To quote Wikipedia, “A study, also known as a home office, is a room in a house that is used for paperwork, computer work, or reading. Historically, the Study of a house was reserved for use as the private office and reading room of a parent/guardian as the formal head of a household, but today studies are generally either used to operate a home business or else open to the whole family. The study developed from the closet or cabinet of the Renaissance era but from the beginning of the 18th century onwards increased literacy at the middle-class family level led to the setting aside of closed study and library areas within larger houses. Here commercial work, reading, correspondence, fact-recording and other activities could be undertaken in privacy and silence. Until well into the 20th century gender restrictions on social roles made the domestic study an essentially male facility. The 19th century clergyman would prepare sermons and interview parishioners in his study while his equally literate wife would undertake her social obligations in a nearby parlour. The Internet has led to a transformation of the historic study with its localized functions into the present day home-office. The technological revolution has enabled individuals to engage in remote work while still being productive using the Internet, email, e-commerce, and videotelephony”.
At top London interior design studio, René Dekker Design, we have created and installed many fabulous studies over the years, and whilst Wikipedia’s description is correct about what happens in this venerable space, it doesn’t describe the emotional and visual attributes associated with the room. There are also shelves lined with personal belongings, coveted books and sometimes even trophies, look at Indiana Jones’ study which was always overstuffed with artefacts. Whilst it should be practical it is so much more than a ‘home office’ and considering how you can now spend up to eight hours a day in there, it should be an inspiring place to work.
The Study is one of those rooms that doesn’t need to follow the interior design thread or style you are using in the rest of the house. They can be and are often panelled, sometimes appear more masculine, use a lot of timber (in the form of exotic veneers) and leather, perhaps this is a throwback from the days where it was the man’s domain. At René Dekker Design, we use a retrained colour palette and not too much pattern, again probably to keep the space calm so that you aren’t distracted while working. Then there is lighting. You should have at least 3 circuits in your study, one for all the overhead ceiling spots, one for ambient LED and one for 5amp. This will allow the space to be used in different ways at differing times of the day. Also, make sure you have enough power sockets available for your needs so that you don’t end up having extension cords all over the place and include several CAT 6 data points so that you are not relying on Wi-Fi.
So what are some of the most important pieces of furniture required for a Study? Quoting an article by GQ magazine, “Time was, searching for the best office furniture and accessories would present you with hideous MDF-laden computer desks, uncomfortably gaudy chairs, and little else. Thankfully, things have moved on. Today, the best home office furniture provides a seamless blend of form and function, making your life easier and more comfortable, while adding to your carefully curated interior design aesthetic.”
First things first, a beautifully crafted desk! They come in all shapes and sizes so make sure you get something that is exactly right for you. Plan it well to make sure it fits in the space, ensure its sturdy, has the right amount of storage design for your needs, drawers for stationary or files if required…even paperless spaces still use a little stationary! With luxury in mind, design even the tiniest details inside drawers for a personal statement piece. If you are a minimalist, you need to ensure you have great cable management. Nothing worse that creating the perfect ‘clean desk’ only to ruin it with cables. Well-designed desks now all have built in cable grommets and internal cable management.
Then there is the all-important office chair which should blend ergonomics with practicality and style. If you are looking for a chic sophisticated look, then choose between leather or suede for the upholstery. They are durable, easy to keep clean and will retain their appeal. Consider the height of the chair back, does it have a headrest, whether or not to have castors, does it swivel, arms or no arms…the list is endless. A good task lamp is paramount, one with settings for different times of the day. You will also need a couple of guest chairs for those all-important face to face meetings and there is of course the obligatory arm chair, that comfortable relaxing chair for just being in.
Spending so much time here means you should surround yourself with everything that you love. Your favourite art, photos of loved ones, collected pieces that tell the story of your life.