Everyone loves a good before and after, so for our spaces post this week I’m going to share a little home project that has revolutionised my productivity.

A few years ago I started freelancing from home and the kitchen table became my office, but at 6pm every day the design studio turned into a greasy spoon diner and everything had to be packed away before my two small children did their best to smear everything in ketchup for half an hour like a couple of drunk hooligans. Then I’d get it all out again to work into the night. Repeat this process in the morning (but swap ketchup for porridge) and so it continued. It just didn’t work.

We live in a two bedroom flat and we’ve already crammed two humans into each bedroom. We don’t have a cellar or a loft, so there’s no chance of using a spare room for a study and I really try to avoid working in the bedroom – I find it’s impossible to switch off with your computer grinning at you all night. So I decided to build a study nook under the stairs (which lead to the flat upstairs) and which is now where a lot of Ladyland is produced.





Previously the area under the stairs was used for a broom cupboard and the space was arranged so badly that it made me twitchy. The door was at one end which left a very long wedge shaped cupboard with a hanging rack right inside of the door. So, once that was filled with coats and a bucket of cleaning products on the floor, it made it impossible to get to the stuff at the back. All that space and it only stored some coats, a broom, a bucket of cleaning stuff and some boxes of crap that were impossible to reach!

My brief, then, was to make the most of every single inch of space. It needed to contain everything that a normal office would, plus still have room for the coats and cleaning products. My list included: a desk area, filing cabinet, printer/scanner, server, router, bookshelf, coat rail, shoe rack, cleaning product storage and notice board. As well as a place to store those random boxes of crap that just can’t be thrown away. So this was the plan…


The space was divided into a front and back area. The front is used for the study nook, the back for the wardrobe and storage. The coat rail is on wheels and rolls out from behind the desk. Right behind the desk and inside the furthest reaches of the cupboard is a shelf for the server and a space for the boxes of crap.


The area above the wardrobe in the desk nook is deeper than the desk area, so it’s perfect for a shelf for the printer and bookshelf. To the left of the desk area is a cupboard with shelves. I measured the shelves to fit our ring-binder folders exactly (anal, moi?) so that there was absolutely no space wasted between the shelves and this became our filing storage. Right at the thin edge of the wedge is an oddly shaped triangular cupboard. This is right near our front door, so I turned it into a cupboard that slides out so we can dump our shoes in as we come home.

The desk area is quite shallow, so there is a second desk on wheels under the first that pulls out once the doors are open which you can put a keyboard on. This makes a full-sized desk once it’s extended. The front wall of the wardobe (above the desk) makes a great noticeboard area and I painted the inside of the cupboard doors with blackboard paint to write ‘to do’ lists…. although the kids have commandeered these. Which is fine if it stops them from drawing on the walls!


On the other face, above the sliding wardrobe are two cupboards for the cleaning products which are now finally out of reach of the kiddies and the broom and bucket are stored in the bottom of the sliding wardrobe.


Now I can make a lot more mess and not have to clear it up before dinner! I can also close the doors at night and watch telly without the computer or my ‘to do’ list grinning at me. And I can fling open my library of coats like a scene from The Matrix, which never gets old.

Mission accomplished.

Before image: Emma Scott-Child
After images: Kate Berry