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How to turn a bedroom into a home office as data shows millions have done it

Two in five homeowners adapted their home to suit changing needs during the pandemic, new research suggests.

The extra time spent at home during several lockdowns saw 41 per cent of homeowners reorganise their indoor space, spending billions in the process.

More than half say they entirely repurposed at least one bedroom, while 22 per cent said they have entirely lost multiple bedrooms, according to Zoopla. 

It equates to 8,856,000 bedrooms being ‘lost’ from Britain’s 24 million privately owned homes during the pandemic.

More than half of homeowners said they had repurposed at least one bedroom during the pandemic

More than half of homeowners said they had repurposed at least one bedroom during the pandemic

Zoopla defined this loss as any bedroom that no longer has a bed in it, with any hybrid rooms that may have a bed as well as an office space being excluded from this figure.

Nearly half of homeowners who made changes have created a home office, which equates to more than 4.5million home offices emerging across the country.

Of these, more than half at 58 per cent say that they plan to permanently keep it.

Alongside home offices, there are plenty of other ways that homeowners have redesigned rooms in their home since March 2020.

Nearly 1.3 million home gyms have been created, alongside 984,000 home bars, nearly 900,000 home cinemas or music rooms, and 688,800 dedicated classrooms, according to Zoopla.

The property website carried out the survey of 2,000 homeowners at the end of last month to find out how homeowners’ requirements have shifted as a result of the pandemic.

Wiltshire wife claims bedroom as an arts and crafts space

Sophie has repurposed a bedroom in her four-bedroom home in Wiltshire

Sophie has repurposed a bedroom in her four-bedroom home in Wiltshire

Sophie Allsop and her husband Dan live in a four-bedroom house in Wiltshire, which they bought in 2018.

The pandemic led them to configure their home to suit their lifestyle

Sophie explained: ‘We’re big socialisers and before the pandemic we had a spare room that was what I’d call a necessity spare room, rather than an actual guest bedroom. 

‘We’d put in two single beds, because a double wouldn’t fit, and essentially used it to give our friends the option to stay the night rather than pay for a taxi home after a party. 

‘We also used the room for storage for items like Christmas decorations, because it was easier to access than the loft.

‘The pandemic made us realise how much of our house was designed for other people instead of for us, and that with some small tweaks it could suit our new lifestyle a lot more.

‘After a few iterations during lockdown, I converted the spare room into a space that’s just for me – it’s part a working from home office, part snug and part craft room.

‘It’s a peaceful place where I can relax with a good book surrounded by my ever growing collection of house plants either before bed or in the mornings, which has improved my sleep hygiene – and because I work different hours to my husband it means I can talk on the phone with friends in there without disrupting his Zoom meetings.

‘It’s also a place I can enjoy doing arts and crafts, I enjoy making greeting cards for my friends and I’m making a patchwork blanket, so it’s great to be able to keep all the pieces laid out rather than needing to clear them off the dining table each evening when I’m finished working on it.

‘In terms of cost, I spent around £300 doing up the room, which was in part offset by the existing furniture in the room which I sold. 

‘This paid for the desk and I managed to get a second hand sofa too. I’m really happy with the space and it’s made a real difference to my general wellbeing.’

Homeowners who adapted their homes spent an average of £3,714, according to the research

Homeowners who adapted their homes spent an average of £3,714, according to the research

The cost of changing rooms 

Repurposing entire rooms doesn’t come cheap. The research suggested that homeowners who adapted their homes spent an average of £3,714, with home offices costing on average £1,735, gyms £1,568 and home cinemas £3,841. 

Home offices in particular have been one of the more contentious room changes, with many being forced to give up living space in order to simply carry out their job.

Indeed, 16 per cent of homeowners who created one say they resent giving up space in their home for the benefit of their employer.

Nearly seven in ten believe that employers should pay all or some of the cost of setting up a home office, with 12 per cent thinking that they should even offer compensation for the space lost.

However, the reality is that just 2 per cent of those who set up home offices say that their employer offered compensation, and only 30 per cent say they made any contributions towards costs at all. Just 10 per cent covered the full costs.

