Using Design Thinking to Turn an Underutilized Alcove in a Second Bedroom into a Home Learning Space

Late last year my partner and I moved into a brand new apartment. Even before we moved in we knew that at some point we would probably need to give some thought to how we might make the best use of space in our apartment. In particular, we were both going to be working fulltime whilst studying part-time and we would need to come up with a system so that we could both study effectively without getting in each others way.

When we first moved in we weren’t studying so there was no issue. However, once March came around and we started our first subject we quickly realised we had a problem. In a nutshell, we simply didn’t have enough space for both of us to study at home at the same time. At that stage, we had hardly any furniture. This meant that on the weekends one of us would study at home on the bed whilst the other would go to the State Library. This went on for two or three months before we both got sick of it and decided we needed to come up with a better system.

Our Home Learning Space

Our Home Learning Space.

Anyhow, not long after we moved in it occurred to me that we could probably make good use of space by turning a small alcove in the second bedroom into a study space. This space was immediately in front of window and was a mere 1400mm wide by 1800mm long. Initially we had simply filled up this area with boxes that we had yet to unpack. However, after we’d finished unpacking we soon realised that with some design thinking we could quickly and easily turn this small space into a cosy learning space where one of us could study while the other could study at the kitchen table.

I tried to visualize how the learning space might look. I decided we would need a desk and in my mind’s eye I tried the desk up against one wall and then another. As well as a desk we would need a chair to sit on and a desk lamp. I also wanted to find a home for all of the technology we have charging at any given time including an iMac, a MacBook Air (x2), an iPad (x2) and a Galaxy S4 phone (x2).

How many gadgets do you see?

How many gadgets do you see?

In an effort to convert this alcove into a learning space I grabbed a measuring tape and took some measurements. I then had a look at the IKEA website to see if they had anything suitable. In particular, I wanted a desk with drawers so that I could hide stuff. In particular, I wanted to be able to hide the technology when we’re not using it. I also wanted a shelf on the wall above the desk so that we could put other bits and pieces away including spare charging chords, adapters, extensions, powerboards, etc, etc.

Luckily for me, IKEA had a desk that was just about the right size. Over the course of the next few weeks we purchased a desk and shelving system from IKEA, a chair from Officeworks, a black desklamp from a local home furnishings shop and a USB powerboard from Dick Smith. Our learning space is really starting to take shape. About the only thing left to do now is to organise for someone from the Grey Army to come over and put the shelves up.

Notice the clever use of a bulldog clip.

Notice the clever use of a bulldog clip.

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Latte Art at Vincent the Dog


Vincent The DogLocated in the heart of Carlton at 348 Drummond Street, Vincent the Dog is my coffee shop of choice during the week when I’m on my way to work and need a caffeine fix. I go there every week day morning except for Tuesdays when they’re closed. The staff at Vincent the Dog are so welcoming and go out of their way to provide a great service. Not only that but I love their coffee.

The coffee shop itself is really quite small but the owners appear to have gone to a lot of trouble to get it right. The entrance isn’t all that exciting but once you enter the interior is light and airy. The fixtures consist of polished wood and include a delightful painting of a dog which takes pride of place on the wall.

Once inside there are 2 large, rectangular tables in the middle of the room. These tables have been placed back to back and are surrounded by a total of 9 small, wooden stools. These stools are a perfect complement to the bulk of the table. In the middle of the table is a large vase which invariably contains a tall, floral display. As well as that, there are usually 6 or so bottles of water plus lots of glasses so that you can help yourself to the water whenever you want. The table also normally includes two or three copies of today’s edition of The Age and The Australian.

The lighting is modern and tasteful. The background music is always exactly that with the genre of music they play ranging from rnb to smooth jazz. The overall effect is to create an atmosphere which is warm and inviting. The customer is encouraged to linger over a coffee or two whilst reading a newspaper or chatting to friends.

Vincent the Dog is named after Vincent who is the owner and barista. Vincent is the consummate latte artist and has elevated making a coffee to an art form. His coffees are always designed for a purpose with that purpose being to present you the consumer with a thing of beauty both visually and via your taste buds.