Sunday, 22 April 2012

home office - desks & accessories

Most of us have a home computer or laptop these days, making it virtually essential to have some kind of space to work. Even if you don't work from home, chances are you'll be spending time e-mailing, doing home accounts, internet shopping, or keeping up with friends on Facebook. While a laptop balanced on the knee might work for some, or setting up a temporary office for a few hours on the kitchen table for others, if you need a more permanent, dedicated work area, getting the right desk is essential.

If your rented place doesn't come with a desk, it may be worth investing in one (you'll find lots of ideas in this post!) If you have a furnished place and don't want to purchase a desk, or you really don't have room for one, look at your existing furniture and see if there's anything you can adapt, even a large shelf in the living room can be used as a workspace. If you have a piece of furniture that's useable but not to your taste, consider making it more acceptable with a linen runner to hide the worktop, or a tablecloth if you really want to cover it all. The advantage of this is you can store files etc under the table out of sight. If there's nothing you can adapt, buy some smart storage boxes to keep your papers and office bits in, and commandeer the kitchen table or sofa when you need to work, packing all your things away when you're done.

If you have a dedicated room as an office, there are a wide range of options available and you might want something a little more 'officey' looking. Chances are though, that you'll have a working area in a room with another use, like the living room, or your bedroom. I this case, it's better to choose a piece of furniture that doesn't look like an office desk, or one that allows you to hide away some, or all of your equipment. If space is tight, there are plenty of small or narrow desks to choose from, consider selecting one that can double up as something else too. If you have a large hallway, set up office there and double up the desk as an entryway table too. If your desk is in your bedroom, it could double as a dressing table. Having less space doesn't mean having no workspace, it just means you have to be a bit clever about how you use the space you do have. 

For lots of inspiration on home office space, check out House To Home.

Here are my top 10 picks for home desks from the high street, but if you want something a bit different, why not look on eBay, Gumtree or Freecycle for old desks that could be restored or painted. Look on Design*Sponge for inspiration, the possibilities are endless!

1. Isala laptop desk £149 from Ikea - Perfect if you want a desk that doesn't look like a desk! The drawer is a laptop rest and also stows your laptop out of sight when not in use. It would double up as a great dressing table in a bedroom if you're in a shared house and your bedroom doubles as your workspace, plus at 80cm wide, it doesn't take up a lot of room.
2. Opus Mango Short Corner Desk £65 from Next - If you're really short on space, or have an awkward room layout, a corner desk could be the answer.
3. Writex Desk £149  from John Lewis - Perfect for narrow spaces this desk can double as a console too.
4. Hide Work Station £625 from Heals - The priciest option here, but you get lots of bookcase storage on either side, plus, you can hide all your computer equipment behind the sliding doors. Great if you work from home lots or have an open plan space.
5. Odyssey writing desk £595 Graham & Green - My personal favourite, made from solid mango wood, it has beautiful lines and is a great investment that will last for years. It can also be used as a dressing table or hall console.
6. Vika laptop desk £123, Ikea - Perfect if you have lots of paperwork, when the lid is up it acts and looks like an office, but flip the lid down and you instantly have a clear surface.
7. Malm desk £120 from Ikea - If you have a dedicated office room and need a big desk on a small budget, Ikea really is your best option.
8. 1950's industrial desk £480 from The Old Cinema - If you have a dedicated office space, go all out and get a big desk to fit!
9. Micke desk £35.99 from Ikea - This is a great budget option, it's small, has clean lines, comes in lots of colour options as well as larger versions. Perfect for students of all ages and great when you need a decent looking desk, fr not a lot of money.
10 . (below) It's not really a desk, but if you're a laptop-percher, this angled rest is perfect, allowing you to sit back on the sofa and type comfortably. It also folds flat to easily stow away:

Brada Laptop Support £7.99, Ikea

The key things I found while researching this post, is that a lot of desks out there are cumbersome and not very good looking, especially if you have a big computer set up (tower, scanner, printer etc) and the ones that aren't tend to be very expensive. However, if you have a lap top or integrated system like an iMac, the options are far nicer, as long as you don't have too many cables and what not. One of the better looking options for a full office set up in a small space, is a hideaway desk, where the equipment is all behind closed doors when not in use. The only problem is, the inexpensive ones are mostly particleboard nastiness and the nicer solid wood ones are all over 300 pounds. Of course it all comes down to taste and budget, if you feel a hideaway desk is the best option, try eBay for a wide range. 

The other thing I found is that for the lower end of the price range, the best option really is Ikea. I wouldn't normally include four items from one shop in my picks, but they have the widest selection at the best prices and try as I might, there were no comparable alternatives! Almost all other low budget options look, well, low budget, not to mention quite un-stylish. 

Whether you have a desk or not, make your workspace a nicer place with some smart accessories that look good enough to leave on display if you need to, it's the key to making your workspace look relaxed and homely and not too much like an office. There are a huge number of cute and cool stationery items out there, Heals, Paperchase, Liberty and Ording & Reda all have a great selection to keep you organized in style and even high street mainstays like WH Smith have some surprisingly stylish offerings. It's also worth trying museum shops, both the V&A and the Design Museum have some quirky and stylish desk accessories.

1. Orla Keily 6 part expander file £16.95 from WH Smith - Filing bills is dull, but your stationery doesn't have to be! This expanding file is pretty enough to leave on show.
2. Smiley Face Stapler £12 from VandAshop - Make homeworking fun with this neat bit of kit that prints a smiley face every time you staple.
3. Orange Trunk Notebook £15.95 from Liberty -This notebook is absolutely gorgeous, bright, clever and almost too good to use.
4. 'Toothbrush' holder £9.99 from Rockett St George - Billed as 'the toothbrush holder that's too good to be used as a toothbrush holder' store your pens in it instead and get rid of that horrible plastic thing you've been using.
5. Penelope Task Lamp in cream £40 from John Lewis - The 1940's utility styling on this lamp makes it look far more expensive than it is. Available in four colourways.
6. Zinc Letter Tray £12.95 from Rockett St George - Keep bills and post that needs to be actioned in this industrial tray.
7. Chip the paperclip holder £32 Design Museum Shop - This bird has a magnetic core, so paperclips stick to him to make his plumage! Delightfully decorative and very useful too.
8. Someday Mini Sticky Note Set - £8.95 from Liberty - Help get your papers in order with these fun sticky notes.
9. Tinder Magazine File £7.00 from Paperchase -Keep files, papers and magazines in order with this gorgeous file box from Paperchase. They have matching ring binders and lidded boxes too, perfect if you have open shelves!

1 comment:

  1. This is a good list. All the desk and accessories are beautiful. We could definitely use this in our rent commercial property in Derby.