Thursday, 10 September 2020

Creating my Small Space Home Office

An office chair faded out, with the title text over the top
I had to take a long break from 'serious' blogging, due to ill health and a certain global virus that has turned everyone's lives upside down, one way or another. In many respects, the enforced break did me good, and I've come back with a renewed determination to make the most of my little slice of the internet. So, I did something I'd been talking about for years, I set up a home office. The fun part was, I had zero available space in my little house, but I wasn't going to let that stop me. Here's how I got creative and created a quiet, comfortable working environment, without taking any space from the room layouts I already had. 
This post contains Amazon affiliate links, if you buy something after clicking a link, I receive a small contribution to the biscuit fund. 

When you are short of space, any addition to your environment is going to require two things; ingenuity and a steely resolve. You have to get tough because you will have to declutter and that isn't always easy. I have lived in a modern three-bed semi, with hardly any storage capacity, for over 10 years and before that, I lived in a two-bed flat with three children so I am no stranger to keeping on top of clutter build-up. If you want to improve your situation or add in something that will better your life, you have to make sacrifices, which is exactly what I did. C.S. Lewis once said 'When I became a man, I put away childish things ...' Now, I have no intention of becoming a man, but I did feel that if I wanted a grown-up workspace, it might be time to start acting a bit like a grown-up. I can only commit to acting a bit like a grown-up because I firmly believe that growing up should be optional and everyone has a right to behave as they wish in their own home. Also, I like bright colours, fluffy things, children's books and silly films, so there. It's a good job the second half of that quote is '... including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown-up.' I will get to the point eventually, but first, a little story. 

A row of DVDs, with various Lego figures and small toys displayed in front

Since I suffer from a painful back condition, I have to spend a lot of time lying down when the pain gets too much, it's the only time I'm mostly pain-free. So I have a TV in my bedroom and I watch a lot of films. In 2014 I fell in love with a film called Jurassic World, you may have seen it, dinosaurs and such. I became completely obsessed with it and watched it endlessly for about two years. Every time I had to rest my back I'd watch a bit of it until the end, then it would just start itself over again. I kept the DVD on my dressing table for convenience. I'm also a big lover of Marvel films and, although you can't actually have a favourite Marvel film because it would be like picking a favourite child, Guardians of the Galaxy was very close to my heart, and eventually earned a place on my dressing table, next to Jurassic World because I was watching it a lot. The music is really upbeat and it's funny and touching and made me smile. When Passengers was released in 2016, I loved it and bought it, at which point it occurred to me that the same actor was in all three films, so I wondered what else he'd been in. Magnificent Seven arrived and, thus, the Pratt Wall was born. My son added little Lego mascots for all the films, and donated the Lego Movie, just to be funny, it kept growing when more films came out, but I didn't mind, as it was colourful and happy and made me smile. This is my very cluttered, but silly and happy, dressing table before I started the home office project. 

A cluttered dressing table with DVDs, toys, jewellery stands and boxes arranged on it, somewhat haphazardly.

A few years later and 'putting away childish things' has meant something had to give and the Pratt Wall is no more. We have Netflix and Disney Plus these days, so the need for accessible DVDs is not so great, however, in the spirit of 'not quite growing up', I have kept all the Lego figures and moved them elsewhere. The plan was to turn my dressing table into a desk that could still be used as a dressing table, so the first thing I needed to do was work out what needed to stay on the dressing table and what did not need to be in easy reach for daily use. I am a bit of a contradiction, in that I am not a fan of clutter, but I do like collecting things, such as perfume, jewellery and watches. This isn't actually a total disaster if you desire a clutter-free home, you just have to be sure to have purposeful collections and not just piles of stuff everywhere. So the first thing I did, was sorted through all my collections of things, especially my jewellery to decide what was relevant and wearable and what had either gone past its best, gone out of fashion or just didn't suit me anymore. The lesson here is that you don't have to keep everything, just because it's part of a collection if it's not relevant to you anymore. Collections actually benefit from a bit of a prune now and again, so you can see what you have that you really love and nothing gets buried to the point where you can't see it or use it anymore. I decluttered elsewhere too so that I could move my jewellery boxes to another location and use the space for a desk organiser

