Home office work spaces can be light and practical

From under-stair nooks for the spatially challenged to spliced-off sleeper spaces, Kya deLongchamps helps identify that perfect perch for your home office PC

The French called it the cabinet de travail, often a modest upstairs study, and in one form or another home office — that familial hot-desk, open to all comers, has survived the proliferation of kids’ PCs and smart phones.

If you need a perch or a whole portfolio of accessorising, let’s work it.

Family Centred.

For light nuisance tasks — paying bills, strolling online, making Skype calls, and other communal assaults, privacy is not key.

In the case of youngsters under the age of 14, a central location for the home work station skimmed by adult traffic is increasingly supported as the sole answer to the dangers of unsupervised access to the web.

If your menagerie includes real teenie-tinies, choose an easily adjustable chair (lumbar and seat depth) with a stable five star base, and poke a foot rest under the table top. Castors should match the floor type.

Pressure action brakes can avoid dangerous skids. IKEA, Humanscale and Steelcase are all good trusted chair makers.

A balanced wrist position and adequate back support is important whatever your age.

Stools improve posture by insisting (Pilates style) on an upright sit and centring core muscles.

Stick to an adult size desk of 74-76cm from the ground to the top surface, and work with that chair.

For adults, designated areas are far more productive than perching on the edge of the sofa or craning over a kitchen counter.

A mix of standing, walking breaks and correct seating is far healthier.

Lost metres.

Home office work spaces can be light and practical

Where you are not dedicating an entire room, the spatially challenged home office desk can play console when off duty or be integrated into even built in storage in a wider corridor.

Choose a well upholstered stool and slide it out of the traffic lane when not in use. Where there’s 1200cm out from any wall, or (blessed be) a useless corner, even an ignored window chinned by a radiator, there’s a way.

The quiet metre at 45° to pocket doors, allows you to slide a panel out as a partition wall, or simply use a screen to indicate separation.

A dedicated corner desk wraps work around you. Built into the eaves, irritating loss of lofted headroom or under stair nook suddenly makes sense. Every house has sleeper spaces spliced off with furniture.

For a small desk in an adult dining area - IKEAs drop down Bureau is a modern classic hit at €165. Double up with an antique secretary bookcase for laptop work, offering glazed storage over head with a drop down desk beneath.

A window situation — the perfect excuse to rest your eyes by looking out into the distance every 20 minutes while you work.

Desk space décor.

Compact, attractive, available and functional, desk zones can prove a busy fulcrum. Anchor it with a shift of character.

Panels of one feature paint colour, a large painting, or a wall treatment licked up the wall behind the desk, instantly sets it apart.

Patterned wallpaper in a self-adhesive panel or paste-the-wall roll is fantastic for just sliding some style into position.

However, is your personal wiring over stimulated by repetitive patterns and bold colour?

Choose a muted design with dominated by the ground colour (white is a wonder) with a receding, calm motif that’s not trembling in your eye-line.

For additional colour where you revert to one pale, polite wall colour, the inside of your cubbies or the reverse of bookcases over your line of sight, or even the interior of cupboard spaces right and left can carry ornate, luxuriant feathers, it’s not an either/or.

See what Pixar have to offer from €23 for a stick it up, whip it down panel.

In one shade, green has the reputation for tranquillity.

Choose pale underwater grey/greens. We love Silk Seal from Colortrend (€26 per litre). For proven visual poke, yellow tickles the senses.

Benjamin Moore Mustard Olive is classy with its legs in the 18th century, but mixed to be noticed. Hover jewel tone accessories on this or other putty, grey based choices for luxuriant comfort while you’re crouched over the tax returns.

To blend into the wallpaper? Just blend in. Pick two colours in your existing wall covering and use those in a stylistically similar painted table and chair — the whole lot reading as side-table/console rather than a formal computer stand.

A desk integrated into a built into wall of storage can float virtually unseen if all the carpentry is kept to one colour.

In whimsical papers, take a look at the London Wallpapers IV/Upper Brooke Street from Little Greene, launched in the Paris Déco-Off in January. A4 samples, littlegreene.ie.

Furniture that rates.

Home office work spaces can be light and practical

Most high street and office furniture is rated for use from occasional to commercial. The joints, strength, finish and stability of the piece should deliver as described.

152-185cm width offers enough room for most household desks (built in or free-standing). Add even 30cm more to double up, or widen the desk to 90cm from the standard 60cm depth if you want to partner on either side.

Deeper desks also offer room below the table-top to swallow added storage, a desk-top PC housing, cable organisers and more.

The room needed to unpeel a laptop or stab at a PC keyboard, desks should always offer some layout space and stable, accessible storage that can be reached with a slight rise out of the chair.

If you work for any real length of time typing on your laptop, elevate the machine onto a support and invest in an additional keyboard to save you from eventual and inevitable neck strain.

You can close that laptop, house the desk-top on the floor, put those papers in a drawer, but printers are nasty plastic boulders of as much as 60cm or across.

If your family office is in a public space you want to read as elegant, use wi-fi to place the dratted object in another room, and collect the copies.

Use the current trend for soft baskets and even structured tall bags more familiar for laundry to drop in files and stout paperwork. Casual chic? You’re hired.


These are the nail hues to choose this season, says Katie Wright.Perfectly polished: 5 autumn/winter nail trends you’ll actually want to wear

This early 19th-century table is one of a number of Irish lots at Sotheby’s Style, Furniture and Ceramics sale in New York on Thursday (October 24).Irish lots poised to add bite to Big Apple sale

Something for all at Hegarty’s auction in Bandon, says Des O’SullivanSomething for all at Hegarty’s auction in Bandon

Des O’Sullivan gives a preview of the Irish selection on offer at two sales in DublinPreview of the Irish selection on offer at two sales in Dublin

More From The Irish Examiner