For those who have had to repurpose rooms, more than half – at 55 per cent – say this has meant they have had to compromise on their space at home, leaving homeowners less happy with the space they have.

Amongst those who have, 28 per cent said they now have less space for guests to stay, 21 per cent said they have less or no privacy and 11 per cent claimed that their children now have to share a bedroom.

However, this feeling of not being completely happy with your home rises significantly among younger homeowners who are likely to have smaller properties.

How to make a room work as an office and a bedroom 

Interior designer Jenny Allan of Jenn Allan Design gives her advice on making a room work as both a home office and a bedroom.

She says: ‘One way to combine a home office with a bedroom is to build a pull out sliding desk within cupboard joinery which can be opened as required and put away at the end of the day providing separation. 

‘Use an occasional chair as a desk chair so this can double up as a decorative bedroom chair when not in use.

‘Another space saving tip in a bedroom is to add wall lights instead of bedside table lamps therefore meaning that bedside tables can be smaller and take up less space. ‘

‘End of bed ottomans can be another great way to add storage while also adding style.’

And she adds: ‘Keeping items and furniture off the floor gives the impression of a larger space. Wall shelves are perfect for this. 

‘Bespoke floating shelves can be used for accessories and books providing a stylish and practical storage solution.’

More than four in five homeowners under 25, 78 per cent aged 25 to 34 and 65 per cent aged 35 to 44 say they are currently having to compromise with their living spaces.

For many, having to change their home setup during the pandemic has highlighted the need to find somewhere new and better suited to their changed needs.

Of homeowners who have made changes, nearly a third say that this has made them consider moving home.

Daniel Copley, of Zoopla said: ‘We were blown away by the figures showing the extent to which our homes have changed as a result of the pandemic.

‘It’s not surprising that with so many bedrooms lost, and many home offices set to become a permanent fixture, many homeowners will have realised now is the time for a new home with more space.

‘While some may think it isn’t affordable, we know that many homeowners actually have far more equity in their home than they realise, which could make a move into a more suitable home a possibility. ‘

Nick Neill, of EweMove Sales & Lettings said: ‘Although many believe that their employer should contribute to the cost of setting up a home office, it’s important to consider other factors such as reduced commuter costs and the ability to use the time spent commuting on personal endeavours such as benefitting from a converted gym.

‘The rise of open plan living also means that it can be tricky to find space to set up a home office, but it really does present a more flexible property for buyers to consider purchasing if you do decide to sell in the future. 

It’s also worth considering a garden office – which could be anything from a glorified shed to a swanky purpose-built luxury cabin. 

‘Not only can it enable a better work/life balance and space to work outside of the family home, but it will definitely add value to your property and not take it away, which could be the case if you convert a bedroom.’ 

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Culture

‘Mrs. Doubtfire’: The highlights Of Robin Williams’ Role That defined His Artistic Greatness

The highlights Of Robin Williams’ Role That defined His Artistic Greatness

The Voice Of EU | One of the most versatile comedian and actor Robin Williams left an indelible mark on an entire generation throughout the 1990s, evoking both laughter and tears. His portrayal of a strict yet endearing housekeeper in the hit film “Mrs. Doubtfire” (1993) resonated deeply with audiences worldwide, propelling it to resounding success across global boundaries.

Señora Doubtfire Robin Williams
Robin Williams in a scene from ‘Mrs. Doubtfire’ (1993). Archive Photos (20th Century-Fox / Getty Images)

Williams played the role, despite the adversities and addictions that plagued his life at the time, by putting aside the devised script and becoming a master of improvisation during the filming of the movie, which brought in more than €400 million.

In the year of its release it was only outdone by Jurassic Park (€1 billion). This is what its director, also an avowed admirer of the American actor, explained on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of Mrs. Doubtfire’s debut on the big screen: “It took me three months to rewrite the script. I sent it to Robin and he said he loved it.” After Williams’ suicide in 2014, in an interview for Business Insider magazine, Chris Columbus unveils details that were buried 30 years ago.

