Working From Home #2

Last week I told you that The Boss and I had built my home office in an alcove that previously looked like this:

Bookshelf on top of drawers, with ornaments, filling the alcove
This is the alcove I selected, before I decided to turn it into my office.

I promised to tell you how we did it, so here goes!

Planning my home office

I gathered a bunch of resources on Pinterest to help me figure out what I needed and wanted. My list looked like this:

  • Natural light – near a window
  • Temperature control – near a radiator
  • Minimal clutter – will have to build shelves above my work space
  • Accessible plug sockets – will have to use extension leads for sockets
  • Mementos for inspiration – but don’t want clutter on the desk
  • Essential tools and supplies – want everything to be to hand
  • Able to “switch off” from work – keep it all in one area
  • Away from distractions

I’d already decided my home office had to be in the living room. This list narrowed my options to one.

Initially I wanted a shelf above my desk for files, supplies and external hard drives within arm’s reach. I needed another shelf to accommodate some of the books that had been stored in the alcove. Then I decided to move the printer into this alcove too – cue another, deeper shelf. And I knew I needed to shut my laptop away when I was done for the day.

So, desk space, laptop hideaway, printer shelf, file shelf, book shelf.

Buying and building – reality vs planning

I’m not a typically girly girl. I love going to DIY stores, eyeing up the tools and supplies. This was a project I really enjoyed – selecting the wood for the shelves, finding the right brackets for my laptop shelf, and resisting the urge to buy a Dremel multitool on special offer.

However, reality did not quite live up to my expectations.

Firstly, the wood for my narrow file and book shelves was too long for my tiny car. No problem there – the shop offered a free cutting service. I simply went to the bench with the powered saw and waited for the previous customer to get finished.

The saw broke down. Where I’d planned to get the guy to cut each plank to length, I just had him manually cut one length so I could fit it into the car. This turned out to be fortunate for us.

When we got home, we found that our old jigsaw had finally surrendered. The saw blade mount was broken. Cue another trip to a tool shop (heaven!) for a new jigsaw.

Unfinished wooden shelf awaiting sanding
Sanding the unfinished wooden shelves before hanging.

Then, and only then, could we start cutting the shelves. The Boss cut them, while I sanded the edges off the rough unfinished wood. Eventually I’ll probably take them down one at a time and paint or wax them, but I wanted them up and sorted.

The problems compounding…

Ours is an old house. When I say there are no right angles in that alcove, I mean it. Those walls aren’t straight.

We had to work out where the front and back of each shelf would sit (remember that two are quite deep, two are much shallower, and one sits at right angles to the other four. I was not popular with The Boss.) We had to work from the height of my laptop shelf and build up – but it was suspended from the desk shelf, which had to be fitted first.

Desk and laptop shelf
The lack of right angles meant that these shelves had to sit at an angle to the back wall.

Further, the laptop shelf mounting brackets needed to sit further back than the edge of the desk. This meant we had to mount the desk shelf away from the wall.

My home office equipment
I quickly checked the electrical items I needed in my home office while The Boss took a break.
Hanging a shelf for a printer
The Boss checking his work as he fits my printer shelf

The printer shelf was next. It needed to be high enough to fit the lamp underneath, but low enough that the printer was usable with my filing shelf above it.  To make life harder, I wanted to be able to reach the filing shelf without standing up.

By this point, The Boss was getting truly hacked off and muttering about a cup of tea. I decided discretion was the better part of valor and went to put the kettle on. He went to trim an angle off the edge of the printer shelf so it would fit neatly.

Which seems like a good point to leave this post, which has grown a lot longer than I expected it to!

Check in next week to see how we finished my home office!

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