| 5.8°C Dublin

The double duty home: how to give your home a work/life balance

Whether it's a workspace in the living room or homework zones in the kitchen, our houses now have to be truly multi-functional, which, writes Nathalie Marquez Courtney, creates design and storage challenges

Close

Ikea’s clever Svalnäs shelving system allows you to create a wall-mounted workspace, €280, see ikea.com

Ikea’s clever Svalnäs shelving system allows you to create a wall-mounted workspace, €280, see ikea.com

Wall storage basket, €12.99, H&M Home, see hm.com

Wall storage basket, €12.99, H&M Home, see hm.com

The Elmer wall desk from French brand Resistub is ideal for smaller spaces, as it contains built-in storage and folds away when not in use, €1,080, April and the Bear, see aprilandthebear.com

The Elmer wall desk from French brand Resistub is ideal for smaller spaces, as it contains built-in storage and folds away when not in use, €1,080, April and the Bear, see aprilandthebear.com

HK Living folding screen, €449, WOO .Design, see woodesign.ie

HK Living folding screen, €449, WOO .Design, see woodesign.ie

Bundy pegboard,€110, Foxford Woollen Mills, see foxfordwoollenmills.com

Bundy pegboard,€110, Foxford Woollen Mills, see foxfordwoollenmills.com

/

Ikea’s clever Svalnäs shelving system allows you to create a wall-mounted workspace, €280, see ikea.com

As we start seeing the spring interiors lookbooks trickle in, we get to fully grasp how the last 12 months have impacted trends. Ikea is launching a 'Transitions' range, focused on exploring "the small ways we can adapt and change our homes", while H&M Home's 'Make room for you' spring collection aims to "inspire customers to be creative and use their home and objects in more than one way".

The message is clear: we're all looking for ways to create more fluid, versatile spaces. "A tough year has made us revaluate our homes," says Evelina Kravaev Söderberg, head of design and creative at H&M Home. "By rethinking how a certain space is used, you can find ways to use rooms and items a little differently."

A decent 'work from home' set-up was among the first things we scrambled to put together last year and many people are looking to make that addition a permanent one.

"Home offices used to be a rarity but now they are essential," says Siobhan Lam, owner of interiors store April and the Bear.

Close

The Elmer wall desk from French brand Resistub is ideal for smaller spaces, as it contains built-in storage and folds away when not in use, €1,080, April and the Bear, see aprilandthebear.com

The Elmer wall desk from French brand Resistub is ideal for smaller spaces, as it contains built-in storage and folds away when not in use, €1,080, April and the Bear, see aprilandthebear.com

The Elmer wall desk from French brand Resistub is ideal for smaller spaces, as it contains built-in storage and folds away when not in use, €1,080, April and the Bear, see aprilandthebear.com

"Almost every home, regardless of its size, now has a 'home office' - be that a tiny desk squashed into the hall or alcove, or the dining table.

"Finding new home desks was top of my buying list for 2021," she continues. "Customers have been asking for home desks that are chic and neat and don't take up too much space."

Once you have a desk and a comfortable, supportive chair sorted, it's time to start looking at the space more holistically. "That was probably the more difficult aspect of it," says Jackie Carton, president of the Interiors Association and creative director at Carton Interiors.

"Creating a work zone was one thing, but creating a feel that's conducive to work is really tricky." She says some people went for temporary work-arounds, using things like screens and room dividers, while others recognised that this was going to be a more permanent way of working and living, and so embarked on larger, more structural layout changes or painted dedicated work zones in calming hues.

"One client screened off a room with hanging plants," says Jackie. "They worked double duty, both by making a partition and helping to create an environment that was conducive to work."

Great storage is the key to making multi-functional spaces work - you don't want to be staring at piles of laundry or dirty dishes when getting stuck into Zoom calls, and similarly you don't want paperwork and Post-it notes cluttering up your dining table come dinner time.

Close

Bundy pegboard,€110, Foxford Woollen Mills, see foxfordwoollenmills.com

Bundy pegboard,€110, Foxford Woollen Mills, see foxfordwoollenmills.com

Bundy pegboard,€110, Foxford Woollen Mills, see foxfordwoollenmills.com

Home & Property

Get the best home, property and gardening stories straight to your inbox every Saturday.

This field is required

"Baskets, storage bags, smart shelving, hooks and soap holders are super popular at the moment," says Lam. "Being at home, working and playing and living creates a lot of clutter."

There has also been a marked move away from open-plan spaces. "Broken-plan, more like," laughs Carton. "Who would have known that those lovely open spaces we spent so long lusting after would suddenly become a hindrance?"

With so many people at home carrying out a wide variety of tasks and activities, well-defined zones become more important than ever. If you're struggling with a large open space, there are ways of getting around it.

"You could try something like a three-quarters partition made of bookshelves between the dining and the living zone in an open-plan space. It would allow the person in the dining zone to work at the dining table if needed."

Box rooms were prime candidates for workspace makeovers, though Jackie says that the last few months have seen us re-evaluate our entire home.

"Space has been seriously under-used in the last few years," she says. "People used to, traditionally, care a lot about the living room or the kitchen, because they would be the ones they spent the most time in, whereas now they're spending time everywhere, separating out into different zones.

"That means every room - from the bedroom to the hallway - has to start working harder. It's great that we're beginning to see the value and potential of these different areas."


Most Watched





Privacy