Unexpected Storage in a London Home Office


My husband and I designed our home office in our small London townhouse for two people—I would be the permanent fixture and another member of the family (my husband or one of our two sons), would be rotating temporary fixtures. The situation worked smoothly until about two years ago when the boys, both teens, had to start prepping for a series of national public exams. That’s when our once peaceful home office transformed into a family hot desking affair. Desperate to accommodate the overflow (and its accompanying mess), we figured out a simple way to create more workspace. Here’s a look at the original setup and our new addition.

Photography by Jonathan Gooch for Remodelista unless otherwise noted.

The Original Office: Workspace for Two and Storage Galore

When we first moved into our house, what’s now the office was the kitchen. We moved the kitchen downstairs and got to work designing our office, which is situated at the front of the townhouse and shares the second floor with the living room at the rear. The two spaces are divided by a wall with door openings at either end that create an open flow.

Christine Chang Hanway Home Office London
Above: When we relocated the kitchen downstairs, we decided to keep the sink–now incorporated into our two-person desktop made from stained butcher block. The only source of water on this level, the sink has proved invaluable for art projects and watering the plants on the balcony in the back.
Christine Chang Hanway Home Office in London
Above: In the corner where I typically sit, there’s a monitor for easy laptop plug-ins and an ergonomic Aeron Chair by Herman Miller. The space has overhead spotlights, which we now realize aren’t in ideal locations for computer work because they introduce glare at night. Often we leave them off and create ambient light by angling up the Tolomeo Task Lamp and bouncing light off the walls and ceiling. See Remodeling 101: Lighting Your Home Office for more tips.
Christine Chang Hanway Home Office in London
Above: As architects obsessed with order, we wanted to be able to tidy up quickly without misplacing anyone’s things, and so we introduced as much built-in storage as possible. We managed to squeeze in two much-needed closets by building floor-to-ceiling storage into both ends of our U-shaped desk (the other side is not shown). And where we could, we installed shelves.
Christine Chang Hanway Home Office in London
Above: From Ikea in the UK, the Moppe Wooden Chest of Drawers allow me to obsess over finding a place for everything, from sewing tools to desk supplies. Granted this is probably not the most attractive labeling system, but it’s fast and effective–and easy to change.
Christine Chang Hanway Home Office in London
Above: Small Metal Cabinets from Bisley provide more storage under the desk of each work station.
Christine Chang Hanway Home Office in London
Above: On the wall between the living room and the office, we slotted three-drawer lateral files under a recycled Ikea Stolmen shelving system in which everything from sewing projects to work files lives. The color white unifies the aesthetic and, thanks to our recent post on DIY Painted Office Equipment, I realize I can paint our printer white as well.
Christine Chang Hanway Home Office in London
Above: Our paperwork is filed efficiently in metal Lateral Files from Silverline, and the shelf on top holds sundry items until they get tidied away.

The Office Addition: A Laptop Counter and Charging Station

Creating more work space turned out to be easy: taking advantage of an empty wall right outside the office in the living room, we designed and installed a long, shallow counter-height desk with a white spray lacquer finish.

Christine Chang Hanway Home Office in London
Above: Our new custom-built setup is intended as a place for temporary workers to perch on stools or stand when they need to plug in–enabling those (like me) with long-term projects to man the two-person main desk without fear of being asked to vacate.

In reality, our needs are constantly shifting and the flexibility of the setup has served us well. Currently, the ones who swoop in and perch at our new work counter are my husband, who is constantly on the road, and our older son, who is spending a gap year traveling before he starts college. Meanwhile, our younger son, who is in the throes of exams now, and I share the home office. And when the exam mess becomes uncontrollable or my hunched-over shoulders cry out for a new position, I’ve discovered that the counter offers me the perfect change of scenery. And better yet, if I stand at it, it just may extend my life as well as my office. Photograph by Kristin Perers for Remodelista.

Christine Chang Hanway Home Office in London
Above: The new counter-height desk (not seen in this photo) extends into the Vitsoe bookshelves on the long wall of our living room. Photograph by Kristin Perers for Remodelista.
Christine Chang Hanway Home Office in London
Above: Tired of hunting all over the house for charging cords that have “walked,” we added eight outlets to the counter so that it works as a charging station–unfortunately, the cords still vanish. Photograph by Kristin Perers for Remodelista.

See Rehab Diary: Finding Storage in Unexpected Places and Rehab Diary: Sleuthing for Space in My Kitchen for other storage solutions we created in our home, over on Remodelista.

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