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Home Work

Home Work
This plan sports a cool gable roof.
Where do you work when you're at home? In my case it's either in the basement or at a counter in our small TV room. I need more space: room for a real desk maybe, storage compartments, a window seat would be nice. Of course I already have the "nap room" (i.e. our master bedroom) so often found in today's "co-working" or "incubator" spaces!

My daydreaming is prompted by a recent visit to one of the most famous home offices -- really an office/home -- in modern architecture, the Maison de Verre (House of Glass) in Paris of 1932, by furniture and interiors designer Pierre Chareau, Dutch architect Bernard Bijvoet, and craftsman/metalworker Louis Dalbet for obstetrician Jean Dalsace and his wife. The walls of the residence are translucent glass block (hence the name) and it occupies the bottom three floors of an older five story structure because the elderly owner of the top floors had refused to sell. The doctor's medical suite is on the ground floor, so it was an unusual commission.

Our guide explained that the doctor was extremely health and hygiene-conscious, so clean, uncluttered surfaces, multi-functional spaces, abundant natural light, and achieving privacy within a dense urban environment were important factors driving the design. In response the design team came up with a series of ingenious sliding, folding, and pivoting screens in glass, sheet, or perforated metal. The circulation pattern was novel: patients took one route, family members and guests, another; both determined by a rotating screen, which alternately hid or revealed the stairs up to the family quarters.

Talk about a work/life balance! Or I guess it is a work/life pivot. In any case it made me want to see what other, perhaps less radical ways of incorporating work spaces at home there might be. Here's what I found.

An entire floor is not what most people need, but a how about building a desk or two into a 

flex space or so-called "Away Room," as in Plan 573-1 by SALA Architects, shown above. 

Transitional spaces are often good locations for small work stations. For example, a mud room 

might have space for a desk and cabinetry along with the coat hooks and cubbies, as shown in Plan 454-12 by Sarah Susanka.

Situating a small room for office work near the front door, as in Plan 909-9 by MA Architecture,  
shown here, lets visitors or clients gain access without having to walk through the rest of the house -- a late descendant of the Maison de Verre idea. And in a pinch, since it's adjacent to the powder room, it can work as a temporary guest room.

Some of our plans have desks or so-called homework centers built-into hallways, as shown in

Plan 888-1 by Nicholas Lee, where there is both a separate study and, opposite the stairway, a work station called "The Pad." The dream of having a library lined with books has not completely 

disappeared, although today it might not be a wholly separate room, but more of  

an extension of a multi-use space, as shown here in Plan 924-4 by Truoba. See how only 

the floating bookshelves form a border with the great room. It feels like a separate room, as the renderings show, but sight lines in and out are maintained so both it and the adjacent dining area are more spacious.

The idea of a home office is only going to become become more important as families grow and work habits change -- so finding house plans with convenient, well thought-out areas for doing that work are essential. And if there is a doctor in the family maybe you will need to add a pivoting screen! 

Home Work Inspiration

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