Whether you are working remotely or helping your kids with distance learning, home offices and study spaces have become ever more important during the pandemic. “With the rise of working from home, virtual schooling, and sheltering in place, people are interacting with their spaces in new ways,” says Dave Adams, vice president of marketing for BDI, a manufacturer of entertainment and office furniture. “To that end, it’s crucial that furniture and accessories support these new tasks — and, of course, look great.”
The company notes a growing demand for smaller-scale desks or writing tables, for example, that blend with existing furnishings as well as such features as cable management systems, movable filing cabinets, and hidden keyboard drawers designed to enhance efficiency while also keeping odds and ends in order.
California Closets has also seen more requests for working/schooling-at-home solutions. “Our clients and designers have had to get really creative about making the most of nooks and corners so that people can be as productive as possible during these times,” says Bella Heule, Vice President of Business Development. “California Closets’ product design teams have also taken the initiative to adapt our existing offerings to this increased demand. For instance, we now offer wall-beds with integrated desk and shelf units to provide flexibility and multi-use functionality.”
Concealed in an attractive wall unit, a bed easily flips down, instantly turning an office into a guest room. Also popular are “cloffices,” closets transformed into home offices when space is at a premium. Just shut the doors when the work is done to keep clutter and paperwork out of sight.
The Container Store in Fashion Valley will design your dream office for free, using its popular Elfa system, and also sells decorative but functional desk and office organizers, including the Konmari Collection in collaboration with “tidying up” guru Marie Kondo. Whitmor, a company committed to “bringing organization home,” provides stylish and affordable storage solutions. One example is its clever Clip & Cube Collection, customizable storage cubes that clip together and can be reconfigured as your storage needs change. The system is available at local retailers and on Wayfair.com.
Home offices don’t have to be no-frills spaces. Functional, sure, but it’s ok to have fun. Consider the vibrant roses “blooming” on the wall of an office designed for a schoolteacher conducting Zoom classes from her Cardiff home during the pandemic. “Folks usually view an office to be a serious, utilitarian space and that’s exactly what we didn’t want,” says Dasha Hervey of Sea & Pine Interior Design. Her goal was to “provide an inspirational place to work, relax — yes you can work and relax — and have a bit of whimsy in the space.”
The catalyst for the room’s design is the client’s love of France. The rose wallpaper, reminiscent of flowers in Parisian parks, was custom made. Hervey covered a chair and ottoman in deep green velvet, a fabric favored by Marie Antoinette at the Palace of Versailles. Hervey says her client went “gaga” over the rich hue on a trip to France.
A glossy white library table provides a sleek, modern look to complement Old World pendant lights. Étagères, inspired by Parisian brasseries, flank the desk. The designer concealed paperwork, files, and supplies in a coordinating white credenza, while the printer and other large objects are stored in a closet. Framed photos of family and friends provide a personal touch.
“The office is down the main hall of the home and is viewed 20-plus times per day. So, creating something impactful that made the client smile was very important,” Hervey says. “The end result is a room that is now very classy, is a warm inviting space, yet is very functional.”
Ready to begin your own project? Do some homework. Books including Home Office Solutions by Chris Peterson provide guidance on setting up efficient workspaces in a closet, attic, hallway, kitchen nook, or beneath a set of stairs. Peterson’s book also gives tips on traffic flow, color palettes that promote productivity, soundproofing, and storage options ranging from built-ins to freestanding shelves and bookcases. There’s even a section called “containing cord chaos” — how to corral all the power cords and cables that clutter up our desks. The end goal is a home that works.