea, are very similar in design and their contemporary Scandi feel enable them to fit in almost any space. What I love about the Alex desk is the ability to be bold with colour, the deep blue is fantastic and gives a designer a chance to make a colour statement. Whereas the Bryony has interest in terms of the materials used. So, with ample storage for a small home office, either option would suit most homes.

Picture of Wayfair Bryony Design with Scandinavian Design
Wayfair Bryony Desk
Picture of a Bureau from Wayfair
Wayfair Ballinger Secretary Desk

Are we seeing the return of the Bureau? On many websites and in many magazines, I have started to see their re-appearance, with modern updates, some don’t even look like their namesake, rather an elaborate shelving system. I think it is perfect for those home offices that cannot be in a separate room as everything can be neatly concealed. This bureau, from Wayfair, has lots of storage. I love its multifunctionality as a piece.

Well, this certainly has a bit of style and I can picture it in a dark and contemporary scheme, perhaps with an industrial twist. The metal and wood finish are fantastic and make this such an envious piece. But with the eternal question of style over substance looming, is this beauty practical? For my small one-bedroomed flat, absolutely not, I need somewhere to put my stuff as well as to sit and work. However, in bespoke home office, absolutely, it is interesting from a design and texture point of view.

Picture of John Lewis Modern and Industrial Desk
John Lewis Fallowfield Desk
Picture of a Navy Blue Shaker-style desk
Quin Desk by made.com

I really seem to have a thing for blues at the moment and this work station is certainly a bounty of blueness. Whilst being beautiful in design with the quasi-shaker doors and copper details, I feel that it is a statement of power and prowess and would draw attention to itself in any space. For me, I love the beauty of the desk, but it is certainly for a home office where it will not swamp the room and the detail and styling of the space would need to be carefully though about. If I had a big enough space, absolutely!

I really seem to be loving a bureau at the moment! This is because I am considering a home work space at the moment and it would solve a work vs. storage related problem. This is quite reasonable in terms of price and the Hemnes bureau has a great deal of storage space to hide away all of that unsightly work when visitors pop round, just close up the lid and you’re good to entertain! The second option (here) has design interest with the mixed materials, but in my view performs less strongly from a multi-use perspective. That said, I love the storage-cum-display channel that runs along the top.

Picture of Ikea Hemnes Bureau
White Hemnes Bureau by Ikea

Picture of Loaf Contemporary and Natural Desk
Den Office Desk by Loaf

The Den desk, courtesy of Loaf combines a natural and rustic looking wood with some modern metal detailing. This is a look that can work in a range of settings and I like how the metal detailing almost outlines the shape of the desk and allows it to not fade into the background of a calm and neutral interior. I think neutrals would work best with this desk and it seems to be good from both a style and substance point of view which is great!

And finally…

So, having thought about home office or work space needs, given our changing use of the home, this is the first in a short series of posts where I will look at my solutions and best picks for creating that space, however large or small, in your own home. The next post will pick up on some of the themes covered here and look towards lighting, both how to maximise the use of natural light as well as some options that can be used to create the right ambiance in your new work space. So, until next time, thank you for reading.

Image Credit: All credit given to the originals and links embedded to the original source.

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