“Four and a half hours, maybe five,” is the time in which, according to the director, Robin Williams was able to play Mrs. Doubtfire, a characterization for which the film earned the Oscar for Best Makeup. The actor was not comfortable in portraying his role: a father who disguises himself as a housekeeper in order to spend more time with his children after a bitter divorce. For him, it presented a challenge. “We never could shoot two consecutive days of Robin as Mrs. Doubtfire. It was a punishing day for him, so always the next day, we would shoot him as Daniel (the father),” the director of the film reveals three decades after its release.

Comedy is acting out optimism.” — Robin Williams

In between the laughs and moments that are etched in the minds of many, Columbus describes the challenge of keeping actors such as Pierce Brosnan and Sally Field, who played leading roles in the film, from breaking away from the script of their characters while Williams was at his most unrestrainedly creative.

Indeed, according to the director, his boundless energy even created situations where the script supervisor could not keep up, resulting in unrepeatable and spontaneous takes. “None of us knew what he was going to say when he got going and so I wanted a camera on the other actors to get their reactions.” Most of the sequences in the film, and specifically all of those featuring Williams, were the result of an incredible amount of improvisation from the American comedian. “If it were today, we would never end. But back then, we were shooting film so once we were out of film in the camera, we would say to Robin, ‘We’re out of film.’ That happened on several occasions,” recalls Columbus.

“Hey boss, the way I like to work, if you’re up for it, is I’ll give you three or four scripted takes, and then let’s play.” This was the actor’s first warning to the director of Mrs. Doubtfire. Robin Williams was a significant figure in Chris Columbus’ life, and he still is to this day. Not only because he was responsible for his move to San Francisco, the actor didn’t want to shoot anywhere else, but due to his ability to make people laugh and cry at the same time. “Williams wanted the film to be shot there because he was living in San Francisco with his wife, Marsha, and their children. Thanks to him I fell in love with the city that has become my home,” he explains.

“You will have bad times, but they will always wake you up to the stuff you weren’t paying attention to.” — Robin Williams

The director also reminisced about some memorable scenes that contributed to the film’s status as a cinematic masterpiece, as perceived by many. However, what stood out the most was his innate ability to improvise: “The entire restaurant sequence was remarkable. When Robin, portraying Mrs. Doubtfire, accidentally loses his teeth in his drink, you can see the joy on Robin’s face; he’s almost smirking to himself for coming up with that.” Following the success of the Mrs. Doubtfire premiere, the production team is currently exploring ways to honor Williams and his portrayal in the film, although no definitive plans have been made yet. “There are approximately 972 boxes of footage stored in a warehouse somewhere in California. There’s something truly special and enchanting about his performances, and I believe it would be exciting to delve deeper into it.”

Despite initial reservations about creating a sequel, the notion of a new spin-off gained traction shortly before the actor’s tragic passing on August 11, 2014, at his residence in Paradise Bay, California. “Robin’s only concern was: ‘Boss, do I have to spend as much time in the suit this time around?’ The physical toll of portraying Doubtfire was immense for Robin; it felt like running a marathon every day,” the director recounts. Following a brief meeting at the actor’s home, and a simple handshake, Chris Columbus began outlining the script mere days before the unfortunate event. “During the rewrite, we contemplated reducing the role of Doubtfire. However, Robin’s untimely demise extinguished any hopes of a sequel,” he laments. Although not spearheaded by its creator, Mrs. Doubtfire has found new life as a stage musical. “What set him apart as a performer is that there was no one like Robin Williams before him, and there will never be anyone like him again. He was truly one-of-a-kind,” reflects the actor’s superior.

Mrs. DoubtfireRobin Williams and Matthew Lawrence in a scene from ‘Mrs. Doubtfire’ (1993).

