Working from home? How to create a home office without losing a room

Working from home? How to create a home office without losing a room

By Katy Holland

From cupboards under the stairs to office corridors, we suss out the creative ways to make working from home possible in the least accommodating spaces.

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Working from home is the new going to work. It has its advantages, but if you’re stuck for space then finding a perch for a productive day can be a job in itself.

A home office is a luxury many of us don’t have. So here are some tips for creating space to work from home (WFH), without having to kiss goodbye to a precious room.

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Share the spare room

A spare room that’s used mainly for storing neglected gym equipment/piles of laundry and the odd house guest can easily be revamped to function both as a lovely workspace and a welcoming bedroom for visitors. 

Take out or repurpose anything not strictly needed. Are those bedside tables essential? The key is to give everything in the room a double purpose. A dressing table can be turned into (or replaced by) a desk, while a wardrobe or chest of drawers can house a printer and other work paraphernalia.

If that rarely-slept-in double bed is hogging the whole room, replace it with a sofa bed or day bed. When space is really tight, a fold down wall bed like this one from the London Wallbed Company could be just the ticket.

Even the tiniest guest room can be utilised. All-in-one storage and desk units like this one from La Redoute are great for space-saving in dual-function rooms.

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Stairway to home office heaven

We all crave more space but sometimes we don’t see it even when it’s right under our noses - or under our stairs.

That cupboard under the stairs may look too pokey to be your office, but there are lots of ways to bring in light and create space. 

An open staircase (without risers) is ideal, as it allows natural light to flood in. But in most homes you’ll need to install good lighting in an under stair area. 

Add in a desk lamp in addition to overhead lighting, and why not make a feature of the unusual ceiling with inset lights or lighting strips on the treads? 

The space under the lower stairs may be a perfect for filing cabinets. 

If you want to splash out, a bespoke built-in under-stair office like this one from Sharps will ensure you get the max from your space.

Choose some bold paint or wallpaper your nook to make it feel like a truly separate space. Floating shelves, hooks and pegs will complete your haven.

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Find a closet office

The “cloffice” is a cupboard, walk-in wardrobe, linen closet or even a repurposed wall hung cupboard like this one, that becomes a working space. 

First you’ll have to find somewhere else to store your clobber, but it’ll be worth it. 

Once your closet is empty, work out where you want deskspace and electric points (an extension leading to an existing socket may suffice if you don’t want to get tradespeople in) and then have some fun making it look beautiful. 

You might need to rehang or remove doors if they fold inwards, but keep them if you can. One of the real advantages of a cloffice is that you can close it off, keeping your work stuff out of your daily life, and vice-versa. 

Paint or replace doors to add character and make a statement. Check out the jovial bright doors of this office closet designed by Applegate Tran Interiors.

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Have a hall overhaul

Don’t overlook your hallway as a space for your dream home office. A long wide hall might easily accommodate a floating shelf-style desk. 

A minimalist desk could double up as a hall sideboard when not in use, perhaps with an ergonomic stool that can live elsewhere when it’s not being used. 

Alternatively, a desk that folds away, like this wall desk from Furniture@work looks like a cupboard when closed. 

With imagination, odd-shaped hallways, landings and even the most awkward hall alcove can be turned into wonderful office spaces. Check out this curved desk by designer Romilly Turner. 

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Carve out office space anywhere

Sometimes, there’s no choice but to spend your working day hunkered down in a high footfall area such as the living room, bedroom or kitchen. 

But even in the busiest spot, you can still carve out your own work space. 

The golden rule is to declutter whichever room you are going to work in. A clean workspace will help you stay organised and give you better focus.

Consider swapping out or removing some of the existing furniture. Swap that sideboard for a desk, or take out an armchair and create a corner for yourself. 

A room divider is a great way of marking out your territory, but an oversized houseplant, cupboard or curtain can work wonders to create private territory. This shelved bedroom divider marks out a separate space and adds storage without compromising light from the window. 

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Shed your limitations 

If you have a garage then it would well worth the effort and money (if you have the budget) to convert it into a dedicated home office.

If your garage has concrete flooring, it may need covering to make your office comfortable in all seasons. Perhaps a nice rug or fitted carpets? Walls and windows might also need attention, which can be costly. Adding insulation, proper windows and a layer of drywall can make it fit for all seasons.

If you have a big garden and your budget allows then a garden office could be the way forward. Think skylights and full length windows that let in plenty of daylight, combined with natural materials and textures to create an inviting, enviable work environment. 

Sometimes the investment is worth it. And it will add value to your home. 

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