A home office is almost a requirement today. As with all design projects, start with objectives and needs. Too often, homeowners jump to thinking through available space. When you start with the solution instead of defining the goal, you can miss important opportunities. Write down the answers to the following questions:
- Is this your primary work space or secondary?
- How often will you use your office (all day, a few hours a day, a few hours a week?)
- Will you have clients visit?
- Do you need visual or acoustic privacy from other members of your household?
- What equipment do you need?
- How much storage do you need and does all it need to be proximate?
Then answer some questions about your work habits:
- Do you need everything at your fingertips?
- Do you want to be able to hide everything away either so you can put work out of your mind or to hide it from visitors?
- Do you need distraction or need to block it?
- Do you need a certain aesthetic environment to work?
- What do you need to feel connected to … (the family, the garden, your colleagues …)?
- Do you need to multi-task while working? And if so, what other tasks do you handle at the same time – maybe child care or cooking?
The answers to both sets of questions will help you figure out where in your home you should locate your home office. Don’t rule anything out. Thinking through your objectives can also help you see you way clear to realizing that space you originally thought was unavailable can be made available.
For example, if you need to meet with clients, you’ll absolutely need to find space near an outside door so your clients don’t need to traipse through your messy kitchen. If your “formal” living room is never used, consider using it for your office. You can separate it from your living space with French doors – either etched or clear – that say this is private. Putting storage on the walls adjacent to your living space will also provide an acoustic barrier to make meetings with clients private – or to just separate yourself from the family activities. And when you need connection, open the French doors to invite the family inside.
As another example, if you need to multi-task but also need to create “out of sight / out of mind”, you’ll need a location centrally located but that can be easily closed off – like creating or converting a closet space. In the image at the top of the article, a project by Greene Partners, the homeowner uses barndoor hardware to create a large door that will completely conceal the workspace – and the clutter – when not in use. In another example, below, an office is built-into a modern cabinetry right off the living room. It’s completely hidden when not in use.
These are but 3 examples of using space in unusual ways to create an effective home-office. Are you having trouble figuring out how to make a home office work? Contact me with your problem and I’ll try to help find a solution. It might become the topic of another article. Like the recent one on creating privacy for a home office with an arched doorway.