Whether you’ve got a tiny corner, a nook under the stairs or a whole room, you can create a great home office space. NZ House & Garden staff report.
Many of us are spending an increasing amount of time on home-based work. Even if you’re not working from home, you’ll probably need an area for a computer, somewhere for paying bills, a place for kids to do homework or a space for hobbies and creative pastimes.
FIND A NICHE
The good thing is that you don’t need a big space to create a workable home office and it doesn’t need to be dominated by chunky computer equipment.
With technology becoming increasingly miniaturised, cordless and portable, a slimline computer can fit neatly on something as small as a wall-hung shelf. So think creatively about where you can squeeze in an office space.
Under-used “between” spaces, such as mezzanines, nooks under stairs or a good-sized landing can be turned into a compact work area or creative space. Or you can set up a home office in part of a larger multipurpose area such as a kitchen, and separate it with a partition or door you can close when it is not in use.
A butler’s pantry can be a good spot to include a mini home office, with room for charging electronic appliances, space for a laptop and storage for school notices and bills.
Wherever it is, take advantage of every available inch for storage – above and below eye level.
If you take some time to set up a storage system, not only will it look better, but you’ll always know what’s where. Label boxes and files, use drawer dividers or little boxes and pop odds and ends such as paper clips in dedicated containers.
If you can, build in drawers and shelves. And don’t forget ergonomics; when planning your work space make sure that your desk, chair and screen are at the right levels.
Think about light if you’re tucking an office space in an unused corner. Natural light is best, but if that’s not possible, make sure you have some well-placed lighting installed.
If too much sun on your computer screen is likely to be a problem, blinds can be a good option, especially in a small space where curtains would be too bulky.
DON’T FORGET DECORATION
You’re more likely to enjoy spending time in your office if it looks attractive.
Sometimes the tools in your workspace can create a beautiful display in their own right. Think colourcoordinated file boxes, as well as interesting containers for pens and other paraphernalia. You can stamp your own style on your space with a bold wallpaper, a quirky lamp or a framed print.
Where an office is set within a multi-purpose space, keeping decor colours the same throughout will help blend it in seamlessly.
Even in small spaces it’s possible to have fun with colour and pattern. The key to success is not to overwhelm. One or two surfaces picked out in a strong colour can be enough to add vitality; drenching an entire area can be over-powering.
IF YOU’RE MESSY
An office that can be tucked away behind closed doors is the ideal solution for those who use their workspace often and find that tidying up after each session is impractical.
A tall cupboard or wardrobe that is surplus to requirements can provide enough space for a built-in desk, along with wall space for posting notes and reminders.
If there’s no room for doors, a solid blind that can be pulled down to hide the chaos may do the trick.
• Sow cold-weather lettuces such as Merveille des Quatre Saisons and Red Oak in a sunny sheltered spot in rich soil. Cloches may be used in frost-prone areas – the ends of soft-drink bottles, makeshift shelters made from plastic bags and sticks or old windows will do the trick. Jerusalem artichokes will be ready to harvest. As they are not good keepers, they are best harvested just before they’re due to be eaten. It is also time to plant them – if you can find any! They do best in manure-rich soil and their stalks and leaves are useful for sheltering tender crops in early spring. But remember, they can spread rapidly, so consider growing them in containers.