Holidays leave many of us yearning not to return to the office, and increasingly, we’re taking the option not to.
Recent research reveals the proportion of people working from home has reached a record high - 13.9% of employees, according to the Office for National Statistics.
What’s more, 70% of home renovation plans now include space for a study, further demonstration of the fact that a home office or work space is a core room in today’s homes.
The trend may also reflect a growing desire to escape the world of bland, characterless public offices, in favour of private areas personally tailored to our taste and needs.
So if you want somewhere simply to deal with bills and household management, a retreat where you can pursue a hobby, a study which doubles as a children’s homework area, or a serious state-of-the-art work zone, check out these four winning looks...
Areas where you indulge a passion should be personal sanctuaries, where the colour scheme and kit appeals to both your head and your heart, and encourages creativity.
“The last thing you need is clutter if you’re setting up a hobby area. If time is limited, you don’t want to waste precious minutes collecting materials or clearing a space,” says Amanda Watson, head of design for fitted furniture specialists Betta Living.
“Built-in cupboards maximise every square inch of the room, and with everything neatly stowed away at the end of the day, you won’t be reminded of work or tasks left unfinished while you’re trying to relax. That’s especially important if the area’s sited in a bedroom or living room.”
Shelves built around a doorframe utilise commonly wasted wall space. Choose a colour scheme carefully, especially on the wall you face as you sit at a desk, because colours affect mood; blue calms and red stimulates, for example.
Study in vintage
Decor divas know mid-century modern furniture is bang on trend, and designer pieces from a more relaxed era could conjure calm and tranquillity.
“People often presume functionality is the most important aspect of a home office, but a primary consideration for me is comfort - being comfortable and relaxed in a workspace is paramount to being productive,” says Jamie Graham, managing and creative director at Graham & Green.
“So the ingredients for my home office recipe are simplistic style and design classics, such as those from the Fifties and Sixties. A functional, sleek chair teamed with a solid but beautiful desk is the best foundation.
“I like a business-like interpretation - with essentials such as a clock and wire desk baskets - but that doesn’t mean boring. Basic kit sits alongside quirky framed posters found on buying trips abroad, and favourite family photos.”
Experiment before making a final decision on exactly where you site yourself within the home, to ensure the spot is exactly right. Adequate storage for paperwork and equipment is essential; a ‘clear desk’ policy’s as important for efficiency at home as it is in the office.
Made to measure
If you have the space and budget, release your inner executive and create a tailored space, proclaiming your status with bespoke, luxury fittings.
“Having a dedicated room, or investing in bespoke furniture, ensures a space not only truly works but will be an infinitely more appealing environment than a soulless public workplace,” says Simon Meyrick, designer for bespoke furniture specialists, Neville Johnson.
“By mixing painted doors, drawers and shelving with a wide selection of veneers, gloss and glass finishes, a home office will have a modern cutting-edge look. In space-starved homes, we maximise storage by utilising sloping ceiling areas or awkward corners like under stairs.”
Architects recommend a ‘work space’ area should be at least 10ft by 10ft, with items used on a daily basis within an arm’s reach of the desk seating position. A well-planned area gives a first impression of organisation and professionalism, vital if you host business meetings at home.
Functional furniture suits a ‘work’ area robust enough to endure the rough and tumble of family life, and is also appropriate for a fashionably rugged contemporary setting, with exposed brick work and wood floors.
“If you’re seeking that elusive laid-back but business-like atmosphere for a home office, a pared-down, industrial look is for you,” advises Claire Hornby, creative stylist at Barker & Stonehouse.
“Start with a simple range of reclaimed wooden furniture, with solid lines and minimal detailing, then team with metallics and cotton and linen fabrics to soften the look.
“Chrome and steel are too modern and glossy. Instead, opt for the soft sheen of aluminium, bronze or fashionable copper accessories to complement a rustic feel.”
When choosing a chair, focus on how often you’ll sit in it and for how long. Selected office equipment specialists offer a guide to which chair is appropriate for which usage time.