More Londoners are giving up the expensive and frustrating daily commute to work to go it alone at home, with new research revealing about one in seven — or 14.6 per cent — of the capital’s workforce has taken this route.
The rise in the trend in London over the past decade is the highest in the UK, a Trades Union Congress poll shows. Home working requires a workspace. Even if you can’t dedicate a whole room to it, there are solutions for you to carve out your own zone. Architect Claire Sa, director at De Rosee Sa, chose this option when remodelling a flat in Notting Hill.
She says: “Having a formal study is not always possible, so we decided to have a little niche ‘kitchen cupboard’ office space.” The office has been built into a large floor-to-ceiling cabinet, with doors that complement the kitchen décor. The desk is made with Carrara marble to match the worktops, with a removable panel to hide plug sockets and cables.
Shelves and drawers have been placed above head height and built from painted MDF. Sa adds: “We put the desk at counter height just to make it feel less formal.”
An office on the landing
All sorts of unused corners can be converted into a home office. Barbara Genda, founder of Barbara Genda Bespoke Furniture, created a workspace with plenty of storage on a half-landing of a house in Chelsea.
“Our client had been working on the kitchen table because she could not think where to put a little study,” she says. But the landing was wide enough and the perfect place for it. Bespoke floor-to-ceiling shelves and cupboards, built from lacquered MDF, have been installed on either side of the landing.
Genda designed an oak table, stained to match the wood floor and with a leather top, to avoid a look that was “too built-in”. The cost of a similar project would be about £4,000 plus VAT for the shelves and £800 plus VAT for the table.
A wide hallway can also make a good office. Interior designer Ben Bambrough, managing director of bB Design House, worked on a Battersea home where a 6ft-wide hall between the living room and kitchen has been given a “floating” timber desk.
Pendant lights hang above the desk, which has a depth of about 2ft. The look is stunning, and a translucent polycarbonate chair makes the space feel even larger. “Now that everything is wireless, I think that the general culture is moving towards a work pod rather than a traditional study,” says Bambrough.
Inspired by nature
If you prefer total quiet and privacy outdoors, you can create a garden office without applying for planning permission — as long as it is not plumbed, not in a conservation area and not a listed building. Office Sian created an award-winning home office in a Hackney garden.
After demolishing an asbestos-ridden outbuilding, the architects built what might appear, at first glance, to be a shed. However, this oak-framed building has everything a modern office needs — shelving built into the frame, fully retractable doors and a roof light.
The project was completed within three weeks. Creating a similar shed/office hybrid would cost between £18,000 and £24,000.
Another intelligent solution to the garden office was created by architect Abigail Porter, director of Ashton Porter, for a writer in Grange Park, north London.
Porter designed a steel-framed room clad in cedar panels, with a built-in desk and shelves. The project cost about £30,000. Porter says: “The timber works nicely in the garden and the window by the desk gives a perfect panorama of the back of the house.”
Most people create a home office because they need one, not as an investment. Paul Lintott, associate director of estate agents John D Wood, says: “A buyer could easily put up a home office in the garden, so they are unlikely to pay much more for a property with one already constructed.”