Friday, 9 September 2011

How to... create your own space


My own space at home is the little room I’ve just turned into an office. I have a desk and a day bed (aka a single bed disguised with cushions) but the walls are bare and the shelving not quite right… In short, it still needs quite some work to make it a place I enjoy sitting in every day. 

So I was most inspired flicking through a gorgeous new book called A Space of my Own (Ryland Peters), by Caroline Clifton-Mogg, left.

And if you hanker after somewhere nice to sew, send emails in peace, sort the bills or just read a book without everyone else in your home in your face – you might be too. The pictures – a few of them below – are full of ideas.

Here are my favourite of her tips on transforming tiny corners and spare rooms into just that (plus one or two of my own)...


More, more, more
 “Almost everyone can carve out a space of their own at home that’s better than the kitchen table,” says Clifton-Mogg. “The smallest corner of a room can be converted – and you will immediately notice the difference makes to your life: more productive, organised, even more creative.”

Seek and hide But how to magic this space? Clifton-Mogg advises: “Look at every bit of your home in a slightly different way. In a familiar building, we walk past alcoves, skirt half-landings (potentially perfect as they’re architecturally defined as separate), and don’t see odd angled spaces under the stairs. And as for cupboards and corridors…” How about a desk-height shelf hinged to flip up when not in use, with wall-hung cupboards or shelves above?

Sleep easy If you’re converting a room but need it for guests – consider a sofabed, “for a more professional aspect”, says Clifton-Mogg. And if you run a home-business and will hold meetings there, your desk should ideally face the door: “Psychologically it’s better than facing a wall”.

Nice personality “Whether your space is separate or part of a larger area, it is important to decorate it in a way that not only acts as a subtle demarcation, but which also inspires while you work. The more of your own things you have around you the more comfortable you will feel.”

It's behind you! From years of renting a patch of office I’ve learned that unless you have room for a massive desk, the ideal – if possible – is to have a shelf or ledge of some sort behind the chair, or a low cupboard to one side: overspill builds and if it can only live on the desk the desk won’t do its job.

The future's bright Being by a window is wonderful – but, from experience, get a black-out blind for sun-glare if you’re computer bound. Try John Lewis. (It’s also good if you’re prone to distracted procrastination…)

Added interest Corporate furniture depresses me. Clifton-Mogg, too: “If you feel dejected at the idea of conventional office furniture, think laterally,” the book says. Its quirky desk suggestions include an upturned door balanced on two filing cabinets (spray painted ideally) and old kitchen tables (with drawers).

A postcard of you Not keen on a pinboard but want that effect and flexibility? Fix string to a wall: with clothes pegs, attach nice postcards, invites and things you like having around you.

Wall-hung Wall-mounted lights free up desk space. If there are shelves above, consider designs intended as kitchen down lighters.

Small and beautiful Shelves equal order, says the book, without which “all else will be in vain”. For a small space, Futoncompany.co.uk do a wall-mountable ‘infinity bureau box’ (£80) or a slim, lean-to oak shelving/desk unit (£199). “Even a single shelf on simple brackets will make a difference, and a set of shelves, on adjustable brackets, will change your life.”

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