Adapting to home working

A new way of living and working is upon us. As we adapt to these changes it is likely that we will also need to adapt our home office/homeworking arrangements to suit the needs of ourselves and our families. To do so effectively requires some careful consideration and planning.

For many of us, our homes have become places where we spend more of our working lives. Homeworking was a growing trend before the changes brought by Covid-19 and has now become the new normal for many. Whilst self-employed people may already operate this way, many of our PAYE neighbours only now find they must adapt to do the same. Many are ‘making do’ with the corner of the living room or the spare bedroom to connect with their working life, whilst¬ juggling the needs of the rest of the household with their own. Whatever space you are now working in, the more conducive your work environment is the more positively it will affect, well being, morale, and productivity.

At Kyrf Architecture, we believe that the basics for a sustainable and healthy work environment include good lighting, controllable temperature and ventilation, the best possible connectivity, comfortable work equipment and furniture, flexible workspace.

• Good natural lighting where possible and appropriate task lighting, low light environments especially in the winter months can impact on wellness and motivation.
• Controllable temperature and ventilation, no one likes working when it’s too hot or too cold, and whilst most homes are comfortable, getting the balance of fresh air and temperature right for you is critical. Houseplants can both improve the air quality and the atmosphere of a workspace, in some cases, and localised solution, like a fan or radiant heater, for example, can help too. Whereas taking a step back and looking at the building as a whole can vastly improve the quality of both your living and work environments.
• We can take for granted the thinking that goes into setting up commercial office spaces to keep the employees’ risk of work-related injuries and health problems to a minimum. But everything from the height of your desk and computer screen to the design of the chair you sit on helps to avoid bad backs, strained eyes and the like.
• In this time of VPN and zoom meetings, ensuring the best possible connectivity takes away the added stress of dropping out halfway through a critical piece of communication. Whilst the supply to the property has a bearing, a lot can be done within the property to improve data rates.
• Avoiding distractions and disturbance to others, whilst this can be just as much of an issue in a commercial office space at home having the flexibility of a dedicated homework space, can make all the difference for both you and those who share your home.

All of these improvements are achievable with a little time, and thought, whilst some improvements can be made by yourself in the short term, for a long-term sustainable solution, many home-based workers are now considering more fundamental improvements to both their living and home-working environments. Depending upon the property type, options may include permanently adapting an existing space or reordering the house, extending the property into the attic, building an extension or even considering a standalone annexe to the property in the garden.

Why now? If you are lucky, enough to have the resources a downturn in the economy is a great time to make improvements, as there are plenty of building contractors hungry for work.

At KYRF Architecture, we are offering a limited number of half-day consultations either remotely or at your home to assess your needs and identify workable options for your situation. 

What’s involved? We would aim to give you enough information to be able to make informed decisions about making the most of your home as both a living and a work environment.

We would cover the following:

• What you need and why you want to make changes to your home.
• What you feel does and does not work for your family in your current set up.
• Discuss your budget and preferred time scales for any work.
• Identify some initial options for improving your property.
• Help you understand the stages, procurement options and any statutory approvals required for delivering options.

What’s the cost? The initial ½-day consultation is a fixed price of £250 if you chose to proceed after initial consultation a detailed preliminary cost plan and fee proposal appropriate to the scope of the works would be provided.

Thanks for taking the time to read this article. If it has got you thinking about how you can improve your home give Jim Ross a call to discuss how this consultation can be facilitated with regard to covid-19 and safe working practices, on 07960 350 128 or email him at jim@kyrf.co.uk

JLR 4th May 2020

Sturton Street, Cambridge

Sturton Street, Cambridge

Client: private

Location: Cambridge

Contract value: confidential

Service: Full Architectural service

Accessibility is now a core aspect of an architects work. Ensuring projects meet both the legal requirements for accessibility and the needs of individual clients is key to the success of a project. We create buildings, places, and spaces that work better for everyone by making inclusion a key part of our work.

Sturton Street is a four-bed terrace in Cambridge. The client needed to make the house and garden accessible for a wheelchair user. We prepared plans and in consultation with an occupational therapist agreed with the family the best way of adapting the property to meet their changing needs.

We converted one of the main downstairs rooms into a bedroom with a small extension to provide a fully accessible wet room. The entrance was adapted to give level access from the street through the house and out onto a new area of decking with a ramp leading down into the garden.

As well as the accessibility aspects of the project, the family took the opportunity to improve the aspect of the houses onto the garden and add a small side extension to create a farmhouse style kitchen with dining table and sofa space.

This was one of those projects were you feel you make a difference to a family’s life beyond the everyday work of an architect.

Gwydir Street #1, Cambridge

Gwydir Street #1,
Location: Cambridge
Client: private
Contract value: confidential


Energy efficiency is core to our approach to architecture. This project, for a family in Cambridge, involved re-ordering of a terrace house to accommodate the changing spatial needs of the client, whilst bringing an old house up to modern standards of energy efficiency.
We seamlessly introduced a heat recovery and ventilation system to remove damp stale air and provide warm fresh air throughout the house. Rainwater was harvested; this is used to as a grey water supply to flush the toilets reducing the burden on Cambridge’s over stretched water aquifer.
The project was finished off with bespoke storage units for the kitchen and living room.
Many projects have been for clients who have raised a family in their home and want to reorder the property to suite their changing needs, reduce running costs, and reduce their impact on climate change.

Gwydir Street #2, Cambridge

Gwydir Street #2,
Location: Cambridge
Client: private
Contract value: confidential

Working with the clients we proposed a sketch scheme to meet there brief for an attic extension, side extension and garden music room, for their terrace house in Cambridge. The project allowed for staging of the works. We secured planning and building control approval, assisted in the appointment of a contractor and two of the three elements of the project built.
The side extension provides a suntrap for morning coffee and the music room a welcome retreat for contemplation and the practice without disturbing the neighbours.
Inspired by a Japanese tearoom, the music room is self-contained. It is timber lined in English grown larch sawn boarding with an oak floor, a mezzanine sleeping level, reading nook, slate lined shower room, roof lights, and bay window with a deep seat from which to watch the birds in the garden. The building is masonry construction, slate-roofed and the front elevation is treated with tared hessian to create a building which in time will recede into the gardens herbaceous planting.