4 ways to create the ultimate ad-hoc office - no matter your space

Remote working looks set to stay in some capacity, so maybe time to ditch that laptop balanced on your knees

Landing office
Credit: Karen Knox (making-spaces.net)

Not everyone is fortunate enough to have a whole room to dedicate to a home office. And yet, according to recent figures, 9.3 million of us are planning to continue homeworking at least some of the time post- lockdown. So if that temporary desk set-up is no longer adequate, how do you incorporate an effective work area without sacrificing a bedroom? 

If there’s more than one person working from home – plus children with homework to do – now is the time to establish one or two focused workspaces, whether that’s in the kitchen, living room or halfway up the stairs, so everyone has their own place.

1. The corner office

Good for: WFH overspill and to keep an eye on kids’ homework

Credit: GAP Interiors/Bill Kingston - www.alp-design.co.uk

Alcove shelving can be  relatively easily adapted to include built-in desks, as here. The indoor tree acts as  a natural screen between the corner desk and the rest of the room. Where there are open shelves, mix up files with plants and decorative objects so it doesn’t look too ‘office’.

WFH hack: If you don’t want to instal drawers, use trays and baskets to conceal work clutter quickly at the end of the day.

Buys to try

From left: Artificial eucalyptus tree, £79, La Redoute; Jessie leaning oak desk, £150, Habitat; Chelsea leather tray (can be monogrammed), from £140, Noble Macmillan

2. The concealed cubbyhole

Good for: busy families tight  on space and time 

Credit: Megan Taylor, from Making Living Lovely by Russell Whitehead and Jordan Cluroe (Thames & Hudson, £19.95)

With good joinery, even a cupboard can become a highly efficient workspace.  If you’re planning a kitchen renovation, consider incorporating something like this one, designed by Russell Whitehead and Jordan Cluroe of 2LG Studio for the kitchen/dining room of their home. The full-height cupboards, built by John Lewis of Hungerford, cleverly conceal a desk with drawers below and a shelf above. When the doors are open, the cobalt-blue interior adds a shot of energy to the whole room (and ties in with the colours of the rug, from Floor Story); when they're closed, you wouldn't know the desk was there, and any office clutter is hidden.

WFH hack: When choosing a chair for a kitchen office like this one, make sure it can double as a dining chair when the cupboard doors are closed. The one shown is by Menu

Buys to try

From left: Box file, £42, Cambridge Imprint; fragranced pencils, £35 for four, Caran d’Ache x Mizensir; Osco desk organiser, £20, John Lewis

3. The staircase workspace 

Good for: when you need to get away and concentrate

Credit: Karen Knox

If there are going to be other people in the house during  the day, relocating your workspace away from the kitchen and living area will help to avoid distraction. An upstairs landing, such as this one in the home of designer Karen Knox (making-spaces.net), was created when a box room was taken out to allow for an open staircase up to a loft extension – now it’s a light-filled workstation. Knox made the desk from Ikea desk legs and sheets of inexpensive oriented strand board.

WFH hack: The wall of magnetic plaster to the left of the desk (try toolstation.com) makes the perfect pinboard, and allows for a changing display of mood-board materials.

Buys to try

From left: Swing-arm wall lamp, from £175, Mink Interiors; Hagen folding desk, £699,  Pepper Sq; Gull desk tidy, £162, Isokon Plus

4. The Zoom spot

Good for: online meetings where you want to impress

Credit: Photograph: Simon Upton/The Interior Archive/Design: Gregory Bissonnette

Find a decorative place in your home, pop a table in front of it, and you have the perfect video-call background. The large ikat in this living area makes an eye-catching backdrop (and the inside door of the cupboard is used as a pinboard – a clever way to conceal clutter). 

WFH hack: If you spend a lot of time on calls, or reading papers, consider setting up a lounge chair in the corner of a room – it will make a change from your usual desk area. 

Buys to try

From left: Grand Repos lounge chair, from £4,220, Vitra, at Heal's; Bayron oak table, £599, Made; Azure print, from £50, Jonathan Lawes, from Print Club London