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Sunday, June 07, 2015
Home feature: How to utilize home office space to fit your working needs
There are a lot of reasons to create a home office. For new parents, a home office is a way to stay close to the kids while continuing to get work done. Other parents’ children have left the nest, vacating a room, which can be converted for another purpose. Here in the High Country, the draw of the mountains is so strong that many arrange to work remotely and move here for the view and the recreation.
Whatever your reason for working from home, it’s important to take the time to get your office set up right. This space is your home but not your home — it is your sanctum, an extension of your career and ambitions. By utilizing available resources and approaching it with a thoughtful mindset, you can create an organized, functional and even fun home office.
The very first thing interior designer Shelley Sims does when approaching a new project — home office or otherwise — is start asking questions. As the owner of Thrive Design, based out of a home office in Silverthorne, Sims likes to hear what her clients’ thoughts and needs are right at the beginning. She thinks of it as a little bit like the game 20 Questions, except obviously there are many more.
“A normal question I could ask any client is, ‘How do you use this room? What do you do in it?’” she said.
Once the questions have established the scope and style of the project, Sims can really get to work.
“My job as the designer is to narrow down the options,” she said.
With so many types of desks and lamps out there, for example, the choices can be overwhelming. Armed with the knowledge of her clients’ needs, Sims can help make the task less daunting. She might investigate 50 different styles of desks and come back with three options.
“That’s why someone would want to hire a designer,” she said. “They’re busy. Maybe they have a million kids; maybe they travel, and they don’t have the time.”
THE RIGHT SPACE
If you’re in the process of building your house, you have control over where you place your home office. In that case, you have the advantage of proper placement.
If you’re building from scratch, the best place for a home office is away from the busiest parts of the home, i.e. the kitchen and living room, said designers Christina Romano and Johanna Serino, of Pinnacle Mountain Homes in Breckenridge. Starting with a furniture layout allows you to customize your space and pick the best view.
If you’re looking to repurpose another room into your new office, you’ll have to consider your options closely.
“You need some sort of separation, whether it’s a door or a hallway, sometimes even a little studio outside of the home,” said Tracey Egolf, owner of Egolf Interiors Inc. “But it’s critical to have your work activities separate — close to your home because it’s a home office, but separate from your home activities.”
Sometimes, the best place isn’t the one you’d think of first, Sims said. For example, a room on the bottom floor might be physically further from certain distractions, but if it’s below the kitchen, the stomping of footsteps in the morning might disrupt East Coast conference calls.
“If you have a certain space in the home that’s not part of the living room, it helps you focus,” Egolf said.
The need for privacy is often overlooked at first, she said, but quickly becomes obviously essential.
“I know that because I did it myself twice,” she said, referring to her own home office. “I think people underestimate that need for — I’m walking through this door, I’m now in my office — and I think that’s the most overlooked.”
Once the space is chosen, it’s time to get down to the details. This is where Sims steps in and offers to narrow down the choices for her clients. Sometimes, this means buying new items, but she always checks to see if there are furniture pieces already in the house that can be pulled into the office and incorporated.
“The whole interior design process, building process, construction, all of that, is just a matter of decision-making,” Sims said. “Just buying one light fixture there’s 10 questions.”
All the designers agreed that the person who will be using the office should be aware of what types of equipment will be most needed for work — filing cabinets, cork board or dry erase board, space to spread out, etc.
“Being really aware of what they need in order to operate efficiently … allows me to custom design a perfect set-up so they’re not struggling with ergonomics or with light and glare, things like that,” Egolf said.
Clients should also consider how they like to work. Standing desks, for example, are widely available for those who don’t want to sit all day.
“It’s all about figuring out how you work best,” said Egolf, who employs a standing desk in her home office. “I found that when I sat down too long, my brain just turns off. I need to be able to stand up and sit down and still get my work done.”
Your office should also be a place that you enjoy, advised the Serino/Romano Pinnacle design duo. When it comes down to it, you just need to pick a space that you really like and want to be, they said. It’s important to create a place where you won’t mind spending time.
A lot of your decisions regarding office furniture and equipment will rely on the size of the space you’re working with. If you have a regular or large-sized room, you can afford to play around with multiple pieces of furniture. But for those working out of a condo or smaller reclaimed space, efficiency is the name of the game.
That’s where the More Space Place in Frisco comes in. The store carries all kinds of items designed to be efficient in smaller spaces, such as murphy beds and multi-purpose desks.
“Most people’s houses, it’s just, ‘I need a home office to pay my monthly bills,’” said Tony Pestello, owner of More Space Place. “Here, we have a lot of telecommuters.”
That means people need a full-blown office more than just a desk in the corner of the room. But that doesn’t mean they can’t be efficient. Pestello sells night stands that double as desks and charging stations for those burning the midnight oil sitting up in bed. He’s also got coffee tables that lift up and act as a desk when needed, or end tables that offer filing space and more charging options. These trends have become more prevalent as people change where and how they work.
“If you can make a room do three things, you’re ahead of the game,” Pestello said.