Monday, April 29, 2019

How to build a successful garden office

This is a guest post by Dean Horsley, owner of Cheshire Oak Structures, who offers his advice on building an oak home office.

Over the last 12 plus years that we have been in business, we have seen substantial changes in the way people are working from home. Before the arrival of broadband, home offices were often seen as an extension of a place of work, rather than a substitute for it. They were places where our clients would have the opportunity to do those extra hours at weekends or work the occasional day from. But now, with fast internet speeds both ubiquitous and wireless, the home office has become the de facto place of work for an increasing proportion of the population.

And as this move away from the commute has taken place, we have seen more demands from those who want their own home offices, and with over twelve years in the oak home office trade, we feel we have some pointers to those who are thinking of 'commuting away from the commute!'
1. What is the home office needed for?
This question defines what your home office will need to be. And it should consider more than just the here and now. Will you need space if you need to take someone else on to help with the business? Will you entertain clients on the premises? If you are a limited company then where will you store the six years of records you are obliged to keep? Will the office need to have any special equipment which might require different utilities or a dedicated internet line?

All of these questions will help decide the floor space necessary for your home office. At Cheshire Oak Structures, we have built many offices and workshops for our clients over the years, and no two have been exactly alike. Because of this, it is worth remembering that oak offices are capable of being quite bespoke to the needs of the client – and we can give you the benefit of our years of experience in suggesting what would work in your case.

We designed and built this oak frame garden office (pictured top) at the request of a client who wanted a calm, tranquil office sympathetic to the garden surroundings.  We achieved this by positioning the oak structure amongst the trees and shrubs in the garden and using a cedar shingle roof which tones in beautifully. The client even moved in before we finished the build as he was so pleased with the peaceful, calm environment and could really concentrate on his business. The oak veranda give an additional seating area and allows the oak office to used for garden seating.

2. Don’t be afraid to make it your area

One thing we have found in our long experience at Cheshire Oak Structures is that a home office should have the style of its owner imprinted upon it. It’s not just a cosmetic design but an actual intrinsically important aspect of your home office: if you are to work there successfully, then you need to feel confident in your abilities and one way to help facilitate that is to be the master of your own surroundings.

In recent years, especially since the turbulent times of 2008, we have seen a move toward interior designs that reinforce individualism and also a trend toward what could be described as ‘mindfulness.’ Often using natural materials, with less clutter, and with ample daylight available, our oak wood home offices are a good starting point to help you reconnect with a more natural feel in your daily life.

When a project design brief requires natural light, a bright and airy atmosphere, our designs can feature oak patio doors, French doors or full height oak windows to create a light, bright, airy office ideal for keeping your mind clear and uncluttered.  Exposed beams and rafters also create a light, airy environment. There’s nothing like good light and fresh air to help with working efficiently and creatively which is what this client included in their design brief to us.

3. Design your home office for easy maintenance

This sounds like common sense but it is often overlooked in the excitement of building and planning your perfect oak home office. And yet, being able to keep the office clean and well maintained helps ensure two things. Firstly, it helps you feel in control of your office - a disorganised office is the sign that things are generally not well with the individual or business running it. The second reason is that it simply helps you enjoy it more.

With this in mind it is important to start with the basics: so the type of desk and how easy it is to clean the floor area. Even simple considerations that help ‘manage the dreaded paper flow’ are important, so positions of in-trays and bins are important to avoid any paper mountains emerging. Dust will show up on darker surfaces sooner than on lighter ones, and any glasswork that is exposed to sunlight will illuminate marks and dust on its surface which, if not in direct view, would normally not be so apparent.
Our office designs can include allowances for built in cupboards and storage to make the most efficient and streamlined use of the space. Planning storage at the design stage ensures effect use of space and avoids unnecessary clutter building up in the future which is what often happens if you don’t build in storage at the start of a project.

4. Don’t forget, a home office adds some value

Setting up an oak home office at your property should not be considered solely as an expense. It is actually an investment in the property itself, and a good home office can improve the value of your home. Combine that with the reduced need for commuting, the extra time saved, then the cost this, over time, will become increasingly attractive. It won’t be enough to offset the building overall of course, but it will be useful nonetheless.

Our structures are very versatile and can incorporate two or more functions in one building.  This oak frame building is an office and also garage area with patio seating area within the garden, adding useable space, facilities and value to the original property.

Monday posts are sponsored by garden2office, the Swedish garden office specialists. Click here for more details.

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