Mixing work and play

PUBLISHED : Friday, 30 December, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 30 December, 2011, 12:00am


If you live in a small flat and are constantly looking for somewhere to put your laptop or paperwork, perhaps it's time to consider installing a workstation.

Any under-utilised space will do - try a corner of the kitchen, lounge or bedroom or even the dining table.

Start by thinking about how much storage and desktop area you need.

Creating visual boundaries between the workstation and the room it is in will help increase productivity and prevent accidents occurring.

If you're in the kitchen, a half-wall or column can define the space as separate from the work area. If you are renting, even something temporary, such as a curtain, will help establish boundaries. When considering a kitchen workstation, it is important to assess your need for space. Kitchen islands are great for storing stationery supplies and stashing pots and pans.

If there's no room in the kitchen, try the bedroom, living room or dining room. The living room will help you stay connected with the family by keeping the home office where the action is. The downside is that there's little privacy. Chances are you have space in a corner or along your wall. Depending on your furniture, anything from a classic secretary's desk to a more contemporary streamlined one might suit. Wherever you install your workstation, ensure you have enough power sources. Consider adding a narrow shelf to keep mobile phones and personal digital assistants off the desktop. If you are in the kitchen, hide outlets inside cabinets for a streamlined look.

Adequate glare-free lighting is important, as lights such as old-fashioned fluorescents are hard on the eyes. It might be a good idea to buy a desk lamp so that dim lighting doesn't interfere with your work. If space does not allow this, then put the lights on dimmers so that you can control the brightness.

A workstation does not have to be on show all of the time. Consider using folding screens or a roll-top desk to hide messy paperwork or equipment such as printers and fax machines.

Another option for hiding equipment is to install a closet system that can house the computer, printer, fax machine, phone and audio-video equipment.

Inside the closet, install shelves and a fold-down desk surface. Best of all, when the doors are closed everything will disappear out of sight and make the room seem larger.