Amanda Li is no stranger to burning the midnight oil. The freelance interior designer specialised in corporate spaces for firms such as Gensler before taking on an assortment of clients on her own including the Stanley home of old China hand Simon Murray. Currently working from her home office in Happy Valley, Li is a fountain of creative advice for folks who want to carve out a quiet corner of their home for work or study.
“If you have over 500 square feet, you can consider using a bedroom as an office. However, apartments under 500 square feet should be kept as open as possible, even if you’re living with a spouse or children. If you wish to divide up spaces for privacy, consider using full height opaque drapes that can be quickly drawn. I would suggest multi-colour floor tiles in an open kitchen scattered about in a random pattern to liven up the entire apartment.
Your dining table can easily act as a desk. Since most dining tables are 740 to 750 millimetres high and people are more comfortable working on a desk that’s 710 to 720 mm high, you may want to consider using a footstool if your dining table is doing double duty. Outfit it with shallow drawers for small items such as pens and notepads, and consider inserting concealed troughs with outlets to hide iPhone cords and chargers. Task lighting should be considered if you’re doing a lot of reading; I like the idea of a lamp that can be recessed into the table with the plug hidden underneath so that it looks clean and uncluttered.
Out of Sight
In a small apartment, you should design your storage to be the same depth as your closet for a cohesive look when the sliding doors are closed. Two of the three cabinets can be used for clothing while the third can be used for storing books and box files. When open, you should be able to see everything you need with one glance. You should use the entire height of the wall for this type of cabinet. The top can be fitted with open shelves for household items like extra blankets and pillows, while books and equipment can be placed on the bottom. Remember to include outlets and data points inside the cabinet to plug in equipment such as a printer, fax and scanner, which can all be concealed with the door is closed. All of the office related items should be within reach from a seated height. I would also include a pull out shelf at standing height, so that I can temporary rest heavy books or look at files without having to lug them over to the table.
Have a Seat
A proper, height-adjustable task chair is important for people who intend to work for many hours at a time. You can get one these days that fits into your decor and doesn’t look so obviously like office furniture. Some of the key things to consider would be a tilt forward mechanism, so that when you lean forward, the rest of the chair will follow. A headrest is good for those prone to neck strain so that they can relax their muscles by laying back. Chairs that tilt from side to side let you stay in the chair while stretching. Casters suit hard flooring such as tile or wood; on carpet or area rugs, wheels can be annoying. I like Wilkhahn’s On and Herman Miller’s Embody chairs.
Bells and Whistles
I think that having good background music is very important for working. You should invest in a set of high quality ceiling-mounted speakers, like Bose. Try to get rid of things cluttering up your work surface — and don’t put the speakers there!
With the exception of the task chair — which can be wheeled away if company drops by — no one will ever know that your home is also an office.”