We asked Megan Doherty from our interior design partners, Edward Thomas Interiors* to share her insight on transforming a blank canvas into a productive and stylish workspace…
I have a separate study or bedroom that I plan to use as a home office, where should I start?
Begin by thinking about how you’ll use the space. Do you work full-time or part-time? Do you need good natural light or room to be creative? What about storage for products or equipment?
If you’re able to use a more traditional room, style according to shape. In square rooms, there’s a tendency to use one wall for a desk and one for shelving but you could also build a corner or wraparound desk that would leave room for a ‘breakout zone’ such as chair or sofa for phone calls or coffee breaks!
For slim or narrow rooms, try to avoid overcrowding. Wall mount shelving, use light coloured furniture, add mirrors to reflect daylight and use freestanding floor lamps that can be easily repositioned.
In bedrooms, there’s often unexploited space under the window so you could add a console table or upcycled dressing table and immediately create a bright and naturally lit spot.
There isn’t an obvious place for me to work from home, what do you suggest?
Some of the most creative solutions use transitional or overlooked spaces; think landings, hallways, in the eaves, alcoves, wardrobes or under the stairs. Not only are they easy to shut away at the end of the day, but they enable you to reclaim space that’s either ‘dead’ or just used as storage. Styling these areas has become much easier too, with great options including ladder desks, foldaway desks, bar stools, floating shelves, freestanding lockers, even ottomans and benches.
The key is ensuring your workstation doesn’t dominate, so our advice is to establish a distinctive zone. This can be with a physical differentiator, like a small screen or partition, or more subtly with a wall treatment such as a painted colour block, feature wallpaper strip, even a living wall!
What three things should I prioritise when styling my home office?
Furniture, storage and lighting. To help with your planning, draw or sketch out the footprint and then separately draw furniture so you can move pieces around to see how they might fit. The one item to spend money on is good seating. An office chair can still be stylish but if you’re spending 7+ hours each day sitting on it, it must be comfortable and ergonomic.
Storage is often overlooked and only thought of at floor level. Don’t forget to think vertically! Shelving, cupboards or stacked storage boxes can be added at height, allowing for clean floors. I’m also a fan of the wire notice boards as they’re so versatile, you can add stationery holders, pegs, hooks or simply slot in a business card as a reminder.
Finally, never underestimate the importance of good lighting. Maximise daylight by locating your desk at a right angle to the window. Add a good desk lamp for detail work, then layer floor lamps, side lamps and task lighting to brighten or dim as required.
What about colour?
There’s much psychology behind the use of colour in workspaces, especially how it can affect mood and productivity. Bright, vibrant colours are energising, cool palettes are more calming and relaxing while muted or softer tones can help focus and concentration.
Throughout 2023, we’ve seen plenty of personalisation too, whether that’s a bold wallpaper, artwork that tells a story, or objects collected from travels – your Zoom background will have never looked so good!
You mentioned recycling/repurposing furniture, what sort of pieces can I use?
Some of our favourites include turning an old potting bench into a desk; upturned fruit crates into open cupboards; ladders into shelf desks; a drinks cabinet or old sideboard into storage, especially those with bottle holders where you can add slim baskets for storing stationery or cabling.
Finally, where would you recommend looking for home office bargains?
High street retailers like Next, TK Maxx, Dunelm, H&M, Zara Home and larger departments stores like John Lewis, Debenhams and Ikea all have ranges to suit varied budgets.
*Edward Thomas Interiors work exclusively in the new homes sector, and are expert interior designers partnering with Platform Home Ownership to bring our Shared Ownership show homes and internal computer generated illustration to life, using the latest design and interior trends.