After years of substandard home network performance, I've finally taken the plunge and built a proper network at home. I've deployed a modest Gigabit eight-port "smart" switch to offload switching from the cheap all-in-wonder modem/router from our ISP. On the far side of the cat-6 Ethernet line that runs the length of our apartment, I've added a second, even more modest five-port unmanaged switch. The reason for this was the major driver of this overhaul: I was finding it difficult to continue to use my client's VPN and maintain a phone conversation – we're on VOIP, and when working from home I was using it constantly. To solve the curious problem of the crazily inconsistent wi-fi across the front of the apartment, I deployed a powerline network adapter "starter kit". This utilizes the apartment's electrical wiring as a network. I've strung a second unmanaged switch on that, so Mari can do her currencies day-trading on the two laptops with greater ease and performance. And finally of course I've connected the TV to the managed switch via a second cat-6 cable.
If I'd had any idea how much this would have helped, I'd have done it years ago. Simply everything is working better. All of my suspicions about using the telco's modem/router as a switch have been proven true. And while I was skeptical of the powerline adapters, they've been a revelation! When the kids get older I'll buy a second pair and wire up their bedrooms.
But my next immediate move (once I've bought a few patch cables - how many of those have I thrown out over the years) will be to string up an old wi-fi router somewhere that has line of sight to the entire front end of the apartment. E.g. the corner where the Christmas tree goes.