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Inspiring Home Offices

Inspiring Home Offices
Check out this modern loft space.
What if you could design the perfect workspace for yourself -- perhaps like the one shown above that's part of Plan 891-1 by Cathy Schwabe? A home office can be much more than a corner of the guest bedroom. First, make sure your desk has enough counter space. Architect Nils Finne recommends that built-in desks be at least 5 feet long. The adjustable-height desk, which goes from standing height to seated height and back again easily, is a major trend in the modern workplace; tech startups provide them as standard issue to enable their programmers to work more comfortably for long hours. Another trend in offices is to use acoustic felt as a way of bringing in color and texture as well as control noise. If your home is in a noisy urban area or noise is otherwise an issue, you could look into felt panels. Now if you're building from scratch or considering a major renovation, consider one of these stellar examples. You may never want to leave the office!

Frame a Great View
For a house that overlooks rolling hills and vineyards in California Wine Country, Swatt Miers Architects
made sure to take advantage of the vistas while creating a serene work environment. "Many of our sp
aces feature floor-to-ceiling and wall-to-wall glass, but offices can often be visually quieter spaces that have less glass and a more intimate atmosphere," says partner Robert Swatt.

This home office, with its 16-foot-long window wrapping the view, is one of the home's most beautiful spaces. The window is set into a wall tiled with local limestone, a grounding counterpoint to the lightness and transparency of the glass. The home office is located off the living room on the main level. Sliding glass doors provide access to the terrace just outside (photo: Russell Abraham).

Create a Hidden Alcove
Cathy Schwabe carved out a home office that disappears behind sliding doors in this design (shown at the top of the post), which is part of her Plan 891-1. "This office space allows the clients to stop mid-project and close up quickly without having to put everything away. The main space can thus be used for another purpose," says Schwabe. The roughly 10-by-3-foot space is small, but holds all the necessary office furniture and is just deep enough so that its sliding doors can close when the office chair is tucked under the desk. A small window provides a refreshing sense of the outdoors."You get a direct view without compromising the screen or losing much wall space,"says Schwabe. She notes that for home offices, it's better for light not to come from the side, since it will reflect off computer screens and create uneven lighting. The natural light is augmented with puck

lights along the top of the alcove as well as under the shelves. When the orange sliding doors are closed, they serve as a colorful backdrop for the main room.

Define a Separate Nook
Designed by Finne Architects, this waterfront house in Washington State has his and-hers home office nooks, one stacked on top of the other. The spaces are small but have wrap-around windows on three sides--offeri
ng a dedicated place to work while enjoying the views. The upper study looks into the tree canopy so the

client can observe the birds. It feels like a treehouse. "I strive for tranquility, soft natural light, ample work surfaces, and thoughtfully considered storage solutions in my home office designs," says principal Nils Finne (photo: Benjamin Benschneider).

Use Part of a Mud Room/Hall
Sarah Susanka designed this mud room to contain a built-in desk with cabinets and storage shelves. It's

 conveniently located beside the powder room just off the garage entry, and is part of her Plan 454-12.

Borrow Space from the Neighboring Room
In architect Nick Lee's modern farmhouse, Plan 888-15, a loft overlooking the great room lets the

client work from a high vantage point. A glass railing allows light and sightlines to flow through to the larger room. With an open layout and deep porches on either side, the home gracefully adapts the form of a traditional barn for modern living.

Build a Separate Structure
Not everyone has the means to take this route, but John Friedman Alice Kimm Architects' client asked them to build him a separate home office when his original space was converted into his child's playroom. The
project expanded into a separate guest house, with a bedroom suite on the upper level, and a double-height

home office on the ground floor, with space for group meetings. The office has clerestory windows that are as tall as a whole floor, which bounce sunlight down into the space for bright but indirect lighting (photo: Benny Chan/Fotoworks).
To browse house plans with home offices, click here.

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