The Hidden Benefits of The Kitchen Office
A Mixed Blessing?
There Are Rewards
Although there can be some drawbacks to having your office in the kitchen (food and electronics don’t mix nor do water and paperwork) there are benefits as well. For as long as I can remember, I had a basement office and was happy with it, even with all the drawbacks. And had I won the lottery and been able to make it snuggly and warmer I’d have stayed there, despite my arthritis and fibro.
It was freezing in the winter, to the point of needing a heated floor mat and space heater, Yet, I would have happily stayed there as it was snug and private. But the old computer died and even though I’d endured ten or so winters that I can recall down there, I got a notebook while awaiting repairs.
In the back of my head I’d be right back in my office with my old computer as soon as it was fixed. Then it turned out it couldn’t be fixed and I now had a notebook that looked fairly ridiculous in its place and now that I could move thanks to Wi-Fi, I did. Now after about two weeks of roaming around the house I’ve settled into the kitchen and I’m already reaping the rewards.
I’m also reinventing the wheel as both my parents had office spaces here, albeit temporary ones and they would then clear away paperwork, calculators and all the other stuff to drawers. But adding a notebook does up the game as it isn’t practical to keep moving the darn thing every time you want the kitchen table for something else. Could I sacrifice the space for good?
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Mind Those Keyboards!
Why The Kitchen?
I’m a foodie, but I can assure you it still wasn’t some strange urge to spend more time there. Nor did I want to turn the place into a coffee shop to hang out in all day. After all, I cook and wash dishes in my kitchen. What kind of idiot would I have to be to also set up precious electronics in there? Well, the kind of idiot I am, apparently. I did my research and although some experts caution against having any PC in a room where you have a lot of humidity (doing dishes, cooking) quite a few people I know like to take their notebooks in there anyhow. For those who don’t cook, notebooks are handy for recipes and use as music machines.
But could I make the switch full time? Cold or not, my basement office was home. But, the truth is, the kitchen, mine at least, has a lot of pluses. For one, I’m close to the front door if need be, something that used to have to involve shouting and frantically running up the basement stairs to answer.
Two, the temperature is better. even with winter storm Jonas having just gone through. And with my fibromyalgia and arthritis that is a huge plus. I still have to bundle up as it is a drafty old home, but it isn’t the relentless artic push of the basement either.
There are also no more upstairs trips to break for food or other needful things, and I have much easier access to water for coffee or drinking, something that used to involve hoisting a pot up to my shower head in the basement as a sink never did get installed.
And yes, it is handy for cooking. I’m not saying it is a good idea to try and do both at once, it’s too easy to get absorbed in my work and have problems arise, but if I am idly batting my mouse around my desk anyhow on a break it’s nice to catch some You Tube videos while that pizza bakes or what have you.
My advice would be that before you unhook all your goodies from your current office area to consider where you can put your notebook or PC. Is it well away from heat sources and water? And with a notebook or laptop, can you lean back in your seat to sip your beverage? But mostly, see if you feel comfortable with the idea.
If you side with experts that won’t take a PC into a room with high humidity you certainly don’t want a notebook in the kitchen you wash dishes, boil water in and the like.
Minute Makeover For Your Home Kitchen Office
I do have to show some common sense. Although I’ve never managed in my life to ever spray the kitchen table with water while doing dishes, I am mindful. Because the first time will be when it isn’t a good idea. And as I’ve shifted things around a bit, things like taking out the trash and using the oven also call for being mindful, but it isn’t too bad.
As long as I’m half way paying attention all should be well. The lone window was a bit bright, so I put up better sheers to still let light in, but try and protect my eyes for any glare. It also gives me privacy while still letting some light in and letting me see out.
Still, I imagine other problems will crop up. I don’t entertain often, but if I did the kitchen table is now a no go. I’ve shifted everything up here, so although the notebook takes up little room, there is the printer, and, um, five point one surround sound speakers. Which you need in an office, because, reasons.
All kidding aside, if you are a music lover like me or just have to have your speakers, you might want to consider wireless ones you can place around the kitchen, safely out of the way, or just sacrificing a space for them. That goes for printers, scanners and all the other goodies you see left out of “home office” photos where it is simply an artfully placed noteboook and a tasteful vase of flowers.
I will also admit that unless you are a tech nerd like me, there is nothing pretty about a mass of wires snaking across your kitchen table. I also had to sacrifice the kitchen tablecloth as notebooks aren’t meant to have the fans blocked or to suck in dust from such a natural dust catcher.
Close Those Noebooks
Every home is different, so you have some things to consider.
Do you and the rest of your household have the discipline to clean your hands after snacks and before touching your notebook or laptop and other devices? They have important stuff under that keyboard, and that important stuff really doesn’t appreciate flour, sugar or crumbs getting in there.
Is the area you want to set the computer in a splash free zone? Barring a freak accident, my notebook is back farther than I’ve ever managed to splash water but there is always a first time. Make sure all family members know that the PC doesn’t appreciate baths (it really doesn’t) and young ones know it doesn’t want to play in the sink.
Is it safe? And not from bad guys either. If the family cat likes to knock everything that isn’t bolted down on the floor or your dog is a canine wrecking crew. I ask as even in my old office the very first day I’d installed my old printer/scanner combo, one of the cats decided it was a springboard and it crashed to the cement floor. If you’ve got animals or humans who are a hazard to everything in their path, think of worst case scenarios ahead of time.
Is there room for everything? I didn’t have the moolah to also spring for wireless everything, so there are wires everywhere, my bulky old scanner/printer combo and the aforementioned speakers. I was willing to sacrifice my kitchen table and eat elsewhere, but that might not be an option for you.
Wires! I know, in every kitchen office photo you see, a sleek and sexy notebook that apparently runs on love and sunshine is sitting discretely tucked into a nook. Ha! It has to be powered up sometime and isn’t it funny how many needed items like printers, cameras and such still have to be plugged into a USB port via wires or be wireless? If it isn’t safe or practical to plug it in (you don’t want to trip you or other folks) you may have to rethink your placement.
Most importantly, are you comfortable there? Can you actually get any work done, or do the dirty dishes keep distracting you? Can you take calls and manage you tasks on your PC, or is someone rattling pots and pans about? Do visitors and friends still want to hang out in your kitchen as you “aren’t doing anything important”?
Handy Folks Can Build An Area
An office in the kitchen can be the best of both worlds. Regardless of gender identity, the foodie can look up recipes and cook with ease, provided they don’t touch the keypad with dirty fingers. (I saved my old wireless keyboard and mouse for this very reason.) And the music lover will likely enjoy having almost every song ever written at their beck and call.
But there are also challenges. The sunlight that seems so cozy when you sipped your morning coffee in your kitchen can now become a glaring annoyance with a reflective screen or glasses, and it is a bother to have to do dishes in the same room you work in at times. Ditto having to mind where you are putting things with a bubbling hot pizza coming out of the oven.
In the end, if you feel comfortable and can sacrifice the real estate to your notebook and other needed things, a kitchen office may be the solution to your problems.