Just like computers and fax machines, the home office is getting smaller. At the same time, it's becoming much more visible, with increased aesthetic demands, as people look for ways to work without shutting themselves off from the rest of the house. As a result, homeowners are turning parts of the dining room, family room, or kitchen into intimate work centers ― spaces where they can take care of business but still be near the family action.
Designing a home office calls for careful planning, since the area requires privacy as well as ample storage for books and equipment. But it should also be able to withstand public scrutiny, especially if sited in a prominent location.
Architect Mike Mora and interior designer Amy Baker placed this compact home office in a sunny breakfast area. "I like the location right off the kitchen," says the homeowner. "I can cook, watch my toddler, and pay my bills at the same time." A sliding glass door provides the office with privacy while allowing light to filter through from the kitchen/dining area.
Because the office is so visible, Mora and Baker came up with a design that helps hide clutter. A panel behind the desk screens the inevitable cables and wires that come with computers and electronic equipment. Cubbies and shelves above the desk neatly organize papers, bills, and books.
The shelving is designed so it's open on top, which keeps everything organized but at hand. "Without this kind of system, mail stacks up in the kitchen, or I put it in a drawer and forget about it," says the homeowner.
A banquette behind the dining table continues into the home office in the form of a bench ― serving as both storage and a place for kids to sit. "This is truly the place from which to run the household," says Baker.