Get ideas for an office or studio in your trailer, garage, attic, kitchen, corner, or closet
June 29, 2009
Thomas J. Story
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Thomas J. Story
Chad Hogan repurposed tool chests he found at The Home Depot and an oversize photo of Lil Wayne from a Rolling Stones photo shoot he directed to create a desk in the shared office (his wife Lara works from home two days a week). Chad also designed and built the floating industrial shelf system to keep everything organized.
A former front porch now houses a sunny and serene guest bedroom that doubles as an office space. Rolling farmhouse doors (the same as those guarding the dining room’s bar) contain another hidden design detail: a built-in desk. The Underwoods added French doors to give their guests a private entrance.
Cassandra LaValle of design blog Coco Kelley claimed her Seattle home's 140-square-foot finished attic as her home office. "It's tucked away from the rest of the house," she explains, "so I can close the door and not see laundry." In the space, she combines pared-down pieces like this campaign desk with a few more feminine touches, such as a chair draped with a faux fur throw.
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Even in the era of Pinterest, an old-school pin board can serve as the best way to keep track of design inspiration. LaValle hung an oversized cork board against one wall of her attic home office to tack up magazine tears and swatches. Given the attic's low ceilings and tight quarters, LaValle stuck to furnishings with a petite scale, including a slim coffee table and a bench for storing books (instead of a space-hogging bookshelf). A structured settee-style sofa replaced a chaise that used to occupy the space. "That was more conducive to reading a book or taking a nap—not working," says LaValle.
In this workspace nook in a kitchen designed by Brown Design Group, a break in the lower cabinets (far from stove splatter) makes room for pulling up a counter-height chair and getting some paperwork done while dinner is cooking.
Thomas J. Story
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Thomas J. Story
In Laura Jo Wegman's sun-lit workspace, colored pencils, fabric swatches, and hand-drawn sketches adorn a cord-free desktop.
While demoing the living room, the Zerbeys decided to build a home office in what used to be the attic. Accessible by a steep ladder that ascends from the living room, the 170 square foot attic loft houses Kyle and Lauren's architecture firm, Studio Zerbey. A large operable roof window provides natural light and is part of the ventilation system for the whole house. "On hot days, a fan in the stairwell draws cool air up from the basement, which mixes with air on the the main floor and and exhausts warm air out through the skylight," explains Lauren.
The triangular shape of an attic wall can be the perfect backdrop for a high-impact bookshelf. Here, artist Windy Chien and her boyfriend paneled the back wall of their bedroom with redwood typically used for fencing, and then hung simple wood shelves for displaying books and curios.
Her small San Francisco home didn’t have space for a home office, so Sara Menuck converted her living room closet into a chic, streamlined workstation.For $1,000, including materials and labor, her designer removed the closet pole and added an upper covered storage area, a floating middle shelf, and a work surface with an almost-hidden drawer. Says Menuck, “I hardly ever close the doors.”
Design Paris Renfroe Design; parisrenfroedesign.com; 651/233-0063.
Martha Mendoza’s days are filled with deadlines, after-school commitments, and other pressures. Yet the celebrated journalist, teacher, wife, and mother―who won a Pulitzer Prize at age 33 for an investigative series on the Korean War―leads a surprisingly balanced life. Her secret? This tiny home office, housed in a converted potting shed in her Santa Cruz, California, backyard. Here she can steal away from her domestic responsibilities to write, study, and pursue breaking news stories for the Associated Press. "Being detached from the house is key."
When landscape architect Andreas Stavropoulos heads to a job, he tows this 2003 cherry-red trailer behind his Honda CR-V. Everything he needs is inside: workspace, reference books, and desktop computer. Perforated steel siding from a metal-supply shop lines the wall behind the desk; Stavropoulos clips his plans to it when he’s working. Sold by the sheet, it can be cut to any size. A “shadowless” translucent skylight illuminates the work area, so supplemental daytime lighting isn’t necessary.
To quickly transform the office into guest quarters the "flip" side of this desk and shelving unit houses a Murphy bed. A rolling filing cabinet lets you keep work essentials close by or tuck them away at a moment's notice.
Reed Maltzman and Jennifer Gosselin had a two-car garage off of their house in San Francisco, but they needed space for people, not cars. So the couple transformed half of the detached structure into this 400-square-foot guest room and office. "It's small, but we’ve all found a different use for it when guests aren’t visiting," says Maltzman, a fifth-grade teacher. He uses it as a quiet getaway where he can grade papers.
To create your own instant workspace anywhere, put a flat birch hollow-core door atop two adjustable sawhorses.
Cover the door with self-healing vinyl board cover (available from art and drafting supply stores). The closer you can get the board cover to the exact size of your door, the better.
Stencil a basic measuring system onto the board cover, and you'll never need to hunt down a measuring stick.
Time: Four hours plus drying time
Cost: About $175
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Into the Attic
The intersection between the sharply pitched ceiling and the low wall provides a perfect spot for a long built-in desk that functions as a craft center. Large openable skylights that double as windows fill the area with natural light making it perfect for detail work. Sconces just above the work surface add even more illumination.