Work from home

Work from home

The new home office is a productive space that evokes a sense of well-being. By Tess Paterson

Let’s be honest, there are a lot of advantages to working from home. No time spent commuting, an abundance of peace and quiet, and the cats get to snooze on your desk. Once you’ve made the big decision, it’s worthwhile creating a space that truly reflects your style. Not only should it feel authentic, but it has to meet your working needs. Whatever your look, simplicity and order are key.

Light and airy
Simple, Scandi-inspired spaces are a fantastic choice. They tend to evoke a sense of calm, and the crisp palette and blonde woods have a knack of making offices look bigger. Start off with a pared-down shell of neutral walls and floors. Not only will the lack of pattern allow your decor to speak for itself, but some people find this far more conducive to knuckling down and concentrating. A timber floor is first prize – laminates are perfectly fine – then add a bright kilim if you’re a fan of colour.

‘Neutral interiors needn’t be boring,’ says Tiggs Crozet of Indigo Interiors. ‘This is where texture comes into play, so choose accessories such as a raw timber desk and pale wooden document holders. I like to paint floating shelves in the same colour as the walls. This creates a cohesive look and works well with simply framed, graphic artworks.’ For the colouristas among us, Scandi-like offices present the perfect backdrop for splashes of bold colour. Choose a rich deep red (think Swedish barns) and paint the bottom half of one wall. Or transform a three-legged wooden stool the same way.

Location, location
Depending on your available space, the position of your office requires some careful thought. ‘Having an office with plenty of natural light is a real bonus when you work from home,’ adds Crozet. ‘A private space that can be closed off from the rest of the house is ideal too, especially if you have a busy household. If space is limited, think of ways to shield your workspace, such as decorative screens or generously sized indoor plants.’

Two decades ago, the pause area began to make its mark in the corporate world – break-away spaces that daringly allowed for more informal get-togethers. Today, the millennial work-style is far more collaborative, and you can adopt that approach at home. ‘If your work involves meetings, having an office that connects to a courtyard or garden is a real advantage,’ says Crozet. ‘Brainstorming outdoors is conducive to fresh ideas and creativity.’

Law and order
If you’ve ever used a spare room as an office, you’ll recognise the temptation to mistake this for a dumping ground. We’re talking winter clothes, fondue sets, boogie boards, Monopoly – all the pesky paraphernalia that should be relegated to the garage. To be truly productive, your office space has to be inspiring. That means a feel-good, smooth-running machine of sorts; a place that you look forward to entering each morning. Even if you’re still in your boxer shorts.

Sufficient storage is crucial to a clutter-free space. Look for desk-top solutions, and use your vertical space for plenty of shelves. For a homey feel, replace utilitarian filing cabinets with free-standing armoire, or look for a kist which can double up as extra seating.

The greening trend continues, and a calming office is one that brings the natural world indoors. Try hanging baskets, terrariums or air plants. And for an elegant touch, long-lasting orchids are excellent value for money.

Moody hues
For a more masculine working space, you can’t go wrong with a palette of rich, charcoal greys. ‘People often steer clear of really dark wall colours,’ says interior designer David Muirhead. ‘The truth is that grey is a very powerful decorating tool. It’s full of mood, highly sophisticated and unexpectedly space-enhancing.’ The other advantage of introducing a steely palette is our climate – with mostly-sunny skies all year round, this colourway seldom runs the risk of looking gloomy.

If grey’s your bag, look to the designers who love this colour most. Dutch legend Piet Boon is possibly one of the most adept at making greys come to life. One look at his company’s energy-neutral headquarters near Amsterdam, and you’ll want to move right in. Creating a similar sense of timeless, high-impact elegance is not impossible, especially when you’re dealing with just one room.

Cement screed floors are an obvious choice for modern office spaces, or you could mix it up with warmer materials. Reclaimed Oregon pine boards can look superb, as can parquet – especially when laid in a herringbone pattern and buffed to a rich mahogany glow. Using a deep grey wall to ground it all, the next step is to add a collection of practical and attractive accessories. ‘Crisp whites and metallics are an excellent foil for grey tones,’ says Crozet. ‘I also like to combine fabrics in varying shades, from deep blue-blacks to soft dove-greys.’

All in the detail
Leather is a beautiful contrast to grey and ideal for more sombre, almost formal offices. Desks with leather inlays may be old-school, but they’re beautiful to write on and the patina will clash beautifully with a deep grey palette. What you’re after is a bit of quirk to balance the moodiness. If you’re a modernist at heart, think of a clean-lined glass-topped desk. Then add a couple of favourite things – perhaps an inherited piece like a clock, or a small sculpture that you really love.

Good lighting is crucial, especially if you’re a night owl. There are countless gorgeous desk-lamps out there – choose something elegant and modern and savour the absence of scary factory-like fluorescents. The joy of this look is that you can create a wonderful mood against the dark walls – sort of New York loft meets atmospheric gentleman’s club, with WiFi thrown in.

Speaking of connectivity, you’ll want things to run as smoothly as possible. To avoid your office looking like a NASA control centre, it’s a good idea to conceal the cabling. There are numerous options, from custom designed drawers and cupboards to simple ducts that you can paint to match your walls. Ideally go wireless where you can, including printers and keyboards. And multiport USB chargers are the way to go for charging several devices in one dedicated spot.

Make it personal
Right now everything’s becoming personalised. From TV ads to Spotify, people simply want things the way they want them. The good thing about the home office is that you can create a space that’s completely conducive to the way you work. Mobile furniture comes into play here – lightweight or moveable pieces that can easily adapt to your given tasks for the day. If you fancy an over scaled blackboard for scribbling down ideas, knock yourself out. Perhaps you do your best thinking when lying flat on a carpet – nobody’s going to think it’s strange.

If you work remotely with a small team, regular coffee breaks or Friday sundowners can work wonders for morale. A neat bar fridge is the answer, concealed behind sliding doors or stashed in a cupboard. And where clients are involved you’ll want to create a good impression. Banish the Garfield mug to the kitchen, and invest in a set of beautiful cups and glassware. Then add a stunning gilt tray for good measure.

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