As most of us are currently working from home more than we used to, no doubt we are looking for ways to find a comfortable and easy way to work, rather than sitting on the sofa or at the dining table with the children. We are currently finding ways in spare rooms, corners of the living room or garden office spaces to carve out a space for us to take all the video conference calls in peace.
When you have access needs, getting this space right can be tricky. Perhaps you need a rise and fall desk, perhaps you need space for a large monitor screen to help with visual issues. Perhaps you just need your laptop and you’re good to go!
I’ve put together a guide to some ideas for an accessible working from home space which might give you some inspiration to create your own – let me know how you’ve adapted to working from home in the comments below!
Finding an Accessible Space
If you dont have a spare room you can use for a working from home space, take a look around the home to see if you can eke out space for a desk in the corner of the kitchen, living room or bedroom. You don’t need a lot of space, just a small spot to allow you to get your laptop off your knees in the living room!
You can find space in a cupboard, under the stairs or even in your living area. Here, Pati Robins has (in her adapted home) found a lovely space in the old airing cupboard. She added shelves, and a desk space with storage and lighting. And this was all done on a small budget. I think it’s such a fabulous use of space – I know I wouldn’t have thought of it. Of course if you are a wheelchair user you can customise the desk height to meet your needs precisely and you don’t need a chair to bring into the space.
The beauty of this space is that you can close the door behind you to hide the mess away for the weekend and it really does feel like a separate space, even though it’s in the bedroom.
Using the understairs space is also a great idea for what usually becomes a dumping ground for shoes, coats and bags. Medina from Grillo Designs has converted the understairs space here perfectly for her family. Again, the height and width of the desk can be customised to meet your needs and if you didn’t want to keep the space open, you could fashion a curtain or screen or door to hide it away when it’s not in use.
What I love about both Pati’s and Medina’s office spaces is that these are easily a quick weekend project, and very inexpensive to achieve, using pieces of wood and MDF from the local hardware shop and a lick of paint. Both of them have written blog posts about their makeovers – for Pati’s cupboard workspace click here and Medina’s is here.
If you haven’t got a spare spot under the stairs or a cupboard and you need a little more space for a larger computer monitor or other equipment (Mr Wheel Chic Home has four screens including his iPad!), you might have a small spare room that could be used for an office. Kimberly from SwoonWorthy Blog has a space next to her bedroom in her home that she’s currently using for a dressing table, but this could just as easily be a small office space with a view out of the window whilst you’re working. It’s a small space but as ever, she styles it beautifully, with lots of storage.
The desk here is a standard height desk, but you could have a rise and fall desk, or build one in to your own specifications as Pati and Medina have done. The wooden floors are useful for a wheelchair and there’s plenty of natural lighting to help with those video calls!
If you don’t have space in a bedroom or spare room, and need to incorporate your working space into your living space then Emma from The Crap Flat has the option for you. She has a desk in the living area of her flat and the colours of the working space tie in beautifully with the rest of the space. This keeps a small space calm and from feeling cluttered and there’s plenty of useful storage at accessible height too.
The desk is a fantastic electric rise and fall desk which is great for wheelchair users or allows you to stand for a while, if you’re able to. The desk has a lovely amount of space underneath for even the bulkiest wheelchair and the minimal design doesn’t impose on the room. The chair is ergonomic and will also rise and fall, if you have issues with sitting in one spot for a while this chair might be helpful. More details on this gorgeous workstation is here.
Another great desk in the living area is Robyn’s colourful desk with ergononmic chair and desk standing attachment, allowing you to have your screen at the right level for your eyes, helping you with posture or back complaints. I love this space, with all the books to hand (of course they might be out of reach without a grabber device) but I love the warm feeling given by the books. There’s lots of floor space here for turning room and the desk has plenty of space for a wheelchair. All the details on this working set up, including the excellent standing attachment can be found here.
Lee’s home (as we featured in this blog post) is beautifully adapted and his working space is in his bedroom with a desk that fits the space perfectly. It’s not imposing in the room and lovely and compact without taking too much space. The textures and materials in the room all match and work well together and that gives a cohesive feeling without being obvious there’s a desk in the bedroom. The bed is slightly offset to allow extra space for Lee to get past safely.
If you’re lucky enough to have a separate office space in the garden, as we have, then you have a little more freedom with the space you can create. We inherited the office space at the end of the garden but until it was accessible, Mr Wheel Chic Home wasn’t able to use it. After our accessible garden makeover we’ve been able to create an inclusive office space with a desk that we found from ebay. The desk is the right height and has plenty of space around it. The desk is also sturdy to allow him to lean on it should he want to change the blinds in the window. We will get a grab rail to go by the desk at some point, to help him stand up, should he need to access the window or the shelves.
The Right Desk
As we’ve seen from the pictures above there’s a lot of options to getting the right desk. I hope you’ve got some inspiration from the rooms I’ve shared with you so far.
Perhaps you can make your own, using scaffold boards and some hairpin legs, or attach an Ikea desktop to the wall. Repurpose an old dressing table or dining table for a vintage look, or take a look at modern rise and fall desks. There are options that allow you to turn a handle to raise or lower the desk, or an electric option with an easy button to push to get the desk to the right height if you have challenges with dexterity.
Of course ebay is a good option for finding great options. We found our desk on ebay and it’s a great desk, very heavy and solid, lots space underneath and some drawers for easy access to bit and pieces.
Setting Up Your Desk
To help with posture and to get the right view for your video conference calls you might want to invest in a stand for your monitor, or a small tripod for your phone or iPad to raise them up and to avoid those awful ‘up the nose shots’ that we are seeing too much of at the moment!
Having tripods or stands for the screens and devices allows you to easily have handsfree conversations from a more flattering angle and have them at the right height to avoid straining your back or neck. You can see below we have a riser for the laptop to help raise it up for his work conference calls. This was only a few pound from Ikea and is a really useful little gadget.
Also consider the lighting – are you facing a window, are you in a smaller, darker space? For video calls you might want to consider additional lighting such as a ring light to make sure your work colleagues can see you properly!
Of course you’ll want to make sure you can access the printer and paper easily – in our office Mr Wheel Chic Home has a small filing cabinet, bought on Gumtree for £15 that I painted to match the desk. The printer sits on that with paper in the drawers below. Along with a stash of biscuits and other snacks!
The lockdown and stay at home vibe that 2020 has thrown at us so far have been challenging to find the right workspace, you may find yourself comfortable at the kitchen island, on the sofa, or at the dining table with your other half or the children doing their homeschooling. Whatever works for you and your situation but you can see there are lots of different options for where to sit and how to set yourself up. I hope you find a comfortable way to set yourself up at home in the current environment.
How have you set yourself up to work at home? Share yours in the comments!
Thanks for reading and stay safe!