How to create a home office where you’d want to work

Home office

In the 21st century, more and more of us are becoming self-employed – and employers themselves are becoming more flexible about remote working. That means that many people now operate from home. Living and working in the same place can be hard to do – there are so many distractions; domestic chores, family, knocks at the door. To make a success of it, you might need to create a home office where you’d want to work and enjoy spending time. We’ve come up with a few ways that can help you attain this…

Home office desk and chair

Furniture

The first place you’ll want to start is with the furniture. If you’re going to be spending an entire working day in a room, comfort is paramount. Your office chair should be ergonomic and supportive; sitting for hours at a time can wreak havoc with the shoulders, back and spine.

If you have the space, additional office seating such as an armchair or small sofa gives you more options for activities such as reading documents and having meetings etc. It also encourages you to step away and avoid staring at your computer screen for extended periods of time.

Your desk needs to be the correct height in relationship to your office chair. Too high or too low and it will affect your posture which could cause discomfort and aches & pains.

home office desk with books and bowl of fresh fruit salad

Lighting

Natural light is the best for working. Have your desk face a window rather than away from it (glare from sunlight on a computer screen can strain your eyes). Besides, being in front of a window can be an effective distraction if the view is over a garden, landscape or cityscape. Staring out helps you think and come up with imaginative ideas!

If natural sunlight isn’t an option, your choice of electric lighting becomes even more important. A desk lamp is the next best thing. It can be positioned to shine in just the spot where it’s needed. If your desk space isn’t large enough to accommodate a lamp, an adjustable floor-standing lamp could be the answer. It is important to choose the correct wattage of bulb – nothing too dim or too bright – something around 50Watts.

Overhead fluorescent strip lights are not recommended as they can cause eye strain and lead to headaches.

Desk with box files

Environment

For you to work effectively, your home office needs to be well organised. As the saying goes, “a tidy desk leads to a tidy mind”. Move mess off your desk and into storage. Install shelves and drawers and put paper into filing trays & boxes. Use a noticeboard Uncluttered, ordered, distraction-free

Keeping your office environment tidy is just the start. Enhance the space with houseplants which purify the air. Keep healthy snacks, bottle of water, tea/coffee maker (just the smell of coffee can boost spirits) to hand.

Finally, you need to think about the ambient temperature. No one enjoys working somewhere where it’s too hot or too cold. There’s no recommended temperature – everyone’s different. However, a YouGov survey found that the average British person says their ideal temperature is 21ºC.

Home office with bright orange feature wall

Colour

There is a psychology of colour, it can subconsciously affect your mood. For instance, blue is associated with feelings of calm, green represents nature, growth and renewal, grey is sophisticated and practical, yellow is warm, energetic and uplifting. You can add colour to your working environment in many ways – a lick of paint, colourful furniture, pretty accessories.

Home office desk with inspiration wall

Inspiration & motivation

We all need inspiration and motivation at work sometimes; getting over the Wednesday hump or when Friday just seems to drag. There are visual and aural methods of improving your productivity – artworks, postcards, photos. Some people need complete silence to work, however, tuning into the radio, playing music or listing to recorded sounds from nature such as birdsong or rain showers can increase your work rate.

Hopefully, by following these tips, you’ll be able to create a home office space that makes you comfortable, productive, happy and healthy.

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Get their look: Perfectly practical kitchen

Perfectly practical kitchencredit

Of all the kitchens we’ve featured so far on Get their look, this perfectly practical kitchen is probably the one I’d most like to be in our home!

As an ex-chef and avid baker, I love the fact that the Gaggenau appliances wouldn’t look out of place in an industrial kitchen. I’ve always had a soft spot for minimalist stainless steel cabinets and work surfaces.

The background palette is neutral and calm – creams, whites and natural wood shades much in evidence. It’s livened nicely with small flashes of colour from flowers, fruit, herbs etc.

A vintage, wall-mounted Bakelite telephone and framed Tretchikoff ‘Chinese Girl’ print add a contrasting homeliness to an otherwise utilitarian-like space.

Real thought has gone into the design – the marble fire surround being picked up in the top of the Saarinen tulip table for example.

  1. Bamboo hanging lamp
  2. Serge Mouille six-arm ceiling lamp replica
  3. Vladimir Tetchikoff ‘Chinese Girl’ print
  4. Gaggenau VG 491 111 F – SERIE 400 – stainless steel controls front
  5. Saarinen tulip oval table Arabescato coated marble by Knoll
  6. Gaggenau BMP 250 130 microwave cm. 60 200 dx series – silver combined microwave
  7. Polacco stool
  8. Tolix Inox outdoor chairs designed by Xavier Pauchard

Get their look: Perfectly practical kitchen | H is for Home

Loving our new Frankie day bed

Frankie day bed | H is for Home

The kind people at Happy Beds sent us their Frankie day bed with single mattress to try out this week – and we’re loving it!

Frankie day bed components | H is for Home

It arrived in five well-packaged boxes, each containing the essential components ready for construction. The fact that it comes in pieces will certainly suit those people who live in flats – or have some tight corners or doorways to manoeuvre objects through and around.

Arched slats on the Frankie day bed | H is for Home

Putting the day bed together was really straightforward. We followed the enclosed instructions and it was up and ready to go in approximately 1½ hours. Adelle actually loves doing that kind of flat pack construction type thing! Don’t worry if you don’t have a tool box, it comes with its own double-headed (Phillips on one end and standard on the other) screwdriver for assembling.

Detail of the fabric on the Frankie day bed | H is for Home

It’s very solidly constructed and has arched, flexible wooden slats for extra comfort. The detailing and finish is very good too. We really like the fashionable, soft grey, Hessian-like textile. It sits very nicely against our slightly darker grey walls – and also works well as a backdrop for pops of brighter colour.