One side of the desk, with a large wooden desk organiser, with space for pens and files and a drawer beneath, as well as a Newton's Cradle, Coke can and battered mobile phone

The space was really beginning to take shape! I did decide early on in this project to make one fairly major purchase, I bought an ergonomic office chair. This is a chair specifically designed to relieve or prevent back pain symptoms, so it was fairly crucial to my plan to be able to spend longer working on my blog and other projects. Even without a back condition, I think it's a good idea to invest in a comfortable chair if you plan to spend a lot of time sitting in it. I researched ergonomic office chairs for some time beforehand and they are really very expensive. I was concerned about investing a lot of money in something that may not work out. Or that might not create enough of an advantage over a standard chair to be worth the extra money. In the end, I took a bit of a gamble and ordered a chair from Amazon. It was considerably cheaper and, although it's not always wise to go too cheap, because the quality can be too compromised to be serviceable, the reviews were pretty good and it ticked all the boxes for what I wanted from a chair; A high back, headrest, adjustability and quiet wheels, as it was going to be used upstairs. It also featured on a couple of top ten lists on review sites that seem impartial, such as this review from Tech Radar or this review from It arrived in several pieces but wasn't difficult to put together, if a little heavy, and so far I'm thrilled with it. It feels pretty solid and doesn't seem to have suffered for being much cheaper than the others. Both my children want one for their rooms after sitting in mine, so I think I'd call that a success. The SIHOO Ergonomic Office Chair is available from Amazon and is a great option for a comfy chair on a budget. 

The desk in the background, with a large, comfy black office chair in the foreground

The end result of this mini makeover is a space that's a lot less cluttered and feels more professional, although there are still a few nods to my favourite films here and there if you look carefully. I also covered up the mirror with some wallpaper lining and blu-tac. This can be removed when it reverts back to a dressing table when I'm not working, but I felt it was necessary as mirrors are quite distracting. There are lots of reasons to create an office space, mine was primarily to be able to work for as long as I needed to without being disturbed.  It's sometimes hard for the people around you to know how much space you need, or whether or not you can be interrupted, and you end up losing your train of thought or forgetting what you were going to do next. It's given me a bit more control over my environment, too; whether or not I want background noise, or not, for example. It also gives me a lot more focus. I know that when I sit down to work, that is what I'm there for, and I'm not stopping because I've noticed something needs cleaning or putting away. With that in mind, it's good to be able to keep my office space tidy, as I struggle to concentrate in a messy environment. 

The dressing table, with some jewellery and a magnifying mirror on one side, space for a laptop and the desk organiser on the other side

If you are a blogger or freelancer and you've struggled to get work finished, I would definitely recommend having a good look at your living space and seeing if you can squeeze a small desk in somewhere, or adapt a table you already have. It's really surprising how much more you can get done when you get a good run at it without distraction and this could apply to anything, even if sit-down tasks are more of a hobby, such as drawing or creative writing, having your own little space is really beneficial. It has certainly made working from home so much more enjoyable, and comfortable, too. Now I just need to install a water cooler and a vending machine and it would be the perfect office environment! 

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Pinterest image. Close up of black office chair with title over the top.



  1. I love it! The office looked so good in the end. Well done xx

  2. I really need an ergonomic chair, and that one looks perfect.
    You've done so much with the space you have available!
    Cora |

  3. I think you've been incredibly ingenious with your space and that is a great idea to cover up the mirror, I would never have thought of that. I think you need a plant to complete your office - although as a gardener, I'm biased!

    1. Thank you. I don't know why, but I really struggle to keep plants alive. I blame this house, as I never had any problems in my last place, it's really strange!


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