Monday, October 4, 2010

Redesign without the Remodel: Space for a Home Office

Although the bread and butter of our residential work is working with homeowners who are building or remodeling, our design expertise applies just as much to arranging furniture as it does to laying out floor plans.  In September and October, each Monday design.banter will feature "Redesign without the Remodel", with tips on how to "remodel" your home using furniture and items you may already own. Your home can have a brand new feel without ever lifting a hammer (well, except to hang a picture), since the vast majority of us are not currently remodeling our homes or building a new one. It also goes without staying that the greenest design is adapting your current home to your changing needs.  Need some personalized advice? We are always available for consulting on an hourly basis.

More and more people are working from home. Even if no one in your house works from home, chances are you need a space to pay bills, check the internet, and store records. Thinking of an office as a space rather than a room save you from designating an entire bedroom or using your extra living area as an office. Below are some ideas to fit an office into an existing space.

Office under the stairs: This space may currently be an awkward closet or storage area, but it can be a great space to squeeze in an office. It can be open or closed. Below is an option for a closed office (the door will open outward and a little bit of the staircase will be exposed).

Office under a staircase in a home with typical 8' ceilings. There is room for a bookshelf and a simple desk (use an old door or plywood, cut to fit the 3' clear space, support with 2x4's attached to studs). Use the space under the desk for extra storage (boxes holding records can double as a footrest) or for the hard drive for a desktop. Paint the walls a pleasant color, and add a mirror to the wall to make the space seem larger.

Guidance from the DIY network: How to Build an Office Under the Stairs

Office at the end of a room: This idea only takes up 2'-3' of space at the end of a room. In a 12' room, that's just 24-36 square feet.  You can use a reclaimed hollow core or smooth door, salvaged counter top (my desk growing up was an 8' section of laminate counter top held up by kitchen table legs), or a few layers of plywood. Short file cabinets can prop up the desk. Run a curtain rod or wire along the edge and use a curtain to hide whatever is going on underneath. Shelves on either end can extend to the ceiling and provide storage for all of the books and DVD's in the house. A closed cabinet or glass-door bookcase can be used to hide ugly binders or paperwork. 

 Utilize the end of a room for a desk and floor to ceiling storage. If there is no window, a wire or rod can be hung and large curtain can disguise the area when not in use.

Office in a closet: If you have a guest room or spare room, you can fit a desk in the closet to create an office that can be closed off when guests come or when the room is being utilized otherwise.  If you work from home but also have kids to watch, you can put the office in the kids play area and put a mirror behind the computer monitor to keep an eye on them while you work. A deadbolt placed at the top of the drawers will keep them out. The space can then also be used for art projects and craft supplies.

Even a small closet can be plenty of room for a computer and shelving. Photo credit.

If you live in a small space, your headphones or earplugs can add virtual square footage to your home. Clever design can allow you to have a fully functional office in a small space that can be closed off when you don't want to be reminded of work. 


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