In addition to the director, another Mrs. Doubtfire star who later spoke of Robin Williams’ brilliance was Matthew Lawrence, who played Daniel’s son. Lawrence was just a teenager in the film, which also gave a debut to his co-star Mara Wilson, the unforgettable Matilda. One day Lawrence went to Robin’s dressing room and did not expect what he was told: “‘Stay away from drugs, particularly cocaine.’ He was being serious and told me: ‘You know when you come to my trailer and you see me like that?’ He’s like, ‘That’s the reason why. And now I’m fighting for the rest of my life because I spent 10 years doing something very stupid every day. Do not do it.’ I stayed away from it because of him”, Lawrence recalled in an interview with People magazine in March 2022.

The lesser-known chapter of Williams’ life, while unrelated to his demise, shed light on the inner struggles of a comedian committed to bringing joy to others yet grappling with profound personal sorrow. “As charismatic as he appeared on screen, I’d often visit him in his trailer for chats, he was tormented. It was truly agonizing for him. He didn’t conceal it. He confided in me about his battles with addiction,” the actor concluded.


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Congratulations, Privacy Just Took A Great Leap Out the Window!

Your Data Is Being Used Without Your Permission And Knowledge

The Voice Of EU | In the heart of technological innovation, the collision between intellectual property rights and the development of cutting-edge AI technologies has sparked a significant legal battle. The New York Times has taken legal action against OpenAI and Microsoft, filing a lawsuit in Manhattan federal court. This legal maneuver aims to address concerns surrounding the unauthorized use of the Times’ content for the training of AI models, alleging copyright infringements that could potentially result in billions of dollars in damages.

READ: HOW YOUR DATA IS BEING USED TO TRAIN A.I.

This legal tussle underlines the escalating tension between technological advancements and the protection of intellectual property. The crux of the lawsuit revolves around OpenAI and Microsoft allegedly utilizing the Times’ proprietary content to advance their own AI technology, directly competing with the publication’s services. The lawsuit suggests that this unauthorized utilization threatens the Times’ ability to offer its distinctive service and impacts its AI innovation, creating a competitive landscape that challenges the publication’s proprietary content.

Amidst the growing digital landscape, media organizations like the Times are confronting a myriad of challenges. The migration of readers to online platforms has significantly impacted traditional media, and the advent of artificial intelligence technology has added another layer of complexity. The legal dispute brings to the forefront the contentious practice of AI companies scraping copyrighted information from online sources, including articles from media organizations, to train their generative AI chatbots. This strategy has attracted substantial investments, rapidly transforming the AI landscape.

Exhibit presented by the New York Times’ legal team of ChatGPT replicating a article after being prompted

The lawsuit highlights instances where OpenAI’s technology, specifically GPT-4, replicated significant portions of Times articles, including in-depth investigative reports. These outputs, alleged by the Times to contain verbatim excerpts from their content, raise concerns about the ethical and legal boundaries of using copyrighted material for AI model training without proper authorization or compensation.

The legal action taken by the Times follows attempts to engage in discussions with Microsoft and OpenAI, aiming to address concerns about the use of its intellectual property. Despite these efforts, negotiations failed to reach a resolution that would ensure fair compensation for the use of the Times’ content while promoting responsible AI development that benefits society.

In the midst of this legal battle, the broader questions surrounding the responsible and ethical utilization of copyrighted material in advancing technological innovations come to the forefront.

The dispute between the Times, OpenAI, and Microsoft serves as a significant case study in navigating the intricate intersection of technological progress and safeguarding intellectual property rights in the digital age.


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Culture

Conflicted History: ‘Oppenheimer’ And Its Impact On Los Alamos And New Mexico Downwinders

‘Oppenheimer’ And Its Impact On Los Alamos And New Mexico Downwinders

The Voice Of EU | In the highly anticipated blockbuster movie, “Oppenheimer,” the life of J. Robert Oppenheimer, the man behind the first atomic bomb, is portrayed as a riveting tale of triumph and tragedy.

As the film takes center stage, it also brings to light the often-overlooked impacts on a community living downwind from the top-secret Manhattan Project testing site in southern New Mexico.

A Forgotten Legacy

While the film industry and critics praise “Oppenheimer,” a sense of frustration prevails among the residents of New Mexico’s Tularosa Basin, who continue to grapple with the consequences of the Manhattan Project. Tina Cordova, a cancer survivor and founder of the Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium, expresses their feelings, stating, “They invaded our lives and our lands and then they left,” referring to the scientists and military personnel who conducted secret experiments over 200 miles away from their community.

