Homework is no longer just a concept for the school-aged.
No matter where you live or the colour of your collar, living space is at an ever-ascending premium. But, if you’re already squeezed for space, you may need to employ a bit of creativity to carve out a niche where you can get business taken care of.
Luckily, the way we work today has greatly reduced the need for physical space in the places where we work. Where once we needed bulky desktops, most of us now get our work done on slim laptops, tablets or phones. And with so much more of our work lives now stored on our devices, many workspaces have become virtually paper free. We use apps and software to store our notes, keep our files in order and help us plan our days without lifting a pen. For better or for worse, we’re getting more work done than ever before – but we’re getting it done by using less.
Stockists left: Harrison Armchair from Nood. Anglepoise Type 75 Mini Desk Lamp from Citta. Sofia Print from Pop Motif. Arro Vase in Sage Green from Shut the Front Door. File boxes from Kmart. Stockists right: Atelier Desk, Brendon Chair and Melibu Rug from Freedom Furniture. Napier print from Endemic World. Stationery and organisers from Kmart.
Left: By switching out the artwork, you can easily turn this casual office space from a ‘she-den’ into a ‘he-den’. The walls are in Resene Mother Nature, the chair and vase are in Resene Peace and the accessories are in Resene Family Tree, Resene Permanent Green, Resene Silver Chalice and Resene Rivergum. The desk top, bookshelf and large planter are in Resene Noir and the floor is in Resene Colorwood Mid Greywash.
Right: In this fun and vibrant space – inspired by an old schoolhouse – the upper wall has been painted in Resene Moonlight, the panelling is in Resene Untamed, with accents throughout in Resene Moccasin, Resene Mystery, Resene Away We Go, Resene Moana, Resene Daredevil, Resene Cleopatra, Resene Pohutukawa and Resene Noir. The chalkboard has been painted with two coats of Resene Magnetic Magic followed by Resene SpaceCote Low Sheen in Resene Family Tree. View colour swatches...
“You can put a workspace just about anywhere now,” says Laura Lockhead of Pocketspace Interiors. “A home office can be a study nook built into a wall in a bedroom or hallway – freeing up the ‘historical home office’ room for other uses.” And for a lot of people, a workspace can be something much more transient than it used to be, something that can moved around to suit the task or need at hand.
Determining whether you need a fixed or flexible space comes down to work/life balance, says Laura. “It’s about how much time people spend working at home, how much time they spend on the phone, and how they deal with distractions. If work is just checking on emails, you can probably do it from just about anywhere.”
While an entire dedicated room is likely no longer a necessity, having a dedicated space or zone can help with productivity and concentration levels. “It’s more about creating a space where you know you have to go to work and you can therefore limit the distractions around you.”
Work yourself into a literal corner by opting for a triangular desk. For added storage, hang corner-shelves high enough and shallow enough that you won’t bump your head. Always be sure to use proper hardware and a stud-finder to anchor shelving to your walls safely and securely.
Stockists left: Valencia Desk, Blare Chair and Abir Rug from Freedom Furniture. Nod Floor Lamp from Nood. Pegboard from The Warehouse. Alice Berry print from Endemic World. Pink rug, stationery and office accessories from Kmart. Stockists right: Discus Console, Olemec Office Chair and Anamur Rug from Freedom Furniture. Messing Table Lamp in Brass/Marble from Nood. North Island Saddleback print from Endemic World. Side table, stationery and office accessories from Kmart.
Left: This previously unused alcove was turned into a cosy office by popping in a small desk, a great lamp and some handy organisers. The main wall is painted Resene Just Dance and the darker wall is Resene Smoulder. The side table and large white vase are in Resene Half Tea, the wall and desk organisers are in Resene Half Tea, Resene King Tide, Resene Smoulder and Resene Soulful. The mustard vase is Resene Influential and the dark vase is Resene King Tide.
Right: This beautiful art-deco style console table works wonderfully as a ‘sometimes office’. The wall effect in Resene Influential and Resene Time After Time has been painted over two coats of Resene Magnetic Magic to create a clever noteboard that doesn’t look obvious but is always there when you need it. Everything else can be easily stashed away when company comes over. The main wall is painted in Resene Wishing Well, the side table is in Resene Half Tea and the vases are in Resene Soulful, Resene Time After Time and Resene Influential.
Deciding on what type of space suits you, says Laura, begins with identifying your own work patterns and habits. “Do you have a family around you and need to keep an eye on the kids? Do clients visit who need seating? Do you like to work with music playing? Do you like to pin things on the wall? Are you completely computer based? All these things influence the way you set up space around you for work.”
