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Home is Where the Office Is… Inspiration and Tips to Designing Your Work Space

Working from home has its distinct advantages. The commute is short, wardrobes are affordable, you can choose your hours, and you can throw in a load of laundry at break time.

To be productive and motivated at work your office needs to be light filled, organized, space efficient, attractive, and in some cases, quiet.

above PALOMA 81 BLOG
Creating storage and viable floor plans are the biggest challenges I face in this type of project. There are many types of home businesses and learning about the various tasks, the frequency in which they’re performed, and the equipment needed to do the job is imperative. Beyond that there are also light control issues and aesthetics to be considered.
My own home office is a very small space with four doors and three windows. How is that possible in such a small room? Needless to say, it presented challenges.
Design businesses have a lot of samples. We have two walls devoted to fabric sample books; numerous large baskets of fabric swatches; kits of over sized paint chips and fan decks; shutter, woven shade and wooden blind sample books; and trim books that hold fringe, welt and tassel samples. I also have an abundance of business books, files, floor plans, tile samples, client binders, branding materials, and other common office equipment and paraphernalia. 


Most of my storage problems were solved by a white, seven by seven IKEA “cubby” unit; an antique European pine “breakfront” hutch; and six large, square woven baskets. The IKEA cabinet and pine cabinet not only keep my samples organized, they make good use of vertical space and look great. The baskets on top of the cabinets hold more sample books and swatches.

When I’m choosing fabrics in the studio, I simply wheel my chair over to the cabinet and start pulling books. I go through the books which are color coded marking the chosen fabric samples with paper clips, and I call the companies to request large samples so the client can get a better visualization than the little swatches the books provide.

Since most of my drafting is done via CAD (a computer aided drafting program) I no longer need a drafting table which takes up space. I have an L shaped desk where I create hand drawings, pay bills and answer the phone. My small scale computer desk with stacked, lidded storage baskets tucked underneath is where we create CAD plans, proposals, invoices, estimates, write the blog and design columns, and answer email.

above KEN FULK
For aesthetics I wanted something that was between residential and commercial design so I have a mix of both types of furnishings. The pine hutch is a decidedly homey element next to the industrial feel of the metal desks and IKEA cabinet. I chose a simple color scheme because the space is so small and because it’s a business, not a residence. The walls are done in a light, golden tan called Sesame Oil. The crown molding, doors, windows and trim are all in warm white. The fabrics on the box pleated valances are a simple leaf print with an off white back ground and golden tan pattern. They have contrasting gold linen welts. The curtain panels underneath the valances are a textured off white solid fabric with gold linen bands down the inner length of the curtains.
I did one, purely aesthetic element in my office: an over sized vintage, gold leafed framed mirror which visually doubles the size of the space and beautifully reflects all my fabric books. It takes up a lot of wall space but I love how it looks and it inspires me daily.

Behind one of the many doors in the office, I stacked common black metal filing cabinets and topped it with a fax/copier. When the door is open, it’s concealed. When the door is closed, I can get to it easily because it’s in close proximity to my computer desk. There was just enough room for an heirloom banker’s lamp. I keep a step stool in a central location for easy access to all the elevated items.
To sketch out some floor plans for your own office, get some drafting paper, a pencil and a scale ruler. Measure your room, the windows, doors, the spaces between them, and note any obstacles like light fixtures, scones and door or window clearances. Next measure the furniture you intend to keep and place it first. Take your floor plan when you go shopping. Take into consideration wall space and unused space in the middle of the room. Find ways to make them usable such as L shaped desks or an island on wheels like the ones you purchase for a kitchen.
A few months ago David converted a stainless steel work and storage bench from the laundry room to a wheeled, rack with counter space for the office. It now stores items being used for our current projects like oversized fabric swatches, client binders, and catalogs from which I’m sourcing. I use the “hooks” to display rings of fabric I’ve put together for new client design schemes.
I’ve had many design stores over the years but my home office has always been the place I work best. I love to begin the work day at 6:00 a.m. with my dog at my feet and a cup of coffee in hand.

And more often than not, I’m still in my pajama’s.
Shiree’s Style File
Mix materials like metal units with wooden pieces and woven baskets for more storage, flexibility and visual warmth.
If your home doesn’t have a home office per se, choose a room that’s located as far from the kitchen as possible.
Consider hiring a professional closet designer for built-in closet storage, even in small single closets. I like California Closets.
Built-in bookcases, counters, mini-refrigerators and bar sinks are perfect additions to large home offices.
Consider window treatment options for privacy, sun control and aesthetics like sun shades under decorative valances. You can easily see through the sun shades but the heat is mostly blocked.
Keep color schemes simple: one color mixed with a few neutrals is ideal in a home office.