The Consortium, alongside organizations like the Union of Concerned Scientists, has been striving to raise awareness about the impact of the Manhattan Project on New Mexico’s population. Advocates emphasize the necessity of acknowledging the human cost of the Trinity Test, the first atomic blast, and other nuclear weapons activities that have affected countless lives in the state.

The Ongoing Struggle for Recognition

As film enthusiasts celebrate the drama and brilliance of “Oppenheimer,” New Mexico downwinders feel overlooked by both the U.S. government and movie producers. The federal government’s compensation program for radiation exposure still does not include these affected individuals. The government’s selection of the remote and flat Trinity Test Site, without warning residents in the surrounding areas, further added to the controversy.

Living off the land, the rural population in the Tularosa Basin had no idea that the fine ash settling on their homes and fields was a result of the world’s first atomic explosion.

The government initially attempted to cover up the incident, attributing the bright light and rumble to an explosion at a munitions dump. It was only after the U.S. dropped atomic bombs on Japan weeks later that New Mexico residents realized the magnitude of what they had witnessed.

Tracing the Fallout

According to the Manhattan Project National Historical Park, large amounts of radiation were released into the atmosphere during the Trinity Test, with fallout descending over a vast area. Some of the fallout reached as far as the Atlantic Ocean, but the greatest concentration settled approximately 30 miles from the test site.

Now I Am Become Death, the Destroyer of Worlds.

J. Robert Oppenheimer

The consequences of this catastrophic event have affected generations of New Mexicans, who still await recognition and justice for the harm caused by nuclear weapons.

A Tale of Contrasts: Los Alamos and the Legacy of Oppenheimer

As the film’s spotlight shines on the life of J. Robert Oppenheimer, a contrasting narrative unfolds in Los Alamos, more than 200 miles north of the Tularosa Basin. Los Alamos stands as a symbol of Oppenheimer’s legacy, housing one of the nation’s premier national laboratories and boasting the highest percentage of people with doctorate degrees in the U.S.

Oppenheimer’s influence is evident throughout Los Alamos, with a street bearing his name and an IPA named in his honor at a local brewery. The city embraces its scientific legacy, showcasing his handwritten notes and ID card in a museum exhibit. Los Alamos National Laboratory employees played a significant role in the film, contributing as extras and engaging in enlightening discussions during breaks.

The “Oppenheimer” Movie

Director Christopher Nolan’s perspective on the Trinity Test and its profound impact is evident in his approach to “Oppenheimer.” He has described the event as an extraordinary moment in human history and expressed his desire to immerse the audience in the pivotal moment when the button was pushed. Nolan’s dedication to bringing historical accuracy and emotional depth to the screen is evident as he draws inspiration from Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book, “American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer.

For Nolan, Oppenheimer’s story is a potent blend of dreams and nightmares, capturing the complexity and consequences of the Manhattan Project. As the film reaches global audiences, it also offers a unique opportunity to raise awareness about the downwinders in New Mexico, whose lives were forever altered by the legacy of nuclear weapons testing.

The Oppenheimer Festival and Beyond

Los Alamos is determined to use the Oppenheimer Festival as an opportunity to educate visitors about the true stories behind the film’s events. The county’s “Project Oppenheimer” initiative, launched in early 2023, encompasses forums, documentaries, art installations, and exhibits that delve into the scientific contributions of the laboratory and the social implications of the Manhattan Project.

A special area during the festival will facilitate discussions about the movie, fostering a deeper understanding of the community’s history. The county aims to continue revisiting and discussing the legacy of the Manhattan Project, ensuring that the impact of this pivotal moment in history is never forgotten.

As “Oppenheimer” takes audiences on an emotional journey, it serves as a reminder that every historical event carries with it complex and multifaceted implications. The movie may celebrate the scientific achievements of the past, but it also illuminates the urgent need to recognize and address the human cost that persists to this day.


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