Carol O’Callaghan says a home office can be stylish if you pay attention to detail when planning your layout
Resisting domestic distractions is essential to establishing a good working routine if you decide to abandon the office and set up one at home. The idea is very appealing to anyone who endures a commute through slow traffic or the unsavoury squeeze of bodies on public transport, but the green grass of home is fraught with weeds of temptation which can take over in the absence of discipline needed to make your working routine flourish.
It’s so easy to behave like you’re on a day off when you work from home and therefore free for coffee or golf. The same applies to the temptation of day-time television, or the virtuous distraction of cleaning up after breakfast and putting away the laundry that dried overnight. You might tell yourself it’s all work but tut-tut, it’s really just delaying tactics. By10.30am you’re sliding down the well greased slope of prevarication, which is why most of us need the discipline of going out to work.
If you’re lucky enough to have a spare room to convert into an office, it means you can walk in there at roughly the same time you would leave for the office, close the door and start working without distraction. For others it may mean setting up a work station in a room that serves a different function, like the rarely used dining room. Either way you need dedicated space even if your job requires only a laptop, internet connection and phone, as there’s something about having an actual desk that focuses the mind on work regardless of where it is located.
Choose a model that’s the correct height at which you can write or type comfortably. Office chairs can be short on aesthetics but they make sure you have the back support you need when you may have to sit at a computer for hours at a stretch.
Consider too that the workstation will be part of your domestic surroundings so you don’t want it to stick out like an eyesore and spoil the style and lines of the room. The vogue for mid-century modern, that is 1950s, ‘60s and ‘70s, and the glut of specialists selling refurbished furniture, means you can pick up a desk that doesn’t necessarily scream of office. Consider the very useful drop leaf table from this period which will provide desk surface plus the space-saving drop leaf feature for when the working day is done.
Modern desks designed for purpose emphasise function but don’t rate too highly in the style stakes, so maybe you’d prefer a vintage or even antique desk for a touch of character. Do take care that drawers open and close with ease, and consider where you’ll run computer and printer cables.
You can make your workstation as stylish and comfortable as any other space in your home by bringing in lovely desk accessories. Choose magazine files for brochures in colours that match your paint scheme but steer clear of plastic pen pots and trays as they’ll scream of cheap.
* Next week we’ll look at linens.
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