Working from home is the Holy Grail of #lifegoals for many, but typing away crouched at the end of your bed or on the corner of a crumb-strewn kitchen table doesn’t have quite the same motivational pull as a fabulously-designed office.
There’s something about the prospect of your own space, decked out with hand-picked adornments and arranged exactly as you please, that is undeniably thrilling.
Being surrounded by the fruits of your own imagination – whether that’s a collage of black-and-white postcards or the artful curation of lights – will add fuel to your ambition in a way that the grey, strip-lit enclaves of the corporate world never could.
With the trend for self-employment burgeoning, we take a look at some of Britain’s most charismatic DIY home office designs and the freelance creatives behind them…
Charlotte Ricard, founder of wedding and event planning consultancy la-fete.com, has crafted a desk bursting with elegant touches of personality.
Vintage Parisian-style wall prints are offset by personalised accessories such as the ‘C’ mug, white roses and a glass full of sleek gold stationery.
Her space is refined, with an understated white palette that is enlivened by the occasional pop of rich jewel tones.
“I work amongst a collection of beautiful things I have collected from interesting places around the world and that I feel will fuel me in my work,” Charlotte says. “As an event stylist and planner, I am constantly seeking inspiration for the next project. My current desk crush is gold stationery and white flowers.”
The office of Swedish-born illustrator Karin Åkesson is a homage to the clean-cut, contemporary aesthetic of Scandinavian design.
The industrial finish of the workbench and the pared-down hues are animated by a carefully edited selection of whimsical prints, all the better for their instinctive arrangement.
We particularly love the dash of visual warmth provided by the cactus plant and red wine glass image.
Karin sells her designs on notonthehighstreet.com.
“My work will always continue to change; it grows with me and is in many ways a reflection of my life right now,” she says. “I never try too hard to plan my designs and instead enjoy where it takes me and sometimes the surprises it brings.
“We create designs for both children and parents, and inspiration can come at any time, but mainly I just make things that I like myself. I have recently launched a new print collection inspired by my Scandinavian roots, nature and memories.”
Haven of light
Naturally, she needs ample space to coordinate this, so she and her partner decided to carve out a home studio by combining four rooms of her flat, including her former bedroom.
The result is a wide expanse of energising space that radiates a sense of playfulness with a large Andy Warhol print, a modern pea-green chair and floor-to-ceiling windows that flood the room with natural light.
“We designed and commissioned cupboards, shelving and desks in white,” explains Paula. “We converted our wardrobe into storage by having the dark wood doors cut down to make shelves and adding new white doors to create more space and light. We added bi-fold doors to the garden, which creates more sense of space – and I love being able to look out over our garden.”
Curiosities are dotted here and there, drawing the eye and lending a sense of intrigue.
“The bright, light space is full of inspiring objects, pictures and books to help me think and keep me stimulated,” Paula says. “The high floating shelf, which runs all the way around the room, is home to our collection of vinyl toys from around the world.”
Katherine Hudson, founder and director of the Arabian Tent Company, has a suitably theatrical enclave from which to run her projects.
To step inside her office – which Katherine renovated from a derelict hay barn with an aluminium roof – is to enter into an Aladdin’s Cave of curiosities, from the vase filled with ostrich feathers to a battered ship’s trunk that doubles up as a table, and a series of stylised animal masks.
This is a place that emanates mystique and a childhood sense of delight. Every new angle reveals more unique details to marvel at.
“My favourite feature is the secret wardrobe on the left-hand side of the room – sourced from an Afghan furniture importer I’ve been buying from for years,” says Katherine. “It leads into a tented emporium which has the feel of a decadent nightclub… I love the way it brings out the child in everyone that walks through it.”
Even everyday features have an air of the unexpected about them. The sofa comes decorated with stamp motifs, while the retro radio dazzles in a vivid shade of bubble-gum pink.
“The artefacts reflect where I’ve been and what I love,” says Katherine. “Like the white dove I bought on a trip with my boyfriend in Belgium 10 years ago, my sister’s foil pictures inspired by 1940s designs, the parrot from a Glyndebourne production of The Magic Flute – I once made a tent for a Glyndebourne production – the mirrored tennis racket my friend made, the collection of keys I found in an antique shop in Paris with my sister and the Victorian brass fly ashtray I’ve had since I was 14.
“I love working from my office – it’s full of inspiration and there’s beauty wherever I look,” she adds.
The first thing that strikes you about the studio of illustrator Emma Block is the way subtle blocks of colour bubble and rise around the interior of the office.
There’s the pale mint-green of the desk drawers, the snap of colour-coded primary red and blue on the bookshelf, and the impulsive pink blush of flowers in an egg-blue jug.
The placement of things is free-flowing and spontaneous, in a manner that likely echoes Emma’s own creative process with her drawings. Cupfuls of paint brushes stand side-by-side with sketches stuck to the wall and a white unit that brims with the comforting debris of everyday life.
The impact of this is appealing; it feels warm and friendly, without being over-curated.
“I use a mixture of digital and traditional processes, which means my desk has to be large enough to fit an iMac, scanner, graphics tablet and pots of of pencils, brushes, paint and pads of paper,” says Emma.
“My desk is from made.com, and my favourite thing about it, aside from the colour, is the amount of storage it has. The lid lifts up, which is where I keep all my packing materials. The Ikea shelving unit next to the desk is practical, with lots of space for my printer, sketchbooks, stock and workshop materials, as well as some of my favourite art and design books arranged by colour. My desk is next to the window so I always have the best possible view when I'm drawing.”
Designer Nadia El Meallem, founder of ethical fashion label crown-love.com, works from an office that is brimming with extravagant objets d'art.
White rose streamers hang above bowlfuls of actual white roses, interspersed with vintage cake stands, oriental-print fans and bits and pieces of Nadia’s favourite jewellery.
The design ethos is indulgent, passionate even – and the charisma of the layout draws from its lack of structure and rules.
With its bespoke fashion prints and vintage flourishes, it has the feel of a golden-era Hollywood retreat.
“I like surrounding myself with inspiring and beautiful pieces to put a personal stamp on my working space,” says Nadia.
Parlour of quirks
Actress-turned-artist Taya De La Cruz fills her office space with vivacious bursts of personality.
The base palette is minimal, with a Mac computer and artist’s light box set against an off-white wall.
Flair is added via retro furnishings, such as an Olympia typewriter and Thirties-style lamp perched atop a shelf of books.
"Whilst my space is small and simple, I added many little touches that talk to the creativity I have to summon on demand,” says Taya. “I keep minimalism at the forefront, with splashes of vintage and art."
Perhaps the most endearing aspect of Taya's office is her pin board, filled with retro postcards, design prints, motivational quotes and sentimental knick-knacks such as ticket stubs and vouchers.
Home office hydration
For refreshment while working in your home office, smartwater makes staying hydrated effortless and stylish. smartwater is vapour distilled from British spring water, with added electrolytes to create a distinctively crisp, clean taste. Each sleek bottle is also 100% recyclable.
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