vario velux modular rooflight
16 Sep, 2021

How to create the ideal home office

A guest post by Nick, Co-founder of Holloway + Holloway Architects

Lessons we have learnt from having an office in every room of our home

We have been living in and running a business from our home now for 4 years, and in that time, for various reasons we have worked in almost every room of our home (although we’ve never officially worked in the bathroom).

How indecisive are you to be constantly moving your office all over the house? I can hear you ask. Although it may sound like my wife and I have a goldilocks complex, we had to move about the house as we undertook various stages of renovation to the property. Starting with the first floor, moving to the ground and then finishing with a loft conversion, we have remodelled our entire home, whilst living here.


The Productivity Report by Jill Duffy, lists some of the key factors for creating the ideal working environment:

The report also found, that Office spaces that were designed with these factors in mind ‘end up with employees who are more productive, healthier (they take fewer sick days), happier, and less likely to quit.’ So, if we can set about using these principles to inform our choice, then we too could reap these benefits.


The first decision about a home office, is where to put it. Now this will be different for every person, based on your requirements, you might be limited on options because of the size or layout of your home but even then, there are still some things worth considering that could tip the balance from one space to another.

Of our eight points that we looked at previously, this is the selection that will have the largest impact on how well our office environment performs, especially for the following five categories:

How well each space in your home will perform in these categories will vary from home to home, so you will have to way these elements up yourselves. But our journey working throughout our home has taught us some really interesting lessons about the pros and cons of some of the classic home office locations.

Small room

This is the classic home office space in the days before COVID, rarely used, tucked away in a corner in the smallest room of the home. It’s usually piled high with things that you can’t bear to part with but never use or may even double as a spare room.

There are many advantages to this space, in that it is fairly self-contained and usually quite quiet, perfect if you like working on your own. Though being a smaller room, it usually doesn’t have great amounts of ventilation and so can often get quite stuffy.

For many this can be the ideal spot for an occasional home office or even a full time one, however, if you spend a lot of time in one space, there might be another option.

The nice guest bedroom

At Holloway and Holloway, our practice philosophy is to make the space you have, work as hard as it can, therefore we try not to prioritise spaces that will be used 1% of the time over space that will be used the other 99% of the time.

In practice this can mean looking at how you use your home on a day-to-day basis and trying to spend the most amount of time in the nicest spaces. For instance, are you working in the Small Room that we talked about in the previous section, while there is a lovely large spare room next door, that is used at most once a month, maybe even less?

We would argue that it could be worth considering flipping those spaces around, even if you in-laws end up with a slightly less desirable bedroom when they come to stay, when you benefit from the nice space on a daily basis.

A larger room will be better at creating a stable thermal environment internally. They usually have larger windows, which means more light and better ventilation, possibly even a better outlook too.

In the central entertaining space

If we take that thought even further and think about spending as much time as possible in the nicest parts of the home then you may want to consider having your office in the heart of the home, in and around the main entertaining space.

We did this for several years before we started our family, and it was amazing. For us the open plan living area around the kitchen is the lightest and most spacious part of the house, so spending most of our time there was fantastic. We loved being close to the kitchen and the garden and at the time it worked really well for us. However, having the Office in this location, can create its own issues. Firstly, if you are in the main entertaining space, you need to keep a tidy office and secondly, your work life balance can be tricky - I found that as I spent so much of my time in the same environment all through the day, I would often find it harder to switch off from work later in the evening.

It can also be really tricky to do with a family, when that space is not all yours anymore. We always knew that with the arrival of our little one, it would become a much more hectic environment and probably not best suited to an office environment anymore. It is not easy trying to take a conference call in the same space a baby is trying to eat!

Holloway & Holloway home office

The loft

With the imminent arrival of our son, like so many of our clients, we decided to embark on a loft extension project in order to move the office to the top of the house. Once we were able to get up here, we found it worked perfectly for us.

Loft spaces can often be thought of as very hot and uncomfortable spaces, but if designed right, loft rooms offer tons of opportunities for ventilation and natural light up as well as having great outlook over garden spaces. 

The best advice we can give is firstly to insulate as much as you can, as this will help to keep the space warm in winter and prevent it from overheating in summer. Secondly it would be to take advantage of the ventilation opportunities in the roof. With rooflights on the front roof pitch and a window looking over the garden you can get cross ventilation from front to the back of the property which will allow you to really air out the space. Finally, an openable rooflight over the staircase will allow you to create a chimney effect in your home, pulling all of the hot stagnant air in summer up and out of the roof, cooling the whole property down, not just the top floor.

As well as good light levels and the possibility of dual aspect ventilation, loft offices also offer a great amount of separation between you and the rest of the house, which makes it more practical if you are easily distracted, or for those of us with a busy family life. You will also get a lot of exercise through the day walking up and down the stairs every time the doorbell goes!

The space

Now comes the fun, if not often overlooked part. How can we improve the environment of our home office, within the room itself?

If you are a procrastinator then this is a fantastic project for you to get your teeth into. It can seem daunting but upgrading your home office interior can work wonders for your productivity and personal well-being.

If we go back to the list from the Productivity Report, then the following four sections will be dealt with here:

But the question is where to start! So, the following are some top tips about how you could turn your forgotten space, into your own Oasis retreat.


If you are easily distracted then a desk next to the window might not seem like the best idea, but beyond the detailed knowledge of what cats get up to in the garden, there are other benefits to having a nice outlook.

“Longer distance views, away from computer screens or written documents, allow the eyes to adjust and re-focus, which reduces fatigue, headaches and the effects of eye strain in the long term.” states a report from the World Green Building Council.

Desk layout

It is also worth thinking about how to layout your workspace. Think about where is going to get the least amount of screen glare, and so reduce the amount of strain on your eyes.

If you are suffering from a screen glare problem, then sheer blinds can work really well to reduce the intensity of the light whilst still giving you a light and airy space. If you have rooflights, then the Awning shades from VELUX are incredible at reducing light and are very easy to retro fit.

Also, what is the outlook of your computer? These days it’s important to think about what view your colleagues and clients will get during a video call. So, think about if there is a way that this can be angled to look at the tidiest or most presentable and stylish part of the room.


A Harvard University paper last year found that the cognitive performance of “green” office workers was double that of those working in conventional environments.

Having that green space to look at is one step, but you can take this even further by bringing some greenery into your office.

Art and colour

For some choosing art for a space is and exciting adventure, for others it can be really tough to know where to start.

If you are in the first category, you probably don’t need any advice from me, and if you are in the second, then I have a couple of tips for you.

Firstly, a feature wall of colour can be enough to make the space interesting without having to fill it with art. Office furniture can be quite a bland mixture of blacks and greys, a bold pop of primary colour can be enough for a small room, without having to pick prints from a list of thousands. Secondly, if you feel like you want some variety then let your family create the art. Buy a few nice frames, bold colourful frames work really well with this, and put some of your kids favourite pictures in them. You can change them over as often as you like and looking at them can often be a nice reminder of why you are working so hard all alone in your office in the first place. 

Inspiration Corner

View all