Monday, August 15, 2011

A Family Home Office

Many months ago just before the end of 2010, a past client of mine contacted me about finishing one of the remaining 'original' rooms in their otherwise fully renovated cape cod style house.  This room was the Library or Home Office and it occupies a very prominent space in the home at the front of the house directly off the front entry.   The parents are both successful professionals with their own practices/business and have two young girls.  This room needed to function as a home office for both parents and space where both girls could work on school projects with mom or dad.   It was a tall order!   Home offices have similar needs to address as kitchens,,,lots of worksurface, storage, organization, ergonomics, and the ability to accommodate equipment and work gadgets.   Here's a look at what one corner of the space currently looks like - its obvious that nothing is working here.

Existing space

The solution to a space like this is built-ins.  Built-in cabinetry that maximizes the vertical space available and accommodates specific types of storage needs.   I designed 3 walls of full height built-in cabinetry for this room to provide worksurfaces and accommodate lockable file storage, computer equipment, supplies, binders and a book collection.   To soften all this built-in cabinetry I decided to add a custom made free standing table desk, an area carpet and some patterned fabric to give the room a more relaxed homey look and make it feel less 'officey'.   All these months later, the cabinetry is now nearing completion, the custom table desk and fabric treatments are being made, and installation is scheduled for sometime in September.

The concept board above is a look at some of the key pieces selected for the room early on in the planning process - in addition to these pieces an area carpet, upholstered arm chair, wall art and desk lamps will be sourced for the room over  the next few weeks.    Below is a floor plan of the proposed new layout with built-ins.

I presented at least 4 different layout options for them and this was the winning plan.  The table desk could easily accommodate mom and one or two of the girls working on a project.  There's additional knee space on the side return, loads of file storage, a wall of bookshelves, a separate area for printer/fax/copier, supplies and stereo equipment.  Dad has his own separate work space complete with a loads of upper cabinet space for all his paper work.

The room's two windows will get new fabric roman shades with a wide gros grain ribbon border (along the edge as opposed to inset as in the sketch above).  A custom upholstered stool will tuck under the knee space of the long wall of built-ins and can be pulled up to Mom's or Dad's desk when needed.

The fabrics for the roman shades and upholstered stool shown above right and the cabinetry finish is on the left.  The base of the table desk will be painted in a dark navy blue/green.

I first saw this fabric about a year ago, I photographed it and ordered a sample for future use.  Well it didn't take long for this project to come along and I knew instantly it would be a great fit for this space and suit the classic casual vibe of this client's home.  A pattern that's not too over the top flowery, it's very branchy and leafy and has the odd bird in there too.   The existing paint colour of the office is a pale warm yellow/green that's also found in this print.

I was thrilled when I spotted this room in the July/August issue of Veranda Magazine with the same or similar fabric.  I love the impact it has when used on all the upholstery and drapery.  I'm not certain its the exact same fabric, the colour way is slightly different with a gold/tan background as opposed to the blue/grey background of the fabric I selected but its so similar its hard to tell the difference.  I also noticed that they brought in a hit of tourquoise in the accessories just as I did with the gourd lamps,,,and I think its a fun compliment to this fabric choice.

With the new school year fast approaching this new home office will be ready just in time to help this busy family tackle all their work and school projects with ease.   I'll post some after photos this coming fall and show you how it all comes together.  

Photos 1 thru 6:  Carol Reed
Photo 7:   Veranda Magazine


  1. Clever planning - you have eeked every last centimeter of space out of the room. The fabric is gorgeous - more decorative than I would have imagined you would have selected - so I can't put you in a box just yet!

  2. I look forward to seeing the transformation. It looks like it will be the spot to enjoy working from!

  3. Lol Virginia,,, I'm glad to see I'm not so predictable! ; ) True its not a fabric I would chose for my own personal space but I love it for these clients who's style and home are more traditional.


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