Frankie day bed with blanket | H is for Home Frankie day bed with fabric throw | H is for Home Frankie day bed with vintage tin side table | H is for Home

We’ve been experimenting with various accessories and soft furnishings to dress it. So far, bright yellow has been our favourite. The grey/yellow combo is a bit of a classic, and was the obvious starting point if you look at the huge painting which hangs on the wall above it.

Frankie day bed with drawer pulled out | H is for Home Frankie day bed with blankets stored in under-drawer | H is for Home

The Frankie day bed has another nice design feature too. The under-bed, pull-out drawer is the exact dimensions as the mattress above. This means that, if you decide to house a mattress in it, you can have two single beds at slightly different heights – a great option if you have people staying over and need to maximise sleeping berths. Alternatively, it makes for great storage. You can get absolutely loads of bedding, clothes or shoes tucked away neatly and out of sight.

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Designer Desire: Birger Kaipiainen

Mosaic of Birger Kaipiainen ceramics | H is for Home

We’ve mentioned ceramic designer, Birger Kaipiainen (1915-1988) before on our blog – we have a cup & saucer that he designed for Arabia. A place where he claims he was, “able to grow like a weed”.

Whilst researching this post, I’ve discovered a plethora of brilliant works by him. He produced an impressive mural – 9 x 5 metres – for the 1967 World Exhibition in Montreal entitled, Orvokkimeri (Sea of Violets). Most of his other works are on a much smaller scale; vases, platters, chargers and table and serveware.

Vintage examples of his work can occasionally be found on 1st Dibs, Bukowskis, Etsy and eBay. The Finnish Design Shop sells a few of his designs that are still in production.

There was a book written by Harri Kalha to accompany a 2013 exhibition of Kaipiainen’s work that’s found its way on to my wish list!

Portrait of Birger Kaipiainen

Image credits:

Bukowskis

Price Points: Strawberry pots

Strawberry pots | H is for Home

Our summer fruit harvest has been pretty good this year. We have a few strawberry plants that have produced lots of fruit – and now, dozens of runners between them. We don’t want to just cut them back and waste them. Also, you shouldn’t just keep the same strawberry plants, growing on the same plot (or in the same soil) year after year, as they accumulate viruses – and crops diminish.

About three years is the optimum life for a strawberry plant apparently, so we’re going to propagate a few over the coming weeks. We had a look at what the venerable Monty Don had to say on how to go about it – and it’s incredibly easy. You can never have too many strawberry plants because you can never have too many strawberries!

Here’s a trio of different strawberry pots – from less than a tenner to over £50 – which we’ve found that would be perfect for our allotment and garden…

  1. Large 45-litre plastic herb / strawberry planter / grow bag: £7.95, Amazon
  2. Terracotta strawberry pots: £35.00, Etsy
  3. Terracotta strawberry planter: £64.99, Crocus

Cakes & Bakes: Peanut butter brownies

Slice of home-made peanut butter brownie and mug | H is for Home #recipe #brownies #baking #cookery

We’ve got a wonderful recipe for you this week – delicious peanut butter brownies. And there’s a bonus for some of our readers who have certain dietary requirements.

Peanut brownies mixtures | H is for Home

This peanut butter brownie recipe is taken from a cook book of low FODMAP dishes. FODMAP is an acronym for “fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols”. It’s a diet recommended for people suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Crohn’s Disease, functional bowel disorder, Inflammatory Bowel Disease and Coeliac Disease. Don’t let the fact that you’ve got a healthy digestive tract make you think that this brownie’s not for you – it’s amazing!

Peanut butter brownie batter in square tin | H is for Home Spooning warmed peanut butter into peanut butter brownie batter | H is for Home
Peanut butter pattern in peanut brownie batter | H is for Home Cooked peanut brownies | H is for Home

Slightly crispy on the outside… soft, sweet, chewy and gooey on the inside. Eat it hot or cold… on its own, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or thick pouring cream.

Sliced peanut brownies | H is for Home

Click here to save the recipe on Pinterest for later!

Peanut butter brownies
Yields 6
Cook Time
20 min
Cook Time
20 min
Ingredients
  1. 175g/6oz of unsalted butter
  2. 200g/7oz dark chocolate
  3. 75g/3oz crunchy peanut butter
  4. 125g/4½oz smooth peanut butter
  5. 3 eggs
  6. 175g/6oz of caster sugar
  7. ¼tsp of salt
  8. 50g/1¾oz self-raising flourHome-made peanut butter brownies ingredients
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Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6
  2. Grease a 30 x 20cm (12 x 8 inch) brownie tin and line it with parchment paper
  3. Put the butter, chocolate and crunchy peanut butter into a heat-proof bowl on a saucepan of simmering water over low heat and warm until just melted
  4. In a separate, small saucepan, gently warm through the smooth peanut butter
  5. Put the eggs, sugar and salt into a large bowl and whisk until the sugar has dissolved
  6. Using a rubber spatula, stir in the melted chocolate mixture and self-raising flour
  7. Scrape the mixture into the prepared tin
  8. Drizzle over the smooth peanut butter in 3-4 straight lines, then 'drag' through the peanut butter with a skewer or toothpick to create a marbled effect
  9. Bake for 20 minutes, until the cake is just firm to the touch, but has a slightly fudgy texture
  10. Allow to cool in the tin for a couple of minutes then lift out the block onto a board using the lining paper and cut it into 6-9 squares
  11. Serve warm or cold, on its own or with a scoop of ice cream or pouring cream
Print
Adapted from The Low-FODMAP Recipe Book
H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/