The pandemic has forced the majority of us to work from home, and many of us have realised that our kitchen tables aren’t quite up to scratch. Architcets Laura and Magda have seen a lot of demand for carving out home office spaces, so they discuss the various options and their pros and cons.
What An Office Space Needs
An office space needs to be separate from the rest of the house- it must have doors that they can close, so you won’t be interrupted by children during meetings, and so your belongings won’t be disturbed. The space must be dedicated to work, rather than being a spare desk or the kitchen table, because, as Laura notes, there’s something nice psychologically about having that physical separation between home and work. The space should also have good views, be of a good orientation, be quiet, have enough space for your equipment, and it probably shouldn’t be shared, as sharing can be tricky during virtual meetings.
Laura's Garden Room
Laura loves her office space, which is a room at the bottom of her garden. This is a popular option as it’s separate from the house, creating a psychological separation of work and home. It also forces Laura to have a 5 second walk down the garden whenever she forgets something, such as her phone or milk for her coffee, which means she gets more fresh air than she otherwise would, which is great for her mental health. But it can be annoying, so you do need to be properly set up in that space. A garden room can also be bright as you can have windows on many sides, and they have great views of the garden. Laura knows an interior designer who has her studio in a garden room as she can lay out all her samples and be confident that they won’t be disturbed by her two young sons. However, as Magda notes, this does require lots of garden space, which people in Manchester may not have.
Offices Inside Houses
Magda has an office in her house, which is great as her husband can bring her tea every half an hour, but she has had to train her children not to disturb her during meetings!
Magda sees a lot of loft conversions due to limited garden space, but they require high existing loft heights, as the majority of houses are semi-detached, so the roof height can’t be increased. However, it is possible to drop the ceilings down, but it’s expensive and it means the clients have to refurbish the 1st floor, so moving becomes a better option.
Read more about producing usable attick space here.
So, the majority of clients move their master bedrooms to their lofts, and have their offices in the smaller bedrooms on the first floor- this is a great option because it means their bedrooms get a lot of light, good views, and are spacious. Alternatively, Magda sometimes creates a small, enclosed office in the loft, such as within a walk-in wardrobe, which is a good option because it’s a multifunctional space that’s separate from the bedroom.
Magda had clients who were considering squeezing in an extra office space in the bedroom, so she suggested putting the desk behind the bed in the large master bedroom, so the desk was hidden away by the large headboard, but the space was bright due to velux windows. Laura adds that desks work well in the eave space as you’re sitting under a lower ceiling.
While lofts do need some walls for structural reasons, they are essentially blank canvases, so they are great floor spaces for exploring different layouts of the bedroom and office.
Magda lives in a 1930s semi-detached house with an open plan ground floor. Unable to do a loft conversion, she plans on doing a side extension to the ground floor, and putting her master bedroom in there. Currently, she has a folding door/wall to separate her office from the rest of the house, as shown in the video.
Given the abundance of space around bungalows, Laura’s clients find that side extensions are a great option- there’s almost too much choice of what to do. Although bungalows might not look as nice, clients, especially those who have moved from an urban area, often can’t believe how much land they’ve bought with the bungalow.