Make a study work for you

Working from home is becoming the norm for more and more of us, whether we are part of the growing ranks of the self employed or just trying to cut the time and cost of commuting. The computer and telecoms revolution means that most creative and administrative tasks can now be carried out easily from the spare bedroom.

Many people work better at home, away from the distractions of the office. But the convenience can be offset by the disadvantages - unless you are careful, your home can become your office and work can intrude on leisure.

Grant Smith, a photographer, has been employed by national papers and magazines but is now freelance. He needs equipment storage and office space, and recommends building a special work area: "It's hard to work in my living space, and difficult to get away from the work in the evening. If you're looking at it, you're thinking about it; you need to be able to shut the door on it."

Shutting the door on it can involve sectioning off part of a room, either permanently with partitioning, or with something as simple as a Japanese folding screen. Or you might install an "office in a cupboard"; built- in or free-standing workstations are available to match bedroom or living room furniture.

Other solutions, requiring some construction work, involve adapting previously unused space. Loft conversions are a favourite, but offices can also be built in coal cellars, under-stairs cupboards and even on platforms above stairwells.

But first some basics. It will pay to reorganise lighting, electrical and telecoms sockets so you can minimise trailing flex and extensions. An extra BT line costs only pounds 49.50 to install, and is pretty much essential for serious home workers. And you can never have enough electrical sockets. Lighting is important for mood, efficiency and the health of your eyes; a concealed downlighter above the work surface and a track fitting in the ceiling can be augmented by an adjustable desk lamp.

Next, furniture. Office desks are always going to look like - well - office desks. They can dominate a room. A good DIY alternative is a couple of two-drawer filing cabinets with a length of kitchen worktop laid across. Filing cabinets can be bought from second-hand office furniture stores for around pounds 30, but you do see them dumped in skips. Paint them with Hammerite and choose a worktop to suit - pounds 16 from a DIY shed.

Adjustable shelving is best, and the Spur system, although not the cheapest, is sturdy and looks good. Shelving systems can be cheaper from builders' merchants like Travis Perkins than from the DIY shops. For the shelves, planed pine boards from a timber yard are cheaper and more attractive than the melamine-covered chipboard.

At the professional level, fitted home office manufacturers can supply desks, workstations and filing cabinets that look like good-quality reproduction furniture. Companies such as Conquest provide a full design and fitting service, and prices are roughly on a par with those for a fitted kitchen; pounds 3,000 will buy about 4 metres of fitted desktop with cupboards, drawers, filing cabinets and bookcases in a real wood veneer finish.

Richard Kimbell has a range of free-standing units in real timber, including a fold-away computer centre for around pounds 1,000 and a two-drawer filing cabinet for pounds 255. Ducal supplies free-standing timber modules that provide any combination of worktops, cupboards and bookcases. Prices are around pounds 400 for a computer desk and pounds 300 for a filing cabinet.

q Contacts: Conquest 01705 370654; Richard Kimbell 01344 875168; Ducal 01264 333666.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
Young Winstone: His ‘tough-guy’ image is a misconception
people
Sport
Adnan Januzaj and Gareth Bale
footballManchester United set to loan out Januzaj to make room for Bale - if a move for the Welshman firms up
Arts and Entertainment
Ellie Levenson’s The Election book demystifies politics for children
bookNew children's book primes the next generation for politics
News
Outspoken: Alexander Fury, John Rentoul, Ellen E Jones and Katy Guest
newsFrom the Scottish referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
i100
Sport
Yaya Sanogo, Mats Hummels, Troy Deeney and Adnan Januzaj
footballMost Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
Arts and Entertainment
L to R: Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Captain America (Chris Evans) & Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) in Avengers Assemble
film
News
Nigel Farage celebrates with a pint after early local election results in the Hoy and Helmet pub in South Benfleet in Essex
peopleHe has shaped British politics 'for good or ill'
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams' “Happy” was the most searched-for song lyric of 2014
musicThe power of song never greater, according to our internet searches
Sport
Tim Sherwood raises his hand after the 1-0 victory over Stoke
footballFormer Tottenham boss leads list of candidates to replace Neil Warnock
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
Sink the Pink's 2013 New Year's Eve party
musicFour of Britain's top DJs give their verdict on how to party into 2015
Voices
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers
voicesIt has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Arts and Entertainment
Roffey says: 'All of us carry shame and taboo around about our sexuality. But I was determined not to let shame stop me writing my memoir.'
books
News
i100
News
Caplan says of Jacobs: 'She is a very collaborative director, and gives actors a lot of freedom. She makes things happen.'
people
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant- NY- Investment Bank

Not specified: Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant Top tier investment bank i...

Selby Jennings: Quantitative Research | Equity | New York

Not specified: Selby Jennings: Quantitative Research | Global Equity | New Yor...

Selby Jennings: SVP Model Validation

Not specified: Selby Jennings: SVP Model Validation This top tiered investment...

Selby Jennings: Oil Operations

Highly Competitive: Selby Jennings: Our client, a leading European Oil trading...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

Finally, a diet that works

Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

Say it with... lyrics

The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

The joys of 'thinkering'

Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

Monique Roffey interview

The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones
DJ Taylor: Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

It has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Olivia Jacobs & Ben Caplan: 'Ben thought the play was called 'Christian Love'. It was 'Christie in Love' - about a necrophiliac serial killer'

How we met

Olivia Jacobs and Ben Caplan
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's breakfasts will revitalise you in time for the New Year

Bill Granger's healthy breakfasts

Our chef's healthy recipes are perfect if you've overindulged during the festive season
Transfer guide: From Arsenal to West Ham - what does your club need in the January transfer window?

Who does your club need in the transfer window?

Most Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
The Last Word: From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015

Michael Calvin's Last Word

From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015