With remote working the new norm, designers are responding quickly to our needs for a sense of professionalism that feels right at home. Be gone laminate desks and generic-looking chairs – today’s home office is as beautiful as the rest of your home. We asked the experts how to up the ante when designing a workspace that doesn’t compromise on style.
Today’s WFH space is a place to work, entertain and relax. For the teams on The Block, smart TVs, bar carts, fireplaces, and powder rooms are must-have inclusions. Dylan and Jenny installed a 98-inch Samsung TV into theirs, and Tom and Sarah-Jane impressed the judges with a supersized wine store and mezzanine level.
Whether you have a large room or a small studio, zoning it into distinct areas provides each space with purpose. Ground your lounge, bar area, and desk using rugs to delineate each area.
“Functionality is vital in a multizone space,” says designer Adela Sivewright. “Consider the size of the rug and sofa and where the desk will sit. Allow room between the fireplace and desk, position the bar cart along a wall and ensure there’s ample space for movement.”
One of the most stunning elements in each team’s space was their cabinetry. Once reserved for living areas and kitchens, bespoke joinery is an essential inclusion for a stylish WFH office. “It’s a space that should reflect our taste and how we like to live,” agrees designer Liz Hall from Studio Apercu.
Tom and Sarah-Jane’s cabinetry got a big tick from the judges. Not only is it beautifully and seamlessly crafted, but fully functional, too. “Office cabinetry should cater to all your needs,” Hall says. “Its shelving should be tall enough to fit your largest files, a space should be designated for the printer, and there must be ample storage and sufficient drawers for stationery supplies.”
Responding to a yearning for natural materials, timber, glass, and metal are ideal, as are durable timber-look veneers. “Glass doors and wall dividers in semi-opaque finishes are really popular,” says Hall. Ensure your office joinery is similar to other spaces in your home, and choose a palette that motivates you. “A light, airy palette, in cool, calm tones like pale grey, inspire focus and efficiency,” she says.
A WFH office bar? How very Mad Men! “It can be as simple as a carafe and tall tumblers on a tray or as glamorous as a brass bar trolley,” says Sivewright.
Integrate a bar into your cabinetry, adding a filtered water tap, butler’s sink and under-bench fridge, or invest in a classic bar cart to hold all your mixology essentials that can easily move around. Look for new or antique styles crafted in bamboo, brass, acrylic, or glass and metal. “There’s no need to display lots of glassware,” she adds. “You won’t be cleaning this area as often as other rooms, and no one wants to look at dusty glassware when working away on their computer.”
Art personalises a space and can be used to inspire creativity. “A home office gives you the freedom to create a space with any aesthetic you wish, and art has a considerable impact on this,” agrees Hall.
As Omar and Oz discovered, hanging art just to fill a wall can break a room. “Find something you really love,” she says. “For a minimalist space, a simple line drawing or soft watercolour is great, and a highly saturated abstract is perfect for a creative space.”
What your choose is as important as where you hang it. “Lay the art on the floor and experiment with various compositions,” suggests Hall. “For different shaped frames, draw an imaginary rectangular border around them and arrange them inside, so they are perceived as a whole when hung.”
Can a desk be too big? Yes, according to judge Darren Palmer who described Omar and Oz’s as a “control centre for the office” and large enough for two people.
“A 2000 x 900-millimetre desk is a luxurious space just right for one person,” says Sivewright. “It allows you to easily walk around and access other work areas.”
Look for a desk that meshes with your home’s style. “Statement legs and a desktop in a feature finish allow your personal taste to shine,” she says. “Furniture Linoleum is enjoying a resurgence and is warm to the touch. Edge it in birch ply for a Scandinavian feel.”
Team with an ergonomic chair and have fun styling your desktop. “Place an elegant monitor and slimline keyboard in the middle of the desk alongside statement containers, in-tray, and Bluetooth your printer to prevent clutter,” she says. “Importantly, place your desk in a space that shows it off – don’t jam it in a corner.”