tom barker desk

Desk of the Week: Restoration Man

Firstly, I have a confession. Strictly spreaking neither my wife or I are freelancers in the sense that we work for many different clients. I’m putting a toe in the water as I change direction via a fixed-term contract, but we both get the opportunity to work from home on a regular basis. I should also admit that the desk gets used far more frequently by my wife; although on the day I took this picture she had kindly offered to use our son’s smaller desk on the right. She’s nice like that.

This room is our study. It’s also the final room to be completed in our house restoration project, now in its seventh year. Living in an old (c.1640), listed building means that you can’t do things in a conventional way. For example, the walls and roof are clad in a clay-based board, which is plastered in lime and then finished with clay paint. The building’s timber frame has also sunk over the years, meaning that the floor is over 1ft higher at one end than the other. This results in all furniture needing to be propped by several inches and chairs having to have some legs cut shorter than the other to compensate for the slope. Obviously modern office chairs are a no-no, as the castors mean you simply slide from one end of the room to another. Similarly, vacuuming needs careful consideration as you need to prop the machine against something stable in order to avoid it wandering off when you let go…

There’s only one bookshelf in the room, a lovely old bit of oak that I restored and matched with the door (one of 15 that I had to fit, stain and wax across the house. Each one took about a day’s labour, so I now hate fitting, staining and waxing doors). The big blue book on the left is my wife’s PhD, because she’s much smarter than I am. Most of the other books are advertising and digital marketing reference because that’s what I do for a living. The slightly risqué painting of a stiletto is by an artist (James Lauder) who was a pal back at art college. He also sold me some others which were a bit ruder – although he had to explain why they were, because I didn’t understand.

It may look like we’ve tidied up for the shot but that’s about as cluttered as things get in our house. When you put so much into restoring something I think it’s nice to keep it tidy. Plus, I’m a little bit OCD.

Tom Barker is a digital marketing expert and when not in the Big Smoke of London works at home from his house in Oxfordshire. You can find Tom on LinkedIn.

Who is Alex Butler

Hello, I'm Alex Butler and I founded the KindredHQ community and blog back in 2011 after I re-started a freelance career. I LOVE freelancing and I wouldn't swop the freedom, control and joy of working for myself for anything. But I realised how much I missed the company and energy of other people - of having a team around me. So, I got a few people together one day with our laptops, a jar of coffee and some jelly babies and we sat and worked together one afternoon. We've been doing that every week in London, UK since then! I am still 100% freelance and I like to share the everyday highs and lows of being a freelancer here on the blog.

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