Whether or not you share the same workspace as your children, depends on your family dynamic, says Laura. “Some people like to work around their children. Others like complete isolation and privacy.” Finding what works for you will likely mean finding the right balance between being completely out in the open and being completely cut off.
While desks and chairs don’t have to be expensive, do invest in some key quality pieces. If you’re uncomfortable, you’re unlikely to be at your most productive, and the wrong ergonomics could result in repetitive stress injuries. Ask your employer to see if there is an allowance for purchasing furniture for your home office or if you can claim some of what you spend on your taxes.
A folding shelf desk that’s just big enough for the essentials and can be tucked away when it’s not in use is a great solution for when you need to be especially frugal about floor space. Again, be sure to properly install the shelf to your wall using the right hardware for more than the weight of the items that will be on your desk, and anchor it solidly to wall studs. If you’re unsure how, it’s safest to consult an expert.
When you’re trying to use space efficiently, a small desk area often leaves you staring down the wall. While it may help some focus, facing away from the door can feel uncomfortable to others. One solution is to position your desk diagonally, cutting off a small corner of the room, leaving your back to it. Then, you can add a narrow bookcase or wall-mounted shelves behind you to make the most of every single square metre.
Surrounding yourself with the right colours can aid your concentration and stimulate creativity while you work.
“Identify those colours that have a psychological effect on your creativity and well-being. If you’re a confident type, surround yourself with oranges. If you’re a strategic thinker, go for blues and muted tones,” suggests Laura.
Warm colours like yellow, red and orange are stimulating colours that inspire creativity. Try Resene Thumbs Up, Resene Red Herring or Resene Twisted Sister.
Soft pinks and greens are soothing, which can help to relax an over-stimulated brain. For pinks, try Resene Soulful, Resene Ethereal or Resene Shilo. Restful greens include Resene Nourish, Resene Peace and Resene Unwind.
Blue is thought to be associated with intellect. For some, being in a blue room can help increase productivity. Try Resene Excalibur, Resene Meditation or Resene Remember Me.
Having the right lighting is very important for not only seeing what you’re doing but also for avoiding eye fatigue. It’s healthy to have a good amount of natural light. “If your desk is in a cupboard or hallway, choose a good study lamp to balance out the light,” says Laura.
Where space is a luxury, consider using multi-functional items like vertical shelving units that can double as a room divider or a desk big enough to support a flip-down mattress at night.
Mask out a fun or geometric shape above your desk and use two coats of Resene Blackboard Paint, Resene Chalkboard Paint or Resene Write-on Wall Paint to create a place to leave yourself paper-free reminders.
Hang things up that inspire you - maybe even your favourite photos from this magazine - by painting two coats of Resene Magnetic Magic underneath your favourite Resene colour.
Look beyond the home office section for items that can help you to organise, divide and conquer clutter. Items designed to help you organise other parts of your home, like your kitchen or laundry, can offer opportunities for clever solutions to unique problems.
Make sure your desk and chair are at the right height so that you can work comfortably and without strain. Try the calculator on www.thehumansolution.com to figure out ergonomic desk, chair and keyboard heights. Find it on their Resources page.
Studies have shown that using a standing desk can be better for your overall health and well-being, but your workspace will need to be at a higher level so as not to cause strain. If you’d like to mix things up, there are many desks on the market that can easily be adjusted from a sitting to a standing level so you’re not always confined to a chair.
If you will be occupying a shared space, try setting a defined boundary with a folding screen when you’re working to send a signal that office hours are in session.
Whichever home office style you choose, introduce at least one live, easy-to-care for plant into your space to bring beauty, oxygen and life to your work area.
For parents who need to work from home while also caring for children that aren’t yet school aged, it can be hard to strike a balance between keeping them entertained and getting things done. Why not create a special workspace for your little ones alongside your own so that they feel included, and can perhaps help out with small tasks? They can even help you make this simple magnetic chalkboard below, which is made from a picture frame with the glass removed. Simply paint with two coats of Resene Magnetic Magic on the backing followed by Resene SpaceCote Low Sheen in Resene Family Tree. Once dry, you can write on it with chalk, which can be wiped off with a wet cloth. Hang magnets on it and arrange to suit, like these wooden letters that we painted using cheerfully coloured Resene testpots.
The walls of this office space are in Resene Moonlight, the built-in shelf is in Resene Noir and the tongue-in-groove panelling is in Resene Untamed. The vases are in Resene Cleopatra, Resene Moccasin, Resene Mystery and Resene Noir, The desk organiser and hooks are in Resene Moccasin.
Styling: Laura Lynn Johnston, Vanessa Nouwens.
Images: Bryce Carlton, Melanie Jenkins.
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